Friday, December 4, 2009

Paying homage to Taoism - Star

Dec 4, 2009 Story and photos by SIMON KHOO

Educational: Children taking a close look at scriptural writings in front of a statue of Confucius.

KUANTAN: Visitors to Kuantan should not miss the opportunity to visit the famed Lao Zi temple located on 6ha of private land at KM12 of Jalan Sungai Lembing.

Every year, nearly 100,000 people throng the venue to pay homage to the founder of Taoism and for sightseeing.

The main attraction is a sculpture of the Golden Dragon listed by the Malaysia Book of Records as the longest in the country.

Visitors are taken on a guided tour into the dragon’s body, entering through its tail and exiting at its mouth.

The tour takes about 15 minutes through the 823m path.

Written on the walls are a 5,000-word scripture known as the Book of Tao and its Virtues.

Temple caretaker Kui Fook Weng, 40, said a devotee was blessed with good fortune if they made a wish as they exit from the dragon’s mouth and touch the pearl perched in front of the dragon’s majestic head.

Place to explore: The fish pond features the head of the Golden Dragon.

“The dragon sculpture cost RM550,000 and was paid with my father’s personal savings and public donations.

“Work started in 2000 and was completed in three years,” he told StarMetro.

Kui said the land was inherited from his grandfather by his father Kui Wai Pong, 70, who built the temple after he dreamed about constructing a golden dragon.

Devotees touching the Prosperity Buddha statue.

The temple boasts a host of attractions such as the 7m-high Lao Zi statue, brass sculpture of the Goddess of Mercy claimed to be dating to the Ming dynasty, statues of the 18 disciples of Buddha, prosperity Buddha, eight fairies crossing a river, a fish pond surrounded by the 12 zodiac animals, the Monkey God, a pair of longevity and prosperity tortoises and a pair of earth dragons.

It is landscaped with fruit trees, rocks inscribed with the virtues and an antique house.

Kui said that most of the antiques were of Chinese origin comprising porcelain, ancient stone carvings, brassware and other artefacts.

He said the temple received many visitors daily, especially on weekends and public holidays, including Singaporeans and Malaysians on day trips to Kuantan.

The father-son team dedicate their time and resources to promoting the temple and upgrading the premises to give it a fresh look.

“There’s something unique every time a visitor makes a return visit. We are not static and will continue to evolve with the times,” he said.

Kui said they had added a statue of Kwan Tai riding a horse earlier this year and in August unveiled a 2.4m statue of Confucius brought in from China.

He said that thousands congregated at the temple during the two occasions for the consecration ceremony that included prayers, singing, cultural performances, Chinese calligraphy demonstrations and lion dances.

Taking turns: Devotees waiting to seek guidance from Wai Pong.

“Other sculptures include the 18 Levels of Hell, an artefacts museum and refurbished works all over the premises,” he said, adding that he was grateful to the MCA and the state for surfacing the 1km road leading to the temple.

For more information on the temple and the guided tour, contact Kui at 019-948 2020 or 016-936 2629.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Where do foals come from? - Star


When Tanjung Rambutan is mentioned, most people automatically think of a mental asylum. Few people outside the racing fraternity know the existence of the National Stud Farm (NSF). Security is tight and only staffers are allowed in.

The idea was first put forth by our first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj and the farm was established in 1969 by the Malaysian Totalisator Board. It is the only commercial thoroughbred breeding farm in South-East Asia and its horses are registered in the Malaysian Stud Book, which has been internationally recognised since 1996. Basically, it means these horses can race anywhere in the world.

NSF’s mission is simple: to develop the breeding of thoroughbred racehorses in Malaysia, to reduce the reliance on imports and to develop equestrian sports. Pan Malaysian Pools Sdn Bhd assumed management of the farm in 1991.

Young horses going through their exercises at the National Stud Farm in Perak.

Spanning over 97ha (240 acres) of land, facilities at the farm include two six-horse rotary exercisers, an equine clinic and laboratory, a training track, practice starting gates and a horse treadmill. The stables are well ventilated although not air-conditioned.

Breeding is done year round but the mating season is restricted from Sept 1 to Nov 30 every year. Since the gestation period is 11 months, the foaling season is therefore between August and November, coinciding with the breeding season.

“Mares are more receptive when they’re in heat. We use ultrasounds to monitor when they’re ovulating and when the time is right, we put a stallion in,” said Dr Thang Su Ling, NSF’s senior manager.

“Since we have about 92 mares and three stallions, the stallions are under worked! They can do more!”

Stud services are provided by selected stallions and the farm has its own band of broodmares with imported pedigrees. Dolphin Street is NSF’s top stallion and it “services” 35-40 mares a season.

A horse on a high-intensity treadmill. — SAIFUL BAHRI/The Star & NATIONAL STUD FARM

Periodic examinations are carried out to ensure that the mating has been successful and towards the end of the foaling, these mares are watched round the clock for imminent foaling.

Dr Thang added, “Once it delivers, dams hardly go back to racing. It’s too much hassle because it takes time for the body to readjust, so after pregnancy, we keep them for breeding purposes.”

There is also a high dropout rate. For example, for every 100 mares that deliver, only 60 foals are capable of racing.

Dr Thang Su Ling’s favourite spot is here, where the yearlings come in from the meadow to joyously greet him.

“We’re looking at a span of three years before they’re sold, which includes the 11-month gestation period. The pregnancy rate is usually 85%, 5% miscarry and 2% are born with complications. From foal to yearlings, there’s a 10% drop out and from one to two years, another 5% drop out,” he said.

That’s how the horses are screened. It’s the survival of the fittest. At the end of the day, winners are determined by the genetic compatibility between the sire and the dam, no matter which pedigree they come from. There are currently 268 horses at the farm, including 15 stallions, which were just imported this year.

When he was a varsity student, Dr Thang did his attachment at the farm, loved it and decided to stay on after graduation. The veterinarian’s favourite spot is where the yearlings graze on the undulating terrain, with Mt Korbu in the background.

When the horses see his car driving by, they canter over to greet him at the fence, like children waiting for treats. Apparently, the colts and fillies are already separated when they turn one.

“Yes, they can get randy at one so we have to keep them separated!” chuckled Dr Thang.
Horse sense

Foal: a young horse of either gender, under one year old

Colt: a young male horse, usually below the age of four

Filly: a young female horse, usually below the age of four

Mare: adult female horse

Stallion (or stud): uncastrated adult male horse or a male horse used for breeding

Broodmare: a female horse used for breeding

Gelding: castrated male horse

Dam: the mother of a horse

Sire: the father of a horse

Damsire: maternal grandfather (sire of the dam)

National Stud Farm, Jalan Chemor, Tanjong Rambutan, Perak, Tel: (05) 533 2144, 533 2145 or Fax: (05) 533 4900. The farm is located about 16km from the Ipoh town centre.

Friday, November 27, 2009

How to make dumplings

Video clips on:

Chinese Dumpling:

Shanghai Dumpling:

Japanese Dumpling:

Wok Over To Penang - NST

Nov 27, 2009

Gulai tumis fish with ladyfingers

Cincalok pork

Explosive flavours of asam laksa

Char kway teow is worth every bit

Jiu hu char with fresh lettuce leaves

If you crave for Penang nonya cooking, char kway teow, prawn mee and asam laksa, you don't have to go to the island. TAN BEE HONG finds it all at The Wok

IN the midst of all the modernity that's The Strand in Kota Damansara, it's a little thrill to walk through elaborately carved wooden doors gilded with gold paint.

But then The Wok Cafe is an oasis of Penang nonya cuisine in a township with a high concentration of mamak and kopitiam outlets. The corner shop is airy and pleasantly cool without a blasting shock of cold waves from the air-conditioning to turn appetising hot food into congealed servings.

Inside, old wooden tables with marble tops add to the ambience of being inside an old nonya house. On the walls hang old pictures of nonya women with their sanggul, and of Penang in the 50s when policemen wore flared khaki shorts and motorcars were only for the rich and famous. The only thing that seems incongruous with the decor is an LCD television set hanging from the ceiling.

Most of the rich trappings on the walls, the old carved doors and frameworks come from the private collection of restaurateur Mervyn Yeoh's father, Robert. The Wok has a sister restaurant, Hot Wok, in Burmah Road, Penang.

"I first learned to cook by watching his grandmother in the kitchen. I've always liked fiddling around in the kitchen and I enjoy good food. I've been cooking for 15 years," says the much-tattooed Mervyn, 33.

Customers come in for brunch on weekends. The Wok Cafe serves char kway teow, asam laksa, prawn mee, loh mee, Penang Hokkien char and beef hor fun. There's curry mee too but I don't know if it's Penang white curry mee or the thick, creamy Klang valley version.

The char kway teow (RM8) is quite impressive, with lots of wok-hei (frying at high temperatures). There are no cockles but Mervyn makes up for it with lots of prawns, squid, fish cake and Chinese sausages. The prawns are big, fresh and crunchy, Not only that but he's probably one of the few chefs who uses lard to fry the noodles, resulting in a fragrance that only those who've had char kway teow with lard will identify with immediately. There are bits of crunchy fried pork fat hidden in the noodles.

Asam laksa is an explosive serving. Rich with the flavours of fish and the various herbs like mint, daun kesum and bunga kantan, the aroma is totally irresistible. Black prawn paste (heh ko) adds to the flavour and if you like more of it, help yourself from the dispenser. The asam laksa is as fiery as it looks, so unless you have a tongue weaned on chili padi, maybe you should stick to char kway teow and prawn mee. Or have some chee cheong fun, flat rice noodles with lashings of sweet sauce, chili sauce and heh ko -- Penang style. A sprinkle of sesame seeds and fried shallots is the cherry on the icing. Would have preferred the chee cheong fun to be unraveled instead of being chopped in rolls.

But it's not all noodles. Diners come in for home-cooking and usually nibble on otak-otak (RM5) and lorbak (RM10) while waiting for the main courses to come.

Wrapped in banana leaves, the otak-otak is fish fillet steamed with egg, herbs, lemongrass and santan. I find it a tad on the bland side though. The deepfried lorbak is stuffed with pork marinated in five-spice and rolled in beancurd sheets. Eat this with the thick brown sauce and chili sauce provided. "We buy the five-spice powder from Penang. The cheaper local version isn't good enough," says Robert.

We also have jiu hu char (RM10). The yambean is finely shredded and cooked with carrots, cabbage, mushrooms and dried cuttlefish. To eat, just fill a leaf of lettuce with this and sambal belacan.

The Wok is mostly about foods served in Penang nonya households on a daily basis. Mervyn says: "A customer told me his aunt could cook the dishes he had just eaten. That's probably so but where is his aunt? He gave me a sad look and said she had passed away. That's the point. We offer home cuisine that you may not be able to get anymore or have the time to prepare."

Like perut ikan (RM9). Literally translated as fish stomach, it's a nonya favourite where pickled fish stomach and roe are cooked with finely sliced daun kadok, pineapple, longbeans, brinjal and various herbs in a tangy and spicy gravy. Not all nonya restaurants offer this as it's time-consuming to shred the vegetables and pound the spices. The fish roe is lovely but I find the fish stomach tough as leather.

We also have a whole red bream for gulai tumis (available with fish fillet, stingray or prawns too). The piquant, tamarind-based gravy is aromatic with herbs like daun kesum and ginger flower. The fish comes with lady fingers and do watch out for the whole chili padi. One bite could immolate your tastebuds.

Pork cincalok (RM14) gets the thumbs-up from everyone. Thick slices of belly pork are stirfried with cincalok (tiny shrimps pickled in brine), onions and red and green chilli. The salty edge of cincalok brings out the best side of the pork, with onions adding a contrasting crunchy texture.

Then there's asam prawns. Marinated in juice from the tamarind fruit, these fried prawns turn my eyes watery with nostalgia. They are just like how Mama made them -- shelled with the head and tail intact to let the tamarind flavours seep into the flesh -- and served with sambal belacan and cucumber.

For dessert (RM4.50), we have sago nangka and mango cendol.

The Wok Cafe is open daily from 11am to 10pm. It's closed on Mondays.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ever thought of touching wild boar to improve your luck?

Oct 31, 2009

Today I have the opportunity to personally touched the wild boar not one but maaaaany. Probably there were 100 over wild boar. The place is behind TESCO in Kamunting, Taiping.

I have read about these wild boar in The Star paper some months ago. I was also told by some friends that these wild boar can bring you luck. According to those who have been to this place, many people who have touched these wild boar have strike numbers.

The three-legged wild boar

The three-legged wild boar seems to be listening to this guy beside when he asked the wild boar to sleep

Location Map of the Wild Boar Temple - at Jalan Ong Saik next to BP Station:

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They believe that if we touch a three-legged wild boar it will bring better fortune. Here is a video and some pictures I took today. I will tell you if I have gained any fortune after a few days.

According to the people around here, the wild boar came from the nearby hill. It started off when the Indian temple started to give away food to these wild boar after prayers. Thus when these wild boar heard the bell ring during the prayers, they will all gather at the temple.

Best time to visit this temple is on Saturday and Sunday. But Monday is rest day for these wild boar as they will be over fed by visitors who come from as far as Singapore and Penang.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Malacca - Jonker Walk Revisit

25 October 2009

This is my 3rd visit to Jonker Walk in as many months. And I managed to dwell further and took better pictures with my camera instead of using my camera phone.

Jonker Walk has been declared a World Heritage on July 7 2008. This is one of the historical places that we should not miss. Located approximately 1.5 hours drive away from south of KLIA airport, it is frequented by many tourists from all over the world.

At one end of Jonker Walk, you will definitely be interested to drop by at the biggest pineapple tart shop at LW Nyonya Pineapple Tart shop.

This is the biggest pineapple tart in Malaysia certified by Malaysian Book of Records

Seen here is the proprietor of LW Nyonya Pineapple Tart House Lucy Wee and her partner and husband

Some of the tourists at the tart house doing some sampling

Here are pictures of some of the interesting scenery at the Jonker Walk:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Perak to promote temple - Star

Oct 10, 2009 By SYLVIA LOOI

THE 137-year-old Paloh Koo Miu Temple in Ipoh Old Town will be promoted as a tourist attraction.

Perak Non-Islamic Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said the temple, together with Little India and the Concubine Lane nearby, could give Ipoh’s tourism sector a boost.

Part of the intricate carvings atop the 137-yer-old temple which will be promoted as a tourist attraction.

“With proper packaging, these three places can be included in the state’s tourism map,” he said after visiting the temple recently.

Noting that the temple is older than Ipoh city itself, Dr Mah said it had valuable antiques and interesting statues which could draw in visitors.

Among them are images of fairies and deities on the walls and roofs, brass urns and a large bell.

A caretaker of the Paloh Koo Mui Temple in Jalan Bijih Timah holding a 'weapon' crafted out of wood.

Dr Mah said assistance would be provided by the state to help promote the temple.

He also announced an allocation of RM200,000 for the temple to help its committee preserve and upgrade its amenities.

The temple is known to locals as the Ipoh Chinese Tai Pak Koong Temple because of its worship of the deity.

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In the olden days, it used to offer free medicine and consultation to local folk.

People with disputes even visited the temple to seek justice during its early years.

Among the temple’s milestones was when it established a free school for pupils considered too old to be admitted into government primary schools.

For those interested to visit the temple, it is located at 91, Jalan Bijih Timah.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Unique red durian making heads turn - Star

Sept 28, 2009 By RUBEN SARIO

KOTA KINABALU: A durian species is turning heads among visitors to Sabah, thanks to its uniquely reddish flesh.

Known among the Kadazandusun community as sukang or tabelak, the fruit is also called “durian hutan”, as it is mainly found growing wild in the jungles of Sabah.

Thorny abundance: A sukang or ‘durian hutan’ tree heavy with fruits during its fruiting season.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjum said he did not know anyone cultivating sukang (its scientific name is Durio gravolens) as there was generally not much enthusiasm among locals for wild durian.

Its flesh is said to be thinner and drier compared with the cultivated fruit which is of thicker and creamier texture.

The taste is about similar with other durians, although some have described it as sweetish sour.

Masidi said the sukang’s main attraction is its red-coloured flesh.

Rare colour: Once opened, the red flesh of the sukang is revealed.

“That’s the main thing that makes it stand out,” he said, adding that this type of durian also fetched a lower price than the more common fruit.

The small-sized fruits, some about the size of a sepak takraw ball, are sold for as little as RM2 to RM3 when they are in season.

Masidi, who grew up in interior Ranau where sukang are plentiful, said some people who had tasted the fruit for the first time claimed that it had a more potent “kick”.

“Maybe it’s because this particular type of durian is generally more pungent,” he added. Others who have tasted sukang describe it having a carrot-like flavour.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More pictures on Toong Wah Tong Cave Temple in Ipoh @ Jalan Tambun

Here are some more pictures taken within the vicinity of the cave temple located 50m away from Lost World of Tambun:

Main entrance of the temple

Some of the committee members of the temple

Watch the video here:

The main altar of the temple

The entrance of the temple at the foot of the hill

Look at the beautiful scenery of the temple

One of the signages at the entrance that reads: "If you arrive at the top of hill at the temple, it is fate. If you descend from the hill it is your destiny".

One of the many structures formed by stalactite and stalagmite that resembles an elephant

A view in the temple looking out from the cave

The painting of a green dragon located on the right side of the temple

Another painting of a white tigeron the left side of the temple

Another hand painting at the side of the temple

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ipoh Famous Dim Sum - Foh San Restaurant

Sept 25, 2009

Just 2 days ago, my family and I took our chance to go to Foh San new outlet which opened about a month ago. We have tried many times before but ended up eating at Ming Court just located opposite of Foh San as we struggled to get a seat.

My sister Merlin and hubby Seng Kee enjoying their dim sum all the way from Melaka

Ooh .. that's my son Jansen and my mother-in-law

But we were lucky this time though as most of the visitors have left Ipoh after a long Hari Raya weekend. We were lucky this time as we also got a good car park and a good table labeled as C9.

See the auspicious table number with my daughter Sharon. Behind is the fully computerized payment counter

Our first impression is that it looks much better than a fast food outlet and even better than a kopi tiam. Everything was well planned and well positined with good fengshui.

We ordered quite a variety from big pau to lopak ko and of course all the other creative dim sum. Forget about the price if you realy enjoy a good dim sum as you are paying for the good ambience as well.

My sister really loves the dim sum and decided to do a ta pau. Look at the impressive take away counter

As if not enough, we managed to ta pau some of our favorite dim sum. There is a corner for take away food just by the road side strategically located.

A must for travelers to Ipoh. Foh San is located along Jalan Leong Sin Nam just behind Maybank. See map below:

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Toong Wah Tong Cave Temple

Sept 23, 2009

The 130 over years old cave temple Toong Wah Tong is located about 500m away from Lost World of Tambun on the way to Tanjong Rambutan. Visitors to this temple which is located about 60 steps high or 100 feet above ground will be fascinated with the beautiful cave.

Once you are at the temple, you can get a good view of the surrounding greenery including the lime stone hills. Founded by a famous tin miner Leong Sin Nam, the temple opens daily to the public from 9am to 5.30pm. Many tourists from around the world have come to visit this temple. Some came to offer prayers and some came to take a good view from the temple.

Local people will normally come to pray and at the same time climb the hill to keep themselves healthy. Visitors will be welcome by the writings on the wall that read: "If you can climb up the hill, it is fated and when you descend, its your good fortune".

Location Map:

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