Bazaar Ramadan 2019 @ Puchong Prima, Puchong

What’s the best part about the Ramadan month in Malaysia? Everyone (non-Muslims included) gets to enjoy the delicious food sold at Ramadan bazaars ! These evening street markets open from 4PM onwards, peddling all sorts of mouthwatering dishes and snacks, some which are only available during this time of the year. Decided to go check out the Ramadan Bazaar @ Puchong Prima over the weekend, and it did not disappoint.

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One of the larger bazaars in Puchong, there are well over 50 stalls at the location, which is more than last year’s bazaar. Visitors are immediately enticed by the smell of food being cooked on the spot, smoke and steam wafting into the air. Traders call out with cries of nasi ayam, nasi lemak, keropok lekor, murah murah murah. Crowds jostle. It’s loud, it’s chaotic, but it’s all part of the charm of Ramadan bazaars.

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Each bazaar has its own selection of cuisine to offer, but most will have the standard favourites such as Ayam Percik (a Malay-style roast chicken with a chilli herb sauce), Roti John (omelette sandwich with various fillings), murtabak (flatbread with meat filling), keropok lekor (fried fish snack), Ayam Madu (roast chicken with honey) and Bergedil (meat and tofu balls). One may even find items like sushi, takoyaki, Western fare, Korean fried chicken and more.

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(Above) Deep fried spring rolls coated in chilli sauce.

The best part about Ramadan Bazaars is that everything is reasonably priced. If one can afford to break their fast at a fancy hotel, by all means – but I think cheap food can be just as tasty, and you’re supporting small time traders as well.

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A trader adding lettuce to his chicken rice, now all ready for sale.

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Whole fried squid and deep fried boneless chicken are also staples at Ramadan bazaars.

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At RM5 for five pieces, you get these humongous meatballs fresh off the grille, slathered with cheese sauce and mayonnaise, and a packet of black pepper sauce. Not the healthiest option, but damn was it good!

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My takeaway dinner was Nasi Sotong Kunyit (squid fried in turmeric with longbeans, carrots and onions), which for its generous portion, only set me back RM8. I’d definitely recommend this if you’re dropping by the Bazaar Ramadan Puchong Prima anytime soon!

BAZAAR RAMADAN PUCHONG PRIMA 

Jalan Prima 5/1, Taman Puchong Prima, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 4PM – 7PM (until 4 June 2019)

They Do WHAT With Their Hands ? Hands Percussion @ The Damansara Performing Arts Centre

Magic. They do magic.

Not in the sense of hey presto bunny goes poof magic, but the awe-inspiring wizardry of human skill – the kind that can only be achieved by hard work, an insane amount of practice and from pushing the body and mind to the limit.

The Hands Percussion team is one of the more well known groups in the local arts scene, and they regularly run fundraisers to support themselves as well as various causes, in addition to conducting classes at schools and academies. Founded in 1997, the troupe’s specialty lies in their mastery of various percussive instruments – often incorporating those from various Asian cultures – coupled with creative choreography and clever use of the stage to deliver unforgettable shows.

I had two tickets from work to go watch their UNITY: Fundraising concert at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre recently, and it was definitely a show to be remembered.

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It was my first time at DPAC, which is located within Empire Damansara. They have facilities such as a proscenium theatre, a black box, an experimental theatre, an indoor-theatre foyer and several dance studios located within. Not to mention a very Instagrammable cafe, White Sand.

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Photos were not allowed inside the auditorium, so I’ve taken the liberty of including some official photos from past events – to give you a sense of how the setup / stage is like. The 90-minute session saw HANDS performing some of their classic pieces, including JU4 JI2, Legacy of Passion, Rhythm Ride, and Drumbeat Inferno. 

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It was amazing to see the raw energy and power emanating from the performers with each stroke and beat, their muscles rippling as they drummed, jumped and somersaulted their way across the stage (yes, somersaults and backflips were involved). Of course, it wasn’t just drums throughout the entire show, as there were also gamelan sections, vocals by guest artists Zamzuriah Zahari and Evelyn Toh, as well as music accompaniment with instruments such as the guitar, cello erhu, ruan, flute, sanxian and viola – truly East meets West. The vocal sections were actually some of my favourites, especially the songs by Evelyn Toh and how well her singing went with the variety of instruments – the beat and the composition was an exquisite blend, literal music to the ears.

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Another piece had the performers whirling like dervishes, their costumes billowing around them. The effect was mesmerising, to say the least. Throughout the performance, there were short breaks in between where audience members were shown videos of the group’s history, past performances and their 20+ year journey.

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I thoroughly enjoyed watching Hands Percussion – their passion for their craft is amazing, and I wish more Malaysians would be able to appreciate and support what they’re doing. I mean, if you can pay RM50 for a movie and popcorn, you can pay that amount to watch an arts performance. Because if we as a people don’t appreciate our own culture and heritage, who will?

Follow Hands Percussion on Facebook to stay updated on their shows. 

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**Photos not watermarked courtesy of Hands Percussion, taken by Claes Chong

Travelogue Penang: More Sightseeing in Georgetown – Murals

Graffiti or ‘street art’ used to be looked down upon as mere vandalism in Malaysia, but in recent years, thanks to talented street artists and good promotion, street art has become a strong tourist attraction. Penang, in particular, has embraced this and made it a big selling point. Tourist maps pinpoint the locations of all the murals you can find around Georgetown.

Although it’s a little sad that it took a foreign- born talent to popularise it (even though Malaysia has so many talented artists), we have to thank Lithuanian-born street artist, Ernest Zacharevic, for kicking off the trend at Georgetown Festival 2012, an art fest to celebrate heritage, culture and all-things indie.

His works, which include the very popular ‘Little Children on a Bicycle’ have become a must-snap photo when wandering the streets of the city.

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Ah Quee? on Ah Quee Street depicts the famous and wealthy Chinese merchant Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, who also built iconic historical buildings such as the Peranakan Mansion.There is also a random minion.

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Some of the artworks were not drawn but welded from iron rods, giving them a 3D appearance. Most tell stories of the rich heritage and culture of Penang island.

“Procession”  shows the Grand Float Procession held in 1926 to celebrate the birthday of Tua Pek Kong (A Taoist deity, widely worshiped by Chinese communities in Penang). As it was the Year of the Tiger, effigies of the tiger was carried through the streets.

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The Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple, or Poh Hock Seah, is a clan temple of the Hokkien people who trace their origins to Southern Fujian Province in China and was constructed in 1850. Since Penang’s population is largely Hokkien (which is also a commonly spoken dialect here), this temple would be significant during festivals and holy days.

Coincidentally, there was an exhibition by Obscura Festival, ‘Trading to Extinction” by Patrick Brown, which captured some disturbing and powerful imagery of illegal animal trading and poaching, in the temple’s courtyard.

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A quick break from mural hunting. We stopped by at a corner shop near Armenian Street. Wanted to have cendol, but it was already 4pm and they ran out D: We had ais kacang instead, which was perfect for a hot day. To those who haven’t had it before, it’s basically shaved ice topped condiments such as grass jelly, sago balls, sweet kidney beans, chopped peanuts and drizzled over with syrup, condensed milk and gula melaka (palm sugar). Sounds refreshing? You bet it is.

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Some pretty good fried snacks of crispy popiah, stuffed with grated radish and carrots.

More of Georgetown to come!