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Saturday, November 22, 2008

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Interesting Places in Penang

My old friend, CM, from United State visited us recently, together with his family. I took them to several places in Penang and tried out our authentic local foods of Penang. They took a lot of photos during the trip. However, due to time constraint, we are not able to cover all the must-visit places during the short trip. They sent me the photos after went back to home country. Here are some of photos taken during our tour together with brief information of the places. I attached some of the information I searched from Internet. You can go to the respective websites to view full write up by following the URL attached.

Little India

Penang's Little India is a colorful place which offers many specialised Indian stores and eating places. Take time to indulge in Indian specialities like spices, Indian music, garlands, trinkets and gold jewelry.,%20penang.html

Kuan Yin Temple

Kuan Yin temple which is located at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (previously known as Pitts street), are doubt as one of the oldest Chinese temple in Penang. With history dated back to 1800, Kuan Yin temple is the symbol of pride, compassion and love to all her loyal devotees.The Goddess of Mercy or Kuan Yin is perhaps one of the noticeable figures of all Buddhist deities in Penang today. She enlightened and embodies the attributes of benevolence and unshakable loving compassion that is accessible to everyone.The popularity of Kuan Yin as a beautiful white-robed goddess filled with pure devotion and compassion are well known to the people of Penang. Kuan Yin statue is commonly found in homes and Buddhist temples in various incarnations, often cloaked in white robes.

View of Penang from Komtar Tower
Penang Road Laksa and Cendol
Cendol is a favourite desert among locals. It is easily identified – green pandan flavoured noodles in white coconut milk with brown sugar and red beans. Sweet heavenly stuff, super cheap and ultra good. We went to the best cendol in town: off Penang Road, opposite of the Police Headquarters; The famous Penang Laksa is extremely popular, especially among ladies for its spicy, sweet, and sour taste. This is strictly a hawker fare, as one is unlikely to find great laksa in any fancy restaurant. It is basically coarse rice noodles in a sour based fish soup with assam, sprinkled with shavings of 'bunga kantang', onions, sliced chilli, cucumber and pineapple; topped with thick black fish paste.
Reclining Buddha of the Wat Chayamangkalaram
This beautiful gold plated reclining Buddha of the Wat Chayamangkalaram (Thai budhhist temple) is said to be the 3rd largest of its kind (but the truth is that it is not), with its 33 meters length. The temple was built in 1845 on a land (5 acres) which was donated by Queen Victoria to the Thai community. The first monk was a Theravada Buddhist monk from Thailand, Phorthan Kuat, also known as the “Powerful Monk”.
Dhammikarama Burmese Temple
Standing tall among all the beautiful and mysterious temples in Penang is the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple. As the first Buddhist temple to be built in Penang back in 1803, Dhammikarama is a temple filled with striking features and rich past.It provides a historical evidence of Burmese occupation in Penang as well as the retreat for Buddhist devotees. The temple is located at the enclave of Burmah Lane in Pulau Tikus alongside another magnificent architecture of Wat Chaiya (A Thai Buddhist temple).
Botanical Garden
Begun in 1884, the garden is dedicated to its first superintendent Charles Curtis, who initiated the collection of local botanical specimens which have earned important placing in the world's herbariums. Penang's 30 hectare Botanical Gardens are off Waterfall Rd and are also known as the Waterfall Gardens after the stream that cascades through them down from Penang Hill. Its waterfall is among the best in Penang, but visitors need to apply for a special permission weeks in advance to enter the reserved jungle. They've also been dubbed the Monkey Gardens, due to the many monkeys that appear on the lawn for a feed early each morning and late each afternoon. The gardens also have a small zoo and from there a path leads up Penang Hill..
Snake Temple
The Snake Temple is situated in Sungai Kluang, Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia and is perhaps the only temple of its kind in the world. The temple is filled with the smoke of burning incense and a variety of pit vipers. The vipers are believed to be rendered harmless by the sacred smoke, but as a safety precaution, the snakes have also been de-venomed but still have their fangs intact, visitors are warned against picking up the reptiles and placing them on their bodies for taking pictures. Local devotees believe that the temple's snake population has come there of its own accord.The temple was built circa 1850 in memory of Chor Soo Kong, by a Buddhist monk who moved to Penang. Chor Soo Kong was born with the Tan surname in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). He was very serious about spiritual attainment and was ordained at a young age. Legend has it that Chor Soo Kong, who was also a healer, gave shelter to the snakes of jungle. When he died at the age of 65 after a lifetime of good deeds, he was bestowed the honorific title Chor Soo, meaning an eminent historic figure continuously revered by a community generation after generation. After the completion of the temple, snakes appeared on their own accord. The Snake Temple was originally named the "Temple of the Azure Cloud" in honor of the beauty of Penang's sky.Believers from as far away as Singapore and Taiwan come to pray in the temple on Chor Soo Kong's birthday (the sixth day of the first lunar month).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

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Gemstone - Agate


Tan Chin Hock

Agate is a beautiful mineral that occurs in an amazing variety of colors, shapes and patterns. Agate is a unique stone that is part of the quartz family, or in scientific terms SiO2 (silicone dioxide), characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks but can be common in certain metamorphic rocks which are the result of the transformation of a pre-existing rock types.

Slide agate pendant, the unique pattern of agate can be clearly detected from this picture.

Red agate is the most commonly found agate

Red agate set into David Star pendant.

Metamorphic rocks make up a large part of the Earth’s crust and are classified by texture, chemical and mineral assemblage. Chalcedony is more soluble than quartz under low-temperature conditions, despite the two minerals being chemically identical.

Agate is a variety of chalcedony formed from layers of quartz which usually show varicolored bands and multicolored schemes. It usually occurs as rounded nodules or veins. Scientists believe that Agate is created when gas bubbles inside of cooling lava include saline water. These gas bubbles with saline water turn into a gel. Since there is salt in the water, it attacks the surrounding iron in the lava and creates bands. These bands are extremely intricate and beautiful. It should be noted that no two stones are the same, making each agate stone unique and more precious.

Eyed agate pendant.

Black and white banding on Botswana agate bracelet.

Agate can be found all over the world including Africa, Asia, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, and the USA. Idar- Oberstein district in Germany is well known for the abundance of Agate.

According to Greek legend, agate was found in the river Achates, which is now called the
Drillo River, located in Sicily. However, there is evidence that stone-age men in Western Europe used agate more than 15,000 years ago.

Some named varieties are: moss agate, eye agate, blue lace agate, Irish agate, rainbow agate, snake skin agate; and plume agate, which look like it's filled with beautiful feather plumes.

The beauty of Botswana agate (red, white, black) in bracelet form.

A very rare type of Botswana agate - Malachite agete (Red, Green, Yellow, White). One of the best quality and hardly found in the market.

The Malachite agate is cut according to the shape of the eye hence produces this unique pendant.

Dendritic agate contains visible impurities in the form of "dendrites", these are branching figures or markings which closely resemble moss, a shrub or form of a tree.

Raw agate is very ugly and dull. It must be polished to give it its beautiful qualities. Raw agate comes in round shape, most craftsmen will find the intricacies of each stone and draw out its true shape and beauty.

The unpolished and uncut rough of blue lace agate.

The beauty of blue lace agate explored after cutting and polishing process.

The unpolished and uncut rough of Botswana agate.

The Botswana agate looks so different after polishing. Amazing!

Agate is usually created into beautiful stones that are then placed on rings, as charms, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, dream catchers etc. Agate is very strong, resists acid and is an excellent stone to work with when it comes to jewelry. Agate is also used in beautiful mosaics and picture frames.

Black agate has it's own name - ONYX. It is often make into elegent jewelry set.

The black and white contrast from the combination of onyx, cubic zirconia and silver enhances the beauty of the stone.

Agate is the mystical birthstone for September and the birth stone for the Zodiac sign of Gemini.

Agate was highly valued as a talisman or amulet in ancient times. It was said to quench thirst and protect against fever or
making one invisible or protecting one from sickness. Persian magicians used agate to divert storms. Today, Agate comes in many different varieties on almost any type of jewelry piece.

Pink agate is alsoone of the rare agate type.

A famous collection of two to four thousand agate bowls which was accumulated by Mithridates, king of Pontus, shows the enthusiasm with which agate was regarded. Agate bowls were also popular in the Byzantine Empire. Collecting agate bowls became common among European royalty during the Renaissance and many museums in Europe, including the Louvre, have spectacular examples.

To view more agate product from, please click this URL:

Release 1.1 - 18/11/2008 Addded photos and more details
Release 1.0 - 12/06/2008 First writeup