SEPTEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 28
JALAN TAN HIOK NEE
The Dream Maker
Soul City of Java
Three years ago when the late celebrity
Chef Anthony Bourdain left Sarawak after
shooting the Sarawak laksa for CNN’s “Parts
Unknown”, he IG-ed it as ‘breakfast of Gods’. He
first set foot there, all the way from New York, at
the Choon Hui Kopitiam in Kuching for his first
slurp of the Sarawak laksa which was on his Top
For many of us Bourdain has brought the
world of exquisite and exotic cuisine to our living
rooms and opening us literally to parts unknown
by walking us through different cultures.
Truly, besides the Sarawak laksa, our colourful
culture must have impressed him enough to make
several trips to Malaysia. He would probably have
loved the Melanau’s Kaul festival (page 8-9) where
a picnic feast of traditional cakes and snacks,
served after the spirits appeasing ceremony, would
have delighted him.
I am not as widely traveled as Bourdain but
I dare say I can be equally adventurous when
it comes to food. While food brings people of
different cultures together, a good sense of
culinary adventure, I believe, will bring excitement
to your travels.
Recently a friend of mine introduced me to a
new dish that uses the king of fruits, the durian,
as one of its ingredients. I have heard of durian ice
cream, cakes, tarts, and custard. But durian fried
rice? I must say I had my reservation with this
version of ‘durian anything’ as it conjured images
of a heavy and mushy dish. On the contrary, it was
actually a delectable eat.
So, stay in sync with #MalaysiaBaru as the
country celebrates its 55th Malaysia Day and
stay open-minded to new experiences and new
perspectives to old stories.
Ode to Ipoh Street Food
10 OUT & ABOUT
12 LOST & FOUND
The Glitz and Glam:
GROUP HEAD & BRANDS
FRANCIS YIP, YY CHEN,
& RICK CHEAH
COVER ILLUSTRATION BY
Andong, South Korea
The Pulse of Johor Bahru
30 SNAPSHOT STORY
31 ON THE RADAR
SALES & MARKETING
YONG WANG CHING
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Happy Malaysia Day!
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WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 1
SPENCER KEEPS THE
FOR A MAN WHO ADMIRES SUPERHEROES LIKE BATMAN AND
IRONMAN, SPENCER LEE HAS THE RIGHT SPIRIT AND THE ZEST
FOR LIFE TO TAKE ON THE CHALLENGING JOB OF MAKING
SURE EVERYBODY CAN FLY.
Text YY CHEN • Photos SPENCER LEE
When you tell Spencer Lee that he has a
dream job, he would tell you that the
dream is really in making it possible for
everyone to fly.
“I feel touched to see families at the airport
with three to four generations of passengers flying
together,” said Spencer, AirAsia’s Commercial
Director who is responsible for driving sales to fill
Even though he gets to fly to all kinds of
destinations to ensure the commercial viability of
products and services, Spencer considers this to be a
tough part of the job.
But in his 13-year career with AirAsia there hasn’t
been a dull moment as he finds everyday an amazing
experience just by being a part of the group culture
that pushes boundaries, flying to destinations beyond
Malaysia and Asia.
COLOMBO IN MY HEART
Spencer has found many personal landmarks during
his work trips and he firmly believes that travelling
is part of growing and helps open minds. He finds
every destination, no matter how many repeated
visits, presents a different experience each time.
“I have travelled to Indian cities more than my
Indian friends. I am amazed by the culture and food
there and seen how some destinations have changed
since we first flew there such as China. At the end of
the day, it’s all about experience,” he added.
His fondest memory is destination Colombo, Sri
Lanka. “Back then when my boss wanted to launch
in Sri Lanka, I thought to myself, isn’t there a war
going on there? My wife joked, ‘Your boss really
“We were brand new and I got the team
together. Four hours later we landed in Colombo.
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 3
As we settled down–from the airport to the hotel–we
experienced great food and hospitality. We were the
first (airline) to arrive after the war. I will always
have Colombo in my heart,” Spencer said.
With a dream to return to European destinations
one day, Spencer and his team are focusing on
developing more services and products for this
region for now.
Their latest routes are to Nha Trang and Phu
Quoc in Vietnam, Sihanoukville in Cambodia and the
launch of Silangit (Lake Toba) in Indonesia.
THE DREAM TEAM
“We can look at Asean as our playground as we
connect dots to improve air connectivity. AirAsia
has huge presence in China, India, New Zealand and
even Honolulu in the US. Once we have expanded
our market, we will help people (businesses) to grow.
And tourism is a big economy all around the world.
“Because of these connections one can have
breakfast in Kuala Lumpur, a meeting in Singapore,
dinner in Thailand and back to Kuala Lumpur in just
a day!” he boasts.
To have a dream team to work with, from bosses
to staff, does not come about without challenges.
While the company environment and culture are
conducive for doing their work, developing the right
people to handle the jobs is a test. “You can have
the best technology but you need the people to make
On that note, he is quick to attribute some
successful products and services to suggestions by
staff and crew. And that the management is open
to receiving feedback and suggestions from lower
“Our cabin crew are our best brand ambassadors.
They give us insight to what product to offer next
with feedback from passengers.”
He acknowledges and appreciates the Allstar staff
who started working for AirAsia when they were very
young. Their culture is based strongly on a high sense
of belonging and ownership for the company and
being a part of its journey.
As a result of this, the company is able to
progress to the next phase of growing the digital
technology of the company focusing on data
analytics, financial services, technology and
4 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
In growing their digital businesses they provide
travellers with a complete travel experience. Big data
will be an important focus as they continue to innovate
to meet the rising expectations of travellers today.
Their digital services include AirAsia BIG Loyalty,
BigPay, travel360.com, OURSHOP and ROKKI.
ROKKI is AirAsia's in-flight entertainment
and connectivity platform offering guests free
entertainment, shopping deals and internet access on
their mobile devices.
SPAWN A WINNER
Spencer reiterated one of his mottos, “it’s never about
the brand, it’s always about the people.” He also
admitted that there were also some failed destinations.
“If we get it wrong, we will apologise and come
back to try again,” adding that part of AirAsia’s success
story lies in being consistent. Sharing some early
experiences Spencer said it was important to create the
right ecosystem and find the support for their ideas.
“Sometimes you have to be thick-skinned as well to
keep selling your idea and be consistent in selling who
you are. I surrounded myself with smart people whom
I can learn from especially young people who keep upto-date
“Success does not follow silo. You cannot stop
learning. Even though we may get things right we can
still improve on it,” he advised.
Being a new kid on the block, so to say, in the
aviation industry logging in only 16 years compared
with other airlines, competition and strong
leadership kept the budget airline at the top of
Spencer feels it’s because of a close knit
leadership that constantly push boundaries for the
team. “There is always higher standards, higher
KPI and moving the needle farther and farther. We
are always reminded that changes will take place
so we have to change or be replaced. Stay focused
and be flexible.”
The need to have a cool brand seem to dominate
this part of the conversation on how AirAsia
remained on top. “16 years ago we practised startup
culture and 16 years later we are the best low
cost airline,” Spencer declared adding “we are still
behaving the same as being 16 years in this industry
is still considered fairly young. You learn better as
Something to learn from this seasoned traveller:
“Be a smart traveller. Pack what’s required. Don’t
bring your house! Know what to do with your
medical needs and insurance. Malaysians don’t take
insurance seriously. Don’t take too much cash and
book flights and hotels in advance.”
“It’s never about the brand,
it’s always about the people.”
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 5
ODE TO IPOH
DAVID TAN’S APPROACH TO LIFE HAS GOTTEN
HIM TO MOVE FROM A 20-YEAR CAREER AS AN
INDUSTRIALIST TO HAWKING THE FAMOUS IPOH KAI
SI HOR FUN, OPENING ONE STALL AFTER ANOTHER
AND PUBLISHING HIS OWN RECIPE BOOK.
Text and photos YY CHEN
It's never enough for David Tan. That's the kind of
impression you would get of Dato’ David Tan Sek
Yin when you get to know him better.
David has since written two recipe books - Lao
Wei Dao (Old Tastes): a trip down memory lane
and The Best of Ipoh Street food with a third book
in the works. The first one is dedicated to his late
grandfather Tan Lark Sye who was a prominent
businessman and philanthropist in Singapore.
Tan Lark Sye was born in Jimei, a fishing village in
Xiamen, southern China. David spent many formative
years living with him in Singapore and growing up
eating traditional Hokkien dishes prepared by his
grandmother. His first book features many of these
dishes including some of his grandfather’s favourites.
“I always liked watching my mother and
grandmother cook. I wanted to learn how they
cooked and the method they used. It is not just about
knowing what to cook. My grandfather loved his dish
of pig tail braised with peanuts. You must eat this
with hot rice, it’s very appetising,” said David.
BIRTH OF LITTLE KATONG
For this 61-year-old entrepreneur, starting
this chapter of his life has fired his passion for
researching and modifying traditional recipes to get
them right. He wanted to recreate the original taste
of the kway teow which he had 30 years ago and he
couldn’t get the same anywhere.
He spent many months perfecting the special
broth for the Ipoh kai si hor fun (shredded chicken
kway teow soup) until his recipe could almost
upstage the old timer Thean Chun stall in Ipoh
David laboured over hot stoves for long hours in
his garage-turned-kitchen at his bungalow in Tiger
Lane, experimenting until he got the taste he wanted.
“In 3 years, I have opened three stalls. I didn’t open
restaurants or coffee shops is because I need to know
the business and to build a name before committing
to a bigger investment.”
Today, David has his stalls Little Katong at
Canning Garden, Gourmet Square hawker centre and
one more across the street from Thean Chun.
David’s first book went for two reprints and the
publisher was persuading him to write a second book
on Ipoh street food.
He undertook the laborious task of seeking out
the recipes from internet and hawkers and test them
out until he has perfected it and detail the method of
cooking so his readers would not be confused.
“The most difficult part about writing this second
book is in getting the taste right and as accurate as
possible to the original dish. The second book features
50 recipes of Ipoh famous street foods. For instance
tai kau meen (peanut pancake), I know there is a
fermentation process required but I don't know for
how long. So I had to try this over and over again.
“Another difficulty is because most of the featured
foods are handmade delicacies. It is not about
collecting all the ingredients and putting them into
the wok to cook. I need to research and improve on
it,” he said.
David suggested to use palm oil or peanut oil to
get kaya puff pastry to be flaky when making the oil
dough to combine with the water dough (who would
People often inspired by David’s ability to juggle a
hectic lifestyle in the food business and time to write
his books. He explains that this was owing to the
management skills he had acquired from the corporate
world to help set up a system to run his food business
even when he is not around.
This system allows him to travel and take care
of his other family commitments in his capacity as
Director of Chiyu Bank in Hong Kong, board member
of Chengyi University college and the Tan Lark Sye
Museum in Xiamen, China.
David’s grandfather had tremendous influence
on him. He remembers his advices about the
importance of good education and how once should
pursue it despite all circumstances. “His tenacity and
determination to succeed is the biggest influence on
me. He would work at something until it yielded the
result he wanted,” David wrote in his book.
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YOU FEEL A SENSE OF GRATITUDE WHEN YOU ATTEND THE
KAUL FESTIVAL, A TRADITIONAL AND THE MOST IMPORTANT
CEREMONY FOR THE MELANAUS. HELD ANNUALLY AT THE
END OF THE NORTHEAST MONSOON, AROUND MARCH TO
EARLY APRIL, THIS CELEBRATION SIGNIFIES THE START OF
THE NEW YEAR FOR THE MELANAU COMMUNITY.
Text and photos REBECCA LEE
The Kaul festival is the day they give thanks
to the ipok (spirits) for a bountiful year and
to pray for a good year ahead. This pagan
thanksgiving for bountiful fishing is looked upon as a
religious ceremony to appease the spirits of the sea,
land, forest and farm. It is a ritual of purification and
thanksgiving as well as one of propitiation for good
fortune, according to Diana Rose, a Melanau and the
affable owner of Lamin Dana cultural lodge.
I had the privilege of experiencing the festival
first hand when I took up the offer to stay at Lamin
Dana cultural lodge in Kampung Tellian, a village in
the middle of Mukah, Sarawak. Built on the banks
of the Tellian River, Lamin Dana which means
traditional house in archaic Melanau language, is a
combination of a guesthouse, a living museum and a
center for ongoing Melanau cultural revival.
Preparations for the Kaul takes place several
weeks earlier with the appointment of the Bapa Kaul
or the head priest. Everyone within the community
takes part in the preparation for this festival.
Some collects material from the jungle to weave
the decorations for the boats and the ceremonial
basket–the seraheng. Some makes the cakes and
snacks for the feast, organize dance and music
performances while some erect Tibou swing.
Young yellowing nipah leaves are gathered and
trimmed for decorating the boats that will follow
the head boat on the day of the Kaul. In the hands of
weavers who had learned the trade from their elders,
different decorations were produced resembling
birds, flowers, flowering palm tree and even
The morning of Kaul dawned with a bright blue sky
and the beating of a gong, to wake the villagers up
for the celebration.
Dressed in traditional Melanau attire, the
villagers were seen packing food and making
adjustments to the decorations on the boats. The
outfit worn by the men bears a strong resemblance
to the traditional outfit worn by the Malay men,
called Baju Melayu. A long-sleeved shirt with a raised
collar, pants and a skirt-like adornment wrapped
around the waist. A Javanese influenced headgear
completes the outfit. The ladies were dressed in
a tunic with a long wrap skirt called a sarong and
terendak, a conical sunhat.
The announcement that the head boat, carrying
the Bapa Kaul or Kaul priest, with the seraheng was
near the lodge got everyone into a frenzy. There
was a scramble to move food and cutleries into the
boats, while the tourists board the various boats
allocated to follow the head boat to the estuary.
This head boat with the Bapa Kaul and his
entourage will lead the procession of boats to the
Mukah river estuary where the seraheng, a flat round
basket raised on a bamboo pole is placed to invoke
and to place offerings in the basket for the ipok.
BAPA KAUL THE MEDIATOR
The Bapa Kaul is an important figure as he is
8 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
1 Weaving of nipah leaves 2 Bapa Kaul leading
the ceremony 3 Tibou youths playing on swing
rope 4 A village elder waiting for the feast.
responsible for ensuring that the ceremony runs
according to the rules and customs passed down
through many generations. He acts as the mediator
who connects the people in the real world with the
spirit world and is responsible for the persuading and
appeasing of the ipok.
Up to 60 motorised boats, ferrying villagers and
guests followed behind the head boat to the estuary
where the seraheng ceremony takes place. We were
informed that no boats are allowed to pass ahead of
the Bapa Kaul’s boat lest they are prepared to face the
consequence of offending him.
Upon arrival at the beach, the Bapa Kaul and
his entourage of selected members of the village
carry various hantaran (offerings) proceeded to a
designated area to perform the prayers. A group of
youths greeted the entourage with the mengalai, a
Melanau martial art as a welcome of the seraheng and
ceremony. The movements are similar to the Malay
silat martial arts but with more grace rather than
At the designated area, the Bapa Kaul sang
ancient mantras peppered with prayers asking for
good livelihood, longevity and protection from
threats and diseases. Offerings of the Melanau
traditional food are placed into the seraheng.
According to the beliefs of the Melanau community,
if they make an offering to the ipok, wealth, harmony
and a good livelihood will be bestowed on them.
KAUL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
A simple yet meaningful ceremony of thanks is
completed within an hour. The Bapa Kaul then
presides over a picnic feast of food brought from
all the households to share. Again, the Bapa Kaul is
given the honour of the first bite before anyone is
allowed to eat. I was invited to taste several of their
traditional kuih such as kuih penyaram, selorot and
kuih beras pulut. These mouth-watering kuihs are
made with rice flour and gula apong (palm sugar) that
is processed from the sap of the nipah palm. Fried,
steamed or pressed, the mix of sweet gula apong in
the batter gives a deep caramelised sweetness with a
slight salty touch.
The merrymaking continues with dance and
music performances while villagers share their food.
It is taboo to bring any food back and it is believed
that any leftovers must be left near the seraheng
basket to be eaten by the ipok who are still wandering
the site of the Kaul.
One of the highlights of the festival is the death
defying 20 foot high Tibou swing. Here, youths
make a calculated risk to dive from a 10 feet high
bamboo scaffolding to catch a swinging liana rope as
it reaches the height of its arc. The largest number of
people that I witness who were able to hold onto the
swing was 5 with most dropping to the ground when
it sweeps low.
The Sarawak tourism board is actively promoting
the Kaul festival as an international festival to attract
tourist and locals to learn more of the Melanau
culture and tradition. This festival is also the biggest
Melanau gathering and serves as a platform to
enhance ties and many use this opportunity to gather
and exchange news.
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 9
OUT & ABOUT
LOOK OUT FOR THE MOST ANTICIPATED EVENTS OF
THE MONTH IN MALAYSIA AND BEYOND
JIMMY CARR: THE BEST OF,
ULTIMATE, GOLD, GREATEST
HITS WORLD TOUR
One of the celebrated comedians
from UK is making a trail of
laughter to Malaysia after 9 of his
previous sell-out tours and over
2000 stand-up shows. Jimmy Carr
won the British Comedy Award for
‘Best Live Stand-Up Tour’ and has
sold over a million copies of his live
HGH Convention Centre,
RHYTHMS OF YUE II
Members of Yin Ngai Musical Arts Association are
collaborating with Chinese Cultural Orchestra for
a night of Cantonese opera. The 2-hour show also
feature renowned guest performers from Beijing,
Canada and Hong Kong. All proceeds from ticket
sales will be donated to Buddhist Tzu-Chi Merit
Society Malaysia for its dialysis centre.
Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre,
THE MOSCOW CIRCUS
If there is one entertainment that
Russia is popular for, its their circus.
Daredevils and talented performers
from Moscow’s circus troupe – the
Bolshoi and Nikulin will keep you on
the edge of your seat and be captivated
with their high wire, flying trapeze and
world-class acrobatic tricks.
Queensbay Mall Car Park, Penang
From uploading videos on Youtube to sold-out
shows around the world, Scott Bradlee has made a
name with Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ) in bringing
vintage twist to modern pop hits like Radiohead’s
Creep and Britney Spears’ Toxic. PMJ features a
string of musicians and performers covering songs
into jazz and swing genres.
Kallang Theatre, Kallang, Singapore
THE PIANO GUYS
Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson, and Al van der Beek are
the men behind the popular piano and cello covers made in various exciting
outdoor locations on Youtube. Since then, 6 of The Piano Guys’ albums have
topped first on the Billboard chart for Classical Albums and New Age albums.
The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore
10 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
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LOST & FOUND
THE GLITZ AND GLAM:
Text and photos FRANCIS YIP
Miss Universe Malaysia, Miss World and others.
Participants are also more fortunate as there are
more sponsors, including fashion designers for
FROM LEFT Maggie Loo,
Jenet Foo, Datin Maylene
Yong and Chilla Cha
love watching Miss Universe on TV when I was a
kid. Little did I expect that years later, my career
gives me the opportunity to make friends with
many beauty queens.
Today, beauty pageants are so diverse, from
Miss Universe Malaysia, Miss World Malaysia,
Miss Malaysia Tourism, Miss Cosmopolitan World
Malaysia, Mrs Tourism Queen Malaysia and others.
But how did it all begin in Malaysia?
PAST BEAUTY PAGEANTS
Malaya held its first beauty pageant, Miss Federation
of Malaya in the early 1950s. This was followed by
Miss Malaysia Universe and Miss Malaysia World
after independence. There were not many pageants
back then. So it was a huge pride to win a title.
According to Maggie Loo, Miss Malaysia Universe
1973, “In the early days, beauty pageant prizes were
cash, television, refrigerator and even Bata shoes. I
won the grand prize of RM500 and it was considered
as a big thing in those days. Participants had to
design and bring their own evening gown. Sponsors
from fashion designers only came in years later.”
As years went by in the 80s and 90s, sponsorship
was easy as the media hype surrounding beauty
pageants encouraged many companies, including
beauty, hard liquor and car brands to participate.
Today, the prizes are more lucrative, from
RM50,000 to RM150,000 cash for a big title like
FROM MISS TO MRS
Beauty pageants have become a profitable income
churning industry thanks to prominent pageant
leaders like the late Liu Chang Lan, franchise holder
of Miss Malaysia Universe, Paul Lee, franchise holder
of Miss Malaysia World and Alex Liu, Managing
Director of ERM Marketing Malaysia.
The pageant landscape has also forayed into
married women category. In 2010, ERM Marketing
tapped into Mrs. Malaysia World 2010. This has set
the pace to more Mrs beauty pageant and is now
considered common in Malaysia.
“Today, many beauty pageant organisers used
to be former beauty queens,” says Jenet Foo, the
organiser of Mrs Malaysia Tourism Queen and
Tourism Queen International.
MAKING OF A BEAUTY QUEEN
Technology plays a vital role in beauty pageants. In
the past, the judging is solely dependent on a few
judges but today, the public have the chance to vote
for their favourite contestants through social media.
“To choose a winner is not easy. Judges from
different background may have different opinions.
However, first impression is always important. The
winners always have that aura around them when
they appear on stage,” says Datin Maylene Yong who
is a judge for many beauty pageants. For Maggie Loo,
the winner must also have that X factor that makes
her stand out from the rest.
Malaysia can stand tall with many successful past
winners like Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, Yasmin Yusoff,
Lina Teoh, Erra Fazira, Kavita Sidhu and Carol Lee.
Whatever it is, behind the glitz and glam of
beauty pageants, all the participants go through a
tough learning process that will transform their life
forever. “The experience itself is more important
than winning,” claims Chilla Cha, Mrs Asia
International All Nation 2017 and Mrs Malaysia Asia
Special thanks to Datin Maylene Yong, Maggie Loo,
Jenet Foo and Chilla Cha; and also sponsor of hair and
make-up, Nulnu Lifestyle Mall.
FRANCIS YIP always loses himself but somehow, finds his way back with lots of juicy stories to share. Forgive him if he sparks a debate.
Love him if he unlocks hidden jewels. So heavenly, so travelicious with him!
www.franciswriter.com franciswriterAd franciswriter
12 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
making rounds at
AS THE 15TH LARGEST COUNTRY IN THE
WORLD, YOGYAKARTA IS ACCLAIMED
AS THE GATEWAY TO INDONESIA’S
HERITAGE AND CULTURE, DECKED WITH
CAPTIVATING ANCIENT MARVELS AND
ACTIVE VOLCANOES ON THE GROUND.
Text JESSY WONG
Photos YOGYAKARTA MARRIOT HOTEL & JESSY WONG
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 15
Yogyakarta (often referred as Jogja)
lies at the south of Central Java in
Indonesia. Not to be confused with
it's sister state of Jakarta, Yogyakarta is
different in many ways as compared to the
capital city of Indonesia. To put it simply,
Yogyakarta is a retreat of urban senses for
one to discover the timeworn dwellings in
HEART OF AN EMPIRE
Back in the 16th and 17th century, Sultanate
of Mataram was a major power and reigned
the central island of Java with influence
through a strong practice of tradition and
social culture. Yogyakarta is the capital
of the sovereignty. Although Mataram
kingdom slowly lost its dominance after
Dutch colonisation, the charm still retains
and is remembered by the Javanese
people who are the largest ethnic group in
Indonesia till today.
The city fascinates me with distinct
traces of the bygone days in modern
living and based in the midst of all this is
Yogyakarta Marriot Hotel that let you live
like a royalty.
THE CROWN OF TOWN
As a traveller, it is always a plus point to
be able to save time moving from one
place to another especially in the city. The
newest establishment in town, Yogyakarta
Marriot Hotel hold all the aces in location
and hospitality. The hotel is only a
20-minute car ride away from Adi Sutjipto
International Airport and is located close to
most of the wonders in Yogyakarta.
My Javanese experience extends from
checking in to my sleek contemporary room
to the daily warm greetings and smiles from
everyone as well as getting pampered in
the hotel’s Quan Spa. The people and its
surroundings make it felt like a royal stay
to me especially with the classic Marriot’s
signature interior adapting the local
arts with bold Kawung batik pattern and
traditional weaves furniture in drawing out
the city’s prized craftsmanship.
The 5-star hotel definitely draws
me back for another staycation. Since I
travelled there alone, the spacious room
with floor to ceiling windows and open
marbled bathroom remind me of my
family. The unbounded space with sliding
bathroom screen doors unfold the idea of
connectivity between people.
The beauty of Yogyakarta is reflected in its
diversity of history and culture. Although
Islam is the most practiced religion in
Indonesia, Central Java takes pride in the
primitive practitioners of Buddhism and
Borobudur remains is one of the
greatest historical sites in Asia and
the largest Buddhist monument in the
world. The structure is entirely made of
volcanic stones, cut, carved and built using
indentations and joints. I have never woken
up for sunrise and I am grateful to witness a
spectacular daybreak from the sacred place
16 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
A cross-section batik pattern of four
basic ovals or circles with the belief of
four cardinal directions pointing towards
the center of strength similar to a king
surrounded by his people as a symbol of
peace and justice.
“The beauty of Yogyakarta
is reflected in its diversity of
history and culture”
1 Ballroom reception
at Yogyakarta Marriot
Hotel 2 The exterior of
the luxury hotel 3 Deluxe
king bed in Yogyakarta
Marriot Hotel 4 A bird'seye
view of Borobudur
5 A relic structure at
Ullen Sentalu Musuem
6 Ramayana Ballet
performance 7 The iconic
Prambanan Temple 8
Taman Sari Water Castle
9 Taman Sari Bar & Grill
10 Wood fire oven gudeg
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 17
for my first time. Since Borobudur is built around a
hill, it was a sight to behold with two twin volcanoes
in the horizon at sunrise. It is also recommended to
hire a tour guide on site to get the most out of your
experience. They are well spoken in English and
knowledgeable of the relics in Borobudur.
Another man-made wonder is a 9th century
Hindu sacred sanctuary known for its tall and
intricate architecture. Prambanan Temple stands
at 47 metres high in the city. Along the walls of
the three temples, the Hindu epic of Ramayana is
carved in stone and at night time, see the saga come
to life in Ramayana Ballet at the temple grounds.
The dance drama is led by gamelan performed
under the open night sky with the three iconic
temples in the background.
I also made a visit to Taman Sari Water
Castle – a former royal palace for the Sultanate of
Yogyakarta. Taman Sari is a resting place for Sultan
Hamengkubuwono I and his family in the 18th
century with water gardens, pools, pavilions and a
mosque. It was said that the King at his high tower
will watch his Queen and concubines bathing in the
pools and throw a rose at them. The remains of the
palace can only make me imagine how beautiful the
place used to be. Presently, the surrounding of the
castle is a settlement for thousands of residents who
are skilled in batik-making and painting.
This retreat of senses is unfulfilled without savouring
the traditional foods of Yogyakarta. Executive
Chef Kamal of Yogyakarta Kitchen and Taman
Sari Bar & Grill in the hotel is more than happy
to recommend all the tasty cuisines in town and I
am not disappointed. A must-try is Gudeg Jogja, a
traditional dish made of braised jackfruit served with
rice garnished with chicken serunding, sambal krecek,
boiled quailed egg and fried tempe. For a twist, taste
a western fusion of gudeg with homemade pizza at
Taman Sari Bar & Grill.
Another specialty that I love is bakpia – a sweet
pastry with fillings. This Chinese-Indonesian dessert
is commonly filled with mung beans but now there’s
a variety of stuffing like chocolate, coffee and cheese
sold everywhere in the city.
GOOD TO KNOW
Learn more of Javanese myths, legends, culture
and art in Ullen Sentalu Musuem. The private
museum holds a display of paintings, treasures and
relics from royal palaces.
Cab-hailing services are abundant and cheap in
the city. You can easily get around but do take note
of prime hours (after work hours) as you can get
stuck in the congestion.
Central Java and Yogyakarta’s largest mall is right
next to Yogyakarta Marriot Hotel. You can do last
minute shopping for souvenirs and local brands in
Take a jeep ride to see Mount Merapi–the most
active volcano in Indonesia. ‘Sisa Hartaku’ shows the
relics of destruction from the most recent eruption
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5 Days 4 Nights
TOKYO ILLUMINATION TOUR
T O K Y O - M T F U J I - G O T E M B A - S A G A M I K O
3rd - 7th
English-speaking Tour Leader
Air Tickets KL - Tokyo - KL
Illumination Entrance Fee
Local Taxes & Insurances
Daily Breakfast + 2 Dinners
Yokohama Washington Hotel or similar
Tachikawa Smiles Hotel or similar
Hotel Port Plaza Chiba or similar
BACKPACKING HAS BEEN A GROWING
TREND IN ASIA MAINLY INFLUENCED
BY WESTERNERS WHO BRACED THE
SUN AND WIND ON THEIR JOURNEY.
THIS COURSE OF TRAVELLING CAN BE
A BACKBREAKER FOR STARTERS BUT IT
CAN BE ONE OF THE MOST REWARDING
ADVENTURES IF IT IS DONE PROPERLY.
Text JESSY WONG • Photos AKIRA IWASAKI
People say you can never have enough of Japan.
Once you visited the country, you would want
to go back again. But for a majority, budget
remains the biggest hindrance and there is only one
way to the limitless exploration of the land of the
rising sun–which is backpacking.
After travelling to all 47 prefectures in Japan,
Akira Iwasaki still hasn’t got enough of his home
country. The Japanese-born Malaysian is one of the
avid backpackers that love to wander and explore with
only three things¬–his passport, money and clothes.
The biggest commitment to backpacking is
learning how to live minimally. “It’s a choice between
backpacking and fashion,” he laughs. “You can’t have
new outfits for everyday wear and women can’t be
bringing their whole makeup bag. After all, the main
purpose for travel is to be humble in order to learn
and experience new things.”
Akira notes that backpacking is flexible travel.
You would plan more on how to organise your
backpack effectively than your travel itinerary. “At
most times, you just go with the flow. You will meet
other backpackers on your journey and there will be
impromptu trips together.”
Having said that, be prepared for the inevitable
loud snoring and unhygienic roommates in dorm
rooms. Privacy becomes a privilege in this form of
travel and in exchange, you will make a string of close
friends across the globe.
Japan has endless discoveries. Although the main
reason for most people to travel is to see the country’s
20 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
1 Itsukushima Shrine,
Hiroshima 2 Akira
in Shirakawa 3 The
gleaming Osaka Castle
4 Steps to Kyoto
Shrine 5 Tsutenkaku
Tower in Osaka 6 A
city view of Ehime,
main attractions, Akira advises to best keep it to just
half the itinerary. “Sightseeing is okay but spend
more time doing hands-on activities. There is plenty
to do in Japan from knife-making in Nagoya to
liquor ware painting, fruit picking and crabbing by
Backpacking in Japan can save a lot of time and
money. For instance, the precise timing in train
departure allows you to optimize your time and
make the most out of it. “Japanese counts time
down to the second. So, every train is extremely
punctual.” If it is 8:37pm, it will depart at 8:37pm.
He adds that “Japan is a safe country especially
for backpackers because we only carry our basic
necessities. If you misplace your item, you can still
find it at the same place a week later”.
According to Akira, the most cost-effective place
to backpack in Japan is Osaka as it is surrounded by
other nearby cities like Kyoto, Kobe and Nara. The
public transport and railway lines make travelling a
cinch and you can even find a cheap night stay below
¥800. Besides, food in Japan is not as expensive as
you would think. Low-budget and filling meals in
convenience stores are as cheap as ¥200 and that can
be found everywhere you go in the country.
He also shares it is possible to backpack across
the entirety of Japan in a month. “Spend a week in
every region. From Hokkaido, travel to Tohoku then
to central Japan and all the way down to Kyushu.” And
the tip is to subscribe to Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass).
JR Pass can be costly at initial purchase but it is
still the cheapest to commute in a long run. Since
time and money are always a battle in travels, you can
ride Japan’s shinkansen (bullet train) using JR Pass
and save time travelling from one place to another. It
is advisable to purchase the JR Pass before going to
Japan and travellers can get it at Japan Travel Bureau
September is an optimal time to backpack in
Japan. It is summer until the end of September which
means you can pack light without heavy articles like
jackets and winter clothing. If you are still wary about
making your first backpack travel, do check out
www.jtbmalaysia.com for a guided backpacking trip.
Everything is doable. You only need to carry less
to achieve more.
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 21
Road Less Travelled is a collaboration with AirAsiaGo.
Check out airasiago.com.my for flight & hotel deals!
ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
THE CITY IN YEONGNAM REGION WAS A CENTER FOR RENOWNED
SCHOLARS AND NOBILITY IN JOSEON DYNASTY AND FAMOUSLY
RETAINS ITS CULTURAL CHARMS AND FOLK TRADITIONS TILL TODAY.
Text JESSY WONG Photos ADOBE STOCK & ANDONG GURUME RESORT
HOW TO GET THERE
Andong is easily accessible through major
metropolitan cities like Seoul, Busan and Daegu. If
you take a train from Seoul, change lines at Yeongju
to get to Andong and the ride takes around 3 to 4
hours. Otherwise, there are frequent buses to the city
at Dong Seoul Bus Terminal.
WHAT TO DO
Hahoe Folk Village is famed for its national treasures
and houses from 16th century. Observe Korean’s
folk culture there through the daily lives of villagers.
There is also the oldest wooden building in Korea
at Bongjeongsa Temple, a Budddhist sacred site
with resident monks. Dosan Confucian Academy is
a beautiful place for visitors to learn the lifestyle of
Confucianism culture and scholars.
WHERE TO STAY
Stay at Andong Gurume Resort to remember their
slowly-forgotten tradition. These renovated houses
are close to Moonlight Bridge and Andong Folk
Musuem in the city. Make your reservations at
AirAsiaGo to experience their heritage lifestyle as
this exclusive resort have limited guestrooms.
WHERE TO EAT
The city is known for its grilled salted mackerel and
soju (vodka). Dine at Andong Gan Godeungeo to
taste a variation of the mackerel dish. Andong soju
is a favourite drink for nobilities in the past and
remains as a trademark for its special distillation
technique that is handed down from the 6th
century. Also try Andong Jjimdak, a local braised
chicken served with glass noodles and rice cakes.
will be held
in the capital
till 7 October
2018 at Hahao
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 23
1 The grand 19th century
shophouse at Jalan Tan Hiok
Nee 2 A bright floral mural
along the street.
24 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
THE PULSE OF
THE HAPPENINGS OF THE BYGONE DAYS ARE TREASURED IN
A CLUSTER KNOWN AS ISKANDAR PUTERI HERITAGE TRAIL IN
COALESCING THE OLD AND NEW TIDES IN THE METROPOLIS.
STARTING FROM JALAN TAN HIOK NEE, JESSY WONG
REDISCOVER THE CULTURE AND FOOD IN TOWN THAT PERSIST
THROUGH A LAPSE OF TIME.
Text and photos JESSY WONG
Travel south to the tranquil and yet modern town at Johor Bahru
and you’ll be amazed by the capital of Johor that sets itself in the
chase of urban development. As the second largest city in Malaysia,
the unequalled pulse of Johor Bahru lies alongside the Segget River where
cultural diversity flows through the bank down to Straits of Johor.
When one talks about cultural heritage sites in Malaysia, popular
destinations remain to be Georgetown, Penang and the city of Malacca.
However, as a traveller that has been to every state in the Peninsula, I find
that the stretch along Jalan Trus and its connecting streets represent a
definitive portrayal of Malaysia – a country that celebrates a mishmash of
tradition in harmony and unity.
What was previously a quaint old lane is awarded heritage street
by the Johor State Government in 2009 turning Jalan Tan Hiok Nee
into a trendy historical venue with traditional houses and activities. My
discovery of Johor’s gems starts from a walk through the heritage street to
Jalan Dhoby and Jalan Trus.
The southern state plays a major role for maritime silk trade in the
14th century and subsequently became a settlement for Malay fishermen
and Chinese immigrants at the coast. Jalan Tan Hiok Nee is named after a
Chinese cloth peddler in 19th century who grew into an influential figure,
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 25
3 AirAsia mural by Tuanmulo 4 Gateway
arch to Jalan Tan Hiok Nee 5 The towering
Arulmigu Rajamariamman 6 Old Temple of
Johor Bahru 7 The delicious chicken chop
from It Roo Cafe 8 Exterior of Art52 Gallery
making good ties with the royalty and is known as
the wealthiest man in Johor. Back then, Tan Hiok
Nee built his shops and houses by the west bank
of Segget River and leads Ngee Heng Kongsi, a
powerful gang in the city.
The stories of Tan Hiok Nee’s history are
mounted along the walls of OCBC Bank on the
street today. To hear more of its juicy stories, visit
Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Museum at Jalan
Tan Hiok Nee. Most of the relics from Ngee Heng
Kongsi and details on Chinese immigrants are
documented by the association.
Along the road, trendy establishments like
eateries and boutiques are lined in the row of
shops. Art52 Gallery has paintings and artwork by
local artists and the street also acts as a hub for
nighttime entertainment. Besides, the cultural
place has become a vibrant attraction for murals,
especially one with AirAsia’s painting by Johor’s
local artist-Tuanmulo-by the walls of the classically
iconic 19th century cornershop, now occupied by
Let’s Eat restaurant.
Prior to the neighbourhood’s cultural renewal,
this side of town is a holy gathering for devotees of
different beliefs. Walking south along Jalan Trus,
you can enter the Old Temple of Johor Bahru where
Taoist worships the 5 main deities at the shrine.
Right across, Gurdwara Sahib has weekly programs
and prayers for the Sikh community. This religious
26 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
hub includes Arulmigu Rajamariamman, the oldest
Hindu temple in Johor in the vicinity. The pyramid
deity tower gleam in colourful soft pastel under the
A stroll at nightfall can bring new excitements
especially with the monthly festive activities and
performances held out in the open air. One might
find handmade souvenirs or trinkets in Pasar Karat,
the daily night bazaar held along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee
and the surrounding streets.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Things change in the current of time but
here, generations of businesses dominate the
neighbourhood. On a regular morning, locals would
make a quick stop at Jalan Dhoby’s Salahuddin
Bakery for their Bengali bread and buns. The bakery
has been around since 1937 and is loved for their
homemade kaya (pandan coconut jam) that goes
along with soft aromatic buns baked over woodfire.
On the other side of the street, IT Roo Cafe is
lively with diners during lunchtime with similar
plates of chicken chop served on every table. Priding
themselves as the best chicken chop in town, the
secret recipe to the deliciously sinful fare is founded
You can also taste delicacies that are almost a
century old at Hiap Joo Bakery. The place still draws
crowd over to Jalan Tan Hiok Nee to queue under
the sun for their butter and banana cakes. They too,
prefer the traditional wood fire oven method to
encapsulate the fragrance in cakes.
All things good from the past are made better
with the visits of Johor royals to the local area. The 71
years old Restoran Hua Mui at Jalan Trus is a popular
joint among the locals and tourists as affirmed by
Johor royals who frequented the kopitiam (traditional
coffee shop) regularly. Two doors down, a jewellery
venture, Kwong Lee Soon Kee Goldsmith, has also
been serving royal needs for 3 generations, making
repairs and purchases for the Sultan of Johor. To
appease your curiosity, head in to the shop and you
will see photos of the royals’ visit to the store.
GETTING AROUND JOHOR BAHRU
MAYFLOWER CAR RENTAL
You can ensure time and mobility efficiency with personal transport. Mayflower
car rental services has a good range of car hires, a variety of pick-up points and
most importantly, they have the best rental rate in town. It is advisable to make
an early reservation with Mayflower to have a smooth-sailing journey ahead.
Find Mayflower booth upon arrival at Senai International Airport.
+607-224 1357 | www.mayflowercarrental.com.my
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 27
Another emerging Pearl-crafted landmark with you in heart and mind by one of the
pioneer developers - Aikbee Group. Located in Old Klang Road, one of the busiest
roads in Klang Valley, opened it’s door since September 2016. Pearl Shopping
Gallery is a 3 storeys neighbourhood mall which is part of a mixed development project –
Pearl Suria Residence. Much like a second home, Pearl Shopping Gallery playing house to
familiar favourites grocery and home decor, as well as a repertoire of dining outlets and
amenities intended to pamper, feed and entertain you. Follow us as we harvest some of it’s
(LOT NO. 1-12)
Immerse your senses in its rich culture
from the northern and southern parts of
Imperial China and savour its exquisite
yet timeless flavours of bygone eras in a
family-friendly contemporary style dining
hall. Prepare to be amazed by the taste,
texture and character of their famous Hand
Pulled Noodles with signature pork bone
broth and delve into the legend of Paradise
Dynasty’s signature 8-flavour Xiao Long
Bao to treat your taste buds for a joyful and
unforgettable dining experience.
POWERPLANT (LOT NO. G-03)
“In an abandoned powerplant, greenery
unexpectedly comes to life…” Definitely
not a competitor to Tenaga Nasional
Berhad nor a run of the mill wine and
dine joint as our Korean fusion food are
served with a twist, and soju cocktails
so electrifying that will blow your mind.
FAT CAT CAFÉ (2-04)
A cup of freshly roasted coffee
accompanied by Charcoal toast made from
“activated charcoal” and love at Fat Cat
Café is arguably the best way to start or
to wrap up your day. Sourcing beans from
all around the world, each cup is carefully
curated to your liking by their passionate
baristas prioritizing quality over quantity.
GLORY FRIED CHICKEN
Comfort food at its best. Glory Fried
Chicken Kingdom offer lip-smacking
comfort food such as signature succulent
fried chicken chop that takes serious
conviction to resist its tastiness and Sesame
Oil Ginger Chicken Vermicelli - A timeless
classic remastered by Glory Fried Chicken
Kingdom with Bentong ginger and other
Cremeo offers top shelf premium quality
soft serve and desserts.
We pride ourselves on bringing you
exciting unique flavours - freshly made
daily in our kitchen and decadent
desserts that will tickle your taste buds.
Try our signature soft serve flavours
such as French Vanilla Sea Salt & Thai
Tea, so Creme-nally good you’ll be
asking for seconds.
The legend of Kin Kin Chili Pan Mee began
decades ago with Mr. Tan operating from
a humble noodle shack in Jalan T.A.R,
K.L. He pioneered the now-ubiquitous
Chili Pan Mee, using homemade noodles
& other ingredients together created with
traditional techniques by hand. Over the
years, the consistent quality of Kin Kin Chili
Pan Mee’s creations has captured the hearts
and stomachs of the masses.
Fried chicken has been South Korea’s
staple meal or bar snack since time
immemorial and Kyochon the giants of
the healthy KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)
scene. Each piece of drug-free chicken
is hand-brushed with our special MSGfree
sauces then freshly fried upon order,
resulting in an outer crispy layer of skin
and inner juicy tender meat, perfectly
balanced as all things should be.
DON’T KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. SHARE YOUR FOND MEMORIES
AND TRAVEL STORIES TO EDITORIAL@PCOMASIA.COM
A seagull at Elizabeth Quay in Perth, Australia
looking not very amused yet very photogenic.
Tan Ee Lian
1 ST PRIZE
2D/1N stay inclusive of breakfast for two in
The Pearl Kuala Lumpur worth RM480+
THE PEARL KUALA LUMPUR
Batu 5, Jalan Klang Lama,
58000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Can this be real? Invisible support? Frauenkirche
Dresden, the Church of Our Lady in Germany
Lam Li Hua
TERMS & CONDITIONS
Open for people residing in Malaysia only • Images must be no less than 1MB in size • Each entry sent must include name, contact number and
caption with subject headline ‘Snapshot Story’ • Senders must own complete rights to their photographs and give permission to publication
GOASIAPLUS reserves the right to edit captions for clarity and reject entries that did not follows our T&C. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash. Selected
submissions would be used on GOASIAPLUS website and social platforms for content illustration purposes.
30 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
ON THE RADAR
GET UP TO DATE ON THE LATEST HAPPENINGS ON
TRAVEL, HOTEL OPENINGS, FOOD OFFERS AND
TRENDING FASHION AROUND SOUTH EAST ASIA
AFO RADIO IS IN MALAYSIAN BOOK
Malaysia’s hottest online radio is listed in the
Malaysian Book of Records as the longest running
radio station in the country. AFO Radio broadcasted
outdoor live for 72 hours non-stop at their newly
launched second studio at KL City Walk with
celebrity guests and prizes worth RM100,000 are
rewarded to some lucky listeners.
VIETJET LAUNCHES NHA TRANG-DANANG ROUTE
You can now hop from coast to coast with Vietjet starting from 21 September
2018. The local flight only takes an hour for you to get from the metropolitan
city of Danang to Nha Trang, another coastal city with diving sites and good
seafood. These two famous cities in central Vietnam are known for their long
stretch of beaches.
DREAMS OF LOVE TUBEROSE
Part of The Secret Garden collection, Amouage
introduces a romantic floral fragrance for
women- the Love Tuberose. Designed as a
reminiscent of Russian literature and classical
music, the feminine notes are recreated with
gardenia, tuberose, jasmine and hints of
vanilla and chantilly cream for sweetness.
Available at Amouage retailers nationwide
GOURMET COUTURE MID-AUTUMN SERIES
Hilton Kuala Lumpur collaborated with Malaysia’s leading fashion designer,
Khoon Hooi in crafting a designer mooncake gift box for the occasion.
The sleek brocade satchel with bamboo handles can hold 4 mooncakes.
Recommended to purchase it with Hilton’s top seller Snow Skin mooncake
series. Available from now until 24 September 2018.
Get it at Hilton Kuala Lumpur and major shopping malls in the city
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 31
GRAND STAY AT THE GOLDEN EMPIRE
Grand Mercure Yangon Golden Empire makes its grand debut at
Myanmar. Each room is tastefully designed in gemstones theme with
hand-painted ceilings by local artist Pyar Dade and the hotel boasts
of a wellness area with pools, open-air Jacuzzi and steam bath for spa.
Room rates starts at USD100 from now until 30 September 2018.
GINVERA WORLD SPA BODY LOTION
Relish in private spa time with Ginvera’s new
oil in body lotion. The special blend of flower
extract and essential oils triple the moisturising
effect and leaves an enduring fragrant on the
skin. Each lotion comes with different essential
oils so choose your spa perfume from lavender,
lemongrass, green tea and alpine rose.
Available at most leading pharmacies in Malaysia
CRUSHING REDS WITH GREEN
Paris brand with Korean beauty secrets-
Erborian-solves the make-up free day
with their CC Red Correct that evens
out skin tone and blemishes for a perfect
look. Apply moderately and the all-in-one
cream will soothe redness while locking
hydration in the skin. Price starts from
RM89 for 15ml and RM175 for 45ml.
Available at Sephora, Hermo &
80’S BEACH CLUB IN SEMINYAK
The beachfront mansion on Seminyak beach becomes
a paradise of nostalgia in Bali. Tropicola Beach Club
has three bars surrounding pools and an open kitchen
with wood-fired cooking of fresh coastal seafood and
grilled meat. As you dine and drink, let the live music
and seaside mood to transport you back to the 80’s.
Jalan Pantai, Batu Belig, Bali
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