Category Archives: Malaysia ~ Penang

Growing (Edible) Greens on No One’s Land

During a casual stroll around a friend’s neighbourhood in Penang, Malaysia, from a distance I spotted someone kneeling amongst weeds, in absolute concentration of sort. Plain curiosity got the better of me so I walked up and said hello. Then I realised the green growth were not invasive weeds but actually edible plants which I grow in my backyard!

The kind lady told me “No land is wasted here. All neighbours seed sow or plant cuttings where empty land is ignored by government and we all simply pick what is available and just what we need for a meal-dish”.  Then she insisted that I take a bag of young sweet potato leaves so that my friend can taste what is freely available and join in the anonymous food growing group in the area.

Should I also start planting edibles in/on vacant lots in my neighbourhood? Food for thought ~ pun intended. 😀


Language is no Barrier

We are still in Penang and when we sat by a local food stall, downing cold beer and people watching, a motorcycle pulled up.  A local man with his son riding pillion, food container in hand, got off, approached a vendor to place his takeaway order.  Meanwhile a foreign couple (French) with 2 children approached another vendor to enquire or place an order.  In less than a minute, 2 young boys became friends, laughing & playing without a language problem.

Who needs language to be friends?

Who needs language to be friends?

Parting was actually sad with some tears as they somehow became buddies in 20 minutes.  Language is no barrier in the beauty of children’s friendship and rapport.

A yet untouched fishing village in Penang

My long time friend has set up a cafe in Penang and her neighbour happens to own a house & a couple of fishing boats in a relatively untouched area of the island. To me, this village visit & boat ride brought me back to my childhood when Singapore was not yet an urbanized, buzzing financial center but an island with attap houses, vegetable farms and fishing villages.

I got to feed the geese in the backyard.

I got to feed the geese in the backyard.

With possible geese pets in my backyard, I got some advice on what they like to eat & what is good for them… Cabbage!

Believe it or not, recycling is common practice here, not because it’s being promoted but it’s always been done.

Latex/rubber sheet rollers with canoe on top

Latex/rubber sheet rollers with canoe on top

Notice the old iron rollers beneath the wooden canoe. These rollers were once used in cottage industry processing of rubber sheets made from latex of rubber trees. (Rubber was once a primary national product of Malaysia.)

We got onto an actual fishing boat & got a tour around the village.


Morning Catch sold. Fishermen resting. All is calm.


The river that leads to the sea was at semi-low tide then.


Closer to the river mouth, very slight wave effect can be felt.

That's the happy boatman, the owner's "water assistant'.

That’s the happy boatman, the owner’s “water assistant”.


The nets have been repaired, cleaned & placed in position for tomorrow’s fishing trip.

Chinese Clash Cymbals were recycled as reflective lampshades

I made an impromptu video which I hope will give a better idea of the boat ride.

Penang – the North West Island State of Malaysia

I love PenangThe food, the old houses (which I just found out have been placed under conservation), the culture, the beaches….

My 1st dinner is the good, old traditional Sar Hor Fun! which is a “flat rice noodle” dish…  and by sheer luck I found an old stall that used the old style cooking in a big iron wok. Even the “flat rice noodles” were the old hand made ones, irregular in thickness but very smooth & tender in texture. The irregular size is a giveaway sign that it wasn’t factory produced.

Sar Hor Fun (沙河粉) - a dish of flat rice noodles.

Sar Hor Fun (沙河粉) – a dish of flat rice noodles.

But everywhere you go these days, good ‘ol Mc is there waiting … just waiting to feed the younger generation.

Old & New

Old & New

More exploration forthcoming ….