Category Archives: Malaysia

Tropical Spice Gardens & Khoo Kongsi Clan House


Here’s what we did on our last few days in Penang, Malaysia.

We went to the Tropical Spice Garden to learn where spices come from.


We saw Vanilla trees, Nutmeg trees, Pepper trees, cinnamon trees, cinnamon comes from the bark of the tree left to dry out. And lots more trees, I ground up some spices in a big morter and pestle.







I tried some herbal tea, it was chamomile and stevia, which is a natural sweetener, it was quite nice.

This mosaic is called the tree of tranquillity and was in the ground.


We saw a monkey swinging through the trees!



In Georgetown there is a lot of street art, we found this picture just before we went into the clanhouse.P1010684

We went to the Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse. The Khoo Khongsi clan came over from china in the 1800’s and were spice traders, they were very rich, and built this clanhouse. Its in a square, surrounded by their houses and their shops. It was very ornate.P1010695P1010708P1010709P1010715

After leaving the clanhouse we did some batik painting.




That night we met up with 4 other travelling families for dinner. It was good to have some other people to talk to, they were from America, Canada and Australia.

P1010741We then flew from Penang to KL, and the next day to Australia.


Snakes and Royal Selangor

A few days ago we went to the Snake Temple. The temple got its name from the snakes that came to the temple in 1875. Once there was a Buddhist monk called Chor Soo Kong, he had great healing powers and he gave shelter to the snakes of the jungle, Chor Soo Kong lived over 1,000 years ago. 950 years later a man prayed to him and was healed so he built a temple in honour of Chor Soo Kong. When the temple was finished all the snakes moved in from the jungle, and snakes have remained there ever since.


There were snakes loose in the temple! But they were drowsy from all the incense being burnt.





We saw this funny shaped door that looks like it should be in an Indiana Jones Movie!


There were signs saying to be careful of the snakes.



After the temple we went to a snake farm next door.

There were lots of snakes in tanks.




The snake above is a Royal Ball Python. The one below is a Mangrove Snake.



The snake above is a Monacled Cobra, because it looks like he’s got an eye on the back of his head.



This is a Diamond Back Rattlesnake




This is a King Cobra, the man that owned the snake farm told us he was 5ft long, and he only eats other snakes, he banged on the glass to startle the snake and make it attack. The snake struck the glass speedily, so fast that we didn’t see it coming. It thumped against the glass so loud and squirted venom, I wouldn’t want to be attacked by one of them!


I went into a cage with a massive python! The man said it was safe, but Mum was a bit worried! Outside the cage there were newspaper reports of snakes like this one eating goats, and wild boar. There was a picture of a python bulging in the middle, where it had swallowed a goat, they dislocate their jaw and swallow it whole then digest it. Whilst they are digesting they are really slow and vulnerable, so humans catch them. Once they have eaten something that size they don’t need to eat again for a few months. I also stroked an Albino Python from his head to his tail, which is meant to bring me good luck for the rest of the year.



In the afternoon we went to Straits Quay which is a Mall, we found a café with some funny stalls outside!



At Straits Quay we went to Royal Selangor to learn about Pewter, which is a mixture of tin, antimony and copper. In Malaysia there were lots of tin mines that attracted Chinese workers in the 1800’s. One of them learnt to be a tinsmith, he made things out of tin, then he started working with pewter and he opened up a shop in KL, his company grew and grew and it makes pewter objects, including Grand Prix cups! The company is still in the same family. I made a pewter bowl by hammering a disk of pewter into a wooden mould.





This is my favourite Grand Prix cup that they made for the Singapore 2010 Grand Prix.


Fernando Alonso won the race!


The Oscar is made of pewter, then coated in gold.


Youth Park

Yesterday we went to the youth park, it took forever to get there because we couldn’t find it when we got off the bus! The youth park used to be a quarry then the council gave some money to change it into a youth park. The splash pools in the park are fed from a spring in the hill.



There was also a giant chess board!


Then we went to the Guerney Plaza to get mum some Birkenstocks and some lunch. We found a shop called ‘crepe 2 u’ to get some savoury Crepes, I had a crepe with sausage, cheese, onion, sweet corn and lettuce.

For tea we went to some street stalls, they are called ‘Hawkers’. There’s a big area in the middle with tables and chairs and around the outside there are lots of food stalls selling all different types of food. You order what food you want and they bring it to your table, you could all eat from different stalls if you wanted to. Last night I had chicken satay and some chicken rice, it was tasty, the chicken was boneless which was nice! It is usually full of bones in Asia.



The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

Today we went to the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. The person who lived in the mansion was called Cheong Fatt Tze, he was from China but he emigrated to Jakarta, Indonesia when he was 16. In Jakarta he sold water from the river for a living. After a few years he married a rich businessman a daughter and he came out of poverty. Cheong’s father in law was happy that he worked so hard that he gave Cheong money to start a few businesses. So Cheong started a rubber plantation, a tea plantation and a bank. Soon Cheong started having business in other countries and he started up the first bank in China!

Cheong had to build some houses in other countries because he started to go on business trips. So he had mansions built in all the countries where he had businesses in. One of the mansions was built in Georgetown, Penang. The mansion was very ornate because Cheong was the Chinese ambassador for the British colony.


In the main courtyard in the centre of the house there is no roof to allow rainwater to come in, because rainwater coming in means prosperity in Chinese traditions. Cheong wanted even more water to come into the courtyard so the gutters on the roof collect more rainwater and sent it down a hidden copper pipe in the walls to gush out of a hole shaped like a Chinese coin.

Cheong Fatt Tze had 8 wives, and his favourite one was the 7th!

When Cheong died he left an allowance of $250 per month to pay for the upkeep of the house. This was a lot of money in 1916 when he died, but as time went on this money worth less, so the family couldn’t afford to keep the house looking nice so the rented out rooms to whole families. Soon the house fell into disrepair.

In Cheong’s will it also said that his house can only be sold when his last son dies. His last son emigrated to Australia and he was told not to take anything from the house, especially the stone lions that guarded the gate. The son didn’t take heed of the families warnings and had the lions sent to Australia. The moment the lions touched the land in Melbourne Cheong’s son had a heart attack and died.

Then the house was sold and an architect bought it and renovated the house to a former glory and opened it to the public.

Ironwork posts from Scotland!

Gallery around the central courtyard

Scottish iron posts and tiled floor from Stoke-on-Trent

20140212-203629.jpgArt nouveau stained glass window

Penang Hill

Yesterday when we were in the reception of our hotel the hotel owner came down, and we started chatting with him when he asked us “what cake do you want tomorrow?” There is an area in the reception that has got free snacks. Today when we came down to have some toast from the snack counter they put in front of us two slices of cake!



After we’d eaten we went to Komtar, a nearby mall with a bus station underneath it, to get a bus to Penang Hill. You could get a hill train up to the top of Penang Hill or hike up, we got the train up because it was too hot to hike!


Along the track there were little signs that told you how high you were above sea level. 100m… 300m… 500m… 700m… then we reached the top.


From the top of Penang Hill you couldn’t see the main land because it was very misty.


The weather forecast said it would feel like 44*C but luckily at the top of Penang Hill it was cooler.

We saw signs for a place called “The Monkey Cup Gardens” so we started heading towards it, a mile later we found the entrance. A Monkey Cup is a plant that looks like a small drinking horn with a lid on.


The gardens were full of different types of Monkey Cup. Some monkey cups are carnivorous and feed on flys and insects, the carnivorous ones have flaps at the top which attract the insects. It has nectar on it that attracts the insects and the insects fall into the plant which has liquid in it which digests the insect and sends the nutrients back into the plant to help it grow.
The monkey cup got it’s name because monkeys use them to drink from.


Fort Cornwallis

We went to Fort Cornwallis yesterday.


It is a star shaped fort built in 1786 when Captain Sir Francis Light took over the island. The forts original purpose was to protect Penang from pirates. It was built out of coconut wood but later was upgraded to stone and made bigger. We walked around the ramparts, there were lots of cannons on there, the largest one being from the 1600’s. It is called the Seri Rambai Cannon.


Also on the ramparts there is a steel skeletal lighthouse, skeletal meaning having no actual solid body.


The lighthouse is the second oldest in Malaysia, after the Cape Rachado lighthouse in Malacca. The lighthouse on Fort Cornwallis was called the Fort Point Lighthouse, but was renamed the Penang Harbour Lighthouse after a renovation in 1941.

National Penang Museum

Earlier today we went to the national Penang museum, outside it there are some automobiles. One of them is a three – wheeler truck used for hauling loads from the 1960’s to the 1970’s.
A Rolls Royce was parked outside too, it was the governors car until one of them was attacked by terrorists whilst being driven. The governor car was then changed to a Cadillac.
Also there was an old hill tram and was used in Penang to get up Penang Hill. Before the tram was brought to Penang you got up Penang Hill on a sedan chair or on a pony if you were rich. If you were poor you just climbed up Penang Hill. A sedan chair is a woven chair set onto two thick strips of wood that your servants / slaves held up while you sat down on the chair.

Lots of different races came to Penang for jobs including European, Eurasian, Chinese, Japanese, Malay and Sri Lankan. The Chinese and Japanese found jobs of craftsmanship and construction workers and if they didn’t get a job as one of those they started doing their old professions.

The Lost World of Tambun

Yesterday we went to the lost world of Tambun, it is a theme park in the middle of nowhere and at a foot of a mountain.
There is a water ride where you pick one of four slides and go down it. One of them is pitch black and really twisty so every turn is frightening. There is another one where you go down really fast and go up and back down. It was scary because you felt like you were going to tip over any second! You go down in a two person rubber ring.
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There was a Tiger show in the Tiger Valley with lots of animals in like a raccoon that picked up rubbish and put it in a bin and a bird that played basketball!!

After that they threw food for the tigers to catch.


Then we went to the petting zoo which has lots of animals in from snugly bunny rabbits to massive, snappy tortoises!!


As the place where Tambun was built is famous for tin mining, you could walk up into a valley to try some dulong washing, which is where you get a wide bowl, scrape it along the bottom of a pool and swirl it around to get the sand out and hopefully you have some small pieces of tin left.


Street Art in Georgetown, Penang

We got a bus from Ipoh to Butterworth, to catch a ferry to Penang. We are staying in Georgetown, where there is lots of street art around, painted onto walls.

It started when a festival took place in 2009 called “Marking Georgetown” because Georgetown was made a World Heritage site.

We walked around this afternoon to find some of the art.




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My favourite one was the karate cat versus the minion!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday

We’ve had a few lazy days, and done lots of swimming and catching up with our schoolwork.

On Friday we went to Berjaya Times Square Mall to do some archery. The bows were really heavy, much heavier than at Frontier Camp. But I managed to hit a bullseye!




Today we went to the Royal Airforce Museum. There were lots of old aeroplanes, a few helicopters and a ‘ferret’, which is a small armoured army jeep that you could climb inside and stick your head out of a hatch on the top.



We looked at all the planes, this is my favourite:

This is a Sabre and it’s maximum speed is 700mph!!!

In the hanger there was a trainer plane you could get in. When you pulled the lever you changed the wing position.


This afternoon we went to see an acrobatic lion dance, for Chinese New Year.