Category Archives: Style

Nala comes to George Town

We have ooh-ed and aaaah-ed at her original prints, designs and products and can’t seem to get over the fact that Nala Designs is a home-grown lifestyle label we can (and must) be proud of.

At long last, designer Lisette Scheers, the brains behind the label is opening on this island and George Town welcomes her and and her beautiful goodies!

Just in time for Christmas (shopping), the great Lisette has opened the doors of ‘Nala Biloba’ this week at 93, Lebuh Armenian.

Do pop in and be wowed by her extensive range of prints, handbags, paper products and more and know that you are biting into a piece of Malaysiana where each item comes with a charming story to it.

Happy Shopping and welcome to George Town, Nala Biloba and congratulations Lisette!

(All images courtesy of Lisette Scheers)

The Grand Dame is back!

She promised us Dec 1, 2019 as the date the E&O Hotel would open the doors to her newly-upgraded Heritage Wing, and Alison Fraser kept to her word.

The custodian and general manager of Penang’s Grand Dame of Hospitality – the Eastern & Oriental Hotel – greeted members of the media and bloggers to the hotel ahead of its annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and played the gracious hostess.

The walkabout around the newly spiffed wing was a treat and left us all happy that the 134 year-old ‘Grand Lady’ is now refreshed and ready to “welcome home” travellers and Penang residents to her beautifully and luxuriously-appointed suites and to savour fabulously-developed food and beverage offerings.

The WiFi connection has been boosted, delicious beddings spread out, Panpuri Spa amenities placed in all the rooms, and other luxuries both big and small await the guests.

Dear and familiar faces like Jimmy Lee, Jesvinder Singh, JJ and the khaki-uniformed doormen will be on hand to welcome the paying public when doors officially open for business on Dec 20.

The now-famous front desk which featured in the opening scene of the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ will no doubt be a talking point for those hanging out in the lobby or checking in.

And who among us is not looking forward to a spot of the hotel’s famous afternoon tea in newly-created spaces around the property?

I know some of my friends who have checked out the Farquhar’s Bar and are looking forward to spending many happy evenings there after Dec 20!

Kudos and special mention to Faisol ‘Davo’ Abdullah for the spanking new and sharp uniforms designed.

Congratulations again Alison for all the hard work put in and showing us yet another female GM who stays at the top of her game!!!

Caring Matters

Dear Bibliophiles and those visiting Penang this weekend,

The George Town Literary Festival and it’s related events are set to keep us all on our toes as we have fun being introduced to new book titles and their authors and have a great start to Christmas shopping!

How about taking some time out and going on a photographic exploration of love, caring relationships, social and filial ties?

It is being presented by Karyn Coxall-Leong from Friday 22/11/2019 till 29/11/2019 at Viva Victoria’s Upstairs Gallery at 169, Lebuh Victoria.

The exhibition opens at 6pm this Friday and runs from 12 noon till 11.30pm on other days.

“In a time and place where technology, convenience, consumerism lead, it is so very easy to get caught up in the everyday goings-on, ” says Karyn.

“No matter your circumstances or where you come from, we must all make an effort to remember family and community as the true lynchpins of life.”

(Images courtesy of Karyn Coxall-Leong)

Ode to heritage and the Grande Dame of Hospitality

Before Penang’s grande dame hotel – the Eastern & Oriental (E&O) – closed the doors of her Heritage Wing for a facelift earlier this year, works were already in place by her design professionals on doing all they can to honour the spirit of the Sarkies Brothers who opened the hotel in 1884.

Datin Tham Oi Wah is no stranger to the hotel, and neither is her work within the group, Eastern & Oriental Berhad.

Years ago when taken on a tour of E&O’s Seri Tanjung Pinang development on Penang island, I asked who the designer was behind the show units. “Oi Wah” was the response and I was amazed by her exquisite taste in the choice of soft furnishings as these and the designs were definitely different from other property show units in Penang.

Prior to the refurbishment of the Heritage Wing this year, Tham and her team had worked on E&O Hotel’s adjoining Victory Annexe building. She has also had a hand with the group’s projects in the Klang Valley.

“The historical structure and location of the Heritage Wing are the most ideal inspiration for our work, and it has helped me in coming up with the perfect concept and design for its new look,” says Tham.

“We strive to evoke the elegant charm of the early period of the hotel when prominent figures like Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling passed through the doors of the Grande Dame.

“It is quite challenging as we have to maintain the historic integrity of the 19th century structure while upgrading its amenities to the 21st century,” Tham notes.

With the Heritage Wing recognised as a historical building, Tham emphasised that they had to be very careful and strictly adhere to the guidelines set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation on the dos and don’ts.

“Structural challenges might also arise throughout the refurbishment which our team of architects, contractors and designers must solve with a high degree of flexibility and capability,” she added.

On managing the public’s expectation from the revamped Heritage Wing, Tham said guests strolling along the walkway would feel themselves being transported back to the olden days.

“It’s just like revisiting an old friend where they can reminisce the past while discovering the delights of its refreshed outlook.

“I also believe that the cherry on top would be the familiar faces of the E&O staff, whose friendly service are sure to complete the legendary experience, greeting the guests with their unmistakable brand of warm hospitality,” she said.

The E&O Group hopes that when the doors of the Grand Dame reopen in December with fully refreshed suites and new dining concepts, it would represent a new level of hospitality that would make the Sarkies Brothers proud.

Meanwhile, the hotel’s custodian and general manager Alison Fraser promises the time-honoured tradition of the signature English Afternoon Tea at the hotel as one feature which will stay put, and served at its new Palm Court outlet, where a collection of Asian favourites will also be introduced in its all-day dining menu.

“Other new outlets will include ‘Java Tree’ where classic heritage flavours will feature,” says Fraser.

“The name ‘Farqhuar’s Bar’ has been maintained, but the concept is modelled on more of a vintage cocktail bar.”

Can’t wait to try whistling again under the main dome of this heritage jewel and to check out the magic Tham and Fraser and their teams have woven!

(images courtesy of E&O Hotel)

ClassPass lands in Penang!

The haze has been appalling to say the least and both fitness buffs and couch potatoes are beginning to develop cabin fever from being restricted indoors (face it, how much of Netflix can one binge-watch?!)

Enter ClassPass, a world which gives you the option to curate your fitness regime at fitness studios of your choice.

ClassPass – the leading membership to the world’s largest fitness network- celebrated its first successful year in Malaysia by expanding to a new destination – Penang – today.

Members can now explore the best of health, fitness, and wellness through an app in Malaysia’s two biggest cities.

With over US$250 million in funding and 70 million+ classes booked through its platforms, it’s no surprise Forbes slated ClassPass as a “Next Billion Dollar Startup!” Founded in New York in 2013 by Payal Kadakia, ClassPass is the world’s leading fitness membership network; with more than 22,000 fitness studios in 2,500 cities worldwide.

Members use the ClassPass app to find, book, and pay for classes and fitness experiences, with fully flexible memberships and no long-term contracts. Users can take a class in any studio on the ClassPass network across the world, with classes ranging from yoga, pilates, and barre to running, strength training, dance, boxing, Zumba and martial arts.

ClassPass Malaysia said in a statement that it continues to revolutionize the fitness scene by providing access to a variety of classes with some of the best instructors in town, as well as a suite of additional wellness options, such as spas, massages, and saunas.

With thousands of reservations in Malaysia each day, ClassPass said it also provides marketing exposure for brand partners, promoting studios to its thousands of users and delivering incremental revenue to partners by filling their unused class/off-peak spots. ClassPass is also the world’s most comprehensive compilation of fitness reviews, with users prompted to rate their experience after each class.

Reviews are then publicly displayed to help users sift through class options and give studios a fast feedback loop with real-time insights.

“ClassPass’s Malaysian success has extended to partnerships with some of the country’s most prominent hotels and wellness centres, including W Kuala Lumpur,” it said.

“Empowering fitness and wellness enthusiasts with options and variety, Malaysians can now discover new activities and make healthier connections with friends while on the go.”

According to ClassPass Malaysia Country Manager Jessica Ong, “more and more Malaysians are beginning to understand the need to care about their health, fitness, and wellness. Not just in the pursuit to be fit and to look good, but also understanding the positive impact a healthy active body has on both mind and mood.”

With a flexible subscription model, ClassPass lets users choose a plan to fit their price point and activity needs, with no lock-in contracts and the chance to cancel at any time.

Now available on both Penang Island and Seberang Perai, ClassPass has launched with a raft of Penang’s premier studios, including: CHi Fitness, 7Days Fitness, The Gravityz, The Habitat Penang Hill, Project Rock Penang, Team Armada Martial Arts, The Underdogs Penang, Your Physio, and WO Studios.

Members have made more than 500,000 reservations across 250 studios in Malaysia in the last year, with thousands of Malaysians warming to ClassPass’s unique fitness currency, called ‘credits’. Users are given a certain amount of credits per month, varying by membership tier, and spend those credits on variety of fitness and wellness offerings. With a mission to inspire people to live more active lives, the credit-based system gives.

ClassPass allows members the ability and flexibility to attend more classes a month by booking lower credit classes, or attending any of their favorite studios as much as they’d like at a higher credit rate. For travel and experience junkies, the credits system also opens up access to ClassPass partner studios and classes anywhere in the world, giving ClassPass members more fitness flexibility and freedom than ever before.

Check out ClassPass’s locations at:

The ClassPass Malaysia mobile app is now live in Kuala Lumpur and Penang ─available on iOS and Android via Apple App Store and Google Play respectively.

With over 22,000 partners in 2500 cities worldwide, ClassPass connects members to a variety of fitness experiences, including yoga, cycling, Pilates, barre, running, strength training, dance, sports, videos and more.

Go sweat it out, Penangites and have fun!!!

(Images courtesy of ClassPass)

Telling Penang’s story then and now … The Edison George Town

When Sharon told me several years ago that a new boutique hotel was opening in George Town and it was poised to be Penang’s first Small Luxury Hotel of the World, I simply HAD to write the story.

Thanks to her introduction to Eugene Tan the owner, I got to find out more about the passion and commitment which were put in by him and his father Eddie (better known to many of us as the former general manager of the Penang Mutiara Beach Resort) into the project.

The plans shared by Eugene before the hotel even opened its doors have taken form, and this luxury hotel situated smack in the heart of the Unesco World Heritage zone seems the perfect place for a visitor to call home.

“Many countries have a good variety of old buildings, places of interest, monuments and parks,” said Eugene.

“Steeped in history they mean a great deal to their collective community. George Town just happens to be endowed with a unique heritage based on a rich blend of historical and cultural elements.

“We are proud to be part of that heritage. With this architecturally rich building on Lebuh Leith, we embarked on the opportunity to develop a Lifestyle hotel, the first for the brand – The Edison Hotels.

“Our aspiration of rekindling the romantic moments of staying in a hotel is guided by our brand pillars of Alluring Heritage, Timeless Design, Diverse Culture and Indulging Luxury. Simply put, there was no other building like it in George Town, and we were sold on being a part of something extraordinary when we stepped through her doors for the very first time.”

While I was unable to accept Eugene and his wife Rina’s invitation to the book launch on Friday, the event and product (which is a book titled Penang Then and Now, A Century of Change in Pictures by Marcus Langdon and Keith Hockton) deserve special mention here.

According to a media release issued by the hotel, the book showcases 115 iconic Penang locations.

“They are not necessarily the most beautiful sites, although quite a lot of the old buildings are absolutely stunning, but all 115 sites in the book are historically significant to Penangites and visitors alike.

“When planning what images to use, it became clear that despite the many hundreds of old images owned by the authors, finding suitable current locations to feature would prove daunting. Not because the current location would be unknown, but because today so many changes have taken place that the exact photographic spot or angle was simply no longer possible.”

It was also said that the authors wanted the now image taken from the exact spot that the photograph had been taken originally, and the exercise proved to be quite the challenge as many of the vantage points were gone or inaccessible, or trees were in the way, or in the case of the Penang Botanic Gardens, large trees had died.

Some concessions had to be made, especially when substituting drone images as the wide-angle lens of the drone distorts the perspective when compared to the old hand-held shots from high locations.

The authors had their work cut and patience was indeed a virtue because in some instances, months went by waiting for renovation hoardings to be removed from buildings and in others, old images had to be used because said renovations were taking longer than expected.

The end result is described as a stunning book, and a joyful collaboration with The Edison George Town, Penang, Nam Loong Fine Jewellery and Think City, that took three years to produce. “Penang, Then and Now, A Century of Change in Pictures”, offers readers a snapshot of Penang over a century ago, and a snapshot of where she is today.

(Copies of Penang Then and Now, A Century of Change in Pictures are on sale at the hotel and other established book stores. Purchase requests can also be made by dropping an email or calling the hotel at +6042622990)

Images courtesy of The Edison George Town, Penang

Fay & Food

My first “sighting” of this lovely and funny soul was at The Star Penang newsroom in 1993, when I joined as a reporter and she was the paper’s freelance writer/stringer.

Once she got behind the computer she would remain focussed and quiet as she went about putting together her famous food reviews.

The sub-editors usually found themselves needing to consult the dictionary when clearing her copies (Aiyo Fay, why are you using such big words, you think our readers can understand, meh? was usually conveyed to Fay by Anna Cheah our then chief sub-editor) Fay would simply smile and give some funny retort and everyone would laugh.

Her love for food was legendary. Some of us would join her for quick hawker meals close to the office when she stepped in to meet her deadlines. As most people know, this foodie was just as adept in appreciating fine food and made no bones when any dish did not meet her exacting standards.

When she moved on to other interests, especially in publishing, I used to pick up her nifty card sets with watercolour images of all things Malaysiana and even tried her ‘Miss Khoo’s Asian Deli’ gourmet products at the time, as I heard they had found their way to the shelves of Harvey Nichols in the United Kingdom.

The writer, TV and radio host, publisher, lover of all things nautical and much-loved daughter, always had a kind word for everyone and we missed her laughter and teasing when she left The Star to pursue other projects and adventures.

It was shocking and painful to many of us to hear that Fay, who was then 48, had left us after a brief illness in April, 2017.

Bettina Chua Abdullah and I had a mutual friend in Fay and our stories and friendship with this fun-loving soul are different and yet, the same. Fay shared different friendships with different people and made her mark which can never be erased.

Which now brings us to the third edition of the Fay Khoo Award for Food and Drink Writing which Bettina organised and has been directing to honour Fay’s legacy.

The call for entries has been made and details found below. The 2019 winners will be announced at this year’s George Town Literary Festival which takes place in Penang from Nov 21-24 (please mark your calendars)

Thank you Bettina, for your dedication in keeping Fay’s memory and our friendships alive!

(In addition to written narrative entries for the award, comics and graphic stories are also open to authors and illustrators wishing to submit illustrated narratives)


The aim of The Fay Khoo Award for Food+Drink Writing is to recognise new and talented voices, and to encourage and develop excellence in food and drink narratives. We believe that there is a space and a need for well-researched and impactful food journalism, because it is through such writing that we can shine a light on people, culture, health, economics and the environment of culinary delight.

This year we hope to present awards to the three best entries, regardless of category. Please read the conditions of entry and submission guidelines carefully, as these have changed from previous years.

The CONDITIONS OF ENTRY are as follows:

• All writing must fall into the categories of personal narrative, reportage or creative non-fiction.

• Entries should not exceed 2000 words.

• Entries must be submitted in English, and must be the sole work of the entrant.

• Entries must never have been published, self-published, broadcast or uploaded on any

website, blog or online forum.

• Anyone over the age of 16 years at the time of the closing date, who is a citizen or resident

of ASEAN countries, may submit up to three (3) entries.

• A fee of RM 20 per submission will be levied to cover administrative costs.

Processing of fees is made by Hikayat Lebuh Pantai, which manages The Fay Khoo Award, upon submission of entry/entries.

Bank details are as follows:

Maybank | Hikayat Lebuh Pantai Sdn Bhd | 557018565194

Please reference your payment with FKA and your WhatsApp number: eg FKA 012-345-6789

If you do not have a mobile phone, please use a landline number.


• Entries must be saved in Microsoft Word format, and emailed to

• Entries need to be double-spaced and the word-count noted at top of the first page.

• Entries must include a WhatsApp or landline number, so that you can be sent a confirmation

that your entry has been received, and we can link submission fees to your entry.

• To protect the integrity of the judging process, entries must not include your name or email address. We will contact you via the WhatsApp or landline number you have provided, for your name and other necessary information.

• Amendments or revised versions will not be accepted.

• Entries will be accepted from July 15, 2019 and must be received by September 15, 2019.

• A fee of RM 20 per submission will be levied to cover administrative costs.

• Entrants who have not turned 18 by November 1, 2019 must provide a parent/legal guardian’s name and contact details.


• There will be three (3) judges for the Fay Khoo Award. The judges’ decision is final.

• The judges will not comment on individual entries.

• The Fay Khoo Award reserves the right to change the panel of judges without notice.

• A Longlist of up to 15 entries will be announced by October 10, 2019, and writers notified by WhatsApp and email.

• A Shortlist of 6 entries will be announced by October 28, 2019, and writers notified by

WhatsApp and email.


• The winning entries will be announced at the George Town Literary Festival between

November 21-24, 2019. Accommodation will be provided for the day of the prize-giving.


• Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author, but by virtue of submitting an entry, participants are assigning unrestricted right to publish the winning entry, shortlisted entries and long-listed entries in any format. This right is granted to the managers of The Fay Khoo Award, Hikayat Lebuh Pantai Sdn Bhd and its associates in perpetuity, upon submission of the entry for consideration.

• The Fay Khoo Award will retain fully all income generated by publication of the winning entries, shortlisted entries and long-listed entries, while the author will retain all income generated by their publication separate to this.

• In cases where the author of a winning, shortlisted or longlisted entry independently publishes said submission, the author will mention that the piece was a winner or shortlisted or longlisted entry in The Fay Khoo Award for Food+Drink Writing.


• Each of the three winners receives a cash award of MYR1500, and a book voucher for MYR500

• Shortlisted entries may also receive other supplementary prizes, at the discretion of the organisers.


• The organisers of the Fay Khoo Award reserve the right to amend these conditions of entry

if deemed necessary. Any changes will be posted on the award’s Facebook page.

• For further information, please email

(Images courtesy from the FKAward Facebook and Fay’s)

Over Penang and more …

For those of us blessed to receive his morning greetings with images of Penang or any place David ST Loh travels to, the world takes on an amazing and refreshing view.

That’s because when this photojournalist takes you along on his journeys, he shows you completely different angles of places you may even be living next to, but never quite appreciated before.

And so it was last year with his ‘Over Penang Photography Exhibition’ during the George Town Festival, where those who visited, were given a visual treat of Penang via drone photography.

A natural progression to the exhibition is about to be unveiled next week.

A coffee table book “Over Penang” will be available from July 1 and here’s a blurb from the book penned by my dear friend Bettina Chua Abdullah …

Here is a singularly new perspective of a vibrant, historical and fascinating Penang: captured by an eye in the sky that whirred over lands where hundreds of years ago scattered souls formed communities and built lives. Here is what an island of enterprise and toil, of majesty and enchantment looks like, from way up where the air currents flow. Each image is accompanied by a long-form text that brings intimacy to the scale and lends depth to the subject. Skimming clay-baked rooftops and cacophonous processions, each page of Over Penang is photojournalist David ST Loh’s unique view on his much-loved island home.”

The pages from the new publication found in this blog post, have been generously supplied by David as a curtain-raiser to the book, which will serve as yet another great souvenir of Penang one can treasure and/or gift to Penangites at heart.

Congratulations and thank you David Loh, for raising the bar (yet again) in taking the promotion of Penang to a whole new level!

(Over Penang will be available at all reputable bookstores in Malaysia and Singapore from 7 July, 2019. Please check back with this post on how you can place your online orders after 31 July 2019. If you are visiting Penang or blessed enough to live on this island, pop over to Hikayat at 226, Lebuh Pantai, George Town and grab a copy or more!)

Rebecca’s Nifty Sketchbooks

Her t-shirts and their Malaysiana prints of flora and fauna inspired many in the 1980s when she sold these items at Central Market in Kuala Lumpur.

Today, Malaysian artist and painter Rebecca Duckett-Wilkinson continues to be inspired from her homes in Penang, Pangkor and Piedmont (Italy) and shares her impressions on paper, canvas, textile and other mediums.

Her latest offerings are these nifty sketchbooks which can double up as travel journals in eye-catching colours and takes you to the jungle and the sea.

A set of 6 of these sketchbooks are retailing at RM80 and currently sold at the Tropical Spice Garden at Teluk Bahang in Penang. Other retail outlets are being confirmed at the moment.

Contact details for the artist are found in the photo below …

Mindfulness and Digital Waste

Who among us hasn’t taken 12 shots of the same subject and then ended up choosing and using only two images?

Have we even bothered spending time to enjoy the beauty of the subject photographed or ponder on the meaning of the photo? Or are we just rushing to get the images uploaded on our social media platforms and then wait to see how many people will “like” and comment on the said posting(s)?

And who else among us spend our days mindlessly forwarding messages without stoping to ponder for a moment if the contents are true or even of value to its recipients?

On behalf of I, me and myself, the humble response is “guilty as charged.”

A photo and video exhibition by Madhvee Deb called Digital Waste: the Sweet Smell of Burning, is taking place in George Town and highlightsthe behavioural issues of taking excessive photographs and a disproportionate exchange of worthless information on social media.

The photographs and objects primarily use rejected images, the leftover images we discard when searching for the perfect photo to post online – showcasing the hypnotic effect of social media on the human mind in a subtle and humorous way.

Her exhibition is open to the public at OME Spacebar Coffee (Lorong Toh Aka in George Town) throughout the George Town Festival 2018.

Well done Madhvee, for the gentle reminder to be present in the moment and think again about spending endless hours on our smartphones and tablets daily and ignoring real people and our surroundings, because we are so caught up with/in the virtual world!

(Images of exhibition and exhibits courtesy of Madhvee Deb)

#gtf2018 #georgetownfestival #photography #digitalwaste #mindfulness #technology