Travel. Guides. Photography. Fun. A photoblog of travel photography, insider travel guides, and random fun stuff.

April 15, 2008

Photoblog: Beijing, 南锣鼓巷 (Nanluoguxiang)

 Beijing, 南锣鼓巷 (Nanluoguxiang)Beijing's Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷) is one of the oldest streets in Beijing. It's full of artsy little shops, cafes, souvenir shops, and cute boutiques. It's worth it to spend an hour or two walking through the little alley ways and hutongs around it.

Labels: , , ,

March 22, 2008

Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Penang, Malaysia

Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Penang, Malaysia (CHI Spa at Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa)

Read all about Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, the famed hotel in Penang, Malaysia here.

Labels: , ,

February 17, 2008

Secret Islands in Southeast Asia: Pulau Lang Tengah (Malaysia), Ko Lipe (Thailand), and Koh Rong (Cambodia)

Lang Tengah Island, Malaysia (Blue sky and cystal clear water in Pulau Lang Tengah, Malaysia)
The islands in Thailand are no longer a secret. The words are out about the beautiful and pristine islands in the Philippines, tourists and backpackers alike are starting to discover the islands and beaches of Cambodia and Vietnam - but fret not, there are still some secret island hideaways in South East Asia that are still untouched by mass tourism and completely off the tourist paths. As an island snob, I want my island to look like a picture perfect island wall paper on my computer - swaying coconut trees, alabaster sands, crystal clear water, lush tropical jungle, and offers lots of privacy. If an island has powdery white sands, it also means that the sea is fringed with coral reefs and teeming sea lives and will make activities like snorkeling and diving possible.In this guide, I will take you to the lesser known tropical islands in Southeast Asia: Ko Lipe in Thailand, Koh Rong in Cambodia, and Lang Tengah Island in Malaysia.

Pulau Lang Tengah, Malaysia

Compared to its more famous sister islands such as the Perhentians and Pulau Redang, Pulau Lang Tengah is not as well-known, which means you can still pretty much have the island to yourself and avoid and tourists crowd. Currently, Lang Tengah attracts only some enthusiast divers, and accommodations are provided by four resorts. These resorts offer very basic accommodations with chalets dotting the beach. If you are looking for more amenities, I strongly recommend the newest D' Coconut Lagoon. This resort has its own private beach (albeit a very small one), a swimming pool, and PADI dive courses. Overall, the services are pretty good and you get a rustic feeling staying in one of their bungalows since they are located in a secluded corner of the island.

For activities, snorkeling and diving are great around Lang Tengah Island. If you have more time, you can also charter a boat to explore the underwater scenes in the nearby Redang Marine Park and the Perhentians.

How to get there:

Malaysia Airlines flies to Kuala Lumpur from all the major cities in the world. Once you get to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), take the Malaysian low cost carrier Air Asia to Kuala Terengganu. Then proceed to Merang jetty with a taxi and take a speedboat to Pulau Lang Tengah. The resorts on Lang Tengah Island offer packages that include meals, snorkeling and/or diving trips, and boat transfers.


Best time to visit:May to September. Avoid the monsoon season from October till February.

Ko Lipe, Thailand

Near the border of Thailand and Malaysia lies a tiny and beautiful island called Ko Lipe. Together with Ko Adang, Ko Rawi and other smaller islands, they form the island Ko Adang-Ko Rawi archipelago located 40 km away from Tarutao National Park. Inhibited by only 500 Chao Náam/sea gypsies, this is your Robinson Crusoe island. Unlike Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta, Ko Lipe is still very undeveloped and rustic. Most of the bungalows are pretty basic with fan, and they usually shut off their electricity after 9 pm. For air conditioning and full electricity, stay at Varin Resort or Mountain Resort.

Ko Lipe is blessed with long white sandy beaches, warm turquoise water, and some secluded bays while Ko Adang and Ko Ravi's mountainous slopes provide good hiking and jungle trekking. For snorkeling and diving, head over to the local dive shops on Ko Lipe and arrange a trip around Ko Lipe, Ko Adang, and Ko Rawi. The coral reefs here are healthy and intact with a wealth of tropical fish and marine life. You can also island hop to other smaller islands such as Ko Ngai and Ko Hin Gham. At Ko Hin Gham, check out the natural stones in decorative patterns which are scattered about the beach. When night falls, head over to Pooh Lipe bar and enjoy the only live music on the island.

How to get there:

From Bangkok, you can take a night train or fly with a low cost carrier to Hat Yai. Take a minibus to Pak Bara from across the Hat Yai Train Station. The journey takes about 2 hours.

From Pak Bara, take a ferry to Ko Lipe. Ferry schedules are subject to change, so please get the latest information from your resort.From Southern Thailand (Phuket, Krabi, etc.), the easiest way is to travel to Trang Bus Station and then take a minibus to Pak Bara. The journey takes about 1.5 hours. From Pak Bara, take a ferry to Ko Lipe. Ferry schedules are subject to change, so please get the latest information from your resort.

From Langkawi, Malaysia, there are normally four ferries to Ko Lipe during high season, but in the low season, the schedule could change due to weather condition. The ferry departs from Telaga Harbour at Langkawi to Koh Lipe. For enquiry, please contact Tel: +604 9592202 or email [email protected].


  • Varin Resort: +66 (0)1 543 0505
  • Mountain Resort: +66 (0)74 728 131
  • Pooh Lipe: +66 74 728 018
Best time to visit:

December through May.

Koh Rong, Cambodia

When people think of Cambodia tourism, the first thing that comes to mind is the mystical ruins at Angkor Archaeological Park. Seldom do people think of the kingdom as a place that offers R&R in terms of sun, sands, and sea. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions as Cambodia does have its fair share of beaches and tropical islands.

Along the south coast, you will find beach towns dotting the shore, most notably Sihanoukville, or Kampong Som, as the locals call it. There are more than a dozen islands off the coast of Sihanoukville; the most pristine and beautiful of all are Koh Rong and the smaller Ko Rong Salaam. These islands are yet to be developed for an overnight stay but resorts and local dive shops at Sihanoukville offer day trips. Picnic and BBQ could be arranged.

Once the day trip is arranged, just hop on the boat and go island hopping. Once you find your perfect spot, just ask your guide to drop you off and you can pretty much have the whole beach or island to yourself. With its powdery white sandy beaches, crystal clear azure water, and tranquility, Ko Rong Salaam easily tops my chart as one of the most beautiful islands I have been to.If you are adventurous, you can camp overnight as it has fresh water resources and a fishing village with basic supplies such as fresh water and seafood. So fire up a bonfire and have a BBQ on the beach…life can't get any better than that.

How to get there:

From Phnom Penh, you can travel by bus or taxi to Sihanoukville. There are several daily buses between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville and the bus is relatively comfortable with air conditioning. These buses depart the bus station on Charles de Gaulle, next to the Central Market.

For day trips or overnight trips to Ko Rong, contact the two main dive operations in town - Scuba Nation and Eco-Sea.

Labels: , , , ,

February 13, 2008

Boutique Hotels in Luang Prabang, Laos

 Boutique Hotels in Luang Prabang, Laos (Room in La Residence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang, Laos)
Luang Prabang is the jewel of Indochina, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. The ancient royal city is surrounded by mountains at the junction of the Mekong and its tributary, the Khan river. In the center of the city is Mount Phousi with stunning views of the surrounding temples and hills. Luang Prabang is a magical place where time seems to stand still; it's becoming increasingly popular these days as travelers discover its old time charm and serenity.

This guide provides the complete list of boutique hotels and resorts in Luang Prabang, Laos. As Luang Prabang is small, you can practically reach everywhere by foot. Plan your vacation well and you can probably stay at all the resorts below and you probably should!

Boutique Hotels in Luang Prabang

La Residence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang - ForeverBee Recommended

La Residence Phou Vao is probably Luang Prabang's best hotel. La Résidence Phou Vao boasts breathtaking views of the mountains and the sedate World Heritage town of Luang Prabang. La Résidence Phou Vao boasts 3 hectares of lush gardens, rich with bougainvillea, palms and frangipani, which fringe the breathtaking infinity swimming pool overlooking Mount Phousi.The Spa at La Résidence Phou Vao is the first luxury spa in Luang Prabang. The Spa offers a full range of face and body treatments including facials, massages, body scrubs, body wraps and packages for individuals and couples. In addition, the resort's restaurant serves authentic French cuisine as well as local Laotian cooking.

Deluxe Room starts at US$120++ per night.

Satri House, Luang Prabang - ForeverBee Recommended

Satri House was the residence of Prince Souphanouvong when he was a child and was refurbished in 2002. This boutique lodge is the most exquisite place in the city. Decorated with a unique colonial style, it has an air of refinement, calm, and bliss one will never forget.With only 7 rooms and each with its own design and decor, Satri House beckons to those looking for the best and most unique accomodation experience.

Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel, Luang Prabang

This beautiful and enchanting hotel will take your breath away as soon as you step into it. Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel has won many awards, most recently, in Condé Nast Traveler (US Version) Hot List 2005. It has also won PATA Gold Awards 2006.Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel features a celebrated Angsana Spa as well as a choice of intimate rooms and luxurious suites for its guests. The Elephant Blanc restaurant in the hotel is the ideal place to be tempted by a variety of mouth-watering French, Laotian and Indochinese dishes, all served up in a causally chic poolside setting.The former residence of Prince Souvannaphouma in the 1960s and 70s, Maison Souvannaphoum is the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring the ancient temples and enchanting scenery of Luang Prabang.

Room starts at US$170++ per night.

The Apsara Hotel, Luang Prabang

If you like your hotel uber hip, funky, yet affordable, you will love The Apsara Hotel in Luang Prabang.The Apsara hotel is located in the heart of the heritage center of Luang Prabang, on the banks of the Nam Khan. Each room in The Apsara Hotel are individually designed and unique in its own sense with some rooms overlooking both the Nam Khan river and the mountain and offer spectacular sunrise views. The Apsara also offers the best (and most beautiful) restaurant in town with its French-Laotian fusion menu.

Room starts at only US$55++.

Villa Savanh, Luang Prabang

If you want to experience true Laotian life in Luang Prabang, you can rent the whole house at Villa Savanh. Managed and run by the same people at The Apsara, Villa Savanh has three double bedrooms, three bathrooms, an open-air dinning area, a very large living room, and maid service.Done in a simple but traditional style and surrounded by a large garden, Villa Savanh is furnished with local made fabrics and furnitures. The villa is very comfortable, cosy, and with maid services included, it feels like a home away from home.

Rate starts at $210 (November to April) or $165 (May to October).

Labels: ,

January 20, 2008

Diving in Malaysia and Reef Fishes of Malaysia

Green Turtles in MalaysiaImagine warm clear waters, colorful underwater reefs and fascinating aquatic life forms. Imagine stunning, sheer walls and large, graceful pelagics. Imagine breathtaking beaches of powdery soft sand. These captivating sights will be yours to enjoy in the abundance of dive sites in Malaysia. For diving enthusiasts, there are plenty of dive sites in the waters of Malaysia.

Climate and Water Temperature

Malaysia has an equatorial climate with fairly uniform temperatures ranging from 32 Degree Celsius during the day to 22 Degree Celsius at night. Humidity is about 85-95%. Water temperature is 27-28 Degree Celsius and during the dry months the temperature may rise to 30-31 Degree Celsius. Divers will not require thick wet suits. A wet suit of between 1.5 to 3 mm is appropriate.

Best Time to Dive

West Coast of Peninsula Malaysia - December to May.East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia - March to October. The islands around Sabah and Sarawak are reasonably well-protected and can be dived all year round. However, water visibility is better during the months of April to August.

Dive Equipment Rental

Dive equipment is readily available for rent at almost all dive centers. But it would be wise to give prior notice to the operators, as sizes could be limited.
Local Diving AssociationMalaysia Sport Diving AssociationB-13-D2, Plaza Mont Kiara50480 Kuala LumpurTel: (603)6411 8002Email: [email protected]


The following are contacts for recompression chambers in Malaysia:

  • Labuan Naval Base Tel: (6087)412 122
  • Lumut Naval Base Tel: (605)683 7090/164/166/168
  • Kuantan Naval Base Tel: (609)513 3333/557 2222
  • Sipadan Island, Borneo Divers and Sea Sports Tel: (6089)784 299
Diving insurance for emergency point-to-point evacuation and personal accident cover while in Malaysia are available through most dive centers. Evacuation is not included unless covered by insurance.


Electricity is 220 volts at 50 cycles, although most first-class hotels can suppy an adapter for 110 volts , 60 cycles appliances. Plugs are of the British three rectangle prong type. Most island resorts are powered by 24-hour generators or have an electrical supply from the mainland.

Time Zone

Malaysia is about 8 hours ahead of GMT, 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time and 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.


Very casual, light cotton clothing like t-shirts, shorts, etc. is the order of the day. No formality is expected in the restaurants. Tourists are recommended to be properly dressed when visiting villages and towns. Nudity is prohibited.

Best Places to Dive in Malaysia

Reef Fishes in the Waters of Malaysia

The waters in Malaysia is abundant with marine lives: fish, soft and hard corals, green turtles, leatherback turtles, and many marine biology systems. There are many different species of reef fishes in Malaysia. Take a trip to dive sites like Lang Tengah, Pulau Sipadan, and many islands in Malaysia and you will find rich marine lives. Below is the list of reef fishes found in the waters of Malaysia.

Reef Fishes in Malaysia:

  • Barracuda
  • Barramundi Cod
  • Batfish
  • Black tip reef shark
  • Blenny
  • Boxfish
  • Bumphead wrasse
  • Butterflyfish
  • Chromis
  • Clownfish
  • Damsel
  • Emperor angel
  • Flashlight fish
  • Frogfish
  • Fusiliers
  • Ghost pipefish
  • Glass sweepers
  • Gobi
  • Grouper
  • Hammerland shark
  • Hatchet fish
  • Jacks
  • Leaf fish
  • Leopard shark
  • Lionfish
  • Nurse shark
  • Manta Ray
  • Parrotfish
  • Moray eel
  • Parrotfish
  • Pennant butterlyfish
  • Putterfish
  • Rabbitfish
  • Red coral trout
  • Surgeonfish
  • Sweetlips
  • Triggerfish
  • Stingray
  • Wrasses
  • Yellowtail
  • Green turtle

Labels: , ,

January 18, 2008

Medical Vacation in Bangkok, Thailand

Private hospitals in Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiangmai are increasingly attracting foreign customers on the strength of their relatively low prices, skilled personnel, modern world class facilities and services and wide range of medical treatments offered. As a result, some of the top hospitals in Bangkok cater to a very large number of overseas visitors.

These hospitals have focused on developing and investing in state-of-the-art equipment and services, highly trained and experienced physicians, and specialists with international certifications and accreditations.

They offer both GP and specialist care facilities with an international department specially for overseas visitors. The specialist departments usually cover the following: heart institute, cancer center, endocrine and diabetes center, health and weight control center , allergy center, eye clinic, advanced skin laser, plastic surgery, etc. Most private hospitals offer packages at very low cost for routine checks.

Facilities such as credit card payment, acceptance of some of the major health insurance plans from world over making payments, quintessential Thai service and multilingual staff are added incentives for patients making use of the local hospitals.

General Hospitals in Bangkok
Bangkok Christian Hospital
124 Silom Road
Bangkok 10500
Tel: 02-233-6981-9

Bangkok Hospital
2 Soi Soonvijai 7, New Petchuburi Road
Bangkok 10320
Tel: 02-310-3000

BNH Hospital
9/1 Convent Road
Bangkok 10500
Tel: 02-632-0540-72

Bumrungrad Hospital
33 Soi Nana Nua, Sukhumvit Soi 3
Klongtoey, Wattana
Bangkok 10110
Tel: 02-667-1000

Camillian Hospital
423 Soi Thonglor 25, Sukhumvit Soi 55
Bangkok 10110
Tel: 02-391-5724

Central General Hospital
362/114 Phaholyothin Road
Bangkok 10220
Tel: 02-552-8777

Kluaynamthai 1 Hospital
80 Rama 4 Road
Bangkok 10110
Tel: 02-381-2006-20

Kluaynamthai 2 Hospital
27 Sukhumvit Soi 68
Bangkok 10110
Tel: 02-399-4259-63

Labels: ,

January 15, 2008

Complete List of Boutique Hotels/Boutique Resorts in Malaysia

Pangkor Laut Resort, MalaysiaThis guide prodives the complete list of the most popular boutique hotels and small boutique resorts in Malaysia. Enjoy!

(Exchange Rate: RM3.30 = US$1.00)

Boutique Hotels in Malaysia

Hotel Maya, Kuala Lumpur - ForeverBee Recommended

Hotel Maya is a boutique urban resort located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. With its resort-type environment, Hotel Maya sets a new benchmark for a unique yet pleasant experience: when you enter the Hotel Maya, your senses are truly transported to exotic realms!Located in the hub of the business and commercial districts adjacent to Kuala Lumpur's famous Petronas Twin Towers, Hotel Maya is an epitome of class with a twist of nature. The stylish interior of the hotel is finished with bamboo panelling, a pathway over the flowing water and elegant furnishings create an ambience that is both contemporary and compelling.Luxuriate in your chosen path toward beauty and relaxation at Anggun Spa; guided by the gentle hands of the spa's qualified therapists. The spa brings together a multitude of approaches - Malay urut, Thai massage, even shiatsu - enjoyed in the comfort of private treatment rooms, for individuals or couples. Room starts at RM300.

Carcosa Seri Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Carcosa Seri Negara is one of the leading hotels in Kuala Lumpur with its manicured lawns and the lake gardens, a part of Malaysia which seemingly can never change. One of Carcosa Seri Negara's trademarks is the English afternoon tea, served in the elegant drawing room or on the verandah overlooking the beautiful gardens. Savor the delightful variety of teas, assorted sandwiches, hot savories, pastries, cakes, fresh strawberries, and the quintessential English tea fare of scones served with Clotted Cream and homemade strawberry jam.The 13 suites at Carcosa Seri Negara are furnished in distinctive regency style with fine brocades, old etchings and Malaysian objects d'art. Several suites have large terraces; two actually come with private dining rooms.Suites are identified by their own name, derived from names of Malaysian States. Most state names are followed by a descriptive virtue of the State. That description, prefaced by "Seri" (Malay for "beautiful") is often reflected in the design of the suite itself.All suites are air-conditioned, furnished with a mini-bar, personal safe television with satellite, writing desk, and DVD / CD player and wireless internet access. Room starts at RM1,100 at this boutique hotel.

G Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

Chic and stylish, Penang's latest gem the G Hotel is a new urban icon along Penang's bustling Gurney Drive. With its stunning interior and contemporary design, the G Hotel offers accommodation with style and substance. The hotel is also an epitome of modernity, in terms of its bold and innovative approach. This ultra-chic boutique hotel is close to all the major attractions in Penang, and right in the hawker food heaven of Penang. Room starts at RM240.

Lone Pine Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

The colorful history of the Lone Pine Hotel dates back to 1948 when a lonely bungalow owned by the McKearn family was bought over by a group of Chinese with the intention of operating a hotel on Batu Ferringhi.On the land where the bungalow stood, was then a lone Casuarina tree, which was thought to be a pine tree, hence the hotel's name 'Lone Pine'. With only 10 rooms, the Lone Pine Hotel was the first hotel on Batu Ferringhi, and was a haven for expatriates and their families fleeing the severe winters of home.The beautifully restored Lone Pine Hotel is a wonderful escape for those who seek complete privacy amongst an idyllic setting. Having gone through phases of expansions through the years, today, the Lone Pine is an imposing 3 storey high building, thoughtfully spread out over 4 acres of landscaped gardens. This enchanting boutique resort boasts of 50 exclusive guestrooms, almost all of which face the sea, open out to a terrace, balcony or private patios. Room starts at RM180.

The Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

The Eastern & Oriental Hotel stands majestically along Farquhar Street, in the bustling heart of Penang. The bygone era of a glorious past is seen the minute you catch a glimpse of this imposing white colonial building. Warm lingering feelings of elegance greet you as you drive up the courtyard and walk into the spacious domed lobby.At a glance, everything about the E&O, from the porter's uniform to the enchanting ambience sets us down memory lane, to the good old days of Malaya. The E&O proudly retains the old-world charm it has been recognized for, even with the infusion of modernity.To many travelers, the E&O has become a sanctuary. A boutique hotel where there is always enough time for the things that really matter. Room starts at RM750.

The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang, Malaysia - ForeverBee Recommended

The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion owner-hosted home-stay offers short and long-term residential stays in 16 uniquely themed bedroom apartments. These vary in size from the Scholar's Suite to the Straits Suite and others of equally exotic disposition. All rooms are fully air-conditioned [or ceiling fans if you wish] and come with an en-suite bathroom and a personal valet. Common facilities include 2 archive rooms, a reading room, a TV room, an alfresco breakfast area in the courtyard, landscaped gardens, private car-parking and 24-hour security. This boutique hotel is a must-see in Penang, even though you don't stay there. Room starts at US$99.

Bon Ton Resort, Langkawi, Malaysia - ForeverBee Recommended

Bon Ton Resort Langkawi is one of the islands most stylish, unique and intimate resorts, with seven antique Malay houses each individually styled to reflect contemporary hospitality and a well known restaurant.Located 10 minutes from the airport and 5 minutes from the main beach of Pantai Cenang, Bon Ton is convenient yet secluded. Built within the grounds of a 100 year old coconut plantation, the houses are centered around a pool/Jacuzzi and front onto a serene lagoon.There are 7 Bon Ton Houses. Most of them are exclusive and private 100 year old houses, all individually designed. Houses feature minibar, coffee and tea making facilities, complimentary mineral water, hairdryer, sarongs and local slippers. A CD/DVD player and TV's can be supplied on request. Internet access is free of charge in the main building. Room starts at RM480 at this boutique resort.

The Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia - ForeverBee Recommended

The Datai, situated on the north-western tip of the pristine island of Langkawi, provides an idyllic natural retreat within the depths of a 550 million year old virgin rainforest. Set above a secluded cove, the Datai Bay resort has its own white sand beach facing the peaceful Andaman sea. Free-standing villas crafted from local materials are scattered throughout the forest and are connected to the resort's central areas by a series of pathways.Featuring 54 deluxe rooms, 40 villas and 18 suites nestled amidst lush rainforests and a private stretch of sandy shore facing the breathtaking Andaman Sea, The Datai is an idyllic natural retreat and the preferred boutique hotel for well-heeled travellers.The Datai's modern hotel facilities, luxurious spa, and 18-hole championship golf course, discerningly complement the resort's serene forested surroundings. Room starts at RM1,390.

The Andaman, Langkawi, Malaysia

The Andaman, Langkawi is a boutique resort featuring 188 elegantly appointed rooms and suites with spectacular views of ancient virgin rainforests, the legendary Machincang Mountain and Andaman Sea.Such graceful surroundings complement the inherent warmth of traditional Malaysian hospitality that is conveyed throughout the property. Superb accommodations, numerous restaurants and bars, and a host of delightful activities to suit every holiday pleasure, ensure guests a memorable Langkawi experience. Room starts at RM900.

Four Seasons, Langkawi, Malaysia

The Four Seasons Resort is at Tanjung Rhu, one of the island's best beaches, the hotel combines indigenous architecture with gracious service in a resort experience unmatched in Malaysia. All 91 guest pavilions and villas offer the soothing sounds of the Andaman Sea and sensational views of sunsets beyond the beach. The generously sized guest accommodations are a fusion of traditional Malaysian design elements and contemporary resort features, with timber floors, soaring ceilings and large open verandas. Inspired by the traditions of indigenous artisans, the décor reflects the vibrancy of the natural environment. Some villas and all lower-level pavilions include secluded outdoor bathing and showers that evoke the feeling of a gentle tropical rainfall. Room starts at US$450 at this boutique resort.

The Baba House, Melaka, Malaysia

The Chinese in the straits are called Babas to distinguish them from those born in China. and the women "Nyonya." The traditional Peranakan house symbolising its culture, with its formal Chinese arrangement and eclentic mix of furnishings reveal how this unique culture enjoyed a lifestyle that was deeply rooted In Chinese tradition and ritual, and yet was receptive to the cultures of other local communities especially the Malay culture.Step back in time with The Baba house and we'll take you back to revisit the traditional lifestyle of the Babas! Room starts at RM85 at this small but intimate boutique resort.

Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor Laut Island, Malaysia- ForeverBee Recommended

Pangkor Laut Resort is a privately owned island located three miles off the West Coast of Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca. Situated on this exotic island is the internationally acclaimed Pangkor Laut Resort. Although the island encompasses a total of 300 acres, only a fraction has been developed to house the Resort and its Estates while the rest is covered by lush and unspoiled two million year old rainforest.There are 148 Malaysian-style luxury villas in the main Pangkor Laut Resort and eight magnificent Estates in a nearby secluded cove. Every villa, suite and Estate is elegantly designed and furnished, yet complements and blends in with the surrounding natural environment. As the island is only accessible to the guests of the Resort and Estates, it makes the perfect private holiday getaway.The Resort offers many fine dining opportunities, a wide range of facilities and activities, and has been widely praised for its attentive and gracious service. Voted the second best island destination in the world by Condé Nast Traveller, Pangkor Laut Resort consistently ranks high on the itinerary of international pleasure seekers. Room starts at RM805 at this renowned boutique resort. Click here to view Pangkor Laut pictures.

Tiger Rock, Pangkor Island, Malaysia

Tiger Rock is the stunning rustic island retreat located on Pangkor Island off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Set in 12 acres of jungle and backing onto 200 acres of forest reserve the 2 houses are cocooned on slopes overlooking the sea and mainland. The owners designed the houses based on the traditional Malay wooden house and a colonial hill station house and added all the creature comforts one could need and has surprised with unexpected color. The owners' paintings and artwork are found throughout the property.Hill House has 4 guest wings with a central open sitting & dining area, & kitchen. The Main House is rented out as a whole. The Studio is set back, privately secluded from the Main House. The gorgeous Pool House overlooking the jungle is the central meeting place of Tiger Rock. Tiger Rock is truly a spectacular jungle hideaway and tropical boutique resort! Please contact Mohan for arrangements. Tel:(6)05-685 4154

JapaMala, Tioman Island, Malaysia

JapaMala Tioman is an exclusive boutique resort that offers the ultimate Asian resort experience. Situated on Tioman Island, off the East Coast of Malaysia, JapaMala Tioman boasts luxury Sarang Villas and eco-friendly chalets designed to exist in harmony with nature.A combination of luxurious accomodation and fine-dining facilities make JapaMala Tioman the perfect place to get away from it all, without foregoing the finer things in life.A protected marine park, Tioman boasts numerous dive sites and a bewildering variety of fish and coral life. A scuba diver's paradise. Pure white beaches and warm emerald waters grace this stunning island.Some guests are prefectly content to do absolutely nothing at all. While others prefer to try their hand at popular Tioman island activities such as: beach combing, jungle trekking, rock climbing or snorkeling. Room starts at RM335.

Tanjong Jara Resort, Terengganu, Malaysia

Tanjong Jara Resort features 100 luxurious rooms, a spa and two swimming pools. It is one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and is the perfect honeymoon destination.The vision of an exclusive resort in Terengganu was based on the belief that the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia was fast developing as a significant destination for tourism. The challenge in the major refurbishment and renovation exercise was to preserve Tanjong Jara's 17th century traditional Malay architectural structures, which won the coveted Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The design of this Resort is derived from the elegantly crafted wooden palaces of Malay sultans from long ago and involved extensive research into traditional forms of craftsmanship, mainly from the East Coast of Malaysia.The Malay culture and heritage are clearly present in every aspect of this Resort, from the way the rooms and suites are designed, the elaborate details in the woodwork, to the Gamelan music played every evening. Tanjong Jara Resort promises you an experience that is "Unmistakably Malay." Room starts at RM805 at this boutique resort.

Cameron Highlands Resort, Pahang, Malaysia

Cameron Highlands Resort is situated on the largest hill resort in Malaysia, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, lush greenery, rolling hills and Tudor-styled cottages. The luxurious boutique Resort features 56 beautifully-appointed rooms and suites, and fronts Cameron Highlands' 18-hole golf course. It also houses the third wellness centre of the award-winning Spa Village group, which offers exotic treatments focusing on the healing and restorative properties of tea. Cameron Highlands Resort is touted as one of the five best tea plantation hotels in the world and certainly one of the latest addition to the list of boutique hotel/boutique resort in Malaysia! Room starts at US$200.

Labels: ,

January 13, 2008

Shopping and Nightlife in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia

Malaysia, Truly AsiaShopping in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur or commonly known as "KL"--promises variety, value, and convenience. There is a bewildering range of shopping establishments catering to every taste and budget, which includes modern shopping malls, department stores, handicraft centers, and duty-free shopping.
Experience the novelty of shopping in the open-air night markets or Pasar Malam, where haggling is a common practice. From branded items to ethnic bric-a-brac, the city will dazzle you. The Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival from July to September is a shopping experience not to be missed as it offers a whole range of goods at competitive prices.

Major Shopping Malls In and Around Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia:
  • Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Bintang *NEW
  • Suria KLCC, Petronas Twin Towers
  • Mid Valley Mega Mall, Lingkaran Syed Putra
  • Lot 10 Shopping Center, Bukit Bintang
  • Bangsar Shopping Center, Bangsar
  • Bangsar Village, Bangsar
  • One Utama, Bandar Utama
  • Ther Curve, Damansara Perdana
  • Sunway Pyramid, Bandar Sunway
  • Berjaya Times Square, Jalan Imbi
  • Starhill Shopping Center, Jalan Bukit Bintang
  • Sungai Wang Plaza, Jalan Bukit Bintang
  • Bukit Bintang Plaza, Jalan Bukit Bintang
  • Maju Junction Mall, Jalan Sultan Ismail
  • Central Market, Pudu
  • The Mall, Jalan Putra
  • The Weld, Jalan Raja Chulan
  • Imbi Plaza, Jalan Imbi
Petaling Street / Chinatown

The Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur (KL) teems with stalls and people. Shop for watches, bags, wallets, jeans, t-shirts--think pirated or imitation Gucci, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Christian Dior, etc.--and all manner of bric-a-brac.

Locals flock here for the fruits, Chinese cakes, cookies, and delicious and mouth-watering hawker food such as claypot chicken rice, "Lok Lok" (various seafood and meats cooked in hot boiling water and served with various dipping sauces), grilled fish and seafood, etc. Other than shopping, one should not miss trying out the local delights here. Outside the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple nearby are stalls selling garlands and strings of sweet smelling jasmine. The strong smell of Chinese traditional herbs and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee fill the air.

Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman

The grande dame of KL shopping, in the days before modern complexes took the city by storm. Many established names like GS Gill, P. Lal, and PH Henry chose to remain when others moved out. The shops along this stretch offer a wide range of fabrics and textiles, imported leather goods, bags and luggages, carpets, sports goods, and winter clothing. Narrow alleys between the shops offer a fantastic range of clothing material at irresistible bargain prices. Other established names offer a fine collection of silver and crystalware. Sogo Shopping Complex and Maju Junction Mall are located along this stretch.

Jalan Masjid India / Little India

The neighborhood around the Indian Muslim mosque known as "Little India" to the locals, is filled with numerous wholesale and retail outlets offering a wide range of Indian goods. Boutiques, restaurants, textile shops, and hawker stalls contributing to the exotic tapestry. This is the place to find traditional Indian finery such as sarees, lenghas, kurtas, and dhotis as well as a variety of adornments. A sprinkling of Malay boutiques displaying traditional wear can also be found. Streetside entertainers vie for attention with blaring Bollywood music as the pungent scents of spices and curries; and heady sweet incense assail your senses.

Laman Seni / Kuala Lumpur Art Market

A monthly Arts and Crafts Bazaar, held every first Saturday in the vicinity of the National Theater and National Art Gallery at Jalan Tun Razak. It showcases the works of local artists and artisans. Interact with them during the demonstrations, hands-on art projects and art appreciation sessions. Traditional wayang kulit performances or shadow puppetry are held in the night.

Flea Markets and International Bazaar
  • Weekend flea market at Amcorp Mall
  • Mont Kiara Flea Market
  • Bangsar Shopping Center International Bazaar
Nightlife in Kuala Lumpur (KL)

Kuala Lumpur offers exciting nightlife for those looking for relaxation. Besides local and international theatre shows and symphony archestras, there is a wide variety of entertainment including live bands, jazz bands, strollers, dinner shows, cabaret, disco and karaoke lounges. Take your pick and celebrate till the late hours of the night.

Jalan Sultan Ismail and the adjacent Jalan P. Ramlee take center stage at the city center with numerous pubs, bars, and dance clubs takes center stage at the city center with numerous pubs, bars, and dance clubs. Entertainment establishments are plentiful along Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Sultan Ismail, and Jalan P. Ramlee where there are numerous hotels. The Jalan Telawi area is the "happening spot" in the upper class residential area of Bangsar. The bars, pubs, bistros, and restaurants draw mostly young professionals and expatriates.

KL Nightlife: Dance Clubs, Bars, and Pubs

Jalan P. Ramlee & Jalan Sultan Ismail
  • Poppy, Jalan P. Ramlee
  • Nouvo & Sangria, Jalan P. Ramlee
  • Beach Club, Jalan P. Ramlee
  • Bar Ibiza, Jalan P. Ramlee
  • The Grand Modesto, Jalan P. Ramlee
  • Budaba, Jalan P. Ramlee
  • Bar Uno, Jalan P. Ramlee
  • Hard Rock Cafe, Concorde, Jalan P. Ramlee
  • 12SI, Jalan Sultan Ismail
  • Espanda, Jalan Sultan IsmailBukit Bintang
  • Frangipani Bar, Changkat Bukit Bintang
  • Havana Club, Changkat Bukit Bintang
  • La Bodega, Jalan Tingkat Tong Shin
  • Hemingways, Changkat Bukit Bintang
  • Bintang Shack, Jalan Bukit Bintang
  • Planet Hollywood, Jalan Bukit BintangBangsar
  • The Red Chamber, 33 Jalan Telawi 3
  • Barzar, Jalan Telawi 3
  • Telawi Street Bistro, Jalan Telawi 3
  • Bar Flam, Jalan Telawi 3
  • Absolute Chemistry, Jalan Telawi 3
  • Alexis, Jalan Telawi 3
  • Finnegans, Jalan Telawi 3
  • Bilique, 34 & 36A Jalan Telawi
  • La Bodega, 16 Jalan Telawi 2
  • The Social, 57-59 Jalan Telawi 3
Sri Hartamas
  • 1957 Bistro, 22 Jalan 25/70A
  • Little Bali, 4 Jalan 30/70A
  • Bar Amber, 14 Jalan 24/70A
  • Bar Med, Lot Pt 4512, Jalan 23/70A
  • Souled Out Cafe, 20 Jalan 30/70
  • The Orange, 22-1 Jalan 24/70A
  • Home and Away, 37 Jalan 23/70A
  • Backyard Grill and Pub, 28 Jalan Sri Hartamas 8
  • Cristo's, 76 Jalan 27/70A

Labels: , ,

January 12, 2008

Traveling to Malaysia: Fact File, Getting There, Accomodation, and Do's and Don'ts

Malaysia, Truly Asia
I get quite a lot of emails from readers of Rasa Malaysia and random visitors to this site about Malaysia tourism and travel-related questions about Malaysia. Hence, I have put together a quick guide (excerpt from Tourism Malaysia's brochure) about traveling to Malaysia--the place I call home.

Malaysia Fact File

Country: Malaysia comprises of Peninsula Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo.

Geograhical Location: Located between 2" and 7" north of the Equator, Peninsula Malaysia is separated from the states of Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea. To the north of the Peninsula is Thailand while its southern neighbor is Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak are bordered by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares a border with Brunei.

Area: 329,758 sq. km.

Population: 26 million

People: Malays make up about 57% of the population and are the predominant group with Chinese, Indians, and other ethnic groups making up the rest.

Language: Bahasa Melayu (Malay) is the national language but English is widely spoken. Malaysian also speak various dialects and languages.

Religion: Islam is the official religion, but all other religions are freely practised.

Climate: Malaysia has a tropical climate and the weather is warm all year round. Temperatures range from 21 Degree Celsius to 32 Degree Celsius and the annual rainfall varies from 2000mm to 2500mm.

History and Culture: Apart from the local Malays and the native groups, immigrants from China, India, Indonesia, and other parts of the world have all contributed to the multiracial composition of its population. Its interesting cultural diversity can be largely attributed to the country's long and ongoing interaction with the outside world and colonial rule by the Portugese, Dutch, and the British. The evolution of the country into a cultural melting pot is evident in the unique blend of religions, socio-cultural activities, traditions, languages, and food. The country achieved independence on August 31, 1957 as the Federation of Malaya and subsequently with the entry of Sabah and Sarawak in 1963, Malaysia was formed.

Entry Requirements: Visitors must possess a valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of six months beyond the intended visiting period. Citizens of most countries do not require visas for social or business visits. For further information, please visit or call the nearest Malaysian diplomatic mission of Tourism Malaysia office. For the complete list of Tourism Malaysis overseas offices, click here.

Currency: The unit of currency is the Malaysian Riggit (RM). Foreign currencies can be converted at banks and money changers.

Time Zone: Malaysia is about 8 hours ahead of GMT, 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time and 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Electricity: Electricity is 220 volts at 50 cycles, although most first-class hotels can suppy an adapter for 110 volts , 60 cycles appliances. Plugs are of the British three rectangle prong type. Most island resorts are powered by 24-hour generators or have an electrical supply from the mainland.

Getting There

The main gateway to Malaysia is through the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at Sepang, which is located approximately 50 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur. Other major international airports that serve as entry points are located in Penang, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, and Langkawi.

Getting Around

Malaysia has excellent domestic air links and a well-developed and efficient public transportation system served by taxis, buses, and trains. The national air carrier is the award-winning Malaysia Airline, however, low cost carriers such as Air Asia and Firefly (a full subsidiary of Malaysia Airline) are exceedingly popular.


Malaysia has a wide range of accomodation with competitive rates. International standard, mid range, and budget hotels, youth hostels, and timeshare apartments are just some of the types of accomodation available. Click here for the complete list of boutique hotels and resorts in Malaysia, recommended by yours truly.

Do's and Don'ts in Malaysia

When visiting Malaysia, the visitor should observe local customs and practices. Some common courtesies and customs are as follows:
  • It is polite to call before visiting a home.
  • Shoes must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home.
  • Drinks are generally offered to guests. It would be polite to accept.
  • The right hand is always used when eating with one's hand or when giving and receiving objects.
  • The right forefinger is not used to point at places, objects or persons. Instead, the right thumb, with the four fingers folded under, is the preferred usage.
  • Shoes must be removed when entering places of worship such as mosques and temples. Some mosques provide robes and scarves for female visitors.
  • Taking photographs at places of worship is usually permitted but always ask for permission first.
  • Toasting is not a common practice in Malaysia. The country's Muslim population does not drink alcohol, however the Chinese and Indians do drink alcohol and toasting is not uncommon to them.

Labels: ,

January 9, 2008

Armenian Street, Georgetown, Penang

Armenian Street, Georgetown, PenangArmenian Street is my favorite street in Georgetown, Penang. Located in the heritage enclave of Georgetown, this street oozes old world charm and is home to some of the oldest historical buildings in Penang. Along Armenian Street, you will find lots of beautiful heritage buildings--some of which have been restored to their original glory.

Armenian street also houses the famed Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Penang base (120 Armenian Street), Cheah Kongsi, Yap Kongsi Temple, Tua Pek Kong Temple, Edelweiss Cafe, a new art gallery, a very old barber shop (which my dad frequented when he was younger), and a couple of Chinese restaurants.

(Kongsi means Chinese clan house in Hokkien dialect; Cheah/谢 and Yap/叶 are common Chinese last names.)

In the next few days, I will take you on photo tours to some of the sights of Armenian Street. If you are in Penang, I strongly urge you to take a stroll along this street and check out the sights I mentioned above. You won't be disappointed, I promise.

Please also check out and mouse over this very cool interactive map of Armenian Street here.

Labels: , , ,