Had you asked me earlier, I would've dramatically - hand-over-heart - proclaimed myself a serious chocoholic. I thought I earned that title having meticulously curated my taste buds through years of dedicated research, otherwise known as gobbling chocolates at every opportunity.
I was sorely mistaken.
Enter Ning-Geng Ong Lingam, founder of the exquisitely crafted Chocolate Concierge and title bearer of flavor junkie, hardcore chocoholic and general cacao-know-it-all!
It was fortuitous to discover Suhaimi Fadzir's latest exhibition "BEBAS" in Artcube, a gallery tucked away on the 3rd floor of the Intermark building. My husband and I were on the prowl for new contemporary furniture pieces and instead, it was contemporary art that caught our eye.
Artcube has a wonderfully open and accessible feel for a gallery that showcases some of the best Malaysian contemporary artists and so we paused, double backed and entered the gallery.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning with sunny blue skies when we ventured off on our second day of our Penang Escapade. This time we were off to the Tropical Spice Garden in Teluk Bahang - a private and lush green jungle of tropical floral and fauna which is open to those seeking respite from the concrete jungle!
Yes, it's that time of year again when Malaysia seems to quieten down and pause for a slow and restful month. When those who fast take a deep breath to internally reflect during the holy month of Ramadan. It's also the time when Malaysians and foreigners alike can sample an amazing ensemble of local delicacies, specially prepared for the breaking of fast!
Batik&Bubbles decided to explore the ramadan market of Kampung Baru, a neighborhood which happens to be a stone's throw away from KLCC.
When you are young, it is a very common occurrence to be asked the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?". The usual answer, especially in this part of the world, is either a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. Well that's not the case with Josh Lee, a Penang-born fragrance designer who has held this ambition close to his heart since a very young age.
Although I've been to Penang a number of times, somehow I've always stayed on the outskirts. Most recently, my husband and I stayed at the beautiful Lone Pines, which proved to be fantastically relaxing but rather secluded. In fact, we hardly left the shady hammocks poolside. And before that I'd stayed in the gorgeous Pinang suite in the famous Eastern & Oriental hotel with three balconies and a crisp white pool overlooking the ocean. Yet, even that meant a hot long walk to get into the interesting, historical parts of town.
This time with just a few days in Penang, we were determined to stay right in the heart of Penang's UNESCO heritage zone!
With two young kids, we don't get to travel as often as we would like to, but when we do, it is always handy to visit somewhere in the domestic scenario. One doesn't need to face the hassle of flying or wading through long and frustrating immigration lines, which can be a burden with young impatient children in tow!
It just so happened, that we got invited to spend the weekend at Tiger Rock, a boutique jungle hideaway on the beautiful island of Pangkor, which lies on the western coast of peninsular Malaysia.
Ipoh .. oh Ipoh. What does Ipoh remind me of but memories of a time past. I remember numerous trips back to this city which my parents referred to as their kampung (hometown). Both sets of my grandparents had lived and retired in Ipoh, my mum even attended a convent school run by French nuns called Sacred Heart there during her teenage years .
One can't help feeling a bit nostalgic, remembering the numerous trips back to Ipoh as a child. Every couple of years, we would return to Malaysia from London for long summer holidays. After holidaying in KL, we would often go to Ipoh to visit our grandparents.
t's not everyday that you get to meet someone so absolutely passionate about her ethics and proud of her roots, that's what I thought when I met Francisca Turner Shaik, the Founder and Creative Director of Frankitas, a modern Malaysian ethical fashion brand that designs and produces boho-chic handbags, stylish home accessories and more.
I had met Franki many years ago at a HALAL certification conference, back when I was still working as a consultant in public relations and marketing, and even then I was struck by her friendly and warm demeanor. Fast forward to 2016 and here she is, the proud owner of Frankitas and doing extremely well with her unique ethnic-chic handbags and home accessory line. So Batik&Bubbles curious as ever, went along to interview Franki at her bright and cheery showroom in a quiet leafy neighbourhood in Damansara Heights, to ask her on how she came upon this amazing journey .
We at Batik and Bubbles would not call ourselves art experts or art connoisseurs but we are inclined to appreciating art in its various forms, be it contemporary art, high fashion, intriguing sculptures or glamorous interiors. Whenever there is a chance to learn something new, we will go forth to find out the latest news on interesting happenings to introduce to our readers.
This time around, we are pleased to feature an emerging artist on the local arts landscape, Marini Ramlan aka Nini Marini. We've been following Nini's impressive rise on the Malaysian arts scene. She's fast becoming lauded as a contemporary Malaysian artist at the fore-front of her generation.
My mother, or Amala as I call her, used to travel frequently to Malaysia, Indonesia and other Pacific Rim countries. In Malaysia, she worked mainly in Sarawak and at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) on community forest issues. She specialized in multi-stakeholder and conflict management practices and applied these tools in the building of community forestry networks, along with new policies to support these Southeast Asian communities.
As children, my brother and I would await her return, the inevitable unpacking of suitcases and uncovering of a roll of colorful batik cloth or beautiful shadow puppets 'Wayang Kulit' and 'Wayang Golek' figures that ended up adorning our home.
Batik&Bubbles is always on the look out, especially when it comes to learning more about the growing trend for artisanal gourmet food brands here in Malaysia. We approached fresh milk producers Bright Cow and Jersey Jack Gelato to find out their take on their brands and have a taste of some of their simply delicious niche and artisanal products!
So let's introduce Bala Nair and Paul Foster, who are the Malaysian-British business duo behind Bright Cow, a dairy producer that was founded in Malaysia back in 2011. They are pioneers in their own right by being the first Malaysian company offering raw unpasteurised milk to the market.
I'd like to think I have a bit of a nose for neighborhoods; that I scouted Tiong Bahru well before its current renaissance as a trendy little enclave of boutiques, tasty eateries, and bearded hipsters. A spate of articles in 2011 proudly proclaimed Tiong Bahru as Singapore's oldest and hippest neighborhood. Whereas my first time staying there was in 2010, January 2010 to be specific, during an urban/jungle holiday in Singapore and then Borneo with my brother.
The proof is in the pudding, and by pudding I mean photos. Cast your gaze on these pics 6 years ago, when Marina Bay Sands was still racing to completion and I was still in the plausible realm of same height possibility with my baby brother.
Malaysia seems to be going through a trend with the influx of homegrown gourmet artisanal products on offer in the country. This is no surprise with so many well-travelled Malaysians, who have a finely honed interest for niche, gourmet and artisanal products which are widely found in countries such as Europe, US and Australia. One such example is Dapur Sainer (Sainer's Kitchen) one of the country's gourmet food producers that has exploded into many Malaysian households with its fiery range of chili oils.
As I stepped into the empty Sands Theatre, I could hear the soft taps and leaps of feet from behind the curtain. I was back in Singapore, back at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands, but this was the first time I was told to take any seat I wished. Joy!
I had been invited for the press preview of Cirque Éloize iD performance, which would officially open just a few hours later with a cast of 15 talented performers freshly landed from Montreal. As members of the media streamed by with their massive tripods, video cameras, mikes and booms, I followed their lead and beelined for a seat front and center - best to learn from the pros.
One day when I was talking to my friend Nelly Navin, I was surprised to learn that apart from having a full-time job as a lawyer, she also co-owns a kids fashion label with her sister, Natasha, called Kooshboo. Intrigued to hear that all their clothes are made and designed here in Malaysia, I was curious to learn more about their story and how they started off their business to where it stands today. Nelly then arranged for me to meet with her sister, Natasha, who is the CEO and founder of the company and basically runs the show at Kooshboo.
So one breezy morning, Yiga and I headed over to their office in the green hills of Ampang to have an informal chat with Natasha.
I am on always on the look out for beautiful and interesting handicrafts and souvenirs to collect or bring as gifts when visiting family and friends overseas. Apart from places on the beaten path like Central Market or Petaling Street, it makes a refreshing change to find new venues where one can find such intriguing items.
When I heard about the Hari Kraf Kebangsaan 2016 , an annual festival happening at Kompleks Kraf in Jalan Conlay, I leapt at the chance to visit, as it is a rare opportunity to view some of Malaysia's best handicrafts under one roof.
Beautiful things have always caught my eye. Sometimes it literally makes you step back, put your head on tilt, and do an intense once over. I felt like that the first time I encountered this dark wooden console with striking brass dove tail bows.