Char Kway Teow

Char Kway Teow

‘Char Kway Teow’ or ‘stir-fried ricecake strips’ is arguably one of the most popular dishes among Malaysians of all races. The name is derived from the Hokkien term for ‘fried’ which is ‘char, while ‘kway teow’ refers to the ‘flat rice noodles’, which is the main ingredient.

The latter is stir-fried over very high heat with light or dark soy sauce, chili, while prawns, deshelled cockles, bean sprouts, chinese chives and eggs.

Among the chinese community, the char kway teow is traditionally stir-fried in pork fat with crisp croutons of pork lard and serve on a piece of banana leaf or plate. In some instances, slices of chinese sausage and fishcake are added to accentuate the taste.

Originally conceived as a poor man’s food, mostly consumed by laborers, farmers, fishermen and cockle-pickers, the dish has today evolved into one of the most-loved dishes among Malaysians – but with certain ingredients omitted to adhere to ‘halal’ guidelines of muslim community.

As the dish became more widespread, many cooks have come up with their own versions of ‘char kway teow’ but with the same essential ingredients ‘Char kway teow’ was said to have its origins in S.E.Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei) but the common consensus is that ‘Penang char kway teow’ tops the list when it comes to taste and originality.

In Kampar, Perak, the dish is cooked with cockles but no prawns, unless on request. In East Malaysia, other ingredients are used in the cooking eg beef, onions, sweet soya sauce etc.

There are also so-called ‘gourmet versions’ of char kway teow, especially in Ipoh, Penang, Taiping and even the Klang Valley, where seafood, crab meat and even duck eggs are added to suit discerning tastes.

~Info courtesy of Tourism Malaysia~

AirAsia increases flights to Kunming, China

AirAsia increases flights to Kunming, China

AirAsia will be increasing flight frequencies to Kunming, through their Kuala Lumpur-Kunming and Bangkok-Kunming flights.

Daily direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kunming will be increased to 14 times weekly starting from December 19, 2017.

While, daily direct flights from Bangkok to Kunming will also be increased to 14 times weekly commencing from January 16, 2018.

To celebrate the occasion, AirAsia is offering all-in fares as low as RM179 from Kuala Lumpur to Kunming.

"Due to the rapid growth of China's civil aviation, we are seeing more travel demands from the Chinese. Adding flight frequencies is one of our commitment to grow the China market and we hope more people can easily access air travel with our low fares," said AirAsia head of commercial Spencer Lee.

AirAsia currently operates 14 weekly one-way flights into Kunming Changshui International Airport.

Besides flights from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, AirAsia has recently launched daily direct flights from Phuket to Kunming that will commence on 1 February 2018.

~News courtesy of The Star~


Fanning new life into Terengganu batik craft

Fanning new life into Terengganu batik craft

Beautiful batik: Maryam showing off some of the items for sale at a pop-up booth in Publika.

It was while she was miles away from the country that Maryam Samirah Shamsuddin developed a love for one of Malaysia’s traditional crafts – batik.

Maryam, who is now in her mid-30s, said that she started collecting and learning about batik when she was studying in Britain.

“You miss home and Malaysian items are not accessible, so you start to dig around to find stuff that reminds you of home,” she said.

This love for batik led her to start Cotton and Sago, a social enterprise aimed at helping Kuala Terengganu’s batik artisans, over a year ago.

“At first I read about batik online and learnt how to differentiate the designs of each maker.

“Then I went to Kuala Tereng­ganu and found out that the number of batik producers had shrunk.

“In the 90s, they had over 300 batik artisans, but three years ago, when I visited, they had less than 10 who were still active,” she said, adding that hand-block batik manufacturing is a dying industry.

She said that the slowdown could be due to the fact that artisans were earning very low wages, which led to the younger generation’s reluctance to enter the trade.

“They were earning about 80 sen per sarong!” she added.

Seeing this situation, Maryam set about to create an enterprise that was not only focused on marketing the traditional hand-block batik, but one that will help create a sustainable future for the artisans.

She said that being a social enterprise, Cotton and Sago also tries to help raise the price of the batik products so that artisans can earn more.

“Now it is possible for them to earn a wage of RM1,000 per month, compared to about RM500 a month previously,” she said.

The profit that the enterprise earns, she said, is channelled into training and upskilling the artisans, including teaching them business skills.

Maryam said that there is a need to help revive the Terengganu traditional hand-block batik industry, as it is fast losing its skilled artisans to age.

“There is only one traditional blockmaker left in Terengganu. Now we have invested into getting a few young apprentices to learn from him,” she said.

“Otherwise there is only Pok Ya (Zakaria Ismail) and he is in his 60s.”

The tradition of producing batik needs to be preserved as batik tells the story of Malaysia, she said.

“The history of batik itself is about Malaysia. There is a theory that (the act of wearing) batik was a replacement for tattoos when Islam came into the country.

“The technique itself came from India. The (usage of) pastel colours came from the Chinese traders’ influences.

“Batik is a canvas and every culture that crosses our (country’s) path leaves a bit of its touch on it.”

~News courtesy of The Star~


Not just ‘plane fare’ at KLIA

Not just ‘plane fare’ at KLIA

Tourists and other visitors can now enjoy some of Malaysia’s tastiest foods and sample the country’s rich culture at the KL International Airport.

At Anjung Malaysia, located at the KLIA departure hall on Level 5, they can savour delicacies such as nasi lemak, Ipoh noodles, ais kacang and rojak.

The new attraction also features a cultural showcase that includes traditional games of congkak, batu seremban (five stones) and dam aji (checkers) for guests to have a go.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai praised the initiative by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to set up Anjung Malaysia.

“This initiative will go a long way in providing our airport users with a memorable experience and will help create a lasting impression of our national pride.

Malaysian experience: Models posing at Anjung Malaysia.

“I am also pleased to see that Malaysia Airports is making continuous efforts to enhance not just the physical aspect of the airport but also to ensure that the emotional attachment to Malaysia remains strong,” he said.

Liow said the new facility will not just be a tourist attraction but also an avenue for local entrepreneurs to promote their products and goods to international visitors.

This is in line with the Govern­ment’s initiative to boost small and medium enterprises, as outlined in the 11th Malaysia Plan, he added.

Liow said the transportation sector has a role to play in helping the country meet its target of 26 million tourist arrivals by 2020.

“Other than the quality of our physical infrastructure, we must strive to provide a differentiating factor and unique experience to tourists,” he said.

MAHB managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said Anjung Malaysia showcases some of the things Malaysians are proud of about their country.

“We hope our endeavour to highlight the unique and warm Malaysian experience will contribute to strengthening Malaysia’s position as a country with a premier aviation hub,” he said.

MAHB senior general manager of commercial services Mohammad Nazli Abdul Aziz said the concept would be introduced at four other airports – KLIA2, Kuching, Langkawi and Penang.

~News courtesy of The Star~


Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

No visitors will leave Malaysia without tasting our very own Nasi Lemak. Hot cooked rice with pandan aroma steamed with coconut cream goes heavenly well with sizzling spicy sauce or “sambal”. 

Generous sprinklings of roasted peanuts and salty dried anchovies with a hard boiled egg perfect this dish. 

A platter of everything good all wrapped up in banana leaves to further enhance its unique taste. Nasi Lemak is truly a national heritage of Malaysia.

~Courtesy of Tourism Malaysia~


Expect more rain until January, says weatherman

Expect more rain until January, says weatherman

The start of the northeast monsoon today will bring more rain to the east coast of the peninsula and parts of Sabah and Sarawak.

The wet season is expected to last until January.

MetMalaysia director-general Alui Bahari said the northeastern winds from the South China Sea will mark the start of the monsoon season.

“Right now, the winds are still from the southwest, they are variable, but by tomorrow, they will persist from the northeast,” said Alui when contacted yesterday.

He said an episode would range between three and four days of moderate to heavy rain.

This monsoon season is expected to see four to five such episodes.

MetMalaysia has its own colour coding for rainfall, with yellow indicating heavy rain is expected within the next one to three days, and if there is continuous rain, it will not last for more than six hours and the rainfall will be less than 60mm.

Meanwhile, orange indicates continuous heavy rain that will exceed six hours and rainfall collection of at least 60mm while red shows continuous heavy rain exceeding 240mm a day.

Alui said the department would also be monitoring wind speeds and wave heights, as monsoon winds could whip up waves.

For the day’s weather forecast, log on to www.met.gov.my/in/web/metmalaysia/forecasts/general/country.

~News courtesy of The Star~


Electric Train Service provides smooth ride from Kuala Lumpur to Perlis

Electric Train Service provides smooth ride from Kuala Lumpur to Perlis

Commuter Vincent Khor feels the interior of the electric train operated by Malayan Railways is comfortable and cosy. There are even power sockets under the seats.

I was very excited about taking Malaysia’s Electric Train Service (ETS) from Kuala Lumpur (KL) to Arau, Perlis, for the very first time.

It was probably the best decision I made on this trip – to travel by electric train instead of car or plane during the Labour Day weekend in April/May, to participate in the Perlis Marathon.

I bought my Malayan Railways ETS train ticket online.

When I fly, I prefer an aisle seat in the centre of the plane. I decided to make the same seat selection for the train ride. From the online ticketing system, I couldn’t tell if the seat I had chosen was facing the direction the train would be moving or the other way around. And I also couldn’t tell if the cafeteria was in the same coach.

What I was looking forward to was a nice, cosy seat with peace, quiet and privacy so that I could get some sleep. I needed some rest ahead of the marathon, which was held exactly one minute past midnight on the day I arrived.

While waiting for the train, scheduled to depart KL Sentral Station at 7.05am, I bumped into so many runners, some of whom I knew. They were also planning to take the same train and take part in the same marathon.

As I was about to board, I saw Kin K Yum (the marathoner, photographer and newspaper columnist) pushing his foldable bike and walking towards the train platform. I chatted with him for a while. He told me he was waiting for another friend Chan Wai Yee, who I met later, who also brought along a foldable bike. That was such an awesome idea – travelling with foldable bike for leisure cycling after the run in Perlis!

We found out that we were in different coaches so off we went to our separate seats.


As I entered Coach C, I passed through a nice-looking cafeteria.

My seat was in a four-seat layout, with two seats facing another two, and a blue table in the middle. Throughout the journey, I was not be able to stretch my legs comfortably. Or if I took a nap, strangers sitting across me would be able to watch me all the time.

I was worried I would snore, or saliva would drool from my open mouth, in front of strangers. What if a fellow passenger decided to take a video of me snoring and upload it onto YouTube or Facebook? That made me wonder how I could sleep throughout the five-hour ride.

Five minutes after the train departed, Kin (or "KK" as his friends call him) came over to ask if I wanted to join him and the other runners in their coach. I thought all the seats were sold out! KK then told me that he bought an extra seat, which he was offering to me. My prayers were answered! I would have some peace and a restful journey.


The journey would have 14 stops before its scheduled arrival in Arau at 12.13pm. Pretty fast and efficient.

I found out that the train was moving at speeds averaging around 120kmh, reaching 150kmh at times. However, inside the train, one didn’t feel the speed at all as it ran very smoothly. It was a great way to travel, and we beat the traffic jams along the North-South Expressway!

From cityscapes, the views morphed into smaller towns with lush green vegetation before arriving at the old and beautiful Ipoh train station.


The journey from Ipoh saw an even more noticeable change in the landscape. I could spot more oil palm plantations, more forests, and finally padi fields, especially in Kedah. I got excited when the train passed the freshwater lake at Bukit Merah near Taiping. It was the lake I swam in when I took part in the 113 Triathlon last year.

We got off the train at Arau station. We then took the bus to Kangar, where the marathon would be held.

Before we arrived, I suggested to KK and Wai Yee to assemble their foldable bikes in the spacious air-conditioned train.

To our surprise, the train attendant did not object to them assembling their bikes in the train. In fact, he was courteous and friendly.

I was so impressed by the whole train experience – it was unforgettable, awesome and pleasant.

~News courtesy of Straits Times~