Penang’s Blue Beauty: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion combines old world charm with modern comforts

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018

Research things to do in Penang and you’ll inevitably stumble upon the heritage gem that is the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, famously dubbed “The Blue Mansion” for its eye-catching indigo-blue facade. Steeped in history and built with extreme attention to the principles of feng shui, it is a sprawling architectural marvel that encompasses 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, and no less than 220 windows, not to mention a stately collection of heirlooms and antiques that decorate the halls and walkways.

Fun fact for movie buffs! The mahjong scene in Crazy Rich Asians (2018) was filmed here, in the beautiful courtyard dining room. It was awesome to find out on the last day of our stay (when we did the guided tour) that we’d been having breakfast every morning in the exact spot Rachel Chu did battle with Eleanor Young! The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion has also been featured in the Oscar-winning French film Indochine (1992).

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018

Guided tours operate thrice daily — 11am, 2pm, and 3:30pm — and the mansion is open to the public during these times. The mansion doubles as a heritage hotel, and hotel guests are free to join the tours. Even if you are not staying, we highly recommend popping into the mansion to learn more about the history of this building, its fascinating Peranakan-style architecture, and the cultural value it brings to the UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town in which it sits.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018

Together with a couple of friends visiting from Australia, we stayed at the mansion for three nights. We really loved it here. While it rained a fair bit, the weather accentuated the hush, peaceful atmosphere of the grounds and courtyards… perhaps because water plays a very important part in contributing to the aura and “chi” of the entire building, as was explained to us.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018

James and I were lucky when we chose to join the Friday morning guided tour — the owner of the mansion was around that day to personally lead the tour, and it was a pleasure listening to her talk about the restoration efforts with so much passion and insight. She made the tour very engaging, peppering it with funny anecdotes and personal stories. The project of taking over and restoring the mansion into the masterpiece it is today wasn’t without its hiccups, according to her!

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang 2018

All in all, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion proves that it is not just an everyday boutique hotel furnished with pretty relics. It is an unforgettable 19th-century landmark that has survived the test of time and it is certainly well-deserving of its reputation as a heritage gem. I’m sure it will continue to tell its story for many more generations to come!

Dān 单 @ Lebuh Farquhar, Penang // A magical place for lava cakes and coffee

Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia

Certainly no secret any longer, the coffee and dessert scene in Penang has evolved at a staggering pace. It’s a curious thing that’s happened within the last half a decade, this idea of entrepreneurship and adoption of cafe culture that dominates the younger crowd. It’s not hard to see why the conservation shophouses are constantly being snapped up by anyone looking to start a space to attract like-minded coffee enthusiasts and food-hunters. Some cafes hold their attention with free wifi and a seriously jazzed-up interior, others ensnare with signature menu items cleverly crafted and served as both attractive Instagram bait and perfect marketing tool.

Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia

Dan 单 ingeniously shelters a terrarium gallery-shop within the walls of its delightfully green cafe surrounded by glass. The theme of serenity and greenery coupled with a its moody zen-like atmosphere takes us someplace else. It doesn’t feel like George Town anymore as we cross into the little space.

Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia

We were recommended the hojicha lava cake. It comes artfully decorated with berries, flowers and a dollop of smooth vanilla ice cream, and tastes just as beautiful. Warm and almost sticky, with notes of roasted green tea, it lives up to a lava cake’s reputation of being comforting and memorable. We also tried the white coffee and hojicha latte; both were very good.

Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia

The cafe itself is located on the ground floor, within a street-facing bowing alley complex, which is a little odd, but you end up ignoring the fact once you step into the lush little box filled with pretty plants.

Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia Dān 单 Cafe, Penang, Malaysia

The Datai Langkawi: The Tropical Paradise You’ve Always Dreamed Of

The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi

There are so many things we loved about The Datai Langkawi —

The fact that it is surrounded by lush virgin rainforest. The abundance of wildlife, including tame dusky leaf monkeys and cheeky macaques intent on climbing through the guestroom balcony window. The constant cicada noises that echo through the surrounding forest. The balmy sea breezes that cocoon you in tropical bliss. The sound of calm waves washing along the shore by the Beach Club. The sunbirds and swallows and hornbills that drop in to say hello. The resort’s dark wood furniture and modern touches here and there. The pretty orchid blossoms that are thoughtfully placed throughout the bedroom and bathroom. The little green frogs in the lilypad pond by the Lobby Lounge that insist on hopping all over the place — up pillars and down corridors. The panoramic view of the Thai islands belonging to Tarutao National Park in the distance (we were that close to the border!). The two swimming pools — the smaller ‘family’ pool by the beach and the larger one that the lobby overlooks. The fancy breakfasts each morning at The Dining Room (think DIY cocktails and à la minute signature dishes, among a decent buffet spread). The much-needed peace and quiet. And, as a cherry on top: the fact that there is high-speed wifi pretty much everywhere. Including down at the beach, and at every far-reaching restaurant of this sprawling place, so you can do your work wherever you are!

Continue reading “The Datai Langkawi: The Tropical Paradise You’ve Always Dreamed Of”

Homemade Pineapple Tarts

pineapple-tarts-recipe-8

pineapple-tarts-recipe-homemade-4

This recipe has been moved to our gorgeous new website at milkanddust.com!

Click here to view the full recipe for these delicious Homemade Pineapple Tarts

A couple of weeks ago, James and I made some pineapple tarts to rein in the Year of the Horse (pun fully intended). We spent a good three hours slaving over the stove, making the pineapple jam. Yes, if you’re gonna make the precious jam from scratch, it will take the puréed pineapple a very long time to cook down to a good, viscous consistency that is firm enough to shape. But all the effort paid off and we ended up with some very delicious and – dare I say – authentic pineapple jam, perfect for sitting atop some buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry. Continue reading “Homemade Pineapple Tarts”