Nasi Lemak - You got to try it

Posted by Tuan Rumah | 4:24 PM | | 0 comments »

Does Malaysia have a national dish? No authority or national agency has yet come forward to set things in stone, but by default, that honour would have to go to nasi lemak.
Simply rice cooked in coconut milk (knotted pandanus leaves and even ginger or a stalk of lemon grass may be tossed into the pot to add fragrance), imparting a creamy texture to the grains, nasi lemak is available on almost every street corner and in almost every local-themed restaurant, served with everything from chicken to beef to cuttlefish.
It can be eaten at any time - breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea, dinner, supper, post-boozeup - and the mingling of flavours and textures (creamy, hot & spicy, crunchy, nutty, etc) makes it simply … sheer ambrosia.
Essential condiments:
Fried ikan bilis (anchovies)Fried peanutsCucumber slicesWedges of hardboiled egg (variations: fried eggs, or slices of omelette)Sambal (a kind of cooked chili paste, plain with onions or with ikan bilis too)
Chicken curry or rendangBeef curry or rendangMutton curry or rendangCuttlefish sambal or curryChicken liver and gizzard curryFried chickenFried cow lung (paru)Begedil (potato cutlets sometimes mixed with minced meat)Dried prawns sambal (some non-halal outlets cook this with minced pork)Cockles in sambalStewed kangkong (water spinach)
Some of the ways nasi lemak is sold/served:
Nasi lemak bungkus: "Bungkus" is Bahasa Melayu for "pack" or "wrap" and this is exactly what you get here - a simple pre-packed serving of nasi lemak topped with sambal, a sprinkling of fried peanuts and ikan bilis, sliced cucumber and a wedge of hardboiled egg.
Nasi lemak bungkus
Typically costing RM1 to RM2, depending on the amount of rice and the quantity of condiments that accompany it.
Many street vendors even toss in a plastic spoon to eat it with, so you can just dispose of everything after you've fed. NLB is mostly sold by street vendors, although lately it is not unusual to find it in delis, bakeries and even at the food counters of some supermarkets.
Sometimes it's sold pre-packed in microwaveable plastic containers with chicken or beef rendang for a little extra, say between RM3 and RM5 per pack.
Nasi lemak bungkus 'to order': Street vendors dealing in NLBTO typically set up a table on a street corner somewhere, and spread various pots and plastic containers out in front of them.
Street vendors dealing in NLBTO
A large wooden tub or insulated plastic pail contains the rice while the pots and containers will hold an assortment of condiments, rendang (a dry, spicy meat dish), curries, sambal and boiled or fried eggs.
Customers can just come up, pick what they want to accompany the nasi lemak, and the vendor will pack it all neatly in a paper wrapper. A typical NLBTO can cost from RM2 (plain with no meat) to RM4 or RM5 (with one type of meat and a fried egg). If you pick more to pack, expect to pay more too.
Nasi lemak a la carte
Nasi lemak a la carte: Sold at restaurants and hotel eateries, and served with most of the ingredients as described above, except a little more pricey than if purchased at streetcorners.
Prices range from RM3 to RM6 a plate (if you eat it at a coffeeshop or non-airconditioned restaurant); and upwards of RM8, ranging as high as RM15 to RM20, as you progress up the poshness pole.

This dish is named after its the main ingredient, Cendol , short strands of cooked dough made with green pea flour and the green juice of pandan leaves. It is served with shaved ice and plenty of fresh santan (coconut cream) and gula melaka (palm sugar). Cendol can be bought from wandering Indian hawkers who sells the cendol from a giant pot; this was always a welcome treat especially if the weather is very hot.
Nowadays, it is almost impossible to buy a decent bowl of Cendol. Good food start with good ingredients, and in the case of Cendol, here's where things can easily go wrong. Most commercially available cendol is made of an agar-like substance rather than green pea flour, they look like cendol but taste of nothing at all and no matter how much you chew, you can never quite get them soft. As for the other two ingredients, tricks abound to compromise their quality. Santan has to be freshly squeezed from freshly grated coconut. Some people do not mind using pre-packed santan. Well, most cendol stalls would go further and dilute the santan with milk or just rice-flour water, villains. The third ingredient, gula melaka, is almost always contaminated with other cheaper sweeteners like white or brown cane sugar. One version at a Best cendol sellers among others are Peranakan restaurant Auntie Lee in Malacca, another at a famous cendol stall at Jonker Street, also in Malacca, and finally an upmarket, higher-priced version at Madam Kwan's in Bangsar.

Chinese New Year - 18 February 2007

Posted by Tuan Rumah | 9:47 AM | | 0 comments »

A time for family reunions, the lion dance, firecrackers, mahjong, mandarin oranges and giving/collecting ang pow, the Lunar New Year - or Chinese New Year (CNY), as it is more commonly known in Malaysia - highlights some of the most fascinating aspects of Chinese tradition and rituals.
Reunion dinner on the eve of CNY
Its origin can be traced back thousands of years, to the legend which tells of a fearsome mythological creature known as Nian that is said to have once terrorised China, devouring people on the eve of CNY. To ward off the beast, red-paper couplets were pasted on doors, firecrackers were set off throughout the night, and huge fires were lit.
Today, the prevalence of the colour red, and firecrackers, form part of the CNY celebrations throughout the world, as a part of custom and tradition.
The festival, which once also marked the beginning of spring in China, begins on the first day of the lunar calendar year, the first day of the new moon, and ends on the 15th day, known as Chap Goh Meh, the last day of the full moon.
However, celebrations are normally confined to the first few days and the last day. In Malaysia, the first two days are gazetted as public holidays.
Preparing for celebrations
Preparations tend to begin a month prior to the New Year, when people start buying new clothes, decorations and foodstuff; houses are cleaned from top to bottom, then decorated with red lanterns; banners; plastic or paper firecrackers (the real item is prohibited); panels inscribed with calligraphic characters bearing themes of happiness, wealth and longevity; and greeting cards received from well-wishers.
Pomelos or 'loke yau' in Cantonese is a popular gift as the word 'yau' sounds like the Cantonese word for abundance.
The eve of CNY is probably the high point of the celebration as it is on this day that family members from far and near will return home for the reunion dinner, to rekindle family ties and enjoy the sumptuously prepared meals. Dinner is usually made up of seafood and dumplings; delicacies include waxed duck, prawns, braised dried oysters, scallops and “prosperity vegetables”.
After the reunion feast, entire families will try to stay up all night in adherence to shou sui, a practice which is believed to bring one's parents longevity. To while away the hours, it is common for many to gamble; the sound of mahjong chips clattering against each other throughout the night is not uncommon.
At the stroke of midnight, the New Year is ushered in. Firecrackers and fireworks are prohibited, so the requisite din to herald the New Year falls upon human voices and song, and modern “improvisations” such as the recorded sounds of exploding firecrackers.
Kong Hee Fatt Choy!
With daylight, homes again become a buzz of activity. Ceremonial candles are lit, incense burned, new clothes (red is the custom) are put on, and greetings of “Kong Hee Fatt Choy” or “nian nian you yu” (which means “may every year be filled with extras”) are made.
As is commonplace among Malaysians during religious/cultural festivities, Chinese families invite their relatives and friends over to their homes during CNY. Guests arrive bearing gifts of mandarin oranges or kam, which symbolises gold or wealth.
It is also customary for married couples to give children and unmarried adults money inserted in red packets known as ang pow, as a gesture to mean that the recipient will enjoy a fruitful and wealthy life.
Beliefs and tradition
The celebration of CNY is not all freewheeling fun though, as there are taboos and beliefs, some of which are spiritual in nature, that need to be observed.
For example, though the feasting generally goes on for the whole 15-day period, a break, of sorts, is taken on the third day. Businesses remain closed, and visiting is discouraged on that day, as it is believed that, otherwise, misfortune may befall the family.
Also, no one is allowed to sweep the floor on the first day of the New Year as it is considered unlucky; that one would accidently sweep away one's good luck and fortune if they do so.
As a contrast, what is believed to bring good fortune and ward off evil is the lion which, according to legend, was the only animal that managed to wound the Nian. This gave rise to the lion dance, as the villagers of the story tried to mimic the lion in their attempt to frighten the beast away.
Here in Malaysia, troupes of lion dancers travel in trucks during the 15-day period to perform at individual homes and businesses, even hotels and shopping complexes. It is one of the most spectacular sights during this period, where performers regularly shimmy up poles to pick up ang pows, while moving to the beat of the drums.
Different celebrations
Tossing the yee sang higher would bring prosperity
On the seventh day of CNY, which is considered as the birthday of all human beings, the Cantonese community partakes in a dish called yee sang, a simple mixture of thin slices of raw fish, shredded vegetables, herbs and sauces.
All the ingredients for the dish are served separately on the same plate, and would then be tossed and mixed, carried with chopsticks high in the air by all at the table, while saying out loud the word loh hei, which means liveliness, prosperity and longevity. This practice is said to herald prosperity for the coming year.
The eighth day is a time of prayer. The Hokkien community performs a ritual where offerings are made to Tian Gong, the God of Heaven. This often extends into the ninth day.
The 15th and last day, Chap Goh Meh, is observed in several ways. In Penang, the Hokkien community commemorates this day with a parade (Chingay parade) where stilt walkers, lion and dragon dancers, and acrobats move along the busy streets of Georgetown, to the beat of gongs, drums and cymbals.
However, the highlight of Chap Goh Meh, which is often regarded as the Chinese Valentine's day, has got to be the throwing of oranges into the river. It is believed that maidens would attract good husbands if they adhere to this practice.

Thaipusam - 1 Feb 2007

Posted by Tuan Rumah | 9:33 AM | | 0 comments »

THAIPUSAM is an annual Hindu festival which draws the largest gathering in multi-racial Malaysia.
Several hundred devotees spear their cheeks with long, shiny steel rods - often a metre long - and pierce their chests and backs with small, hook-like needles in penance.
Tourists watch in awe as metal pierces the skin with hardly any bleeding and, apparently, no pain as the devotee stands in a trance in the dawn light after weeks of rigorous abstinence.
Over the years, curious British, American and Australian medical experts have come to observe and speculate. Some think the white ash smeared on the body, the juice squeezed from the yellow lime fruit or the milk poured on the pierced areas may help to numb the skin. But most admit they have no answer.
The devotees say it is faith.
"The belief in Lord Murugan is what prevents the pain and the bleeding," says Krishna Vadyar, a priest at the temple which conducts the annual rituals.
There are plenty stories about what Thaipusam is about. Among the most popular is that it commemorates the day Lord Siva's consort, the powerful goddess Parvathi, gives her son, Murugan, the vel (lance) to vanquish three demons and their large army which were plaguing the world.
Thaipusam falls on a full moon day in the auspicious 10th Tamil month of Thai when the constellation of Pusam, the star of well-being, rises over the eastern horizon.
In Kuala Lumpur, the festival is celebrated on a mammoth scale at the Batu Caves temple on the outskirts of the city. It began in 1892, started by early Tamils who migrated to colonial Malaya.
Reportedly, two of them made the difficult trek up the ancient limestone hill and planted the `vel' in the cave. The cave, the size of a soccer field, houses a temple dedicated to Lord Murugan.
The vel, made of metal and shaped like a lance, symbolises Murugan who is also known as Velan.
On the eve of Thaipusam, a five-ton silver-chariot bearing Lord Murugan's image and followed by a procession of several thousand people leaves the Sri Mahamariaman temple in downtown Kuala Lumpur, on a 15-kilometre trek to Batu Caves.
Mahamariamman is also another name for Parvathi, Murugan's mother.
Drums beat out trance-inducing rhythms and long wooden pipes, known as nathaswaram, croon devotional tunes in a loud carnival atmosphere.
The ethnic Chinese in Penang and elsewhere in Malaysia also take part in the religious festivities
Hundreds break coconuts and offer fruits to the God all along the chariot's meandering route.
Throughout its history, the chariot has been pulled by up to six pairs of bulls. But in 2000, the organisers responded to accusations of animal abuse, by switching to a motorised vehicle.
However, in the island of Penang in northwestern Peninsular Malaysia, the chariot there continued to be pulled by the bulls. Many in the island's large ethnic-Chinese community also take part in the festivities, breaking hundreds of coconuts.
To many Thaipusam is the day of thanksgiving or atonement for wrongs.
Spectacular edifices or kavadis are often carried or pulled by the devotees with chains and ropes anchored in the skin of their backs or chests.
After ritual cleansing at a stream at the foothills, they walk up the 272 steps accompanied by family and friends.
But kavadi carrying need not be so arduous. Just carrying a small pot of milk up the steps to be poured on the vel is enough. Most devotees do this.
Some parents carry newborn babies slung in a cloth-cradle hung on a pole shouldered at both ends by the mother and the father as thanks for a safe birth.
Some also carry kavadis made of wood or metal adorned with pictures or statues of Hindu deities, flowers and peacock plumes.
Others shave their heads bald as a symbol of humility and atonement.
Many observe a strict vegetarian diet for about 40 days and renounce all forms of comfort and pleasure-giving activities. The 40 days are spent in meditation and prayer.
Thaipusam is also celebrated in this form in Singapore, Thailand, Mauritius and other countries where Tamil workers migrated.

Floral Fest 2007 - 20 Jan to 4 Feb 2007

Posted by Tuan Rumah | 12:09 AM | | 0 comments »

Malaysia Floral Fest is back with the biggest and most colorful display of flora in Malaysia. For a whole week in January, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur will be transformed into venues brimming with bright, colorful and fragrant blooms.
Inspired by past successes at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade in USA, Malaysia's very own floral parade will grace the launch of Malaysia Flora Fest 2007.
Originally introduced in 1991, Malaysia's Floral Parade is the only such parade ever organized in Southeast Asia. And this year the parade will be more dazzling than ever. Participants from various organizations and state governments will try to outshine one another with their own floral creations.
So, don't be a wallflower, come express your love for Mother Nature with your best floral display. Whether you are a participant or a spectator, you will not want to miss the fun as we celebrate the beauty and splendour of Malaysian blossoms.

Google Earth - Kuala Lumpur

Florathon [ 20 Jan ]The pre-launch event of the Malaysia Flora Fest, Florathon is held on 20 January 2007. This is a brisk 2km walk from Dataran Merdeka to KL Lake Gardens. Merit is given to flower-power and not speed, so come dressed in your best floral tags and walk away with fabulous prizes.

Photography Competition & Exhibition [ 21 Jan - 4 Feb ]Show off your creative eye and win some great prizes! It's really simple. Just snap a picture of anything associated with Malaysia’s flora. And all pictures must be related in some way to this year's theme, which is ‘Colours of Harmony’. All winning entries will be displayed from 21 January to 4 February, at the Exhibition Hall Perbadanan Putrajaya. So hurry! Get your cameras ready and win great prizes with your images of beautiful Malaysia. • Download Flora Fest Photo Contest FormRegister Online

Floral Parade, Putrajaya [ 27 Jan ]The Floral Parade held in Putrajaya on 27 January 2007, is the highlight of the Malaysia Flora Fest 2007. This spectacular event showcases floats decorated with bright, colourful and fragrant flowers. The Floral Parade juries will select six floats and award them with individual recognitions based on the best original design, concept, construction, animation, flower display and of course, the float display that is best in line with this year’s theme, ‘Colours of Harmony.’ Apart from the grand display of flora, marching bands from schools, government agencies and other organizations will also be on parade to add grandeur to the event. The decorated floats will then be on display for three days (27 - 29 January 2007) at an air-conditioned tent in Persiaran Perdana (Boulevard) Putrajaya. • Parade Route Map

Floral Bazaar [ 27 Jan - 1 Feb ]Open to the public from 27 January to 1 February 2007, this bazaar held at Persiaran Perdana (Boulevard) Putrajaya, offers a wide variety of Malaysian Flowers and plants. Choose from a large selection of fresh and artificial flowers. This bazaar is a one-stop venue where flower lovers, floriculturists and hobbyists can see, purchase and learn more about local blooms and rare flowers.

Shopping Complex & Hotel Lobby Floral Decoration Competition [ 27 Jan - 4 Feb ]From 27 January to 4 February 2007, participating shopping complexes and hotels will complete to outdo each other with floral display to be recognised as the best decorated complex foyer or hotel lobby. For one week, these lobby and concourse areas will be transformed into a paradise of flowers.

Workshop on Potpourri Making, Flower Arrangement, Planting & Care of Plants [ 1 - 2 Feb ]This 2 day workshop from 1 to 2 February 2007 in Putrajaya is where you can learn how to make potpourri, as well as the art of flower arrangement. You can also pick up tips and techniques on planting and caring for your plants.

For further information, contact :FLORA FEST 2007 SECRETARIATMALAYSIA TOURISM PROMOTION BOARD18th Floor, Menara Dato' Onn, Putra World Trade Centre,45 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIATel: 603 2615 8188 Fax: 603 2693 5884 / 0207Tourism Infoline (Within Malaysia): 1 300 88 5050

For transportation, KLIA Transit is offering discounted fare for visitors to the FloralParade on 27 January 2007 in Putrajaya. The special fare is for a returntrip from the KL Sentral and Bandar Tasik Selatan stations to Putrajaya.The return trip ticket will be priced at RM12 for adults and RM6 forchildren. The offer is valid on 27 January 2007 for a same-day travelonly.• Website:

Visit Malaysia Year 2007 Grand Launch

Posted by Tuan Rumah | 11:15 PM | | 3 comments »

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

  • Malaysia International Aerospace Exhibition
  • Penang International Dragon Boat Festival
  • Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival
  • Japan GT
  • Fiesta San Pedro
  • Penang Bridge International Marathon

July 2007

  • Ipoh Open International Run
  • Rainforest World Music Festival 2007 - Penang
  • Port Dickson International Triathlon
  • KL Fest

August 2007

  • Sultan's Cup Terengganu Endurance Challenge
  • 50 Years of Nationhood - World Lion Dance Invitation
  • Malaysia International Fireworks Competition
  • Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon
  • 50 Years of Nationhood - Merdeka Month Celebration

September 2007

  • Sarawak Regatta
  • Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix
  • KL International Tatoo Show
  • Penang International Lantern Festival

October 2007

  • Hari Raya Aidilfitri Celebration and Open House
  • Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week
  • Heart of Borneo 4x4 Safari

November 2007

  • Malaysia International Gourmet Festival
  • World Drums Festival
  • Deepavali Celebration and Open House
  • Malaysia A1 Grand Prix - Grand prix of Nations
  • Terengganu Monsoon Cup 2007

December 2007

  • Malaysia Year End Sale Carnival
  • KL International Busker's Festival
  • Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition
  • Christmas Celebration and Open House

Recommended book on Malaysia:

Malaysia - 50 years of Independence

Posted by Tuan Rumah | 10:15 PM | | 0 comments »

Come 2007, Malaysia will celebrate 50 years of independence. The month of August will be filled with a myriad of parades, cultural performances, street shows and carnivals to commemorate the country's Independence or Merdeka Day on 31st August.
It was on 31st August 1957 when history was made as the Union Jack was lowered and the Malaysian flag hoisted, with the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj leading the people in the famous shouts of Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! (Independence!)
For more than 30 years, Merdeka Day celebrations have been marked by parades involving uniformed personnel, corporate players, school children, cultural dancers, athletes and Malaysians from all walks of life. However, in recent years, the event has grown into a much anticipated and exciting month-long celebration nationwide.
This forthcoming Golden Jubilee celebration marks a significant milestone in the history of the nation. Join the enthusiastic crowd at the Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur on the eve of Merdeka Day for the countdown to this momentous event. Another highlight of the year will be the Citrawarna or Colours and Flavours of Malaysia parade, an annual event showcasing the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the country. This will be the grandest celebration for this event yet.
Malaysia invites all visitors to share in the joy and excitement of this momentous occasion. Come and be mesmerised by a unique multicultural populace celebrating 50 years of nationhood in harmony and peaceful co-existance. You will truly be fascinated.