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Malaysian Neighbourhood: A Photo Series

I’m back!

I know, I haven’t updated for close to a month now. Being cooped up at home is getting stressful, even for shut-ins like me who can go for long periods of time without human interaction lol. Even embroidering (hobby I picked up earlier this year) has lost its spark.

For some reason, I can’t seem to get out of this state of languishment. I dread having to submit work these days, despite having the luxury of working from home. Also I had a COVID scare a couple of weeks ago; tested negative and recovered from the flu, but ever since then I’ve been having trouble breathing / a feeling of tightness in the chest. The doc says it could be GERD, but it could also be anxiety.

I feel slightly better this past week, so I’ve been going for walks around the neighbourhood, just to get out of the house and get some fresh air. It’s funny how being deprived of the basic freedom of going out without worry, changes the way you see things. Every leaf seemes greener, and I notice tiny details, on shrubs and flowers and on the ground, that I would never have paid attention to before. It’s true what they say about not knowing what you have until it’s gone.

Here are some photos from my walkabouts. Enjoy!

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The park near my home is small but pretty. It hasn’t been well kept so there are a lot of leaves and branches strewn around, but it’s still a good place to go jogging. But if you’re a mosquito magnet like me, don’t go in the evenings. Alternatively slather on some repellent.
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It’s mango season. I never noticed how many houses in my neighbourhood have mango trees.
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Also papayas

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Bougainvilleas are also called ‘paper flowers’ (bunga kertas) in Malay because of their thin petals.
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There’s a house a street away from where I live that has this beautiful garden in front, and it’s always bursting with blooms.
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Ixora, known locally as bunga jenjarum (needle flower). When we were kids, my brother and I often chained the flowers together to make garlands.
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Yellow alamanda

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A neighbourhood tuxedo meow in the grass. Despite its grumpy look, it was actually very friendly and allowed me pats.
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My parents have been into gardening these days.

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Notices prohibiting people from going to the adjacent neighbourhood.

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The Malaysian national flower, Bunga Raya (hibiscus).

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Hope you enjoyed this photo series!

2021 is coming to a close; I feel like I haven’t even processed 2020 yet lol.

Hope you’re all doing okay, wherever you are.

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Why Tamarind Square in Cyberjaya Is Perfect For Photographers and Lovers of Architecture

Brutalist architecture is characterised by functional, ‘soulless’-looking buildings, which often incorporate raw concrete and massive, monolithic designs with rigid, block-like shapes. The style was especially popular in the Soviet Union and its former allied countries from the 1960s to 1980s. Over the years, brutalism fell out of favour due to its association with totalitarianism and its cold, unwelcoming appearance — but the style has been seeing a comeback in the last decade, albeit with softer features and fixtures.

Tamarind Square in Cyberjaya seems to be one of these places drawing inspiration from a hipper, more modern version of brutalism, and industrial architecture. Developed by Tujuan Gemilang, the commercial development was intended to promote a ‘tropical retail and office experience’, and is arranged in an 8-figure courtyard with a ring road circulating the premises.

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On their own, the buildings might have looked austere and clinical, but the impact is offset by beautifully landscaped plants. Here you will find curtains of green draped over the side of metal walkways and staircases, and a cooling stream runs through the centre of the courtyard, which is lined with shrubs.The greenery is in stark contrast to the square’s raw concrete floors, stone pillars and exposed brick. Personally, it gives me a feeling of an abandoned place reclaimed by nature — and it’s easy to feel you’ve been transported someplace else, especially when there aren’t many people around.

Walking tour here:

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Tamarind Square is spread across several blocks, with most of the shops concentrated on the lower floors of Block A. Aside from chic cafes and eateries, visitors will also find retail outlets selling clothing, eyewear and shops providing beauty and wellness services. The block is centred around a courtyard filled with plants and two-storey “stand-alone” shops. These are not connected to other shops within Block A, but can still be traversed via the ground floor and elevated walkways on the first floor. Pictured above is a shop called The Botanist (they serve artisan brewed coffee and handmade baos), which I’ve wanted to try for the longest time but unfortunately couldn’t on this particular visit. Other noteworthy cafes in the area include Herbs and Butter (Asian and Western fusion), Pastribella Bakeshop (cakes), Alcea Cafe (coffee spot) and Book Barter Cafe (they have book shelves where you can read while you sip on drinks).

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The layout of the place is such that you can round a corner and discover a ‘hidden’ nook, or staircases leading to your next adventure.

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The square is a popular place for photoshoots. During my visit, I counted no less than five couples, some with bridesmaids and best men in tow.
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Not all of the offices and retail spaces are occupied, which lends to the ‘abandoned’ vibe. But it’s good news for architectural photographers – you can basically take your time photographing and exploring without having to worry about crowds getting in your shot!

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Boardgame cafe
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I come to Tamarind Square mainly for BookXCess, which at 3,000 square metres, is the largest bookstore in Malaysia. Prior to the pandemic, it was also open 24 hours, so you could come for a spot of book-shopping if ever insomnia hits (is it just me?) Keeping to the theme, the store’s design is similarly industrial (it was apparently part of the car park — so you can see pillars with signs on them and yellow lines on the floor).

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Anddddddd self-control was defeated that day.

GETTING TO TAMARIND SQUARE CYBERJAYA

It’s best to drive or take a Grab, as public buses are few and far between, and do not stop directly at the Square. The nearest bus hub is the Cyberjaya Transport Terminal, 2 kilometres away. Driving, Tamarind Square is accessible via the MEX Highway from Kuala Lumpur, or if you’re coming from Puchong, the SKVE.

Tamarind Square, Cyberjaya

Tamarind Bldg Rd, Cyberjaya, 63000 Cyberjaya, Selangor

https://www.tamarindsq.com/

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Walking Tour: Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur

Bordering the fringes of the Kuala Lumpur city centre, Bangsar South is perhaps best known as a modern business hub, home to multi-story office towers, luxury condos and chic retail outlets. The commercial area is nicely landscaped with parks, plenty of greenery and wide, paved roads, and the three main buildings – The Sphere, The Nexus and The Vertical – are all connected via convenient pedestrian bridges.

I was in the neighborhood recently and decided to walk around to take in the sights – here are some photos.

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I like how the area has been designed to incorporate lots of public green spaces, like this park with water features, sandwiched between towering offices. A perfect respite for office workers during lunch break.
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The iconic TM Tower, designed to resemble the shape of a bamboo shoot. It also looks remarkably like Stark Tower. When the Avengers premiered in Malaysia, the Avengers logo was projected onto the tower, as part of TM’s collaboration with Marvel Malaysia.
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One thing the Bangsar South neighbourhood has no shortage of: beautiful, modern architecture.
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Aside from offices, Bangsar South also boasts a repertoire of chic restaurants, cafes and eateries as well. Some of them are pretty famous; like Botanica + Co, SOULed Out, and The Farm Foodcraft. There’s also a branch of my favourite tonkatsu place, Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, here.
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Bridge connecting The Vertical, The Sphere and Nexus.

I’ve been watching a lot of walking tours on Youtube lately, so here’s my attempt at one! I don’t have a gymbal or anything so it might be shaky at times.

Have You Ever Seen Kuala Lumpur This Empty?

With its glitzy array of shopping malls and eclectic mix of restaurants, cafes and entertainment outlets, Bukit Bintang is often dubbed the heart and soul of Kuala Lumpur. The main thoroughfare – Jalan Bukit Bintang – used to see a constant flurry of activity day and night, especially near Pavilion KL, one of the country’s premiere shopping destinations. Things are much quieter these days due to the pandemic.  Granted, it was drizzling during my visit – but it’s still odd to see this usually bustling spot devoid of tourists.

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It’s notoriously difficult to get a good shot of the fountain in front of the mall, since there are always tourists / visitors milling about. Now’s my chance!

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The walkway connecting Pavilion Kuala Lumpur to nearby malls ie Fahrenheit 88, Lot 10 and Sungei Wang. In all my years of coming to KL, I have never seen it this empty.

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Decorations are also subdued. There are a couple of trees at the front of the mall for the upcoming Mid-Autumn festival, but it’s pretty toned down by Pavilion KL standards.

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This current pandemic has had an adverse effect on everyone across the world, not just in terms of health but also the economy. Hopefully it’ll tide over soon.

If not, we’ll just have to learn to live with it.

 

 

TTDI: A Photo Series

Hey guys! Not much to write about, so here are some photos for a change. These were taken when I went poking around the neighbourhood near my workplace during lunch break. Not sure if the places are empty because of the pandemic, or whether they’re always this dead lol. 

Enjoy! 

Location: TTDI MRT and TTDI Plaza 

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Where To Get Royalty-Free Images for Your Blog / Website

As much as possible, I try to use my own images on this blog, because a) it sucks when people steal my photos without even crediting where they got them from, and b) I want to avoid potential copyright infringement suits because you never know when you might get ‘unlucky’. Just because it’s rampant practice, it doesn’t mean you’re safe coz ‘everyone else is doing it’.

But there are times when I am unable to get particular photos for my posts – and that’s where free stock photo sites come in. Some of these have stunning imagery, and cover a wide variety of subjects, from food and travel to lifestyle, so they make great resources for bloggers.

Here are a few that I use: 

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PIXABAY

There are over 1.7 million images on Pixabay, including photos, illustrations, vectors and even videos and music which you can use without attribution (although it is a nice gesture to include credits and linkbacks) for personal and commercial purposes. That isn’t to say that some copyrighted images don’t find their way to the site, but the company manually checks each submission to ensure that they adhere to the requirements as much as possible. To download photos in high-res, you will need to register as a user.

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PEXELS 

Another easy to navigate stock photo site is Pexels. which also has over 1 million photos free for commercial use. It has a ‘popular collections’ page which looks similar to a Pinterest board, and allows you to easily search according to keywords. There are some rules to photo usage, especially in regards to people as subjects in photos; for example, identifiable individuals may not appear in a way that is offensive, and they may not be used as an endorsement for a product. Sale of unaltered copies is also prohibited. You can download images without signing up for an account.

*Pixabay and Pexels are both owned by Canva.

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UNSPLASH 

Unsplash’s high-quality imagery is a popular choice for editorials; we also use them for the print magazine that I work at. Images are neatly sorted according to category (architecture, food, people, etc.) to make searching easier, and there are photos of current events from around the world as well. There are also search tools to help you search by type, based on the tone of the photo, as well as orientation (portrait, landscape).

TOURISM BODIES 

For travel content, national tourism organisations are a good bet for high-quality photos, and you definitely don’t have to worry about copyright strikes if you’ve credited them properly. I use all of these regularly for work. Tourism Malaysia has an online library of photos divided according to the different states and categories such as culture, food and events. Other tourism organisations that have good resources are Australia, New Zealand, Japan, (although it is quite troublesome as you have to individually fill up a form for every photo, and you have to wait for five minutes between photos to download imagery), Singapore and South Korea. The downside is that you often have to register accounts and some have waiting times / procedures that you’ll have to follow so that they can track what you’re using the photos for.

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FOODIES FEED 

Foodies Feed is an excellent resource for food bloggers, although the number of photos is rather limited (about 2,000). The imagery is high-end and will not look out of place as a front cover of a food magazine.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS 

Photos from Wikimedia Commons are not always stunning, but they do the job of helping you to visually illustrate something on your blog posts. You are also more likely to find a photo of something more obscure (say, an off-the-beaten-path destination). Photos are easy to embed from the site itself, without having to download them. However, it can still be risky to use as I don’t think the photos are vetted properly, so there might still be copyright issues.

FREESTOCKS.ORG 

Freestocks.org is not as extensive as Pexels or Pixabay, but still offers a great selection of imagery in various categories, such as fashion, food and drinks, architecture, nature and people.

A list of some other sites, although I don’t use these very often:

Burst by Shopify 

Reshot – This site seems to have more ‘niche’ and unique images rather than generic pictures – almost like someone’s Instagram feed.

Styled Stock – If you’re looking for feminine-centric styled photos, this site offers plenty.

Life of Pix – shots by professional photographers, so you can be assured of editorial-worthy quality.

Gratisography – looking for photos that are out of the ordinary that will capture your audience’s attention? A bunny mascot dancing in the subway, for example? You can find it at this site.

 

 

What are some of the stock photo resources that you use? Share them in the comments below! 😉 

Pasar Karat: Jonker Street Melaka’s Antique Collector’s Market

The term ‘Flea Market’ comes from the French marché aux puces” or “market of the fleas”, as it was believed that old furniture or items such as clothing, often sold at these bazaars, supposedly contained fleas. In Malaysia, we call our flea markets ‘pasar karat’, or ‘rusty market’ – because people often sold off their scrap metal for a cheap price, and metal rusts, hence ‘karat’. Despite the name, you can get all sorts of things at a pasar karat, ranging from antiques to vintage items, souvenirs, second-hand clothing to furniture. One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure!

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The Pasar Karat at Jalan Lekir (just off Jonker Street) in Melaka is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays. If you’re in town over the weekend, this is a great place to check out ! The items on sale are mostly antiques and vintage stuff like coins, vinyl discs, old photographs, cassettes and VHS tapes, bowls and plates, home decorations, ornamental weapons and more.

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Even if you aren’t buying, it’s nice to see the old items on display, like these mini grandfather clocks, tea sets and classic rotary dial phones(remember those?). Feels kind of like an open-air street museum!

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Hand-drawn and coloured postcard-sized paintings!

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You can buy ornamental weaponry such as keris blades. Or perhaps you fancy an abacus or an old charcoal iron?

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I was surprised to see some vintage posters of Chinese-communist propaganda on display as well.

The Pasar Karat at Jalan Hang Lekir is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

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4 Historical Spots To Visit While In Melaka

Melaka is one of Southeast Asia’s most historically rich sites. Founded by a Javanese Hindu prince in the 1400s, it thrived as a port and welcomed traders from as far as China, Arab and India. It was then conquered by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English for hundreds of years. Naturally, old structures and the influence of various cultures remain, making Melaka a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For first-timers in the city, there’s no running away from visiting four important historical hotspots. They’re all within walking distance of each other, so getting to each is just a matter of legwork. Just ready the sunscreen, shades, an umbrella and lots of water – Melaka is scorching at most times of the year.

THE RUINS OF ST PAUL’S CHURCH @ ST PAUL’S HILL 

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The heart of Melaka is centred around a hill (now known as St Paul’s Hill), since the high vantage point affordsgood views of the coastline (ergo, important back then to see ships + invading forces).

Perched on top of this hill are the ruins of St Paul’s Church, a Roman Catholic church built in 1521 by the Portuguese nobleman Duarte Coelho. Originally called the Nossa Senhora da Annunciada (Our Lady of the Annunciation), it was dedicated to St Mary. The church was later deeded to a Jesuit missionary called Francis Xavier, who used it as a base for his missionary trips around Southeast Asia. After his death and ascension to sainthood, his body was interred for a while at the church, before it was sent to Goa. A burial vault was also opened in the 1590s, and many Portuguese nobles and people of distinction were buried here.

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After the Dutch invaded in 1641, the church was re-designated as St Paul’s Church under the Dutch Reformed denomination. For a while, the Dutch community in Melaka used it as their main church, but left it abandoned after the new Christ Church was completed in 1753. Parts of the building were also taken down to help fortify defense structures around Melaka. The church building fell further into disrepair during English occupation, when it was used as a gunpowder depot.

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View of the Straits of Melaka from St Paul’s Hill

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There was a church event going on at the ruins during our visit.

The building itself is just a shell of its former self – four walls, no roof and exposed red brick, lined with elaborately carved stone grave markers. One wonders how it must have been like in its heyday, when both the Portuguese and then later the Dutch came to pray and attend religious sermons and events.

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The stage was set up for a play later in the evening, while the open grave where St Francis Xavier’s body was once interred was littered with flower petals.

PORTA DE SANTIAGO @ A FAMOSA 

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When the Portuguese invaded Melaka in 1511, they established their base at the hill (now St Paul’s Hill), built a fort around it, and called it “The Famous”. The Dutch continued to use it during their occupation, but when the British came, they destroyed almost all but this last gate called the Porta de Santiago. Visitors who visit the site today will find little more than a simple gate, its brick facade blackened and weathered. Over the archway is an inscription, Anno 1670, as well as the logo of the East India Company – both additions by the Dutch. While there isn’t much by way of sights, the historical significance itself makes this place worth a visit. It is, after all, the oldest surviving European remains in Southeast Asia.

MALACCA SULTANATE PALACE MUSEUM 

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Just steps away from the Porta de Santiago is the Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum, a reconstruction of the old palace based on written accounts in the Sejarah Melayu, or Malay Annals. The old palace was said to have sat on the hill where St Paul’s Church is now located, but it was destroyed when Portuguese forces invaded. This modern version tries to stay as true as possible to descriptions from the Malay Annals, and was built with timber wood without the use of nails.

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Inside, visitors will find various exhibits detailing the history of the sultanate, as well as cultural and historical artefacts. Only the main hall is air conditioned; it is very stuffy upstairs and at the outer verandah, so it’s best to visit at a cooler time of day.

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The story of Hang Tuah is told here through a series of paintings.

Hang Tuah is the OG of Malay warriors and features prominently throughout Malay legends and literature, although whether or not he truly existed remains highly debated. He was apparently highly skilled in the martial arts (silat) and was an extraordinary warrior, second to none.

One of the most famous tales is the one where some ministers of the court, jealous of Hang Tuah’s standing with the Sultan, spread slander and lies about him, to which the Sultan ordered him executed. The chief minister who was tasked with this knew that Hang Tuah was innocent and instead hid him in a cave. Hearing of unjust done to his childhood friend, Hang Jebat – who after Hang Tuah was the best fighter in the land – ran amok, seeking to avenge him.

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It was then that the Chief Minister revealed that Hang Tuah was in fact, alive – much to the relief of the Sultan. Jebat was happy that Hang Tuah was alive, but Hang Tuah berated his friend for rebelling against the Sultan. A fight ensued that lasted for seven days, and Tuah emerged the winner after killing his friend. He continued serving Melaka, going on numerous other adventures. Yes, a rather grim ending for Jebat who was only thinking of avenging a friend whom an unjust ruler wronged – but hey, loyalty to the Sultan was paramount to anything else back in the day, even childhood friends whom you grew up with.

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A diorama of the Balairong Seri, or the audience reception hall where the Sultan received political dignitaries, guests and his advisors.

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Costumes worn by the different classes in Malaccan society, including royalty, as well as accessories and jewellery such as hair pins, brooches, belts, etc.

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Another diorama, this one of the Sultan’s bedchamber.

The Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum is open daily from 9AM to 5PM. Entrance is RM3 for Malaysians and RM5 for foreigners.

RED SQUARE / STADTHUYS/ CHRISTCHURCH 

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Last but not least, make your way to the Red Square, where you will find fire-red buildings which include a clocktower, the 18th century Dutch founded Christ Church, and the Stadthuys, which was once used as an administration building and residence for the Dutch Governor and now houses a museum of History and Ethnography. The square is a colourful place, filled with loud and gaudy-looking trishaws that blast techno music and are decorated with pop culture characters. Once the main mode of transportation around Melaka, you can now take a ride around town for a hefty RM25.

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If the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum detailed the history of the ancient Malay kingdom, the Stadthuys is more focused on the period between the landing of the Portuguese up until Japanese occupation in the days of World War II. Exhibits include a selection of weaponry, including swords, sabres, guns and armour, plus items from trade such as pottery, crystal glasses, silverware and the like.

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Melaka’s four conquering forces – the Portuguese (1511 – 1641), the Dutch (1641 – 1825), the British (1826 – 1942) and the Japanese (1942 – 1945).

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A diorama of Melaka during the Portuguese occupation. notice how the fort was still completely intact, surrounding the city.

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A painting depicting the captain of the Portuguese guard surrendering the keys to the city to the Dutch after the defeat of Portuguese forces.

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Aside from colonial history, the museum also houses exhibits on local culture and practices of the community. Pictured is a diorama of a traditional Malay-Melakan wedding. The bersanding ceremony, where the bride and groom sits on a raised dias, draws from Hindu cultural influences.

The Stadthuys is open from 9.30AM – 5.30PM daily. Entrance is RM5 for Malaysians and RM10 for foreigners.

If there’s one thing Melaka isn’t short of, it’s museums – although I can’t say they’re all impressive. If you like museum-hopping, also worth visiting is the Melaka Maritime Museum (housed in a replica of the Portuguese galleon Flor del Mar), the People’s Museum, the Stamp Museum and the Submarine Museum (housed in a decommissioned submarine by the coast), to name a few.

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