Why Playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance Is a Video Game Trial By Fire

Video games are meant to be fun. They’re meant to be a place where you can escape from the real world; where you can be a cat-eyed mutant who kills monsters for a living (but dies when falling off an eight-foot-high wall), or an elf trying to stop spirits from crossing over into the physical realm and tearing the world apart. Maybe even an annoyingly perky tween who throws his balls at every wild creature to cross his path, then force them to battle against their own kind in bloody gym battles.

Video games are fun because they require a suspension of disbelief. 

But what happens when you have a video game that tries to ground itself in reality?

You get Kingdom Come: Deliverance. 

I’ve always been fascinated by medieval European history and its tales of brutality and war, of politics and glory and knighthood and chivalry. I’ve often wondered how I’d fare if I was born in that era, or if a time machine was invented and I could go back and observe how things were like (ala Timeline by Michael Crichton – although we all know how that turned out for the characters lol). So when independent Czech studio Warhorse released KC:D in 2018, I filed it as one of the games I’d play eventually (didn’t have a good enough setup at the time). A couple of months ago, I finally upgraded to a decent gaming laptop, and promptly bought the game which was on sale on Steam, for RM60+.

Like a fat kid settling down to a buffet after a day of fasting, I gleefully start off on what I thought would be an epic adventure. Instead, I found myself questioning my very worth as a gamer, as my Henry – the character players control in most of KC:D – gets brutally hacked to pieces for the seventh time in a row by bandits, while innocently travelling on the road. The worst part? Having to replay two hours worth of game play, because KC:D has one of the shittiest save systems in the history of gaming.

HENRY WHO?

You play Henry, son of the Skalitz blacksmith in the Kingdom of Bohemia. The realm is in chaos due to feuding between King Wenceslas (a useless layabout who only cares about women, drink and the hunt), and his half brother the Hungarian king Sigismund, who wants to bring ‘peace’ to the land by force and subjugation. Anyhoo, you don’t really give a shit because hey –  you’re just an apprentice blacksmith, your village is peaceful, and you’re going to the dance with the tavern wench later in the evening. Speaking of shit, one of the first objectives you can do in the village is throw a bunch of it at the newly whitewashed house of your neighbour, because he’s been talking shit about King Wenceslas, the rightful king. Your dad also asks you to help get some stuff so that he can forge a sword for the lord of the town, Sir Radzig Kobyla, which you will have to deliver once it’s done. Of course, you never get to do so because Cumans – savage mercenaries hired by Sigismund – arrive to pillage and kill. Your world crumbles into chaos. You attempt to run to the safety of the town’s fortified walls, only to watch your parents being brutally slaughtered, along with the rest of the villagers. Jumping on a horse, which you don’t really know how to ride well because you’re a peasant and not a knight, you flee towards Talmberg, the next big town, to warn them – all the while being pursued by the marauders. You survive the ordeal – but the face of the general who cut down your parents burns bright in your mind. You vow to avenge them and regain the sword your father made, which was stolen by bandits.

WELCOME TO BOHEMIA 

KC:D is set in 1403 Bohemia, aka what is now the Czech Republic. Most of the characters in the story are based on real people, like Wenceslas and Sigismund, as well as Radzig of Kobyla, Hans Capon, Hanush of Leipa and Divish of Talmberg – powerful lords whom your character will have to run errands for throughout the game, including (but not limited to) eliminating bandit camps, fetching stuff, and distracting the butcher by singing so that a lord can have his way with the daughter lol. The game prides itself in historical accuracy – the devs even consulted historians and architects on things like weaponry, clothing, combat techniques and architecture, to ensure they made the game as close to real life as possible. The result is breathtaking. The landscapes are beautiful and you can see the meticulous attention the devs have put into everything, from the swaying of trees to the detailing on buildings.

Fookin beautiful Czech scenery, pardon my French

Speaking of which, realism is a big thing in KC:D. Your character needs to sleep and eat or you’ll get tired and hungry, which will eventually lead to incapacitation (even death). You have to wash frequently and clean your clothes, because no one likes to talk to a dirty hobo, let alone trade with you. If you keep food in your pocket to snack on and forget about it, it will rot and cause food poisoning. NPCs go to sleep at night, so you can’t go barging into their homes to complete a quest – gotta wait for morning. Want to go the route of the antihero? You can even steal, pickpocket, lockpick chests and pick fights – but if you’re not smart about it and get caught by guards, you’ll have to answer to the law with a fine or jail sentence. People will remember it to and your reputation will suffer. And if you’re thinking that you can slog through this game’s enemies Rambo style.. well. You’ve got another thing coming.

THE GAME THAT KEEPS ON SHITTING (ON YOU) 

When they call you a peasant, they weren’t kidding. Other than having the most punchable face, Henry starts off with no skills or redeeming qualities whatsoever. Heck, you can’t even lift a sword properly, and will have to run away from most enemies until you’ve leveled up your swordplay a little. Even then, you’re useless against any battle which involves more than one enemy,  because the AI in the game is pretty intelligent and will 100% stab you in the back while you’re distracted with the bandit in front of you.

I learned this the hard way after trying to play the hero in the beginning of the game, bravely facing off against three Cumans who were attempting to rape the mill wench during the Skalitz invasion. “This is what heroes do!” I thought as my Henry jumped off the saddle, sword in hand. I promptly got cut into ribbons. I didn’t even have time to get back on the horse to flee. An hour later (which is probably more than what animal trainers use to train animals not to do something lol), I finally realised that being a hero does not pay off. Not when you’re a weak peasant armed with a stick and a lot of courage. Sorry, Theresa. flees (PS: I found out later you can actually whistle to distract them, without having to fight them. Whew) 

That “oh-shit” moment when they leave the girl you like alone but are going to murder you instead

After the invasion, you start off completely broke, with just the clothes on your back. You can’t even buy a decent knife, let alone a sword and shield to practice with – unless you go for training at the combat arena where they kick your ass over and over again. If you don’t want to die repeatedly from being ambushed by bandits, though, this is the only way that will give you at least a fighting chance (haha, get it?) to survive any unpleasant encounters you might have on the road. You will spend 10 or more real-life hours (at the very least!) honing your fighting skills before you can even think about facing any enemies, and not die while trying to run away. Even if you’re a proficient fighter, one slip of the hand – and your enemies might just hack you to pieces.

Swordplay isn’t the only thing you have to master. You can fight with bows, maces, axes and bludgeons, all of which have their own pros and cons. When the direct approach doesn’t work, stealth is often the best – but at level 1 you’re a bumbling idiot who can’t conceal himself properly so you often get caught and thrown in jail, or discovered by enemies and killed. So you have to spend time leveling that up as well, and getting dark coloured gear to avoid detection. Lockpicks break while you’re attempting to open a trunk? Killed / thrown in jail. Not good enough at pickpocketing? Killed/thrown in jail. Carry stolen goods around and don’t have a high enough rep to weasel your way out when stopped by guards? Killed/thrown in jail.

“Henry: fuck this shit I’m joining the monastery”

There are also plenty of other skills to hone which will help you in your quest to become Bohemia’s No.1 errand boy. Picking herbs helps you level up herbalism, so you can collect them to make potions for buffs (Trust me, you need every little advantage you can get in this game). But wait! You can’t brew potions without alchemy, and for that you need to learn how to read recipes. Henry also gains speech and intimidation points over time. The higher the points, the better equipped you are at dealing with situations that arise, and the higher the chance you can avoid any unpleasant fights. There’s also horsemanship from riding, and you get to train your trusty companion, Mutt, whom you can sic on enemies or teach to fetch and hunt.

If this doesn’t sound complicated / difficult enough, there’s also the absolutely shite save system. Unlike games where you can simply reload from the last (convenient) save point, KC:D deliberately makes it difficult for you to save – you can only do so by sleeping at an inn, one of your home bases, or by drinking a Saviour Schnapp (alcohol – which is expensive unless you know how to brew it – hence why it’s good to level up alchemy ASAP). There were times I wanted to rage quit because I could not save my game in between quests (inn was too far away, no Saviour Schnapps in bag, etc) – only to get killed while travelling between towns and losing like 1.5 hours of gameplay.  It’s as if the devs made this game solely to punish you for daring to be a serf in a medieval game where everything and everyone is out to kill you. Which is probably how it really was irl. If you weren’t a lord or royalty, you probably had to work from dawn to dusk just to get enough food on the table – and even then you’d still be held to the whims and demands of your liege lord.

THY KINGDOM COME

You’re probably thinking “this sounds like an awful lot of work and stress for a  game. I want to enjoy my downtime, not add to my anxiety.” And you’re 100% right. This is not a game where you can sit down to enjoy a couple of mindless hours of entertainment after work. KC:D requires dedication – and time – which many of us with busy lifestyles might not have. It needs grinding in game, in multiple disciplines, so you have to be prepared to spend at least a few real life hours improving your skills. Coupled with how weak you are initially (and sometimes well into the middle of the game if you have no patience like me and just want to get through the story), you’re probably going to experience a tonne of frustration – from not being able to complete quests and just dying. A lot.

But. 

If you stick with it, you WILL be rewarded. As much as I hated the combat and the save system (in the early stages), I stuck to the game because it is refreshing to play a medieval game based in real life – without the magic and dungeons and dragons lol. You get to learn history in a fun way, like why the royal brothers were feuding and how war affected the life of the citizenry, the types of armour and weapons they used in battle, how medieval towns were laid out, etc. Imagine if Malaysians had a game like this on Hang Tuah – like you had to go fight with Jebat or something – students would be so much more apt to remember history. And of course, the game is absolutely beautiful. 

Not so subtle intimidation once you’ve honed your badass skills, because why not

Henry and his punchable face (sorry, Tom McKay!) kind of grows on you as well. As frustrating as it was in the beginning, I started to enjoy leveling him up, and got real satisfaction from developing the character into a decent man-at-arms. The first time I was able to defeat three bandits on my own, I was ecstatic. It felt like the time and energy I had invested was finally paying off (Now if only I had the same zeal when it comes to real life lmaooo).

In short, KC:D is not a game for the faint-hearted, where you can hack and slash your way to glory. It is a game that requires skill and intelligence, not just in the way you complete quests (which can sometimes be resolved in multiple ways ie through violence or peaceful means), but also knowing which battles to fight, and when to fight them. In a funny twist of irony, this game teaches you that you need to work and put in the time in order to be good at something – exactly like real life. 

 

*Course, the game can’t be 100% realistic. There are some pretty funny things that can happen (including bugs). One of my favourites was raiding a bandit camp and murdering everyone, then sleeping in the camp surrounded by their corpses (after looting them, of course) because my character (and the player, yours truly) was just too drained after all that fighting. 

 

 

Facebook Group “Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ini” Entertains Malaysians With Cooking Fails During the MCO

Hey guys! It’s currently day 40 of the Movement Control Order here in Malaysia. Until the quarantine started, I had no idea I had this many Masterchefs in my friends’ list – judging from all the delicious-looking homemade food they’ve been posting or pictures of 3-ingredient cakes and Dalgona coffee lol.

What most people don’t post, however, are the fails they had to go through to perfect their recipes – unless, of course, if you’re in the Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ni (Official) Facebook group. The group, which was started by Norlaila Dollah Ahmed, was initially started to document her own fails – but quickly became a source of entertainment for Malaysians during the quarantine. After being name-dropped by our Prime Minister on TV,  it now has over 1.6 million followers and plenty of hilarious content.  Just check out some of the postings:

Apparently ice cream

Playing with food, literally

A fat pretzel

Common sense is not common.. or maybe she just wanted them fresh

“Churros”

 

I can’t claim to be a very good cook, and I’m fairly certain that if I were to try some Internet recipes, the dishes would come out looking worse than some of those posted lmao. But I think it’s good to not take ourselves so seriously sometimes. Hope you’ve been entertained! For more posts, look up Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ni on FB. 😉

 

 

 

 

Join The Subtle Asian Dating Group On FB To Completely Ruin Your Self Confidence

If you’ve been somewhere in the stratosphere and/or spend much of your time on the Internet, then you’ve probably heard of the Subtle Asian Traits Group on Facebook (they’ve even got their own Wiki page), which has over 1.6 million members who share content, memes and have discussions on the Asian experience in the West. An offshoot of this, which I recently heard about, is the Subtle Asian Dating Group.

The most notable thing about the SAD group (haha!) is the ‘auction’ series, where friends of members (and sometimes the members themselves) post photos and a bio on why you should date them, usually accompanied by social media plugs so you can ‘slide into their DMs’. A majority of the members are young and in their early 20s.

As I scroll through the auction posts, all I can say is..  WTF? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE AND WHY DO THEY LOOK SO GODDAMN ATTRACTIVE? And it also seems that everyone has a 4.0 CGPA and/or is studying to be a doctor/computer scientist/data scientist/geologist/economist and/or has some sort of talent like being a cellist and performing at Carnegie Hall (actual profile), being an animal rescuer, national athletes, or some shit. That, on top of six packs and anime-like / Korean-oppa faces.

WHY THEN ARE THEY SINGLE? 

The more I go through the posts, the more I feel like a potato. It’s no wonder people have this stereotype of Asians as being overachievers, because they are lol.

That being said, I like looking at pretty people (who doesn’t?) so perhaps I’ll stay in the group for just a bit longer That’s not creepy at all

While we’re on the topic, I thought of doing an auction post for the Hubs. So here goes:

🔴🔴🔴 CHRISTMAS SALE 🔴🔴🔴

😍 HE’S OFF THE MARKET BUT I HAVE TO FOLLOW THE FORMAT SO HERE GOES. PRESENTING: 

  • Name: Neil GM
  • IG: nimbus.neil
  • Location: MNL
  • Age: 33 years young, can also be 10, 20, or 50 depending on hour of the day and mood
  • Ethnicity: 🇵🇭 Filipino (with a spot of Spanish. Like 10%. Which he is very adamant on mentioning)

PROS:

💙 don’t be fooled by the one pack – there’s a six pack underneath

💙 soft belly is perfect as a pillow

💙 Loves cuddles and will shower you with kisses

💙 gamer boi, will understand your need to game and give you space

💙 Will spend six hours in a museum with you and is basically a culture nerd

💙 Infinitely cute boyo, fluffy hair

💙 Cat lover, will meow at random street cats and they will usually come to him (cat overlord)

💙 Gives great massages and hugs

💙 Photo enthusiast; will take great photos of you for socmed

💙 Foodie; will act as your garbage disposal when you can’t finish your food

CONS:

📍 talks and giggles a lot when drunk
📍 can be stubborn (tiger baby)
📍 style still stuck in the 90s, won’t let me dress him up properly
📍 takes forever to decide on what to eat at restaurants + lame jokes that only I laugh at

DO NOT SLIDE INTO HIS DMS BECAUSE HE IS MINE

The end

 

 

 

20 Questions

Hey, guys!

I came across this series of questions on Mrs Suvi‘s blog, and had loads of fun reading her answers, so I thought I’d ‘borrow’ them for my own. Feel free to share and pass them on! 🙂

Your most memorable fancy dress costume?

Costume parties aren’t a thing here; or at least not with the crowd I hang out with. I did have an annual company dinner I had to dress up for, though. One year we had to wear ‘traditional dress’, and this is a little embarrassing but I didn’t even have one, lol. I ended up buying a baju kurung, which is a traditional Malay dress consisting of a long top with long sleeves, paired with a long skirt. The one I bought was blue with gold embroidery on the sides; I still wear it for formal occasions.

Which social media platform do you use the most?

Facebook and Instagram. If blogging is considered a social media platform then I’m on here most of the time.

Favourite season

There’s a joke about Malaysia having four seasons: sunny, rainy, durian and mosquito season. In all seriousness, I think I would enjoy fall.

If you had to choose the beach or mountains, which would it be?

The beach. I like to listen to the sound of waves crashing on the shore, even though I might not necessarily want to swim in the sea (I have thalassophobia). Mountains… I like mountains, but I’ve always felt out of element in the wild. I’m more of a city girl – navigating street mazes and avoiding muggers come more naturally to me than picking out what kind of mushrooms are edible.

What can you play very well?

Mind games.

Just kidding. I can play the piano, but not super well. I think I’m pretty decent at arcade shooters. I was also a state Scrabble champion, but I haven’t been updated on the Scrabble handbook in years. It isn’t fun to play with people who don’t allow you to use two-letter Scrabble-accepted words like JO or AO.

What kind of cheese do you like?

Anything gooey and soft, like mozzarella. I also like pungent cheeses, like blue cheese (which my mom describes as ‘having the odour of cat poop’).

Life goal

I think life goals change at different stages in your life. Right now, my life goal is to be able to provide a good and comfortable life for my family. At all stages, I want to enjoy the little things, because you never know how long they’ll last. Things like coming home to a hot meal, a hug and a smile. Also, being as healthy for as long as possible. I come from a family with not-so-great genes and I’ve seen the suffering my relatives have had to go through, and it’s very disheartening to know that this might be the future that awaits me.

What language do you wish you could speak?

Mandarin Chinese. I think it’s very useful. I can speak rudimentary Mandarin, but having unpleasant experiences in high school has made me quite averse to learning the language. Still trying though. Also, Tagalog. 

What can’t you stand?

False promises. I don’t make a promise unless I can keep it. I understand that sometimes it is difficult to fulfil some promises due to circumstances beyond one’s control, but I’ve seen people make empty promises one too many times, and tasted the disappointment. I can’t stand wishy washy people either. Cigarette smoke is another thing I can’t stand; I do have friends who smoke and I understand it’s their choice, but I get physically ill when I inhale it so I usually keep a wide berth.

If you have an hour to kill on your hands, what would you do?

Read. I used to be an avid reader, back when I was younger and time seemed to stretch on forever. These days I don’t seem to ever have enough time to do all the things I want to do. I know a lot of people say that’s an excuse and that you just have to make time for it, which is partially true, but then again, not everyone has the same life experiences or willpower, so.

Your favourite routine? 

I actually enjoy listening to Youtube videos while I’m stuck in traffic going home from work – either game commentaries, listicles, language podcasts, or just music. I don’t actually enjoy the traffic part, which can take two hours for a 20 kilometre journey (more if it rains).

When do you become hyperactive?

When I’m talking about something that I like and there’s someone within the vicinity with a similar interest. My ex and I were very compatible in that we were both nerds, and we’d spend hours passionately discussing things about the universe, politics, religion and philosophy.

Text message or phone call?

I’m extremely introverted, which can be debilitating in an extrovert’s world. I do try, but I don’t think I’ll ever be completely comfortable in social situations. As such, text messages are the best because I think I’m more gifted as a writer than an oral communicator, and I’m able to articulate my thoughts better when given time to phrase them properly. Else, I might end up putting my foot in my mouth! Guess that’s why I found a career in writing rather than public relations.

Your most precious treasure.

Define ‘treasure’. Material things can be earned and bought, but priceless treasures are your loved ones, obviously. More precisely, the good health and happiness of your loved ones.

Your latest foreign language mistake.

Wasn’t even foreign, lol. As I’ve mentioned, my command of my own mother tongue (Cantonese) is pretty bad because my first language is English. In a recent conversation with my mom, I accidentally said “funeral card” rather than “wedding invitation”. Can’t make a bigger boo boo than that.

What’s the best therapy for you?

Me time. As much as I love my fam and friends and enjoy their company, I am a creature of solitude, and I get overwhelmed if I’m constantly surrounded by people. A day out on my own, watching a film, eating a nice meal and exploring a museum or a bookstore, does wonders. Oh, and a good old-fashioned Balinese massage!

If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?

Tough one – there are many fictional characters that I love and aspire to be. I’ll go with the cliche one and answer Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter series, or the ‘insufferable know-it-all’, as Professor Snape puts it. This might sound a bit like humble bragging, but I relate to Hermione’s intelligence and her thirst of knowledge and ability to solve problems, which are things I feel quite accurate to my personality. Then again, I also share Hermione’s crippling fear of failure (I can actually imagine if I’m ever a Hogwarts student, having a Boggart turning into a school professor telling me I failed every subject). I also like how Hermione’s character was developed into a strong, fearless young woman who is not afraid to stand up for what is right – certainly traits we should all aspire to, don’t you think?

Where would you like to travel?

I’ve been very lucky in that my job has allowed me to travel to many places. Personally, at this point in time, I’m quite happy and content just saving up money for other purposes rather than travel. If I did have the extra money, I would like to go to Xi’an and see the tomb of Shi Huang Di. Despite my Chinese ancestry, I’ve never been to China (Hong Kong and Taiwan don’t count), and it would be nice to at least step foot on Chinese soil once in my life. After all, my grandparents and great grandparents gave up their families and lives there to come to Malaysia to build a better life here.

Where did you meet your spouse?

We met online on a language app. Our first date was at a Jollibee (my favourite) at Robinsons’ Place in Manila. This was after I lied to my parents that I was on a work trip and flew all the way there to meet him. He always says I’m a dumbfuck (okay not in those words, but implied) because he could have been a bad person and I could have been kidnapped, raped and killed, but I always retort with “well we’re married now, so stop complaining”. Butttt yeah kids, always tell your parents where you’re going and don’t try this at home. (I did inform some friends in Manila that I was visiting an who I was meeting with, so I wasn’t a total idiot).

DIY Batik For Just RM10! @ Batik Canting, Fahrenheit 88 Kuala Lumpur

Originally from Indonesia, batik is an ancient textile art that involves dyeing cloth with a wax-resist technique. It also refers to the textile itself, which often features beautiful patterns and motifs which differ from region to region.

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Malaysian batik is markedly different from its Indonesian counterpart; with larger, simpler patterns and a preference for floral motifs as opposed to the Javanese love for geometry. Malaysian batik is also brighter and more vibrant in colour than the deep, earthy hues of Javanese batik.

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N and I were wandering around Fahrenheit 88 when we stumbled across a shop called Batik Canting, which sells batik clothing, souvenirs, paintings and other paraphernalia. They also had DIY batik for just RM10 – where you can paint your own batik and bring it home. Thinking it would be much more fun than just window shopping, we signed up for the session. By session I mean it was just the two of us at a small table in the corner.

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Choices were limited (we weren’t expecting much since it was only RM10). N ended up picking a flower, while I went with my favourite – cats. The materials were provided: painting palette, brushes, and dyes in the three primary colours.

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For professionals and hobbyists, I think you can also buy (?) the dyes at the shop.

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Now, I think I’m a decent artist – I used to draw manga to sell in high school (and yes, people actually bought them, lol). But when it comes to colour, I am terrible. Many a time have I created a nice portrait/drawing and what not and completely ruined it after attempting to add colour. This was evident when I tried to mix the primary dyes to create certain shades – everything turned out blue or red, lmfao.

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N, however, exhibited a talent for shading and colouring. His flower boasted a vibrant violet and pink hue which was not by luck but careful mixing.

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Topping it off with a teal background. Notice the ‘shading’ in the petals?

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And voila. Mine looks like it was done by a 6-year-old. But hey, we had fun.

PS: I showed these to my mom asking her to guess who did which. She immediately knew the cat one was mine. Why? “You suck at colouring.” Mom knows best.

BATIK CANTING 

2nd floor, Fahrenheit 88, 179, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

 

Day Out @ World Of Fun, St Lucia East Grand Mall Cainta

Now, now. Am I REALLY going to blog about going to an arcade?

Yes. Yes I am. 😀

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While I enjoy the finer things in life once in awhile (like an expensive, romantic dinner date), I’m not averse to a fun day out at the arcade either. In fact, there’s nothing I like more than a guy who can play some FPS or shoot a few hoops with me – so it’s great that the Boy is one of those that doesn’t mind my childishness. 😛

After lunch at Razons, we went to kill some time at World of Fun @ St Lucia Mall, a massive entertainment center that’s almost like a mini theme park, complete with a small roller coaster, bumper car rides, ghost house and merry go-round. There was also a section dedicated to carnival games where you can win prizes like stuffed toys, and the clippy vending machines where you can try your luck fishing out ice cream, sweets and other goodies.

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I’m impressed with the variety of machines and games here! It’s rare to find such a large arcade in Malaysia.

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Convinced the Boy to go on the small roller coaster; no mean feat since he has a fear of riding in coasters. We survived!

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Managed to finish the Walking Dead arcade game, then spent the remaining coins trying to grab ice cream from the pincer machine but failed. 😀

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There was a karaoke corner where you can go on a mini stage and ‘perform’ to a crowd.

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Random PS: Ended the trip with a visit to KFC because the Boy says that it’s different in Manila vs KL because they have awesomesauce, unlimited gravy. Agreed – the chicken was tastier, somehow, and less greasy.

Teddyville Museum @ DoubleTree By Hilton Penang, Malaysia

**Note: Photo heavy post! Video at bottom.

Here’s some good news for teddy bear fans: you don’t have to fly all the way to South Korea to visit their Teddy Bear Museum. We have one right here in Malaysia, and it’s pretty awesome!

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Tucked within DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Penang at Batu Feringghi is Teddyville Museum, a fun and interactive space that features the iconic, well loved toys that have been (and still are) a comforting companion to generations of children and adults for over a century. Covering 9,000 square feet, the museum is a good place to learn not only about teddy bear history, but also the story of Penang island.

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Don’t forget to pose with this giant teddy at the entrance! It stands (or sits) at a height twice as much as an average human, namely me. lol.

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The first section of the museum is dedicated to classic bears, some of which date back to the 1900s! The teddy bears of today have a pretty standard look, but classic teddies varied in material and appearance, and came in all shapes and sizes – like the one above which had very long strands of ‘fur’, next to two carved wooden ones.

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TEDDY TRIVIA

Have you ever wondered why they call it a ‘Teddy’ bear? The toys were named after US President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt. The story goes that the president was on a bear hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902. Roosevelt’s assistants cornered and tied a black bear to a willow tree, and suggested he shoot it, but viewing this as unsportsmanlike, Roosevelt refused. News spread about the ‘big game hunter’ who refused to shoot a bear – and it was immortalised in a caricature published in the Washington Post.

By Clifford K.Berryman.

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It is perhaps for this reason that early bears were depicted with ‘sad’ expressions, having been spared of a grizzly fate (grizzly/grisly geddit? i amuse myself sometimes ha.)

It wasn’t until the 1920s that bears started having happier expressions.

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World War I soldiers often brought teddies along as companions. Sadly, not all (both teddy and human) returned to their loved ones.

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Some of the most expensive pieces in the house include this 1925 ‘Peter Bear’ by Gebruder Sussenguth, valued at RM21,000 (5000USD!). It had a hollow head with movable eyes and tongue, and was made from a moulded type of plaster called composition.

It may be 21k but to me this looks like the Annabelle of Teddies. I wouldn’t want to have it in the room, let alone sleep with it!

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The original Winnie the Pooh bear!

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In the 1940s, World War II came and due to a shortage of materials, teddies were made with shorter snouts and limbs. This is much closer to the version we see today.

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Rolling into the Rock N’Roll era, we have an Elvis-inspired teddy, complete with the singer’s signature white studded jumpsuit with flared collar.

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The Teddy Ruxpin series, which were fitted with casette tapes and could ‘read’ stories, became best selling toys in the 1980s.

The next few sections of the museum tell the story of Penang from its inception. I loved this section and spent well over an hour exploring the displays and noting small details. It really showed how much heart and effort was put into the making of these teddies and sets! 🙂

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(Above) Arrival of the British, as told through miniature teddies. Was super impressed with the level of detail !

For those not familiar with Malaysian history, Penang island was ‘founded’ in the 1700s by Captain Sir Francis Light, an Englishman for the British East India company. Foreign powers were expanding quickly in the Malayan Straits and Southeast Asia, and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. Penang’s strategic location allowed it to become a bustling centre of trade and commerce – so kudos to Light for having the foresight to ‘book’ the island under British influence.

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A large teddy version of Light.

Stories go that he was a bit of an ass though, as he leased the island from the Sultanate of Kedah with the promise that British forces would help if Siam attacked the kingdom, but then bailed on his promise. He died from malaria at the age of 54, and visitors to the Protestant Cemetery in Penang will find his tomb there.

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The next section highlighted the three main races in Peninsula Malaysia, namely Malay, Chinese and Indian.

The miniature Indian teddy set was done like a Hindu temple, complete with an intricate silver chariot pulled by bulls, kavadi-bearing teddies, temple priests, tiny coconut shells to represent the real ones used during religious festivals, and of course, teddies dressed in traditional Indian cultural garb.

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The large kavadi-bearing teddy in saffron robes and a metal rod skewered through its cheeks.

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A traditional ‘kampung’ (village) setting was used to highlight Malay culture. The ‘female’ teddies even wore tudungs, lol. In a corner (not pictured) were teddies cooking food in a kawah (cauldron) – a scene familiar to festivals and events in the kampung, where everyone pitches in to help with the preparations.

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Immensely amused that the ‘Chinese’ teddies had slits for eyes lol.

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Scene based on Penang’s famous Taoist/Buddhist temple, Kek Lok Si.

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Moving on to landmarks in Penang, we have a recreation of Siam Road’s famous char koay teow stall. They even have the owner’s grumpy expression down pat! (PS: The owner of the stall is always grumpy looking coz he has a lot of customers to serve.)

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Mini set of Gurney Drive’s hawker stalls. Again, super impressed with the level of detail. The teddies aren’t just in the same poses – we have teddies taking pictures of the food, teddies ordering, etc.

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Penang is an island after all, so of course the museum has to have a set featuring its beaches.

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Another famous attraction – Penang Hill – featuring the funicular train.

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Lol school trip with cikgu and students in uniforms.

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I could spend hours looking at the tiny details: teddy kids holding lollipops, a group of (presumably) teenage teddies with a miniature iPhone taking selfies, teddies looking through the observation binoculars.

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Typical scene at a Chinese kopitiam in Penang.

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We also have a teddy dedicated to Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, who popularised Penang through his beautiful street murals.

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The process of making traditional batik.

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Teddy decked out in the Penang International Marathon runner’s tee. I have one of these 😀

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The dragon boat festival is one of the highlights of the island’s annual calendar.

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The museum also gives a nod to Penang’s industrial side, with these factory workers assembling electronics.

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Paying tribute to our national sporting heroes. Can you guess who they are? 😀

Here’s a short video I put together:

I really enjoyed my visit to the Teddyville Museum and it exceeded my expectations with its beautiful sets, meticulous attention to detail and wonderful showcase of Malaysian heritage. I think it’ll be a great place to take the kids to and teach them in a fun and educational way about Penang’s history and culture.

TEDDYVILLE MUSEUM

56, Jalan Low Yat, Puncak Ria, 11100 Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Pinang

*Located within DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Penang

Entry: RM36 (adults/MYKAD), RM25 (children/MYKAD)

Open daily: 9AM – 6PM