Sep 23, 2012

Terrapuri Heritage Village, Penarik, Terengganu

Terengganu has always been a favourite seaside getaway for me. It has the most beautiful white sand beach with shallow seas in the Peninsular Malaysia. If not for its distance I would be frequenting Terengganu state for my tourism and travel! And now there is this Terrapuri Heritage Village at Penarik giving you a unique experience on cultural and heritage holiday stay! From this info, looks like a good way to give it a try too!

Terrapuri celebrates Terengganu's rich architectural and cultural heritage
Story and pictures by Andrew Sia
Monday September 24, 2012

Terrapuri is no ordinary conservation and restoration project. It celebrates the rich architectural and cultural heritage of Terengganu

A Chinese businessman has been collecting antique Malay houses for 20 years, and he has now turned them into a lovely heritage-themed boutique resort called Terrapuri, which means The Lan d of Palaces.

The location he has chosen is Penarik, an hour's drive north of Kuala Terengganu. This stunning site sits on a narrow spit of land sandwiched between a riv er lined with nipah sugar palms and the glistening sea graced by gently swaying coconut trees, all capturing the windy whispers from the South China Sea.

Serene: View of the pool at Terrapuri and the surrounding wetlands.
Serene: View of the pool at Terrapuri and the surrounding wetlands.

Just off-shore lie the island jewels of Pulau Redang, Pulau Lang Tengah and Pulau Bidong, each graced with necklaces of liquid gemstone in the form of luminous aquamarine waters.

The intrepid collector is Alex Lee Yun Ping, 44, a self-made entrepreneur who runs the state's largest tour company, Ping Anchorage Travel & Tours. Now he has created a little slice of paradise with 29 aged Terengganu ho uses which have been transformed into luxurious villas, as well as a spa, Malay restaurant, meeting centre, reception, library and art gallery.

Such is the weight of architectural treasure here that Terrapuri has been used to shoot the Malaysia Truly Asia advertisement, as well as the Malay epic film Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. But this is certainly no ordinary conservation and restoration project. Rather, it's meant as a model living heritage used and enjoyed by guests every day.

The villas have many of the modern comforts one expects – air-conditioning, hot showers, mini fridge, kettle, etc – amidst a setting of real antiques such as woode n gerobok (cupboards), brass trays, earthen jars and wooden chests. I choose to switch off t he air-con and open the carved wooden windows, the better to feel the sea breeze from the nearby beach, while safely protected from mosquitoes inside my kelambu (mosquito net) over the bed.

Alex Lee prying open some live oysters as pre-dinner appetiser on a floating fish farm near Terrapuri.
Alex Lee prying open some live oysters
as pre-dinner appetiser on a floating
fish farm near Terrapuri.

Traditional Malay ho uses have a rumah dapur, the wet part of the house which is usually a bit lower than the main house. At Terrapuri, this has been cleverly transformed into a large and luxurious bathroom complete with a wooden bathtub. This is precisely where I opt to dissolve the stress I have carried over from KL.

Alex, as he prefers to be known, is an antique collector who just happens to gather whole houses! This has been possible not only because traditional Terengganu homes are made of extremely durable cengal wood but, more importantly, because they can be dismantled and reassembled.

"Not a single nail is used to build the houses, " he explains. "Instead, the beams are fitted together using pasak (wooden pegs). Even the walls are made of timber panels slotted into grooves (in the beams)." (You can see this being done in the iSnap video).

This portability has enabled him to scour the state looking for time-honoured homes, some with colourful stories. Take the t wo grand houses named Teluk Pasu and Teluk Rusa. They were built 150 years ago by one Haji Mohd Ali, a 19th century rags-to-riches merchant who made his fortune from making pelara (fish fermented with salt to make a sauce) along the coast and then sending boats upriver to barter it with rice, fruits, and other jungle produce. Now the twain are in the process of being converted into the resort's library and art gallery respectively.

It was back in 1988, after Alex had just turned part of his grandparents' wooden shop in Marang (a small town 20km south of the state capital) into a backpackers' inn, that his foreign guests began influencing him to better value local culture, arts and architecture.

"In those days, we Asians did not appreciate our own things much. Old wooden houses were allowed to rot away," he recalls.

Unfortunately, this included the state authorities which decided to demolish Marang's "old and ugly" wooden shops in the early 1990s to make way for "development" with new concrete structures. The backpackers simply stopped coming to what used to be one of the must-stop destinations along the East Coast.

But Alex saw the value of these age-old structures and bought whole kampung houses, some for merely RM7,000 to RM10,000 each, as well as an array of wooden antiques such as coconut husk scrapers, looms, ploughs, carpentry tools and carvings (some of which are on display at Terrapuri).

A cluster of antique Malay houses have been turned into a fabulous heritagethemed boutique resort called Terrapuri, which means The Land Of Palaces, at Penarik, Terengganu.
A cluster of antique Malay houses have been turned into a
fabulous heritage themed boutique resort called Terrapuri,
which means The Land Of Palaces, at Penarik, Terengganu.

He even bought half-decayed houses for the valuable cengal wood could be used as spare parts for his resort.

The classic Terengganu house, known as Rumah Bujang is built on stilts, has a steep roof, gent ly curved gable ends and rhomboidshaped terracotta roof tiles.

The level of conservation detail here can be seen with the intriguing white, red and black cloths placed at the top of several main house pillars ( which the roof beams rest on). These are the bunga halang charms which have azimat or special writings on them to ward off bad luck.

While the physical houses themselves may be over a hundred years old, they represent a much more ancient Malay culture. Alex cites the book Spirit Of Wood: The Art Of Malay Woodcarving by Dr Faris h A. Noor and Eddin Khoo, which postulates that Terengganu is heir to the rich cultural legacy of the ancient Langkasuka kingdom (2nd to the 16th century CE) which had trade and cultural links to Cambodia, Thailand, Champa (Vietnam) and Java besides China and India.

The traditional rumah dapur (kitchen) has been cleverly transformed into a luxurious bathroom complete with wooden bathtub.
The traditional rumah dapur (kitchen) has been
cleverly transformed into a luxurious bathroom
complete with wooden bathtub.

"Malay civilisation was here even before Malacca," says Alex.

The Terrapuri project has had perhaps a more powerful knock-on effect on heritage a wareness than any seminar.

"People can now see the (monetary) value of their old houses," says Alex. "From RM10,000 about 20 years ago, an old house can now sell for RM50,000. So, nowadays, you see people keeping their old wooden homes next to their modern concrete ones."

The whole undertaking has cost him some RM10mil so far. Some of his friends called it projek orang gila (mad man's project), while his accountant kept te lling him there is little return on investment, especially with the slump in the number of European visitors due to the economic problems there. But he kept ploughing on, raising money from different quarters, even selling his Mercedes.

"For RM10mil, I could have bought five shophouses and turned them into a midrange hotel as a cash cow. My wife has also been complaining and asking why I want to suffer. But it's not just about the money. I am passionate about these old houses. They are masterpieces."

Indeed when so many places in South-East Asia offer beaches and islands, Terengganu needs an extra edge to bring in tourists and Alex believes heritage is the key.

"We face stiff competition from Thailand and Bali where cultural tourism is stronger," he notes.

Despite having applied for financial assistance from the relevant authorities for his work in preserving heritage, nothing has been forthcoming.

---> Terrapuri Heritage Village is located in Kampung Mangkuk, Penarik, 22120 Setiu, Terengganu (09-624 5020 / e-mail: / website:


Preserving Terengganu's botanical and culinary heritage
By Andrew Sia
Monday September 24, 2012

An oasis of luxurious kampung living, Terrapuri also aims to preserve Terengganu's botanical and culinary heritage.

APART from the hardware of the homes themselves, the Terrapuri project is also keeping alive the crucial software of carpentry skills needed to maintain heritage homes.

Alwee Abd Rahman, 44, the resident maintenance manager, has been a carpenter since he was 13, following in the footsteps of his father Abd Rahman Abdullah.

Homely touch: The service is warm at Terrapuri, and you can even enjoy breakfast on the verandah.
Homely touch: The service is warm at Terrapuri,
and you can even enjoy breakfast on the verandah.

"My father and grandfather were wood workers who made boats and houses," he says. "I learnt much from them, for instance, how to use wooden pegs instead of nails when joining wood together."

His son Alhuzaifi Alwee, 20, is, in turn, following his footsteps as an apprentice.

"As most of the kampung folks now want concrete houses, the old skills of traditional builders are being lost," says self-made entrepreneur Alex Lee Yun Ping. "Yet conservation can become a whole industry in its own right, like in Europe."

Alwee is not just preserving the past but also innovating new products. The anthology of antiques here includes many traditional Malay beds which are sized somewhere between today's Queen- and single-sized beds (requiring special mattresses to be commissioned for them).

The founder of Terrapuri, Alex (as he prefers to be called), says that since there were many more beds than needed at the resort, he discussed with Alwee how to turn some of them into benches.

An antique bed which is being converted into a bench. Alwee Abd Rahman (left) and his son Alhuzaifi Alwee are maintaining their family's living heritage of carpentry skills.
An antique bed which is being converted into a bench.
Alwee Abd Rahman (left) and his son Alhuzaifi Alwee
are maintaining their family's living heritage of
carpentry skills.

"The resort could easily have just bought benches from Bali for RM400," says Alex. "But we wanted our own Terengganu identity. You won't see these benches anywhere else."

This is the place to experience kampung living in style. From breakfast on your villa's verandah with the classic Terengganu dish of nasi dagang (spicy sweet tuna curry with rice) to dinners of sup bujut (local chicken soup), ayam masak merah (tomato curry chicken) and budu (fermented anchovies) at the high Rumah Tanjung overlooking the pool and surrounding forest.

Instead of parachuting in some hotel managers from Kuala Lumpur, Alex has chosen the approach of "community-based tourism" to ensure that some income from visitors will flow towards people who live in or around Penarik. Thus tudung-clad village women provide a most homely welcome as they act as receptionists, serve food or do housekeeping, while chatting about your day's activities, or about life in Terengganu.

Food is also sourced from nearby villages, and a must-do day trip here is out to the nearby floating aquaculture farms in the river. Here, I watch Alex pulling up a whole slew of live oysters and prying them open for consumption on the spot!

The idyllic kampungs around the resort are great for cycling, and I see fishing boats, orchards, a turtle hatchery and even a breeder of ornamental cockerels known as ayam serama. In fact, the Setiu Wetlands surrounding Penarik offer a host of eco-tourism delights, including trips out to the nipah and mangrove swamps. An even more magical experience awaits me at night as fireflies on the mangroves create flashing dots of light…

Penarik is just 20 minutes from Merang jetty, the jumping-off point for day trips to the islands of Pulau Redang, Pulau Lang Tengah and Pulau Bidong. There's nothing like some snorkelling to work up an appetite!

But for something more unusual, I visit the haunting gelam forests around the resort. Alex says the movie Bunohan was filmed here, and it's easy to see why because the trees exude a mysterious charm with their gnarled barks, spindly branches and draping leaves.

Indeed, it's not just architecture that is being preserved here, but also the state's botanical (and culinary) heritage. Alex is working to create a rich garden of herbs – such as kadok leaves (used for otak otak), kelsom (laksa), ulam (salads) pandan, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, turmeric, bunga kantan (all used in curries) and the aphrodisiac tongkat ali.

The idyllic kampungs around the resort are great for cycling, and you can see fishing boats, orchards, a turtle hatchery and even ornamental cockerels.
The idyllic kampungs around the resort are great for cycling,
and you can see fishing boats, orchards, a turtle hatchery
and even ornamental cockerels.

Apart from the normal mango and soursop, he is also planting more "kampung" trees such as sukon (breadfruit), kerkut (which has small cherries that attract birds), cermai and gajus (both can be mixed with belacan into a condiment) and melinjau (used to make a type of local crackers). Meanwhile, the flowers from frangipani, cempaka, melor, kenanga, gardenia and kesidang trees will (once the trees mature) impart a bouquet of natural fragrances.

The wetlands on one side of the resort are rich with jambu laut, gelang, pandan laut, paku laut (cycads rumpii), kerecut reeds (which can be weaved into mats) and, of course, nipah (the leaves are used for attap roofs). And if you ever wondered what inspired Terengganu's woodcarvers to create their gloriously intricate patterns, look no further than the surrounding plants such as pepulut, sesayap, ketam guri, bayan peraksi, bakawali, kangkong and ketumbit. Yes, the plants here can be eaten, and even inspire art, too!

Indeed, it's heartening that heritage at Terrapuri is being celebrated on a deeper level beyond architecture, by delving into ancient carpentry, traditional cooking, pristine wetlands and a rich botanical inheritance.

Source: The Star Lifestyle

Terrapuri Heritage Village at Penarik, Terengganu

Sep 3, 2012

Cherating Beach, Pahang

The last I've been to Cherating Beach in Pahang was many years ago. I enjoyed the trip very much as the beaches were wide and shallow, so you could walk quite far out. Apart from the many resorts like Club Med, there were also budget chalet. So you can stay and enjoy your beach stay without burning a hole in your pocket!

Now with the highway, it takes about 3 hours drive from KL to Kuantan and a short hop over to Cherating seaside. So let's see what Cherating has to offer!

Cherating beckons with lush tropical surroundings and exciting activities
By Muhd Basyar Mustapha
Monday September 3, 2012

IT WAS a smooth three-hour journey from Kuala Lumpur to Cherating, Pahang.

The undertaking was a three-day-two-night media familiarisation trip organised by The Legend Resort Hotel Cherating, a four-star resort where we stayed, situated about 45km from Kuantan.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the resort's warm and friendly staff, not to forget the garland and welcome drinks.

Stepping into our deluxe rooms, we were pleasantly surprised by the handsomely furnished and decorated rooms.

The interior looked and felt fresh, offering a splendid view of the South China Sea. The welcoming space was definitely a good start for a getaway.

Spectacular view: The sunset, viewed from the resort.
Spectacular view: The sunset, viewed from the resort.

After resting a few minutes on the comfortable bed, I took a stroll around the resort and the beach.

Aug 3, 2012

Petaling Jaya History in Brief

Here's a brief history about Petaling Jaya. It was a satelite town to Kuala Lumpur but now has grown to be a little city (and getting rather congested too!) with many new buildings sprouting out office lots, shopping centres and brand new condos. This is getting to be a prime location to live in. I studied here, live here, work here and practically get most of my things done here. Though I grew up in KL, Petaling Jaya or PJ for short, is now my hometown!


PJ: The little town that grew and grew
By Priya Menon
Photos by Art Chen & Muhammad Syamil Johar
Friday August 3, 2012

ARTIST photographer Soraya Yusof Talismail tried moving out of Petaling Jaya once, but her love for the satellite town — declared a city six years ago — drew her back in no time.

The 44-year-old artist and photographer was born in Assunta Hospital, Petaling Jaya, close to where her family was living at that time in Jalan Kelang Lama. They moved to Section 14 in the 1970s.

A PJ girl through and through, she studied at the popular Jack and Jill Kindergarten before moving on to Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Petaling and later shifting to Bukit Bintang Girls School in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

After years of living in PJ, Soraya and her husband Ariff Awaluddin moved to Jalan Duta for a while but found that it was nothing like her "hometown."

Picturesque: The Taman Jaya Lake is an iconic lake for nature lovers and joggers who frequent it every day.
Picturesque: The Taman Jaya Lake is
an iconic lake for nature lovers and
joggers who frequent it every day.

"Our place in Jalan Duta was really nice, we had large grounds and a superb view but we just had to come back," said Soraya.

She then recalled her father's prophetic words on her wedding day.

"I remember my late father telling my husband, ‘This is Soraya's hometown', meaning that we should not move out.

Petaling Jaya was founded in 1952 to overcome the overpopulation in neighbouring Kuala Lumpur.

The new satellite town started with over 800 houses in what is now known as Old Town, made up of Jalan 1 and Jalan 2. These two roads have since been renamed Jalan Templer, after Sir Gerard Templer, and Jalan Othman respectively.

Soraya's love for Petaling Jaya is shown clearly on her face as she describes the best things she had while growing up.

Her family owns the house in Section 14 where she still lives with her mother.

Good old days: Soraya and her mother Rogayah Ismail reminiscing about their times in PJ at their home in Section 14.
Good old days: Soraya and her mother
Rogayah Ismail reminiscing about their
times in PJ at their home in Section 14.

According to her mother Rogayah Ismail, their house was surrounded by bushes and it was really a quiet neighbourhood.

Having large grounds was an advantage for the family, who often played host to their cousins, who turned up for the holidays.

Both of Soraya's siblings are still in Petaling Jaya; her brother is also living in the family home while her sister lives across the road.

Back then, the only shopping complex was Jaya Shopping Centre, best known as the Jaya Supermarket, which Soraya loved to visit, especially when shopping for Hello Kitty toys at the Sanrio Shop. There was Kathy's Toy Shop, a record store where everyone went to get the latest albums and the always sweet-smelling bakeries.

"Then there was the Asia Jaya Shopping Centre. It is no longer there but the LRT station has retained the name. The old mall had an ice rink as well as a roller-skating rink," she said.

Petaling Jaya was a small town then, with only a few development projects. The only tall building was the Jaya Puri Hotel, now Hilton Petaling Jaya.

As a child, there were a few thrills she indulged in. One of them was the only fast food chain available at that time — A&W.

She spent a better part of her teenage life there, meeting up with and dining with family while listening to songs on their casette players.

The A&W restaurant is still standing tall today, drawing a crowd during lunch, not just from the offices nearby during weekdays but also families and large groups of friends on weekends.

When not hanging out at A&W, Soraya loved eating at Medan Selera, a food court in Section 14 that had "one of the best" ayam golek with prawn crackers and satay.

There was also Gazebo near Jalan Gasing, which served her favourite mee Bandung.

She and her family still frequent Jackson's Burger in Section 14, a household name among PJ folks.

These days, however, she spends most of her time with her husband at their own restaurant, Kokopelli Travellers Bistro. Yes, it is also in Section 14!

"My husband and I love travelling and good food, and we always wanted a neighbourhood art gallery so we started one in Jalan Bukit, Section 11 in Petaling Jaya. After more than a year, we decided to relocate to this current place," she added.

The couple's bistro serves as a gallery as well, featuring new artists especially photographers since both she and Ariff are professional photographers.

They are also parents to a teenage boy, Ushuaia.

Soraya enjoys the morning walk as she accompanies her son to school, which is located next to the Taman Aman park.

"The view is beautiful and it is great to see so many people exercising or doing their tai-chi routine in the morning."

For Soraya, Petaling Jaya is a great place because it has everything and anything within easy reach.

Having said that, she said certain parts of the city could do with a makeover.

Looking at some of the abandoned houses along Jalan University and the run-down factories, Soraya believes that these places can be turned into something more useful to prevent them from becoming an eyesore.

She suggested that houses along certain main roads should be turned into commercial areas for hip restaurants, businesses and office units.

As for abandoned factories, she hopes an organisation will undertake the redevelopment but retain the original structure and renovate them into an arts centre comprising a museum, gallery, a place for performing arts and a library.

"There are so many universities in this area (Section 14, Section 13, Section 20) and with so many students, this corner of the city should be more hip.

"The arts centre will draw a larger crowd to Petaling Jaya and will serve the community as well," she added.

Soraya also hopes Petaling Jaya will become a more disabled-friendly city with sufficient wheelchair ramps and other facilities to aid those in need.

Source: The Star Metro

As we celebrate Malaysia's independence, StarMetro takes a look at the places you grew up in and how they have changed. In this first part of the series, we take a look at Petaling Jaya, which was established years before the founding of this nation.

Tune in to Astro's channel 318 for more My Hometown stories from Aug 31 to Sept 17.

Aug 2, 2012

Legoland Theme Park in Johor

The Legoland Theme Park in Johor will be open on 15th September 2012 and it would be an interesting Johor tourism destination. It took a long time with many lego builder making famous icons of Malaysia to be on displayed. Would certainly like to take a snap with the famous Petronas Twin Tower even if it was just a miniature legoland version!

Do note the entrance fee won't be cheap! It was reported the entrance fee for Malaysians were:
Adults = RM140
Child = RM110
Rebate of RM30 for MyKad holders.

This is certainly expensive and I will have to consider whether to visit with my whole family along for the ride...

Stylized map of Legoland Malaysia
Stylized map of Legoland Malaysia


Legoland theme park pays tribute to famous SEA sites
By Mohd Farhaan Shah
Photos by Abdul Rahman Embong
Wednesday August 1, 2012

NUSAJAYA: It only took a team of 15 Lego builders about a year to complete one of their massive projects for its theme park — the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.

The 10m high skyscraper is the tallest iconic building in all of Legoland theme parks throughout the world.

According to the Legoland designer Eric Hunter, who is the chief builder for the project, his team had to visit Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur to study the construction and detail of the two towers.

He pointed out that it took his team 5,500 hours to build, using more than 542,000 of normal Lego bricks to construct the Petronas Twin Towers.

The main attraction: Legoland Malaysia model builders Muhammad Khairul (left) and master builder Stefan Bentivoglio putting on the final piece of the miniature Petronas Twin Towers.
The main attraction: Legoland Malaysia model builders Muhammad Khairul (left) and master builder Stefan Bentivoglio putting on the final piece of the miniature Petronas Twin Towers.

"Inside the two towers there are eight metres of steel lines and a plate which holds the miniature Petronas Twin Towers together and it is weather proof.

"If someone wants to try his luck to build the Petronas Twin Towers by himself than it will take him more than three years to complete it," he said when met at the completion of the twin towers at Legoland Malaysia, recently.

The miniature Petronas Twin Towers is one of the 12 clusters representing 17 famous building and monuments found throughout Southeast Asia at the theme park Minilands.

One of the team-members is Taiping-born Legoland model builder Muhammad Khairul Zainon Noor, 27, who was given the honour to put the last piece on top of the twin towers said that this is his best achievement so far.

Historic: The Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.
Historic: The Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.

"This is the proudest moment in my life as I put my sweat and blood to complete the project," he said.

Meanwhile, Legoland Malaysia general manager Siegfried Boerst said the first ever such theme park in Asia was nearly completed just in time for its official opening on Sept 15, this year.

"The park is now nearing completion with most of the rides and infrastructure already installed.

"For the past few weeks, we have been in the process of putting final touches to the park by testing rides, fitting the 15,000 Lego models built out of 50mil Lego bricks," he said adding that 45,000 annual passes have been sold so far for the last three months.

Ticketing details can be found on


Building dreams at Legoland Malaysia
By Louisa Lim
Saturday March 31, 2012

Legoland Malaysia won't be just another brick in the wall. Their model builders will see to that.

IT'S hard to imagine that it all begins here, in an unassuming double-storey building located on a street like any other. Just like it's hard to imagine that 27-year-old Firdaus Rahiman is anything but an Average Joe.

You see, the bespectacled Firdaus is something of a Michelangelo of Lego, and this is his lair. With an artist's eye and a sculptor's intuition, he conjures up, and builds, whole cities and towns with his two hands.

When he's not working with Lego, he's talking about Lego.

Taking shape: Malaysia and Asia's first ever Legoland is still a work in progress.
Taking shape: Malaysia and Asia's first ever Legoland is still a work in progress.

"It's all about feeling. If the feeling's not there, you know you've got it all wrong," Firdaus says.

Those who know Firdaus know he's not referring to love, but something infinitely more important: the building process. This "feeling" ensures that the Lego replicas resemble the real thing as closely as possible, be it a building, a backdrop or even a person. It has to be, in Firdaus' words, instantly recognisable.

The pressure is on, however.

Legoland Malaysia is set to open later this year, and Firdaus and his team of 31 builders only have until June to create the perfect world from Lego — all 50 million pieces of them.

Reclined on a red sofa beside sidekick Khairunadia Kamarudin, 26, he twirls a life-sized ball made entirely of Lego in his hands. On the table in front of us is a Lego vase filled with Lego flowers.

"Anything that isn't straight is a challenge to reproduce. Organic shapes like these are the hardest," he says, and Khairunadia nods in agreement.

The 32 model builders of Legoland Malaysia have a lot to smile about!
The 32 model builders of Legoland Malaysia have a lot to smile about!

Nevertheless, these objects aren't as difficult to construct as the massive structures kept in the Lego-strewn workshop beyond, awaiting their debut on the big day. Chunks of the Prime Minister's Office and the Putra Bridge — both part of the Putrajaya skyline — lay partially completed in one corner, while the KL Railway Station, complete with tiny Lego Malaysians, takes up several square metres of another room.

Skyscrapers rise like monuments from the befuddling brickscape. Whether it's the Menara Tabung Haji or HSBC Tower, these replicas are architectural feats in their own right. "This would be our first time building skyscrapers out of Lego. It's not something that is commonly found in Legoland, except the one in California," says Firdaus.

The tallest among these are the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower. Measuring 9m and 7m respectively, these two KL icons will be the tallest Lego structures anywhere in the world.


First, a little bit about Legoland Malaysia: Managed by the Merlin Entertainment Group — which also operates Madame Tussauds, Chessington World of Adventures and Sydney Aquarium — Legoland will be the first internationally-accredited theme park in the country. It will span an impressive 31ha (or approximately 76 football fields), with seven themed areas featuring more than 40 rides, shows and attractions.

It's a theme park built for kids. Here, the little ones get to drive slow one-seater toy cars. They can steer boats and turn water cannons on each other. They can build and operate robots in one of the Build & Test Workshops. They can hop on different rides.

"Many of the rides are also interactive, and allows visitors to participate in the ride itself, rather than just sitting passively in a seat and letting the ride take its course," says general manager of Legoland Malaysia Siegfried Boerst, 49. "We want to reclaim the importance of play. Children should be able to play outside, instead of just sitting in front of the TV or computer all day. It's essential to development, and we want to provide a safe area for the kids to do just that."

Hard at work in the workshop.
Hard at work in the workshop.

While Legoland doesn't have heart-in-your-throat roller coasters or rides with compelling storylines or expensive cutting-edge visuals, it has several attractions that are guaranteed to thrill even the oldest, grumpiest parkgoer.

There's the boat ride on Dino Island, which passes life-sized brick dinosaurs and ends with an 8m-high splash; the Dragon Coaster, which winds and plunges through the depths of a castle at 60kph; also the iconic coaster carts of the Technic Test Track, which rises to 20m above ground level for breathtaking views of the city before zipping back down.

The most captivating, however, is Miniland. Featuring miniature dioramas of different cities in Malaysia, as well as some of Asia's landmarks such as Merlion (Singapore), Angkor Wat (Cambodia) and Taj Mahal (India), Miniland is the ultimate expression of the Lego art form.

This is where Firdaus and his team come in.

They begin by taking photographs of the object they're trying to copy. Next, model designers like Khairunadia will create a 3D image of the object using a specialty software. Finally, it's on to the model builders, who match it up as closely as they possibly can, creating the object's skeleton out of steel bars and assembling pieces of Lego together to form an "outer skin".

Each block is then reinforced with heavy-duty glue — just in case anyone thinks a piece of, say, the Great Wall of China would make a nice souvenir.

The time and effort taken to build each model varies, but the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower rate higher in complexity because of their relative size. Work on the former started in California, even before Legoland Malaysia began hiring for its workshop.

As for the latter, Firdaus, Khairunadia and another one of their colleagues took exactly 600 hours, 41,200 Lego bricks and an actual crane to build it. The end result, explains a flustered Khairunadia, needs to look and "feel" like KL Tower, when viewed by visitors during the day or night.

"Straight shapes are supposed to be easiest," she says. "But because the KL Tower is such a significant landmark and because this is the second tallest Lego model in the world, the model needs to live up to the hype as well. It's quite stressful."

General manager of Legoland Malaysia Siegfried Boerst and friends.
General manager of Legoland Malaysia Siegfried Boerst and friends.

Malaysia's blazing sun and frequent tropical storms will also pose a number of challenges in the future, says Firdaus.

"To be honest, we don't know how well the colours will hold in our climate. In Billund where the weather is milder, the colours last 10 years before they need to be replaced," he says.

"I'm giving it five years... or less," Khairunadia says.

So far, they've got the base tower and satellites in place. The pineapple-shaped restaurant at the top, however, is yet to be completed and "needs a few more tweaks."

"Malaysians have this perception that anything that is Malaysian-made is inferior," says Khairunadia. "But I don't want people to see my work and go ‘Alaa, Malaysia tak best'. I want to surprise them."

Take a brick!

There's nothing you can't do with Lego, given the right amount of time and bricks. That's the philosophy of most Lego enthusiasts, including Nathan Sawaya, New York-based artist extraordinaire.

Known for creating large-scale sculptures using only Lego, Sawaya has been described by one journalist as "a surrealist mash-up of forms and artists. Imagine Frank Lloyd Wright crossed with Ray Harryhausen, or Auguste Rodin crossed with Shigeru Miyamoto, and you start to get a sense of where Sawaya is coming from."

Khairunadia and Firdaus with a small-scale model of their workshop.
Khairunadia and Firdaus with a small-scale model of their workshop.

"We're jealous of him! He's so rich that he has more Lego bricks than what we have in our warehouse," exclaims Firdaus of his hero.

One of the 14 Lego-certified professionals in the world, Sawaya's sophisticated art pieces have made the rounds in museum and art circuits worldwide — an achievement that he hopes to emulate one day.

"At the audition, I built my first Lego model, a pyramid. Right now, however, if I could create anything, it would be a portrait of my wife Maria," he says.

There are other mottos to live by. First, while it's true that practice makes perfect, it also helps if you love your job. Otherwise, muses Khairunadia, it would show up in your work. Secondly, creativity can be nurtured and harnessed, but not forced.

"There comes a time when you feel like you just can't do it (build) anymore," she says. "It really drives me crazy. But instead of pushing myself, I take a break outside. It always helps me solve the puzzle."

The duo has come a long way; considering how Lego isn't a toy they or most other Malaysian children grew up with. In fact, Fridaus played a lot of video games, while Kairunadia preferred Barbies and Polly Pockets.

"It's not that we didn't like Lego; it's because they're expensive," says Firdaus.

However, all this changed when they were hired as Malaysia's pioneer model builders three years ago, after beating dozens of other job applicants in a three-part audition.

"We weren't prepared for it at all," says Khairunadia, chuckling. "There were other others who knew exactly what they were doing, but we didn't. To this day, we're still asking ourselves why they chose us."

They knew that having one of the coolest jobs in the world would earn them bragging rights. They did not, however, expect it to trigger a love affair with these multi-coloured mini bricks. It seems nothing can put them off their newfound hobby.

At home, Firdaus combines his obsession for video games and Lego by playing, you guessed it, Lego-based video games. Khairunadia, meanwhile, has started a collection of Lego sets.

"I'm also in the midst of decorating my Lego-themed studio so I can have a place to display them," she says.

Playtime has to wait, however. As the date for Legoland's soft launch draws closer, the duo can mostly be found in the workshop, designing, building and tweaking Lego models to be transported to the park.

"The KL Tower is due in April. To be honest, if we were given one year to complete it, it would be 10 times better. But right now, we need to do the best with what we've got," says Firdaus.

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) says these are exciting times for theme park operators worldwide. Some 189.1 million of us clicked through the turnstiles of the world's major parks in 2010, an increase of 1.9% on 2009. That's the best performance in half a decade, with steady growth being helped by a surge in the popularity of parks in Asia.

If successful — and the signs are looking good — Legoland Johor will herald in a golden era of theme parks. And they would have their 32 model builders to thank for it.

> Legoland Malaysia's Pre-Opening Annual Passes are on sale at


Legoland Hotel to open in Johor
Wednesday April 25, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: Asia's first Legoland Hotel is to open in Malaysia in 2014 next to a theme park dedicated to the popular children's building bricks, the developers said.

Groundwork for the hotel in southern Johor state the world's fourth Legoland hotel began last month, developer Merlin Entertainments Groups and LL Themed Hotel said in a statement yesterday.

The 31ha park, which will offer 40 rides, shows and displays featuring the Danish toy bricks, will be one of the main attractions of Iskandar Malaysia - AFP


Johor tourist arrivals to increase after Legoland opens
Friday May 11, 2012

NUSAJAYA: The opening of the Legoland Theme Park in September and the Desaru tourism development in three years will bring in more than five million tourists to the state from the current 3.8 million.

State Tourism and Domestic Trade Committee chairman Hoo Seong Chang said that with the new attractions, he was confident that Johor would overtake Penang in the tourism industry.

"Johor is now on par with Malacca, Sabah and Sarawak in terms of tourist arrivals but is still behind Kuala Lumpur (12 million), Pahang (eight million) and Penang (five million)," he said at a press conference after chairing a tourism committee meeting at Kota Iskandar on Tuesday.

He added that in the first quarter of the year, Johor received 6.193 million day trippers compared to 3.981 million in 2011.

"Singaporeans are still the highest number of day trippers followed by mainland Chinese and Indonesians," he said.

Hoo also said that Johor received 3.785 million tourists who stayed in the state last year, compared to 3.618 million in 2010.

On another matter, Hoo said the deadline for the Johor Tourism Awards had been extended to June this year from December last year.

"We have received an overwhelming response for the competition, which offers 27 awards in nine categories. The presentation ceremony will be held in September," he added.


Legoland urged to lower entry rates
By Mohd Farhaan Shah
Thursday December 8, 2011

JOHOR BARU: The entrance fees for Asia's first ever Legoland theme park in Nusajaya are too high for locals, said Malaysian Tourists Guides Council president Jimmy Leong.

He said Legoland Malaysia should have a two-tier ticket system to cater to both locals and foreigners.

"Other places of interest, like the cable car ride in Langkawi or the Istana Muzium here, have implemented such a system," he told The Star yesterday.

Leong pointed out that foreign visitors are charged US$7 (RM21) while Malaysians have to pay RM5, with a RM1 discount for Johoreans for entry into Istana Muzium.

The charges for entry into Legoland Malaysia are RM140 per adult and RM110 per child with a RM30 rebate for MyKad holders.

"Even with the rebate, it is too expensive for locals considering the current economic situation," he said, adding that a family of four would have to cough up RM380 for a day at the theme park.

Leong said the high prices could have an effect on the middle or low-income earners.

"The management of Legoland Malaysia should discuss the matter with consumer groups or tour guide associations to set the right prices for the theme park," he said.

It was recently reported that works on the Legoland Malaysia is progressing well and the park was expected to open by the end of next year and offer over 40 interactive rides to the visitors.

The RM720mil theme park on a 31ha site is a joint venture between Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB) and Merlin Entertainment Groups, the world's largest visitor attraction operator.

Source: The Star

Entrance to Legoland Malaysia in Nusajaya Johor

Aug 1, 2012

Cosplay at Tokyo Street Pavilion KL

Tokyo Street Pavilion KL come alive with colourful cosplay anime fans! Certainly would be a sight to behold and definitely a lot of fun!

Mini Japan in mall
By Tan Karr Wei
Photos by Art Chen and Faihan Ghani
Wednesday August 1, 2012

AS A Malaysian boy growing up in England, Danny Choo — now 40 years old — did not do well in school because he was subject to constant bullying.

"I was dragged through gravel, beaten up by gangs and had my belongings set on fire. I didn't have a good time in school so I had lousy grades," recalled Choo, who is the son of shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo.

"I discovered Japanese culture many moons ago back in the UK, from gaming consoles and Japanese animation.

"I then wanted to learn Japanese," said Choo, who was back Kuala Lumpur recently for an anime conference and the Culture Japan Night at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur's Tokyo Street where he had a meet-and-greet with fans.

Looking the part: Anime fan Joshua Lee (centre), 29, who made his own costume, with Hammi Lye (left), 23, and Jennifer Thum, 26, all dressed in Mirai Millenium costumes.
Looking the part: Anime fan Joshua Lee (centre), 29, who made his own costume, with Hammi Lye (left), 23, and Jennifer Thum, 26, all dressed in Mirai Millenium costumes.

He was so passionate about wanting to learn the language that he started working in Japanese companies so that he could practise the language.

"I find Japanese content to be very rich not only in anime but also in its culture. Back then, my only gateway to Japan was a bookshop in London where I buy my Japanese magazines.

"Coming back to Kuala Lumpur and seeing something like Tokyo Street is great, because people can find bits and pieces of Japan and enjoy the food," he said.

London-born Choo now runs Mirai Inc media production company in Japan, and is the director and host for the Culture Japan show where he promotes Japanese pop culture.

"Throughout my career, I worked mainly in the IT field. Working for others is great but being my own boss enables me to do a lot of what I enjoy, which is Japanese pop culture," he said.

Choo created a set of Moekana cards with Japanese alphabets on each card and cute characters to help people learn the language in a fun way.

Big in Japan: Anime pop icon Danny Choo with the character, Mirai Suenaga, which started off as a site mascot for his Culture Japan website.
Big in Japan: Anime pop icon Danny Choo with the character, Mirai Suenaga, which started off as a site mascot for his Culture Japan website.

The characters on the cards are none other than Mirai Suenaga, Haruka Suenaga and Kanata Hoshi-kawa, all of which started out as mascot characters for his website.

"The cards sold very well worldwide and we released an extension pack to these cards, and those sold out as well. I will be working next on a set of Moekanji cards where people can learn the Chinese characters used in the Japanese language," said Choo.

His blog ( has also garnered a lot of interest and his work in promoting the Japanese culture has even been recognised by the Japanese government.

Looking forward, Choo wants to continue sharing the Japanese culture with people from around the world on a larger scale.

"I am actually working on a new TV show called Japan Mode, which will focus more on lifestyle and I will be introducing fashion, music and travel," he said.

Putting in an effort: Sia Choon Beng (right), 27, dressed up in character to attend the Culture Japan Night at Pavilion KL.
Putting in an effort: Sia Choon Beng (right), 27, dressed up in character to attend the Culture Japan Night at Pavilion KL.

Being the son of Jimmy Choo, it was somewhat expected of people to wonder if Choo had his father's shoe-making skills.

"I used to work with him for awhile but I left his studio to learn about the Japanese culture. Yes, I still have some of the skills I picked up from him," he said.

Combining those skills with his passion for all things Japanese, Choo said it was "very likely" for him to have his own shoe line before the yearend.

"Even though my dressing is very trampy, I'm actually very interested in fashion," he said with a laugh.

"I want to combine Japanese culture, fashion and music together to form a new genre for the public. I don't think it is going to be something mainstream though. It will be something for people who appreciate fashion, or a particular anime title or Japanese culture.

"I have been consulting with the former chief editor of Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire in Japan and she advised me to do two lines.

"One will be high end. It will be a 'just-by-reaching-a-bit-further-and-you-can-get-a-hold-of-it' type of end," he said with one arm stretched out as if reaching for something as he gave a cheeky smile.

He said typically, most people would go into a shop where there were only perhaps one or two items that they want to buy.

"I want to have a shop where you want everything. That is the sort of shop I would like to have, he said.

Hammi Lye,23, dressed up as the Mirai Suenaga character popularised by Danny Choo
Hammi Lye,23, dressed up as the Mirai Suenaga character popularised by Danny Choo

source: The Star

Jun 18, 2012

Visit Central Market Pasar Seni for Cultural Souvenirs

Central Market or Pasar Seni is the place to go to hunt down some souvenirs for your holiday travel. Located in the heart of KL, easily accessible via the Pasar Seni LRT station, it is one of the favourite haunt for visitors looking for something special to bring home with them.

Central Market Pasar Seni Exterior has been upgraded. It is also a great place to look for souvenirs

This used to be a wet market selling perishable household food stuff and smelly fish and all. Being located in the prime location of Kuala Lumpur it was also causing much congestion. So City Hall decided to relocate the wet market activities elsewhere and refurbish the place as a cultural art souvenir center. They didn't want to demolished it as it has a long historical significance so converting it as tourism attraction place was a good move.

So come on over here and see if you can find some interesting artifact as a souvenir for your vacation trip!

Central Market is still the place for souvenirs, artefacts and cultural activities
By Jayagandi Jayraj
Photos by Mohd Faihan
Monday June 18, 2012

THE Central Market in Kuala Lumpur has always been a treasure trove of all things Malaysians, although recently it has extended itself to feature some foreign items too.

Complex manager Cheong Wai Mun said Central Market was a place focused on local artefacts, but there were also a small range of offerings which were not Malaysian.

“Most tenants here sell Malaysian-made items but other things which are not local are sold to complement what we have and also to offer a variety for tourists and visitors.

“For example, on the upper floor, we have the batik emporium selling batik that is produced here. But along with it, there are also some varieties from the neighbouring countries,” said Cheong at an interview recently.

Upgraded: A view of the kiosks at Central Market.
Upgraded: A view of the kiosks at Central Market.

The 124-year-old Central Market, whose long history is intricately connected to the old and new generations of Kuala Lumpur is a testament that old buildings could be preserved and transformed to make it relevant with present times.

Since the takeover by Kha Seng Group in 2004, the place has been given a facelift to promote its unique selling point as an outstanding centre for Malaysian art and handicraft.

A RM10mil investment meant many positive additions to the building including zoned shopping areas and upgraded kiosks and stalls, creating a net lettable area estimated at over 650sq m of retail space.

The zoned areas reflect the cultural diversity of Malaysia with streets like Lorong Melayu, Cina and India.

Lorong Kelapa is a lane that offers traditional Malay snacks while Malacca Jonker Street is a comprehensive shopping centre for Malaysian handicrafts art.

Some of the local shops include the Coconut Shop which offers various souvenirs and artworks made from coconut shells and the Asli Kraf centre offers a wide variety of locally-made woven goods from materials which are found in the local forests.

Almost lifelike: Abdul Hadi Ahmad, whose shop is at the Annex is well known for his portraits of politicians.
Almost lifelike: Abdul Hadi Ahmad,
whose shop is at the Annex is well known
for his portraits of politicians.

Its owner Pong Panjang said the handiworks were sourced from the various orang asli communities in Terengganu, Pahang, Selangor and Perak.

The materials used for the handiworks are from various plants such as mengkuang, bamboo, bemban, kerdut and ribu- ribu.

Pong said ribu-ribu, which was a type of fern usually found in Sabah, was rare and a certain dexterity and expertise was required when weaving it.

“Since it is quite difficult to handle ribu-ribu, some use rattan instead. Ribu-ribu goods are often more expensive compared to others,” explained Pong, who has been operating in Central Market since the 80s.

Like Pong, there are many long-time tenants who trade at the Central Market. They include Songket Sutera operator Badrul Muda and artist Abdul Hadi Ahmad, whose shops are at the Annex, behind the main building.

While the tenants are happy and sure that they would be allowed to run business there as long as they want to, their competitors are shopping complexes mushrooming everywhere.

Tasty treat: This putu bambu shop is popular among the Central Market visitors.
Tasty treat: This putu bambu shop
is popular among the Central Market visitors.

“Those days, there were only a few places like the Pertama Complex and Central Market as shopping attractions for people, but nowadays visitors have more choices. We are not getting as many visitors as we used to,” said Badrul.

According to Cheong, they have been organising more events to highlight Central Market as a cultural hub. She said many cultural activities were carried out at the venue apart from observing the major celebrations. A big attraction is the Lantern Festival, where visitors are given lanterns before a procession.

“We also have cultural dances from Monday to Thursday, and something on every day. On Sundays, we have martial art performances, which is quite popular among visitors here,” she added.

For detail on activities at the Central Market, visit -- StarMetro

The Jonker Street in Central Market is modelled after the one in Melaka, looked real authentic!
The Jonker Street in Central Market
is modelled after the one in Melaka,
looked real authentic!

Apr 16, 2012

Penang Wayfinding System to visit Heritage sites

Having good signage is a must for tourism Malaysia. So the new Wayfinding System in Penang should help travelers find their way around the various historical and heritage sites around Georgetown.

Pointing the way to heritage gems
By Han Kar Kay
Friday April 13, 2012
Photos by Lim Beng Tatt

THE newly-launched Wayfinding system in Penang should provide an innovative approach for tourists during their visit to historical sites along the island’s famous Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling.

The pilot project, an initiative by Think City Sdn Bhd (TCSB) together with George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) and the Penang Municipal Council, is designed to provide information on the 10 heritage sites.

GTWHI acting general manager Lim Chooi Ping said the project that cost RM167,000 kicked off end 2010.

"The first phase saw installations of seven directional signs, four maps, and 12 site panels with descriptive information.

"The 10 sites include Kapitan Keling Mosque, Han Jiang Ancestral Temple, Khoo Kongsi, Yap Kongsi, Logan Memorial, St George’s Church, Goddess of Mercy Temple, High Court, Sri Maha Mariamman and Acheen Street Malay Mosque.

"So far, we have identified other sites such as Weld Quay, Little India and Beach Street for the second phase," she said at GTWHI office in Acheh Street, Penang, on Monday.

TCSB chairman Prof Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal said the signs installed at various historical sites would give directions to tourists in Penang.

Penang wayfinding system for tourist
American tourist, Carolyn Fowle and Melissa Perham
looking at the newly installed maps found along
Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling.

"We welcome more ideas for improvement in the next phase," he said.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who officiated the event, visited several sites such as Kapitan Keling Mosque, Khoo Kongsi and Yap Kongsi.

He said this was the first initiative based on the "public-private partnership" concept between the state government and other stakeholders.

Apr 14, 2012

Penang Hill ZigZag Canopy Walk

There are many canopy walks in Malaysia, but this Penang Hill version will feature a zigzag canopy walk and rather long too at 1.6km. It will be under construction so will have to wait and see how it will turn out when it is completed. Other canopy walks that I know of include FRIM in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur and Poring Spring in Sabah. There are many others as it is very popular. It started out as a way for botanist and scientist to study the upper habitat of the canopy trees but turn out to be rather popular for tourists and travelers too! If you got a fear of heights, this tree top attraction is not for you!

New attraction on hill
By Christina Chin
Saturday April 14, 2012

WORK on a 200m-long Penang Hill zigzag canopy walk and 1.6km-long educational nature trail will commence early next month.

Access to forest: An artist's impression of the canopy walk which will be constructed in a zigzag fashion.
Access to forest: An artist's impression of the
canopy walk which will be constructed in a zigzag fashion.

The eco-tourism project, estimated to cost over RM3mil, was awarded to local engineering firm Creative Quest Sdn Bhd (CQSB) after the open tender closed on Nov 30, 2010.

CQSB director Harry Cockrell said a project team had been assembled and was waiting to start work.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said work on the project would start once the agreement was inked between the state government and CQSB in "a week or two".

The project will be undertaken in two phases and is expected to be completed in 10 months.

Phase one consists of renovation of buildings and the construction of the nature trail and canopy walk.

The second phase is to complete the nature trail and build the 'heli-pad plateau' rest area, giant swings and remaining rest areas.

Eco-tourism consultant Frederick Walker said the project would leverage on the hill's heritage and the use of green materials for construction.

The 'heli-pad plateau' is located halfway along the nature trail and will be designed with an English-style botanic garden concept. There will be creeks and water features with benches and sitting areas.

"Water will be re-circulated from the hill stream," he told a press conference yesterday.

Other features include solar-powered lighting and interactive informative signage.

He said the existing canopy walk located along Summit Road would be dismantled with the component parts reused.

He said flora indigenous to the hill would be replanted where soil erosion had occurred.

"There is already an existing path so there won't be any massive clearing or tree cutting for the nature trail," he said.

Cockrell said ticket prices had yet to be determined but assured the public that it would be affordable especially for locals.

Lim said out of five companies which attended the site briefing, only CQSB submitted a development proposal.

"Cockrell is a long-term resident on the hill and we are confident that CQSB will deliver an eco-tourism attraction that is of international standards," he said, adding that the project's concession period was 30 years.

Penang Hill Corporation is the agent for the state government in the project to be fully financed by the firm.

The canopy walk was closed in 2006 due to a termite problem but reopened in July 2007 after repair work.

It was closed after being partially destroyed by falling trees during a thunderstorm in September 2008. -- Metro

Apr 12, 2012

i-City SnoWalk, Shah Alam

i-City SnoWalk would be an interesting place for a drop in for a nice cool (cold?) off from the hot humid tropical heat of Malaysia. Definitely a tourism attraction place for me to drop by one day. It would be draw for local tourist as most of us don't get a chance to visit a temperate country during winter and see snow. So this theme park would be it!

Happy Family in i-City SnoWalk enjoying some fun snow!
Happy Family in i-City SnoWalk enjoying some fun snow!

I remembered the Mines in Balakong had one of this Snow attractions, I wonder if it is still on or scrapped. Anyway, now that I know i-City has this snowing place, would chalk it up as one of the place to visit. Besides it is easily accessible makes it one of my quick short travel destination to head out during the weekend!

SnoWalk re-opens to a bigger crowd
Thursday April 12, 2012

THE refurbished SnoWalk at i-City, Shah Alam, opened its doors to visitors late last month and the new set-up is expected to draw in more visitors to the city of digital lights.

New ice sculptures and lights have been installed in the 50,000sq ft Arctic area to include educational and interactive elements to the icy-themed park in conjunction with the 2012 science theme.

I-Bhd, the developer of i-City, spent about RM3.5mil to do up the new SnoWalk as well as to relocate the i-Walk to where the theme park is.

Gao Guang Ming, 42, from China carving a big bull ice sculpture at i-City SnoWalk
Gao Guang Ming, 42, from China carving a big bull ice sculpture at i-City SnoWalk

i-City draws in about 90,000 visitors every week and about 70% of these visitors drop by SnoWalk. The newly refurbished park targets to draw in 500,000 students within the next six months.

On average, SnoWalk can accommodate about 500 visitors comfortably at one go. The theme park has extended its opening hours on weekdays due to overwhelming response.

The management team flew in 50 expert ice carvers from Harbin, China, specifically for the task of sculpting the ice structures.

Dinosaur exhibits will also be set up at the 10,000sq ft lobby of SnoWalk to enhance the educational experience for visitors. The structures are expected to be up in two weeks time. -- Metro

Fun in the cold: Muhammad Umair Harraz and his siblings going through the ice house.
Fun in the cold: Muhammad Umair Harraz and his siblings going through the ice house.

Mar 30, 2012

Kenong Rimba Park, Pahang

Visit the Kenong Rimba recreational park in Pahang and be captivated with its abundant eco-system and beautiful nature!

A tunnel of peace : River boat cruise in the cave at Kenong Rimba Park.
A tunnel of peace : River boat cruise in the cave at Kenong Rimba Park.

Premier nature getaway in Kenong
Story and photos by Nik Naizi Husin
Friday March 30, 2012

LIPIS: The Kenong Rimba Park is one of Pahang's hidden natural charms, rich in flora and fauna and abundant with wildlife, that has not been affected by the scourge of development.

Covering an area of 16.644ha, the park is located between 60m to 373m above sea level, and is not far from Taman Negara.

The recreational park was developed by the Pahang Forestry Department in 1988 with less than two hectares of the area opened up to make way for building of of basic facilities such as an interpretative centre, chalets, board walks, toilets, resting huts, canteen, explanatory board, solar system to supply the electicity, suspension bridge, canopy walk, surau and open hall.

Out of the 20 caves that have been discovered here, those which can be explored are a pretty sight with stalactite and stalagmite adorning the ceiling.

Mar 13, 2012

Visit Tapah and Bidor, Perak

This would be interesting to visit Tapah and Bidor in Perak. Usually I do visit Bidor town as it is very near after exiting the Bidor toll (about 5 minutes drive away) and would head to Pun Chun Restaurant for Wantan noodle or their famous duck beehoon soup noodle before heading out to Cameron Highlands.

As for Tapah, well, I confess I have not really explored the town as most times I would just head on strait up to Cameron Highlands because the road to the highlands just bypass the town. But you could actually just pop in to Tapah as it was not very far from the Tapah toll.

This news is not detailed enough for an informed trip to Tapah so will dig around for more to be posted up next time.

Cleaner Tapah and Bidor by end of March 2012
By Elween Loke
Tuesday March 13, 2012

WORK to spruce up the Batang Padang district is underway and visitors can expect to see a cleaner Tapah and Bidor by the end of March.

Tapah District Council president Razali Bakar said operation units had been assigned to pick up garbage at both towns on a frequent basis as part of the Moh Singgah Tapah programme.

"Although the Lata Kinjang waterfall in Chenderiang does not come under our purview, we will still monitor its cleanliness from time to time," he said.

Razali also advised business operators, especially hotels and restaurants, to keep their premises clean and bright to ensure visitors had a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Popular sport: A fishing competition to be held at a pond in Kampung Tersusun Muhibbah Batu 33, Temoh is one of the events in the Moh Singgah Tapah programme.
Popular sport: A fishing competition to be held at a pond
in Kampung Tersusun Muhibbah Batu 33, Temoh is one of the
events in the Moh Singgah Tapah programme.

The programme, aimed at promoting Visit Perak Year 2012, would be held from March 23 to 25.

"There will be cultural performances like silat and traditional dances.

"We have also laid out several competitions featuring traditional games," said Razali.

He added that a fishing competition would also be held at the Kampung Tersusun Muhibbah Batu 33 pond in Temoh.

"We hope to attract at least 10,000 domestic and foreign tourists to the three-day event," he said.

"Most tourists usually stop by briefly for meals in Tapah before heading up to Cameron Highlands.

"But by doing so, they don’t get to discover other attractions in Tapah.

"This programme encourages visitors to stay in Tapah and to take time to explore the many sites and experiences we have to offer," he said. -- The Star Metro