Christmas in the Tropics

Contemporary purple tree and jazzy lights greet the shoppers at Orchard Road.

christmas singapore 2010

Kuala Lumpur
There is no shortage of ice and snow at Bukit Bintang in the capital of Malaysia.

christmas kl 2010


Malayan Railway (KTM) Land in Singapore

I travelled by train between Malaysia and Singapore for the first time in May 2010 and got to experience firsthand the rather unconventional border crossings that have been properly summrised in Wikipedia as follows:

* Towards Singapore, Malaysian immigration officers carry out immigration clearance on board the train at Johor Bahru railway station. After clearing immigration, the train crosses the causeway and stops at WTCP, where all passengers must proceed to Singapore Customs and Immigration. Therefore, travellers entering Singapore by rail are following the correct order of immigration clearance, that is, exit granted by Malaysian Immigration in Johor and entry granted by Singapore Immigration in Woodlands. After clearing immigration at Woodlands, passengers may disembark or continue their journey to Tanjong Pagar by train.

* Towards Malaysia, passengers must board the train at Tanjong Pagar and clear Malaysian Customs and Immigration before boarding. The train travels about 30 minutes to WTCP and stops for another 30 minutes to allow sufficient time for passengers to clear Singapore Immigration. In this case, passengers are granted entry into Malaysia before clearing Singapore Immigration, which is contrary to international practice. To circumvent this problem, Malaysian immigration officers do not stamp on passengers' passports.

SIngapore Railway Station 1
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is the current KTM terminal in Singapore (05/2010)

Singapore Railway Station 2
The station was opened in 1932 and nicely decorated with sculptures and murals (05/2010)

The reason behind the bizarre immigration procedure is that the Malayan Railway (Keretapi Tanah Melayu, KTM) land in Singapore was leased to the Federated Malay States by the Straits Settlement government then under a 1918 colonial ordinance for 999 years (The Star, Malaysian Insider) and the status of the KTM land has been subject of dispute after the separation of both countries. A breakthrough in the impasse was made recently with the signing of a historic agreement on 24 May 2010. The KTM Singapore terminal will be moved from the current one in Tanjung Pagar to Woodlands nearer to the border by 1 Jul 2011, hence, freeing up the KTM land for joint development by both countries in the future.

Related links:

Forest Research Institute Malaysia

Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) is a good place to go if you are already bored with the twin towers and shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur (KL). Located in Kepong, a suburb north of KL, FRIM offers a unique tropical rainforest experience within 1 hr of car drive from the hectic city centre. One of the popular attractions in FRIM is the 200 m long canopy walkway, which can be an interesting way of admiring nature as long as you do not mind walking 30 m above ground level on the planks!


TL: tall trees; TR: forest path; BL: wild life; BR: city view

Related link:

Three Wheelers in South East Asia

Vientiane, Laos
Jumbo driver waits for passengers in the capital of Laos.

Jumbo in Laos

Hanoi, Vietnam
Taking a cyclo is a popular and convenient way of exploring Hanoi Old Quarter.

Cyclo in Vietnam

Melaka, Malaysia
Excessively decorated trishaws blasting loud music are impossible to miss in Melaka.

Trishaw in Malaysia

Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2010

I made a point of visiting the international hot air balloon fiesta in Putrajaya after missing out on the first ever such fiesta last year. The second hot air balloon fiesta was held from 18-21 Mar this year. Visitors were entertained by balloon fun fly, tethered balloon rides and other events throughout the days. Hot air balloons were transformed into gigantic lanterns after dark during the "Night Glow" event on 20 Mar. The whole day of festivities was then concluded with a short but spectacular fireworks display.

Putrajaya Balloon Fiesta 2010
"Night Glow" at the 2nd Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (20/03/2010)

Related link:
  • Official website: Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2010
  • The Star: Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon rides draw the crowd
  • Flickr: Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Christmas in South East Asia

You sometimes lose the sense of time without the seasonal change in the tropics but the festive season is not easy to miss, thanks to the faithful reminders by commercial decorations and displays :-P

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saigon Centre 2009
Saigon Centre, Ho Chi Minh City (11/2009)

Pavilion 2009
Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur (12/2009)


Lions in the Campus

This is another blog entry related to the Chinese New Year, with snapshots and video clip on the visit of the lions to UNMC (University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus). This has been an annual event and well-received by the campus community of diverse backgrounds.

Lion Dance 1

Lion Dance 2

Lion Dance 3

Video clip (QuickTime Player)

Video clip (YouTube)

OXpicious New Year

The Chinese communities around the world celebrate the lunar new year of the ox on 26 Jan 2009. The malls in KL are again lavishly decorated and embellished by festive red lanterns, mei (梅) flowers and ox-related ornaments to mark the annual occasion. Happy niu year (niu=牛=ox) and have an oxpicious year ahead!

Pavilion Golden Bull
"The golden bull of prosperity" at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

1 Utama CNY
Red is the colour at 1 Utama, Petaling Jaya

Malaysia (RANdoM Pick)

KLCC Park Putra Mosque Christmas MidValley British University Malaysia

From left to right:
  • The recreational park in the KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre)
  • The Putra mosque in Putrajaya, the federal administrative centre of Malaysia
  • Christmas decorations in the MidValley shopping mall
  • The Malaysia campus of a British university


Gearing up for a Tropical Christmas

No George Square Christmas light switch-on and wintry December weather for me this year but searching for that festive atmosphere isn't that hard, even here in the tropics!

KLCC Christmas Tree 2008-1

KLCC Christmas Tree 2008-2
Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur (12/2008)

Malaysia (rANdoM Pick)

Eid Decorations Malaysia British University Malaysia
Ice Skating Malaysia Malaysian Bagpipers Performance
  • TL: Hari Raya (Eid) decorations in a shopping mall.
  • TR: British university, tropical campus.
  • BL: Ice skating, four seasons (all summers).
  • BR: Malaysian bagpipers playing at a Scottish university alumni dinner.


Malaysia (RAnDoM Pick)

Malaysia Random 1

  • TL : Cheering the Malaysian badminton team to Olympic 2008. Malaysia won a silver!
  • TR : Upgrading works from 4 to 6 lanes on the Penang Bridge.
  • BL : RBS is now in Malaysia too. The signboard is in front of Tesco Penang.
  • BR : The Gardens in Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur.

Durian and Mangosteen

Reporting from Malaysia, it's durian and mangosteen season now! To those who are unfamiliar with the fruits, the King (durian) and Queen (mangosteen) of Fruits are very popular in Malaysia and the rest of South East Asia.

Thorny (duri = thorn in Malay) in appearance, durian is about the size of a honey dew and very pungent. Getting the flesh (wraps over a large seed) can be tricky but to me the reward definitely worths the effort!


Mangosteen is unrelated to mango and called "manggis" in Malay. The fruit is about the size of an apple and contrary to durian, first-time tasting of a mangosteen should not require much courage.


Durian and mangosteen are definitely my personal favourites, not everyone shares the same passion though...

durians mangosteens notice

Related links:


I think no other picture is more appropriate than a snapshot of Penang, Malaysia to begin with. Penang is definitely the first place Kiat visited and remains one of his favourite cities. Penang asam laksa is the best!

Picture 3
Georgetown of Penang, from the Penang Bridge (2006)