DECEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 31
4 ON THE RADAR
8 OUT & ABOUT
Volunteer Vacation in
Christmas Feast in Asia
Recipe to Follow:
Papua Festive Fish Soup
Royal of Durian Kingdom
Turning the Table on Psoriasis
A Toast to Wrap Up the Year
32 LOST & FOUND
Memoirs of a Shopper
COVER PHOTO BY
GROUP HEAD & BRANDS
FRANCIS YIP, YY CHEN, DARIO ROBBEN,
ILYAS SHUKOR, JH TAN & TAN EE LIAN
JESSY WONG & IMRAN SUKRI
SALES & MARKETING
YONG WANG CHING
COMMERCIAL & PARTNERSHIP
PUBLISHCOM ASIA SDN. BHD.
NO. 83–1, JALAN MEDANG SERAI, BUKIT BANDARAYA,
59100 KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA.
PERCETAKAN TURBO SDN. BHD.
NO. 8, JALAN SEKINCAN 26/9,
SECTION 26, SHAH ALAM 40000, MALAYSIA.
The views expressed in the articles published are not necessarily those
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taken in compiling the magazine, the publisher shall not be held liable for
any omission, error or inaccuracy. Please notify the publisher in writing of
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WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 1
Recently I walked down the aisle
in a sling with a broken wrist. I
could have cursed and ranted at
“misfortune” for spoiling one of the most
important days of my life. But instead, I
chose to be thankful for small mercies. It
could have been worse–I could have been
totally unable to walk at all! That would
have been disastrous for my bride and I.
When GOASIAPLUS first started we
had nothing more than a permit, startup
capital, a part-time designer and an
editor. But the small team that I had was
determined, driven and courageous to make
this new kid to the print world stand and
We were inexperienced and we had
our fair share of trial and errors. Despite
this, our business partners–AFORadio,
MAHB, Panasonic Malaysia, gateway@klia2,
Aerobus, KLIA Ekspres, our printer and all
contributors to the magazine–supported us
and gave us the opportunity to grow.
Today I am proud to say that we are
more polished in our design and content.
It has been one adventurous learning
journey and we are still engaging the bends
and corners to create more milestones.
As the year draws to a close I believe
it’s time to be thankful for every helping
hand that was extended our way and to pay
forward the assistance to others in need.
Psoriasis fighter Rocyie Wong had a
steeper hill to climb when she took to the
social media to talk about her condition so
that others like her could feel encouraged
(page 25). She is thankful for such
unreserved support from the community
to enable her to make the most of her
autoimmune skin disease to inspire others.
As we reflect on all that has happened in
the past year let us raise our glasses and
drink a toast to small mercies.
Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!
A FORGOTTEN LUXURY
Overabundance is more often than not a blessing in disguise. Having too much of
anything can cloud your sense of fulfillment, pleasure and appreciation; making you
forget the true value of it.
I am a wretched victim of superabundance. I love to serve my purpose in bringing
satisfaction to people’s needs, uniting them and representing cultural identities to
communities. Afterall, it wasn’t an easy task to make me yet I am discarded in heaps and
Malaysia is a place that loves and appreciates me but perhaps too much love is
unhealthy. There are more than 16,000 metric tonnes of food being wasted daily and it
could have been prevented if people are more responsible with me.
Up till today, food wastage has become a cancerous culture. Because people are being
spoilt for choice, somehow they have forgotten that I am a luxury. Even if you love me,
take only what you can finish. Don’t punish me by throwing me away unnecessarily as I
wish you would remember that every act of wastage could have fed tens of millions of
people in starvation.
Read our magazine
exclusively in Aerobus
airport shuttles or
bring home a copy of
GOASIAPLUS with you at
these pick-up points below:
INFORMATION COUNTER AT
DEPARTURE MAIN TERMINAL
& SATELLITE BUILDING
SATELLITE BUILDING &
2 · 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
NO-FRILLS HOTEL FOR GROUP GETAWAYS
Kuala Lumpur’s Travelodge Bukit Bintang opens its
doors in the city’s shopping and business district in
Jalan Alor with 168 stylish guestrooms. The spacious
room can even boasts up to 4 beds in a single space,
making it ideal for slumber parties and family
travels. Enjoy 30% off room rates from now till 31
A FESTIVE CULTURAL
Courtyard by Marriot Siem Reap
Resort is celebrating its first
festive holiday in the city with
special Christmas Eve and New
Year’s Eve dinners. Dining at the
Kingdom of Wonder will capture
its localised atmosphere with
lively entertainments of folk
music, traditional performances
and sing-alongs while you
indulge in a fusioned Cambodian
CALENDAR OF BEAUTY
L’occitane advent calendar
is back with the designs
of Castelbajac Paris made
exclusively for a pleasant
surprise. The calendar is built
with 24 portals; each hidden
with a treasure so twist, turn,
rotate and seek out the puzzle
to discover the gifts from
L’occitane. Available in stores
nationwide and online.
SPARKLE WITH JOY AND LOVE
Swarovski’s latest holiday collection takes its
inspiration from an enchanting fairytale garden.
The dainty and delicate jewelleries are designed
to share all the little moments that add sparkle
to life. Frozen in time, the hues of brilliance
from Swarovski crystals serves to light up the
mood and spirit of festivity.
4 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
MEDITERRANEAN DINING EXPERIENCE
Taste an exceptional spread of Mediterranean cuisines at the TARO
in The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa headlined by renowned
Chef Cliff Borg from Malta. Each flavourful dish is inspired from
somewhere around the world. Among the anticipated dishes are
crab meat with citrus and truffle mushroom risotto. The pop-up
will be available from 6pm onwards daily until 31 January 2019.
The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, Langkawi, Malaysia
BE BOLD IN FESTIVE GIFTING
Kiehl’s Since 1851 has made a creative collaboration
with Andrew Bannecker for this year’s holiday
tradition. Continuing its sought-after holiday
partnerships, the New York apothecary brand releases
10 limited edition products designed in bold graphics,
electric colours and illustrations to make the art of
gifting and skincare to be more fun and festive.
Available at Kiehl’s stores and selected retailers
A CANDY MADE FOR ATHLETES
This locally-made candy is loved by both children
and adults alike for its subtle mint flavour. Made
with natural Himalayan salt, the lemon flavoured
candy could replenish the sodium content in your
body during excessive workout and sports. It
contains over 80 natural traces of minerals and could
promote absorption of mineral and nutrients into the
bloodstream. One can handily carry around Himalaya
Salt Sports Candy as it comes in a convenient ziplock
bag for easy storage and consumption.
Available in leading pharmacies, supermarkets and
6 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
OUT & ABOUT
LOOK OUT FOR THE MOST ANTICIPATED EVENTS OF
THE MONTH IN MALAYSIA AND BEYOND
DWPX–10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
In celebration for their 10th installment, Indonesia’s largest
electronic dance music festival has extended their world-class
production to 3 phenomenal days. This year’s lineup is ready to
bring the house down with Alesso, DJ Snake, Major Lazer, The
Weeknd and Porter Robinson casting spells on festival-goers.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, Bali, Indonesia
THE WEEKND LIVE IN SINGAPORE
Started out by posting anonymous videos on Youtube as The
Weeknd, Abel Tesfaye steadily rose as one the biggest R&B artists
in the US since 2010. The Weeknd earned international stardom
through his double platinum album ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’
and has now released his first EP titled ‘My Dear Melancholy’.
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore
THE KEVIN HART IRRESPONSIBLE TOUR
From stand-up comedies to box office hits, Kevin
Hart knows how to work with his audience. With his
massive fan base, Kevin’s previous comedy tour has
grossed over $100 million worldwide. Other than the
stage, the star is scheduled to appear on screen in his
upcoming movie; ‘Night School’.
Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur
SAM & TAM HAPPY
duo Sam Hui and Alan
Tam are joining hands
to bring their fans for a
ride of reminiscence into
their twinned legacies.
Sam has more than 23
albums in his belt while
Alan has written over
800 songs in his career.
This would be the first
for these stars to sing
together in Malaysia.
Axiata Arena, Bukit
Jalil, Kuala Lumpur
COMIC FIESTA 2018
The longest running animation, comics and
games event gathers youth for a line-up
of engaging activities from speedpainting
showdown, an exclusive stamp rally and a
chance for visitors to participate in ‘table
flip’ challenge, a meme dream turn reality.
Fans of the culture can also see an all-star
cosplay competition in the event.
Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
8 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
SOFO SMART CHAIR
With over 1 million units sold worldwide, Sofo
Smart Chair have something for everyone.
Sofo Smart Chair enhances the leisure hour
experience in various public spaces in China.
Travellers and visitors can turn an expected
delay into a comfortable relief while boosting
their health in airports, railway and bus
stations, hospitals and even supermarkets.
在 全 球 销 售 量 超 过 100 万 台 下 ,Sofo Smart
Chair 拥 有 着 适 合 每 个 人 的 品 质 。Sofo Smart
Chair 增 强 了 中 国 的 各 种 公 共 场 所 的 休 闲 时 光 。 游
客 们 可 以 将 预 期 的 延 迟 转 变 为 舒 适 的 缓 解 , 同 时
也 可 以 在 机 场 , 铁 路 和 公 交 车 站 , 医 院 甚 至 是 超
市 提 高 他 们 的 健 康 状 况 。
AVAILABLE AT THESE MAIN LOCATIONS
AND MANY MORE:
MALAYSIA’S HOMEGROWN BEAUTY PAGEANT CONTINUE TO BUILD
ITS LINE OF REMARKABLE SUCCESSIONS WITH MISS KOREA’S
EMERGENCE AS THEIR BRIGHT NEW STAR.
Interview JESSY WONG • Photos MISS COSMOPOLITAN WORLD
This fashion model from South Korea is a
believer of opportunities when she decided
to try her hand in an international beauty
pageant. Crowned among other 28 participants,
Lim Soyeon’s unyielding resolution is to always be
the best version herself; and with that, poise and
confidence paved the way for her.
Besides being crowned Miss Cosmopolitan World
2018, you also won ‘The Time Keeper’. Can you
tell us more about this special award?
‘The Time Keeper’ is awarded for the candidate
who is most punctual and diligent during 3 weeks of
activities. I did not want to ruin any planned activity
by being late so I always try to arrive at least 15
minutes before call time. I think that is why I got the
‘The Time Keeper’ sub-title.
During your pageant travel around Malaysia,
which destination do you love most?
My favourite is Ipoh, Perak. All the girls challenged
themselves by climbing, hiking and exploring.
Especially, me and my group went to explore a
400 million-year-old cave. It was very challenging
but worth it because we witnessed some amazing
landscape and even fossil. This was not the end. We
even had Hawaiian theme barbecue dinner. It is one
of the most unforgettable moments.
What would you pick for a day out if you are given
three options to choose between sneakers, sandals
Sandals for sure. Beautiful heels are uncomfortable.
To wear sneakers, I need to wear socks inside.
Sandals make me feel free!
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Busan, South Korea
Business Management in
Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Dancing, learning languages,
What have you gained from participating in
Miss Cosmopolitan World 2018?
Definitely, social skills and friendship. Through
3 weeks of pageant, I lived with 28 girls from
different countries and friends in Malaysia. It was
hard at first to adjust myself in this community
and change my lifestyle to the schedule. However,
avoidance is not key. I approached girls who had
similar problems to me, talked and listened to
their stories. When you approach someone with a
sincere heart, they will treat you in the same way.
If you have to pick a food that you can only eat
for your entire lifetime, what would it be?
Pizza! I am a crazy pizza lover.
Given the opportunity for the entire world to
hear you, what would your message be?
I would like to say opportunity only arises to
those who step out of their comfort zone and
reaches out. You need to find courage and know
that if there is an opportunity; you must grab it.
Be confident and love yourself.
Name three things that you must have with
you when travelling.
A handbag full of makeup tools, candies and
What are your plans after winning Miss
Cosmopolitan World 2018?
I will first focus on my study to graduate next
year. Also, I would like to work as this pageant’s
ambassador to spread the message of Miss
Cosmopolitan World. About how this beauty
pageant is contributing to the society and
encouraging social responsibility. Furthermore, if
there are any social activities or events that I can
contribute to, I hope to be a part of it.
“Opportunity only arises
to those who step out of
their comfort zone.”
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 11
TRAVELLING CAN BE A LIFE-CHANGING
EXPERIENCE WHEREAS VOLUNTEERING IS AN
EYE-OPENER TO THE CAUSES AROUND THE
WORLD. SO WHY NOT PUT BOTH TOGETHER?
WITH THE RIGHT KIND OF VOLUNTEER TRAVEL,
TAN EE LIAN FOUND HERSELF IN A MAJOR
UPLIFTING SOLO ADVENTURE IN CAMBODIA.
Text TAN EE LIAN • Photos TAN EE LIAN & ANGKOR LEGACY ACADEMY
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 13
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As a frequent traveller around the Asia
continent, it became a natural interest of
mine to forage into the roots of the country—
by living with the local villagers. Stripping major
tourism landmarks and shopping districts off the list,
there are no better scenic adventure than of our own
to bond and understand the actual circumstances of
the local life.
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in
Southeast Asia with millions of residents still
entrenched in the shackles of poverty. And a large
percentage them resides in the countryside with no
access to education, career and other opportunities.
ANGKOR LEGACY ACADEMY
While seeking for a way to help, I found Angkor
Legacy Academy that are willing to host foreigners
to volunteer in their school. The academy is located
in the countryside at Lolei Village. It is about 40
minutes away from Siem Reap city centre and this is
where I became a volunteer teacher in Angkor
The academy is a non-profit organisation founded
by Sovannarith Sok in April 2011 with the intention of
helping the villagers to fight against poverty.
For two weeks, I stayed with Sovannarith and
his family in the academy. It is not a typical life
choice many Cambodians would take, so I had the
opportunity to sit by the river with Sovannarith to
discuss about his history of starting the academy.
Previously an English teacher, it was always an
ambition of his to help the less fortunate villagers. He
founded the charity so the villagers could have free
education in the academy. It is a struggle to get local
teachers to work for free, hence, the academy relies
on volunteer basis.
Teaching is a pleasure as every student is
interested and keen to learn. There wasn’t a day
where I don’t have kids yelling “Teacher, me! Me!”
when I needed a student to answer the questions.
Besides English, the children are also determined to
When I was there, founder Sovannarith was
taking Mandarin class in the city centre on every
weekday. The dedication of a teacher and his
students are truly remarkable as I spent almost every
night waiting with the kids for Sovannarith to come
back from his Mandarin class. Once he returns,
without having dinner or taking a break, he starts a
night class to share what he learned with us.
Besides that, Angkor Legacy Academy has more
charity programs than just free education. Volunteers
can participate in their food donation program
for the poor and disabled as well as community
development activities like repairing roof and roads
in the village. The academy is currently working on
starting a computer class for the kids to develop
“It is a struggle to get local
teachers to work for free,
hence, the academy relies
on volunteer basis.”
LIVING AS A VOLUNTEER TRAVELLER
Being a solo volunteer traveller is akin to the journey
of a backpacker in terms of budget, experience and
the chance to meet new friends. In the academy,
there is a dorm for volunteers to stay for free and the
academy have volunteers from all around the world.
Like a backpacker, I have made great friends from
England, France, Finland, Netherlands and many
more. Substituting the absence of room service, it
remains a blessing for us to taste local and authentic
meals everyday—bought from the local market or
prepared by Sovannarith’s wife.
With ample time on my hands, I took the chance
to immerse myself in the carefree life of the villagers.
Although it is hard to find a mutual understanding
without being able to communicate with each other,
it is barely a problem here in Lolei Village.
Smiles easily replace words. The locals are also
extremely warm and happy to welcome visitors into
One memorable experience there was when we
were casually filling potholes in the road when it
started to rain. We were soaked and the road pretty
much turned into small rivers. Despite all that, we
were surrounded by kids who see rain as a major
amusement. The innocence of children running
around and playing in the mud reminded me that one
doesn’t need a lot to be happy. We just need enough.
On the weekends, volunteers are free to roam
wherever they want. I spent my weekends exploring
the city centre and visiting one of the best UNESCO
world heritage site; Angkor Wat. As compared to all
my previous travels, this was the greatest two weeks
of my life—receiving and learning so much from
Sovannarith and the villagers. I think I left a part of
myself there and it is just a matter of time before I
am back there with my students.
1 A scenic sundown at Lolei
Village 2 Children focused
in class 3 Sharing the art
of high-five 4 Helping the
community to repair roofs 5 A
livestock resident in the village
6 A happy child drawing on
To volunteer in
you may call
or visit www.alalolei.org
located at Lolei
in Siem Reap,
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 15
FEAST IN ASIA
FESTIVE FARES THAT FEAST THE EYES AND
PALATES BELONGS IN MANY SHAPES, FLAVOURS
AND OFFERINGS AND IN ASIA, LOCAL
GATHERINGS RING IN THE SEASONAL JOY WITH
CULTURALLY-INFUSED DELIGHTS AND RECIPES.
Text JESSY WONG Photos ADOBE STOCK & KFC JAPAN
The pinnacle of a Christmas day features
food as the main festivity. And as always,
the holiday spirit makes the time-ticking
preparation of a festal spread into a memorable
one in most households. Whether it is for
Christmas morning or the evening banquet,
people across all culture get together in their
own local fashion. From eating out, sourcing
ingredients to cook their best heirloom recipe,
Asians gather to dine in their classic rendition
of a perfect holiday spread.
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There are many cultural festivals in India and it is no surprise that
Christmas is part of the many festivities. Referred as Badda Din (big
day) in Hindi, Indian Christian minorities relish the day in their own
traditions across the country. Kerala’s Syrian-Christians typically
taste a little bit of everything so a classic Christmas offering in the
morning would be appam (fermented rice batter and coconut milk)
and meat stews of either duck, chicken, beef, pork or fish. Turkey
filled every table in the western world but for the Goan Catholics, it
is not Christmas if there’s no pork. The unique cuisines in Goa are
pork vindaloo, a curry with meat marinated in wine and garlic or
pork sorpotel, a spicy chilli curry preserved overtime. Both dishes are
influenced by the previous Portuguese colonialists in Goa.
FOOD TO TRY
WHERE TO EAT
FOOD TO TRY
Queso De Bola
WHERE TO EAT
A country with the longest Christmas celebration in the world shows
what it means to observe its most significant holiday season. Starting
early from September till the feast of Santo Nino in next year January,
typical Christmas food begin to be sold and prepared everywhere. The
highlight of the long countdown happens during noche buena which
means good night in Spanish for Christmas Eve. Noche buena sees
Filipino families gather for the traditional dinner, serving mainly queso
de bola (the Edam cheese), lechón (roasted suckling pig), spaghetti,
bibingka (rice cake) and tsokolate (hot cocoa) as the popular beverage.
Other than this, Filipinos enjoy fruit salad as a sweet dessert during the
feast. Their common version of fruit salad uses drained canned fruit
cocktail mixed with cream and sweetened condensed milk.
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 17
FOOD TO TRY
WHERE TO EAT
Brimmed with holiday spirit, everywhere in Japan are illuminated
with Christmas trees and ornaments although there are less than one
percent of Japanese that recognises themselves as Christians. This
is because the American occupation has left a distinct western and
Japanese mix in their lifestyle and food. Today, Christmas and Kentucky
Fried Chicken (KFC) have become synonymous in Japan. In 1970,
the first KFC in the country introduced a party barrel to be sold on
Christmas and the ordinary fast food meal turned into a nationwide
tradition in just 4 years. To get KFC for Christmas dinner, one will have
to preorder weeks in advance. For dessert, Japanese Christmas cake
is served as the centerpiece. The iconic cake is actually a fluffy sponge
cake, coated with whipped cream and decorated with strawberries.
There is one food that unites people in the Middle East. Dolma, stuffed
fillings in fruits, vegetables or wrapped in fresh leaves, is a traditional
meal to feast during special occasions and gatherings. Originated from
a Turkish word doldurma, which means stuffing, dolma is a regional
cuisine found in Central Asia, Egypt, Arabia and the Middle East.
Communities like Azerbaijan, Iraqi and Armenian Christians would
prepare, serve and eat dolmas during the religious holiday. Depending
on regions and countries, dolma variates from the choice of protein
like meat or seafood to vegetables like vine leaves or cabbage rolls
and fruits. Other spread would normally include dograma, a Turkmen
shredded meat and bread stew, another laborious preparation affair.
Made with flatbreads, large pots of shredded protein and peppers, this
dish is meant to be shared by a group of people.
FOOD TO TRY
WHERE TO EAT
18 · WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM
RECIPE TO FOLLOW:
IN THE FAR EASTERN SIDE OF JAVA, INDONESIA,
ISLANDERS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS WITH
A TRADITIONAL SPREAD OF SEAFOOD IN
ABUNDANCE. TWO OF THE MUST-HAVE DISHES
ARE PAPEDA AND FISH SOUP.
Text YY CHEN Photos YY CHEN & JH TAN
700gm fish (whole or sliced)
2 bay leaves
2 turmeric leaves
2 lime leaves
Juice of 2 lime
1 lemongrass stick
3 large slices of dried assam
4 cloves of crushed garlic
1 ltr water
Salt and sugar to taste
For garnish: Fried shallots,
chopped parsley and sliced
5 shallots, 5 garlic pips, 4
big red chillies, 3 birds eye
chillies, 4cm fresh turmeric,
2cm ginger, 3cm lengkuas
In Papua and Maluku Indonesia this festive
season, many will travel back from as far as
Holland to be with their families. The population
in these islands are predominantly Christians and
Christmas would mean large groups of families and
friends coming together to fete on a traditional
The food in these islands are as colourful and
intensely rich as their culture. Their cuisine is
influenced by produce that are found and grown
in the surrounding environment. As the populace
largely eke a living from the sea, seafood is in
abundance and their staple is sago. Papeda is a
traditional dish prepared with fermented sago.
Sago is dried and ground into powder before
mixing with water and left to ferment. Once
fermented water is squeezed out, it is made into
sticky gooey paste. Blobs of it are dropped into the
fish soup and all slurped down without needing to
chew on the gooey sago. It is served bakar or basah
(toasted or wet)
"You twirl the sticky paste with a stick and drop
the blob into the fish soup," Community Trainer
JH Tan explained. This is a bland and tasteless dish
that can also be eaten with other dishes. It goes
well with strong and spicy taste of the fish soup.
During a recent get-together with friends in
Papua, he managed to get the low-down on how to
prepare the fish soup that goes with Papeda. The
recipe differs with different islands. Rice is not a
traditional staple for the islanders but they eat root
crops like singkong, radish and yam.
"On these islands not many people have fridges
so they would cook in a manner where food can be
preserved for a few days," Tan said. This Christmas
he and his friends will partake in this dish.
• Marinate fish with lime
juice, salt and crushed
garlic for 20-30 minutes.
• Heat oil in a pot and saute
the blended ingredients
• Then add bay leaves,
lime leaves, crushed
lemongrass and dried
• Saute for a minute before
adding water to boil for
• Add fish and cook for
another 10-15 minutes.
• Salt and sugar to taste.
• Garnish and serve.
WWW.GOASIAPLUS.COM · 19
Road Less Travelled is a collaboration with AirAsiaGo.
Check out airasiago.com.my for flight & hotel deals!
ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
POPULAR AS A MERE TRANSIT POINT TO
SABAH’S PARADISE BEACH, ISLANDS AND
OTHER COUNTRIES, THIS SMALL COASTAL
TOWN IN THE SOUTHEAST OF BORNEO
MAKES A DESERVING STOP ON ITS OWN.
Text JESSY WONG
Photos SABAH TOURISM BOARD & AIRASIAGO
HOW TO GET THERE
One can get to Tawau via direct flights from
Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur through
domestic airlines. Both AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines
also have daily flights from Sabah’s main city at Kota
Kinabalu to the coastal town.
WHAT TO DO
Get a familiar feel of the neighbourhood at Pasar
Tanjung Tawau that majorly sells raw and dried sea
produce at a good deal. Another must-visit place is
Teck Guan Cocoa Museum. Tawau is the largest
producer of cocoa in the country so you can find a
variation of local chocolate at the museum.
For a scenic change from the cityscape, explore
Tawau Hills Park for orchid viewing and trek in the
lush tropical garden. Follow the nature trail in the
park and it will lead you to the temptingly refreshing
waterfalls and hot springs.
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WHERE TO STAY
Spend a simple and yet stylish night at 4-star
Promenade Hotel Tawau that is located next to
the biggest mall in the city. A stay at Shervinton
Executive Boutique Hotel let you take a break at
their sky bar and lounge that overlooks the quaint
town and wind down in the hotel’s spa.
WHERE TO EAT
Taste Sabah’s signature nasi kuning (yellow rice)–
cooked with coconut milk and turmeric–at Restoran
Haji Tamrin. During the in-between meal hours,
snack at Indo Cafe that is famous for their cheesy
banana fritters. The coastal town has some of the
best seafood to offer in Sabah so dine at Kam Ling
Fresh Seafood for dinner. You can directly select
your choice of seafood from the fish tanks.
return trip from
the town to Tawau
Hills Park with your
taxi driver to avoid
make good travel
Be sure to have
enough money on
hand as it might be
difficult to find ATM
in the small town.
1 Both founders of Sunshine Kingdom; Eddie Wong and Aesos Lai 2 Aesos with Sunshine Kingdom’s giant durian landmark 3 Durian Kingdom cafe in Central Market
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ROYAL OF DURIAN KINGDOM
THE CREATIVE FOUNDER OF MALAYSIA’S TOP DURIAN SOUVENIR BRAND, AESOS LAI, ENDS THE YEAR WITH GREAT
FULFILLMENT AND SHARES HOW FILIAL PIETY SHAPES ONE’S COURSE IN LIFE.
Interview JESSY WONG • Photos RICK CHEAH & AESOS LAI
The souvenir which best
represents the vibrancy in
Malaysia is no other than
its national fruit–the durian–and
Aesos knows it. Already in t-shirt
souvenir design business, Aesos
first work out the idea of a ‘durian’
retail from one of his t-shirt
designs. Since its conception in
2014, Sunshine Kingdom is the
first company with durian-related
products in Malaysia to be awarded with the Superbrands Status.
As an entrepreneur, you introduced yourself as the creative
founder of Sunshine Kingdom who only deals with branding
and marketing. What is your viewpoint on this?
I love thinking and innovating so I prefer to do research more than
handling operations. Therefore, I invited Eddie Wong to join me
when I set up the business. He’s a specialist in retail and operations
with years of experience so I know he’s the best man to do the job.
To summarise, I’m the thinker and he’s the executor. Also a fun
fact, Eddie was previously my customer.
You have a Durian Kingdom cafe in Central Market, selling
vast options of durian-infused Malaysian food like nasi lemak
durian, ais kacang durian and etc. Why a durian cafe?
I was encouraged by a close friend who told me that a ‘durian
cafe’ concept will appeal to people who like something unique and
durian-related food items. Besides, durian is getting popular among
Chinese tourists from mainland China. It was a timely opportunity.
Besides the cafe, Sunshine Kingdom takes a very interesting
approach in marketing the durian products as souvenirs.
Durian is a very special local fruit. Firstly, Malaysians would gather
for a ‘durian session’ and it shows that durian is a fruit that can
unite people. It is the pride of our country. Hence, we believe that
durian is the perfect food souvenir. Taste durian, taste Malaysia.
Congratulations, Sunshine Kingdom is also listed in the
Malaysia Book of Records.
Thank you. We are the first company to be known for having the
“If you take care of
your parents, God
will make you happy.”
‘Most Number of Durian Related
Products in 2018’. We want
travellers who visit Malaysia to
take home a piece of the local
flavour in the form of the very
unique durian products. Today,
we have 85 different products in
total from getting the fresh whole
durian fruit, packed frozen durian
and many other durian products.
Personally as an avid coffee drinker, I would never go for a food
fusioned coffee. But, the durian coffee by Sunshine Kingdom
truly exceeded my expectations. What is the idea behind it?
I’m proud to say that we are the first company to emphasize durian
species in our range of durian coffee offerings. Each species tastes
differently. The variance between Musang King, D24 and Durian
Kampong will add to its own unique flavour. Other than that, we are
also the first to introduce Musang King Kopi Luwak in the world!
Speaking of coffees, the coffee packaging from Sunshine
Kingdom is really distinctive. How did the theme come about?
It is filial piety. The coffee design packaging actually features the
founders’–myself and Eddie–parents and parents-in-law. Gifting is
a happy thing, it makes my father proud when he gifts it as souvenir
to his friends and relatives. Parents are our best ambassadors.
This is definitely an uncommon approach for a brand. Sunshine
Kingdom is the first to adopt a filial piety value as part of its
Well, I firmly believe that filial piety is an expression of gratitude
and such conception can help the company to build a strong
foundation in business ethics and values. Besides, I live by my
quote; if you take care of your parents, God will make you happy.
Now that Sunshine Kingdom is leading the tourist market in
the food souvenir ‘gifting’ trend, tell us your future plans for
I hope to see our products on the shelves in major supermarkets
nationwide. We would love to attract the positive feedback that we
got from foreigners with the locals.
CAFE AND STORE LOCATIONS
Durian Kingdom, Central Market, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur.
Sunshine Kingdom, Jalan Bandar Lapan Belas, Pusat Bandar Puchong, Selangor.
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THE BATTLE AGAINST HER AUTOIMMUNE
DISEASE IS FAR FROM OVER. PSORIASIS
FIGHTER ROCYIE WONG IS USING HER
JOURNEY TO HELP OTHERS FIGHT SIMILAR
CONDITIONS THAT HAVE ERODED THEIR
SELF-ESTEEM AND CONFIDENCE.
Text YY CHEN
Photos YY CHEN & ROCYIE WONG
She runs her fingers slowly down the menu
looking for the right item that's safe to eat.
Rocyie Wong, 25, has been doing this for the
most part of her adult life. In the profile of her
Instagram she has described herself as a Psoriasis
Fighter. Psoriasis, the autoimmune disease that
leaves her otherwise flawless skin, with patches of
irritated and painful sores, is what Rocyie is
But what's admirable about this young adult is
that she has decided to take this fight to another
level and turn the situation around to make it a fight
against social prejudices against people with similar
diseases or ‘flaws’ that make them stay away from
“A lot of times when people don't understand our
situation they would make assumptions and could
not empathise with our struggles. I want to help
create a more accepting society,” Rocyie's online
platform of a Safe Space has attracted the coming
together of people with different sufferings to share
their ordeal. Even people with depression have found
their way into her Safe Space platform.
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“A part of me is still
not ready to deal with
people who stare when
I wear shorts.”
She writes: I want to provide a platform where
people can improve, heal physically and emotionally,
and be more mindful of the things around us.
Rocyie began by showing them her personal
journey through a project called “Naked” to explain
the chronic skin condition that causes excess of
skin to form as scaly, red patches that are itchy and
painful. Often, the flare up on her skin is triggered
“80 percent of my life is planned around my food
and I think of where to go for safe food,” but Rocyie
does not allow this to hamper her social life. She
would either bring along home-cooked food or her
friends would choose a place where she could have
her choice of safe food.
Generally, she avoids consuming meat, fish, pork
and stick with wholefood and plant-based fares.
There is a list of food taboos that she has found out,
mainly by trial and error, that would cause the skin
to flare up. When she turned 22 and after having
moved from one doctor to another, Rocyie decided
to take charge of her own condition by doing
research and taking note of her reactions to different
kinds of food.
“My worst experience was a couple of years ago
when I consumed black beans and it landed me with
such a bad flare up that it took a month to clear.
“I couldn't do anything but just to lie down and
rest without aggravating the condition further,”
Growing up as a teenager took a lot of courage
and tolerance from her. From being conscious and
embarrassed by the dust of dandruff on her shoulder
to why she had to wear a cap always were just some
of the trying times.
Removing her cap to reveal her face was a
small but significant step to come out to brave the
unwanted attention, “...a part of me is still not ready
to deal with people who stare when I wear shorts.”
On bad days, she is floored by her emotional
roller coaster of feeling helpless, self-doubting and
at a lost at what to do about her future career. “And
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1 Donning a sleeveless top
with confidence 2 Finding
strength and beauty in her
battle 3 Rocyie in her element
in sharing her personal
journey 4 Fashionably casual
and stylish 5 Rocyie’s ‘Naked’
project 6 Rocyie conducting a
Safe Space session
when my skin flares up I would just lie in bed to
rest and not feel like doing anything. And the fear of
never getting any better is very real.”
But her spirit is buoyed up by followers in her
social media who also share about their conditions.
By connecting via each other’s vulnerability has made
Safe Space a powerful platform.
Rocyie will soon launch another campaign
#Beinghuman. It is a non-judgemental zone
with talks, workshops and exhibitions to create
a supportive community and for the people with
“What do I stand for? I would ask this, Are
you in love with who you are? Right now I am very
comfortable of being who I am. And who I am
believes in authenticity, courage and to let the way I
live speak for myself.”
Rocyie dreams of being a public figure one day so
that she could cast her net farther in reaching out to
touch more lives. “But my mum’s dream is that my
skin will clear one day. Cause she fears that I can’t
get married!” she laughs it off as her focus is now on
planning the workshops for her next campaign.
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A TOAST TO WRAP
UP THE YEAR
IT IS THE TIME OF THE YEAR WHERE MOST PEOPLE WOULD
WIND DOWN WITH VACATIONS TO OVERSEAS DESTINATIONS
AND PREPARE FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON. THE LATTER
USUALLY MEANS DRINKING A TOAST TO THE YEAR THAT’S
COMING TO AN END. DARIO ROBBEN HAS A FEW SUGGESTED
WISE BUYS ON WINES AND WHISKIES TO STOCK UP.
Text DARIO ROBBEN • Photos ILYAS SHUKOR
Festive seasons make a habit of sneaking up on you.
We all know they are coming but frankly, there
is a lot to prepare for and time has a confusing
tendency to run out faster than you expect it to. For
those who celebrate, Christmas and New Year’s are fast
approaching and marking these occasions with parties
or small festive gatherings can make for some of the best
memories to carry you through the new year. At least
until you get to do it again.
The festive season gives you an excuse to indulge
and a chance to celebrate with the people you love or,
sometimes equally importantly, the people you need to
impress. One of the tools to help make these moments
more memorable is alcohol. Whilst Malaysia’s alcohol
prices are not exactly a bargain, there are plenty of
interesting options worth spending a little more on
without being unreasonable.
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“One of the
drinks for a
THE SINGLE MALT
A delightful and unique single malt whiskey,
Craigellachie 13 has the added benefit of being
a potential icebreaker when you are trying to
pronounce the name.
The taste descriptions of whiskeys often seem
to take a lot of poetic license but Craigellachie 13
truly has a distinct smoky and fruity flavour. Due
to this distinctness it is not the smoothest whiskey,
but it is not so harsh as to make it hard to drink.
Great served plain over ice, you can also use it in the
popular Christmas drink–eggnog–to add a special
kind of spiciness that I highly recommend. It isn’t the
easiest bottle to find but is readily available in duty
free zones and can be purchased from Hermiu.com, an
online retailer based in Penang.
AN IRISH COFFEE TWIST
Another drink to look out for at airports and other
duty-free zones is Sheridan’s coffee liqueur. The
bottle is a bit of an oddity as it is split vertically into
two separate sections. When poured the dark coffee
and whiskey liqueur forms the bottom layer while
the white chocolate liqueur floats to the top creating
a very pleasant Irish coffee. The taste of white
chocolate in this coffee liqueur adds an exquisite
touch that other coffee liqueurs don’t quite match.
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A TRADITIONAL JAPANESE LIQUEUR
Choya Umeshu is a Japanese liqueur made from the
ume fruit. It’s not one of those drinks you have to
learn to love or is an “acquired taste”. Most people
that try it for the first time, simply like it. There is
no noncommittal shrug or a mumbled not bad, it
just tastes good. Definitely something to purchase
for those who enjoy fruity cocktails. For added
sweetness, the honey or royal honey variations are a
definite must-try. Luckily this drink is easy to track
down in Malaysia, you can find it in most grocers or
buy it online if you prefer.
A TALE OF TWO BEERS
For the festive season you may be more willing to
spend a little extra on a more unique beer, or two.
The first may be off-putting to some simply because
of its colour, it is pink. Liefmans Fruitesse is a
Belgian berry beer and unusually is one of the few
beers designed to be served on the rocks. It even
says so on the bottle in large red letters, so you don’t
forget. It comes in at 3.8 percent and honestly tastes
quite a bit like a refreshing type of soda, without
being overly sweet.
This beer is relatively new to the Malaysian
market so it is not that common however it is
currently available at B.I.G. in Publika.
The other beer, Estrella Damm Inedit has an
interesting backstory. Created by Ferran Adrià to be
served with food in his Michelin 3-Star restaurant, it
tastes similar to a light witbier and is less carbonated,
so it won’t leave you feeling bloated. An enjoyable
beer with or without food, it is unfortunately very
hard to find.
Inedit is available in Malaysia, but mostly in
hotel restaurants or speciality Spanish restaurants
like Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar in Bangsar. In the
attempt to track down this beer I found out the
following useful tip: if you come across an alcoholic
beverage you haven’t seen before or have trouble
finding, inspect the bottle for the distributor in
Malaysia. They quite often have a sticker on them
with contact information.
This drink is great to show a bit more appreciation
for your guests by spending the effort of adding a
little ‘cooking’ to your drinking. Mulled wine is one
of the favourite Christmas drinks for a reason. It is
sweet like most Christmas time edibles or drinkables
and has enough wine in it to make things a bit more
interesting. There is a myriad of recipes online with
contributions from chefs like Gordon Ramsay or
Jamie Oliver. Most are worth a try.
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LOST & FOUND
Text and photos
MEMOIRS OF A SHOPPER
Forty years ago, my mother brought me along
to shop in Penang Road. Believe it or not, she
could get the shop assistant to slash more
than half the price or even a five cents discount, a
bargaining skill I could not master even today.
Shopping in those days was easy. There were no
mega shopping malls and hypermarkets but only
supermarkets. I remember when New Market was
opened in Rope Walk, there were long queues of
people wanting to enter the premises.
Today, supermarkets could no longer rival mega
malls. In Penang, the longest surviving supermarket
is perhaps Sui Wah Departmental Store in Air Itam.
MEGA SHOPPING MALLS
The shopping scene in the 90s and new millennium
saw mega shopping malls making waves
nationwide. I was working in Kuala Lumpur back
then, and saw how Bukit Bintang rapidly transform
itself into a shopping belt with Sungai Wang Plaza,
BB Plaza, Lot 10, Fahrenheit (formerly KL Plaza),
Starhill and Pavilion.
There, I could buy the world, from the classic to
the ultra modern and the basic fashion to designer
wear. In fact, Kuala Lumpur was ranked 4th best
shopping city in the world by CNN 4 years ago.
Those were the days I was like the male version of
Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex in the City” drama series
because shopping has become a daily ritual.
In the suburbs and other neighbourhoods that
era, Subang Parade, One Utama and many other
malls were thriving. Today, there are about 560
shopping malls nationwide with total net lettable
area of about 135 million sq ft.
But will these malls survive against our
economic backdrop? Malaysia Retail Chain
Association (MRCA) reported by the end of next year,
Malaysia will have close to 700 shopping malls with
total net lettable area of 170 million sq ft.
While we saw the oversupply of shopping mall
spaces, the trend is also shifting to online shopping.
My friends, especially the Gen Y and millennials love
to order clothes online.
It was reported in www.export.gov, Malaysia has
25.08 million or 79 percent active internet users; 15.3
million or 50 percent online shoppers, and 62 percent
mobile online shoppers.
That is quite astonishing. But for my parents’
generation, user experience is still important. They
want to see, touch and feel what they are buying.
Will I buy jewellery without seeing them for real?
While some shoppers prefer to shop in comfort,
others like myself love to sharpen my bargaining
skills at the night market or pasar malam. Although
I could not emulate my mother’s bargaining skill, I
love the atmosphere in these night markets, which
usually open once a week in residential areas.
Taman Connaught Night Market is the longest
street market in Kuala Lumpur with 700 stalls
stretching along a two-kilometre road.
Whatever it is, whether it is shopping in the mall,
night market or online, it is still my favourite pastime
activity. The only difference is that I spend lesser
now and no longer call myself the male version of
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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!
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