View from 60th floor KOMTAR 2.4.2013
Its been awhile since the last post. Perhaps taken too much time to think over stuff, but some things only becomes clearer over time. After a long day at work, went for the famous Ayer Itam Duck Rice, the crowd was slowly building as we finish our late night supper, pork rice and marinated eggs. yum . As we walk out of the food court, there was a lonely motorbike, selling grill snacks, known as ‘BAK KUA ROTI’, still hungry, we ordered one ‘bak kua roti’ and ‘ham roti’. While waiting, curiously ask the uncle on what days does he rest and till what time he does his business, in a friendly tone, he briefly said that he sometimes sell till 3 or 4 am, sometime he packs up at half past two. As we speak, he mentioned about friends in common who works for the newspaper; some he knew since long time ago, when they were still fresh journalist, sort of hinting that uncle use to be in that area of work. Some of his friends are now in high ranking positions in the press. We ask if he himself was a journalist, he said he use to be involve in a small way, but have choose another carrier path. Seeing his cheerful smile, reminds us that, sometimes this little characters around us, that don’t seem too important at times, but humbly doing what they choose better to do, and being there all the time is what makes life, life. Its not always about the most famous people or things, but the little ones that holds life’s puzzle together.
It has really been awhile since we last posted anything interesting here. A new year, time for new beginnings and new adventures. Over the past year, we have been busy running a cafe in the heart of George Town, talking about a change of perspective, running a cafe is no PIKNIK by the beach.
Million of things have changed, big and small, We wish we had more time to share these stories, but eventually taken comfort in the pillows of Facebook & Instagram. Starting this year, we will have a few new members, can’t wait to get some good stuff up here, other than that, do drop us a note if ya have anything you wish to share with us, and here we kick start the first post of 2o13!
Armenian Street wall’s painting has tapped deep into the minds of Penangites and visitors, provoking a fascinating and creative response. People take pictures of themselves chasing the children down the road, some go for a ride together, and some add captions about their childhood memories. There is no fixed meaning; the artwork is open for interpretations, recreations and narratives. This is street art at its best, when it stops being an individual painting and becomes part of the public imagination.
George Town Festival is a month long celebration of art, music, theatre, dance, opera and film that transforms George Town into a unique platform for arts, heritage and culture. GTF 2012 runs for the third year in a row commemorating the inscription of George Town on the UNESCO World Heritage listing on 7th July, 2008.
The unique appeal of the festival lies in its well-balanced blend of local culture and cutting-edge international acts. The main objective of the GTF is to rejuvenate Penang as an international boutique destination of arts and culture. It has already succeeded in attracting international attention with media giants such as The New York Times, CNNgo and The Wall Street Journal citing interest in the event. The festival features a feast of art, opera, music, dance, theatre, film, food, fashion, and a tonne more.
(original text from GTF)
official website : Georgetown Festival
Fallen in love with Jolin’s illustrations *_*
click on thumbnail to view larger photos
Portraits in Georgetown by DC Lim
(article originally published in PEM July’s 2011 issue)
The Past Is The Present (Armenian Street) by Gabija Grušaitė
Somehow heritage became an unquestionable value in itself in the everyday life of George Town ever since its Unesco World Heritage listing, and often there is no further attempt to conceptualize what exactly is “inherited”. By global standards, the city is young compared to places like Varanasi, Rome or Istanbul, but its 200 years of history which have united the narratives of colonialism, global migration, capitalism and cultural transformation is certainly an attractive one. George Town is very much a living city and there are so many paths that it can choose. Singapore reinvented itself as a financial hub, a city of clean pavements and high rises; legalized prostitution and now, has a highly successful casino. Malacca is rediscovering its charm as a heritage city, unfolding its numerous layers of history. This is, however, a dangerous path, and the most famous historical towns in the world including Venice and Florence are nothing more than enormous museums. So far Penang is balancing its heritage and full economic potential; but once fused together those two elements could result in an explosive revival as has happened with Barcelona and Seattle. Streets age differently than people, they constantly undergo a transformation and even though the houses remain the same, the inhabitants change, businesses come and go, children grow up and leave their nests. Busy lanes become deserted and as time passes they burst into life again. Looking at Armenian Street now, it’s hard to imagine that it was the scene of major battles during the 19th century. Sun Yat Sen’s headquarters is now a museum; a number of art galleries and artsy cafes have opened, creating a hip and bohemian atmosphere.
No 20 Armenian Street
No 20 Armenian Street is a magnifi cent white and blue three-storey building bought by Dr Askandar Unglehrt 15 years ago, when Armenian Street was still an ordinary residential street with scrap dealer shops everywhere. While he talked about his 40-year-long love aff air with Penang and his Malaysian wife, Dr Unglehrt showed the inner yard of the house, which was bombarded by the Japanese and had never been rebuilt. He is a passionate antique and art collector with an impressive collection, mostly of local artists and antique furniture. He does not live in the house and in order not to leave it empty he invited his close friend, Mexican artist Ricardo Tovez, to stay and work there. Tovez came to Penang 12 years ago for an exhibition and never left . He explained that while he preferred to exhibit in Kuala Lumpur and abroad (his next show will take place in China), Penang’s provincial art scene makes it a good place to work and create. The pace of life is slow and mesmerizing and he loves to live alone in an enormous house. Dr Unglehrt joked that artists need to work alone, “It’s no good putt ing many of them in one place, they just fight and compete with each other!” Talking with both men over a glass of wine on a balcony overlooking Khoo Kongsi, one can see that it is a beautiful marriage between an artist, an art collector and an old house. All three of them seem to be melancholic and immune to the rush and stresses of the outside world. When the sun goes down, it almost looks like a beautiful haunted house, inhabited only by macabre Mexican art and the artist himself who seems to be a magical figure, a mortal practitioner of art.
The trishaw man
There is a trend in contemporary academia to talk about the decline of community; to mourn the loss of the personalized interactions between people and to claim that alienation is constantly growing and taking over all spheres of life. However, while walking down Armenian Street one can see that there is link between the residential houses, art galleries and businesses – it is a trishaw man called Mr Hock. He is the heart of the street, he knows everyone by name, and he collects all their stories. More than this, he is the keeper of the street who waters everyone’s flowers, washes the pavements, fi xes what needs to be fi xed, feeds and walks the dogs and keeps secrets. At night he sleeps in his trishaw as if it were a throne, and even while asleep, he keeps an eye on the street. Without him the pavements wouldn’t be as cool, the plants wouldn’t be as green and the street wouldn’t be as cosy, because he binds all the houses in his warm net. By no means is Hock homeless; he is a trishaw man who was born and lived on Armenian Street all his life. He makes his living taking tourists for rides, but there is more to it; and listening to him speak about the past, it feels as if he is a living book. He told me about the gang fights that used to take place in the neighborhood a few decades ago. Not anymore, he said and smiled. Hock likes the way Armenian Street has rediscovered itself. Temples are beautiful now, the buildings are not decaying anymore, he said. Th e keeper spirit is happy. He needed to rush away, the Bonton dogs needed to be fed and the door needed to be fixed.
Leong Bicycle Shop
All his life, for 47 years, Leong has lived on Armenian street and the bicycle shop he owns was inherited from his father. Although it is a bicycle shop, a lot of people come to take pictures of his antique collection that he started out of a personal obsession. It began with antique bicycles and spread; his collection is displayed in the shop, but is not for sale. Old pictures, an antique motorcycle, radios, bicycles, fans and calendars – a rare glimpse into the past. These are not the polished and readymade fake antiques for tourists, his are all collected from the neighborhood when people moved out. Recollecting his memories about Armenian Street, Leong reminisces how it was once lively and a litt le bit shabby, full of youths hanging out till late. Now the street has acquired a more polished, even posh look and most of the old generation inhabitants have moved out, making space for galleries, art studios and cafes. However, Leong likes the street as it is now and intends to stay here for as long as he can. Business is good, he said, smiling. He is happy that Penang is changing, becoming more environmentally aware, and that cycling is coming back into fashion. All of his sales are to locals and the only problem he has at the moment is that he cannot meet the overwhelming demand.
No 53 Armenian Street
Heritage houses are not only for rich foreigners or old people; they are desirable and chic places to live for young professionals including Cheeleong Tan, an interior designer, and Aping Lim, a graphic designer. Even though they moved in to No 53 only eight months ago, the interior design is breathtakingly cosy and contemporary, yet almost all the furniture and things in the house are antiques. Both Cheeleong and Aping are passionate antique collectors, but because of the soaring market prices, they decided to recycle all the unwanted and abandoned furniture they found. Even though the No 53 house project could be the possible future of Armenian Street, the atmosphere of the house harmonises with George Town’s past cosmopolitanism and cultural creativity. Both UK-educated and well travelled, Cheeleong and Aping are highly aware of the environment they live in and are active about changing it. Th ey are currently participating in a community-focused renovation project, where they are the uniting link between the foreign and government funds and an older generation of Armenian Street dwellers.
Every evening, a few hours before dusk, a chaos begins at the crossroads between Armenian Street and Aceh Street where people gather for the infamous fl ea market. There are no stalls, no order; things are displayed on the ground, sometimes on a sheet. It is always very lively with sellers actively promoting their products and buyers eagerly going through the stacks of clothes, discussing features of a dinosaurera computer or bargaining over a pile of wire hangers. Most of the stuff sold here is of no use to an ordinary person – old DVDs, second-hand mobile phones, old clothes, odd and weird household items, but it is a good place to hunt for bargain antiques. Sometimes it is hard to understand who is a customer and who is a merchant. Oft en, it does not matter at all as both people and things exist here on the margin of society, otherwise invisible and unrecognizable. Th e people here are full of character and sometimes remind me of a Penang version of a Dostoyevsky novel. Th e market does not have a neat and polished appearance that all tourist markets have and therefore it represents a living tradition, part of contemporary George Town that is being erased out of the official narrative. In fact the market is illegal and one can observe a subtle pirouette between the sellers and the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP); every time MPPP officials arrive everyone packs up their wares and disappears behind the corner, moving the whole flea market there. Aft er they leave, everyone comes back. Endless cycle. On Sundays the MPPP offi cials don’t show up so this is the biggest day for the market.
by Gabija Grušaitė
Big thanks to Meimun, Gwen Hew, Christy & Keat Tong. via: I.M.’s July 2011 Issue
click on thumbnail to view larger photos
via: komas on vimeo, website: http://www.komas.org/
KOMAS( Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat) is a human rights organisation that was set up in 1993 to support marginalised grassroot communities and NGOs.
Big Ben Breakfast is one of our favorite place to grab a heartful meal, sitting on the edge of The Botanical Gardens, listening to the birds chapping, uncles and aunties gossiping about the daily news while munching on slices of bacon, sausage, bake beans and half a tomato…emmmm
Big Ben Breakfast is situated along Waterfall Road, next to the Batik Gallery. Opens everyday from 8am – 6pm (Close on Tuesdays) map here
click on thumbnail to view larger photos
click on thumbnail to view larger photos
Festival Calendar is up for downloads!!!
For more info, visit www.georgetownfestival.com or call 04-2616308.
Saturday, June 18 at 8:00pm – June 19 at 2:00am
venue : Soundmaker Studio,Weld Quay, Penang map here
RM15 cover charge includes one free drink (alcoholic or non alcoholic).
Valve State Dreams starts after dinner at 8.00 pm @ Soundmaker Studio at 62 Weldquay Penang. remember to have your meals first because nobody’s going anywhere once this party starts. This time is going to be a night of banging post rock madness then followed by your usual ZAP party.
We are mixing it up abit with some bands joining us in this coming event to expand the event’s sonic experience. The list of performing bands are yet to be confirmed as we are waiting on confirmation from additional performers.
On the 22nd of MAY, uncle Choong went missing in the forest reserves up in Teluk Bahang. Uncle Choong missing?!#$!$ It was the last thing we had on our minds, since he has been roaming the woods for more than a decade, heart pumping and cold sweats.
Much to our relief, he manage to find his way out the next morning, tired from the love bites (mosquitos) and the unexpected night adventure. Salute to the local forest rangers, Bomba & police search team for their efforts, and all the friends & family members who came together
Bellow is the story by uncle Choong, on how he spent the night in the forest of Teluk Bahang (drinkng monkey cup cocktails, feeding mosquitos and night safari)
“First of all many thanks to all for your concern, effort and sense of urgency plus of humour. Like Dato’ said that I look more like C Dundee than a much-stressed out rescued person and found out there are so many who cared!
The adventure started when I took a wrong right turn after the bridge on one of the tributaries of the Sungai Keracut. However, when I explained the experience to my staff, I realized that this bridge could have replaced another bridge with balustrades which I last saw it about 5 years ago.
So, I went up the ridge expecting to see the trail to Pantai Keracut but never got to see it but instead another trail which led uphill to the trail to Teluk Kampi that we (the Weekend Warriors) followed earlier in the morning. To retrace the said trail back to the steps of the Pantai Keracut trail was a bit daunting at that moment, as I was quite tired by then. So I decided to go back downhill to locate the contour trail exiting at Bukit Belah. That trail has since been covered by fallen tree trunks and led me to zig-zag up and down until I saw the flat of a trail. Whoopee! But the moment I reached there, I realized that it was the same trail that I came down an hour earlier. Decision time – 5 min of fame resulting from resting at the top & spending the night there or trudge on. It was still light on the ridge. Anyway, decision made to rest on a 2 metre high boulder and rest till the next morning.
Interesting sounds and movements started the moment, darkness fell. Not too far away, rustling of a palm leaf and same thing also about 10 metres away. I stared at that but saw nothing in the dim light near darkness except bent fronds. Probably some langsir attracting attention. Besides insect noise, quite a cacophony from the variety of night birds. Good place for night safari!
Whistle calls and hollering of the rescue teams were heard and replied. But they confirmed not having heard my yelling; best to use a whistle and also a laser pointer to attract attention. Sleeping on hard rock takes some getting used to though the improvised pillow from a capped PET bottle helped me get some sleep. Night past without looking at the watch until the humming sounds of the trawlers at Teluk Bahang reminded me that it should be light soon, and indeed when azan washeard I knew that I could start moving in another hour’s time. Shortly before 7am, it started to drizzle which then turned into a downpour; time to leave as there was danger of lightning strike and also the path was visible enough.
So, it took me about an hour and a half to get back to the main Keracut trail and another 25 minutes to get to the main entrance to the park. Then surprise! Surprise! Bomba personnel with dogs, Silviane and probably Rela members too. Suddenly my PR agent, i.e. Peter Yeoh appeared, followed by Law, Roslant, Teresa…marked my 5 min of fame.”
Busking along Gurney Drive with Jiman, Nita, Cindy & Ernest on the month of April.
Original music by: Pink Crack – Feel You Here
PENANG LIGHT GRAFFITI SQUAD on facebook
On the gloomy month of March 2011, Ren & Tian Tian came by our island in search for a sip of Penang’s local creative energy. It was a thrill showing both of them around the island; driving around like a Delhi taxi driver on a 1970′s marine blue ‘Beetle Volks Wagon’. We had the chance to meet up with the gang from NYFC, pop by KAKI ‘s office, crash into an art exhibition at Alliance Française, tunnel through the 2nd hand bookstores above Chowrasta Market, hangout at Armenian Street, Nasi Lemak for lunch at Beach Street, jam in to Soundmaker Studio on the eve of ZAP party to meet up with Ah Cheong & gang. Bellow are some photos of the magazine and some behind the scenes. Had fun, made friends, uuuuuuuuh
meet up at NYFC
mum with her camera back in the 70′s
Ze Arcade Paint (ZAP.) is an independent movement. Started collaboratively by a small group of young Penangites frustrated with the monotony of the city’s party scene. ZAP is a non-profit event formed with the primary intent of injecting a breath of fresh air into the city’s nightlife and bringing different youths together under one roof to make their claim of the night.
ZEARCADEPAINT B.Y.O. PARTY 29.4.2011 9:00PM
venue: Soundmaker Studio
62 Pengkalan Weld
George Town, Malaysia
previous party photos
Received this photo in our mail box today, photograph by Sao Lai’s dad. Hearts
Travel with Axian as he unearths distinctive hidden entrées, while unravelling the secrets of the cultures that moulded these appetite-whetting delights, and at the same time, leaving behind his very own “food trail”. Rather than hedonistically eating and drinking, the program explores the picturesque landscapes, soaking up the culture, while savouring the taste of the local cuisines. (text via Axian’s tv show)
Saturday 20 March 2011, 28°C , 5:30pm
If weather can strum a persons mood, what does this rain has to say to you? Raining heavily under the gray sky on this quiet Saturday afternoon. Heart this song cover of Soko’s It’s Raining Outside
It was 9pm in the evening of Saturday 12 March 2011. It was drizzling, 5 kilometers off the heart of Georgetown, a few dancers decided to put on a show, crying for the polluted rivers that intervenes this island.
This photo was taken on Friday 11 March 2011, 6:30pm. We sent off a friend from Hong Kong earlier in the day. On this very same day, Japan was struck by a major earth quake and a Tsunami wipe off thousands of life. It was unbelievable witnessing the terror on TV. We deeply wish time could be turn backwards, and such disaster would never had taken place. Pray for Japan.
2011 Japanese Earthquake & Tsunami Google Crisis Response Here
Tsunami’s Destruction : Before & After Here
Donation to Japanese Red Cross Society Here
Spent the weekend at home tidying up the room, came across this two photographs, the first one on top being ODEAN, and the second one below being CAPITOL (no longer exist). I remember my guitar teacher telling me stories of how he used to wait for his girlfriend in the evening out side the cinema for a date
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Along the busy street of Jalan Burmah is where this fascinating old barber shop is located. Despite the hustling and bustling of the continuing traffic in front of the shop, this pre-war shop house draws attention to the by passers with its charmingly simplistic and rustic appearance. No big and brightly lit signboard that demands attention, but just the gift of letting one to be able to travel back in time with its old fashion appeal.
For over 50 years this barber shop is in operation and the first thing we noticed about Hun Hoe is its (still) fully functional cowboy door. We are amazed that it is still working after all these years! Just like we wondered about how the business survived the test of time. After we were nicely tucked inside the comfort of a faded white ceiling fan, only we realized that the customers that walked through that door are the regulars.
According to the owner, they have a set of customers that would come in once every month or so for the mandatory haircut and because of them, Hun Hoe is still in operation and remains the same. Every single detail of the shop reeks of old fashioned familiarity and occurrence. From its signage at the window pane to its cowboy style door. From its cobweb infested Redifussion speaker to its standing fan. From its mirrors and chairs to its working tools. We even found 老夫子 ‘s comic book, which was a treat back to our childhood days! That comic is the epitome of getting a hair cut at the neighborhood salon.
We have this really cool picture of the friendly owner when he was being featured on a Singapore travel magazine and we took a picture of him with the same angle some 12 years later! The same pose but his facial features have aged with grace and wisdom. Everything else in the picture remains the same. You can tell from his expression that he is really proud of his job.
For us, it is quite a rare sight to see a Chinese operating a barber shop and we wondered if this barber shop will continue to preserve its charm and tells the same story for the future generations to come. In the future, are we able to be like the owner and the regulars where we would come together from different walks of life to relax at one place and watch the world buzzing by while chatting about our lives? However, we are only glad that we managed to capture its glory in time to present it to the world.