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I'm from Penang, but currently staying in Bangkok. Seeing the photos really make me miss my home town more.


G'day Robyn and David,

Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos of the people, life, taste and smell (nearly) of Penang.

I adore my home town and actually find it more interesting with each of my visits. I'll fly 10 hours to taste the food alone.

Like you, I hope the Penang identity is maintained for as long as possible. However my gut feelings tells me things will change when most the next generations are moving away from their grandparents' and parents' trade and lifestyle.



All the images that are posted really identifies with Penang.....These people have been aroung for a long time already...

Jeff C

Robyn and David,
I love your photos of the people that you encounter. The stall owners and cooking stands owners look so proud. Your site is one I love coming back to.


wonderful collection of portraits.


I went to USM in Penang over 30 years ago and now live in New York. Thank you for evoking many fond memories of that beautiful island. Love your blog.


You have such wonderful photographs. I felt like I was at Malaysia just by viewing them. Now I want to visit Malaysia and explore it just like how you guys have! More power!


I love your first photo - of the father-and-son koay chiap makers at Kimberley Street. How nice to know that the son may take over the business one day & continue selling the delicious koay chiap. I've been to that stall during a visit to Penang many years ago, but still remembered the delicious bowl of koay chiap I had until today: thick, aromatic duck broth, satiny sheets of white koay chiap noodles, hard-boiled egg, duck meat, gizzards, liver, cubes of blood, sprigs of coriander. Positively ambrosial!

Life 2.0

WoW. I just got out of 10F degree weather with gusts of wind that take your breath away. Literally, one can not speak when the cold air hits you. I sat down to do some work and saw your post and it took my breath away again, but for all the good reasons. Thanks again for your blog.


Dave, I find these images powerfully evocative. Thank you for taking and sharing them with us.

Robyn, I will be checking back, for your stories. Ah... anticipation!


Penang is truly deserving of its world heritage location by UNESCO (much more than the "other" place, ahem ^_^). Looking at your pictures do bring me back to Penang. And I love that almost everyone there can speak some form of Hokkien...it's amazing.

Thank you for the pictures and memories. I can't wait to go back and visit again.


Oops, I should've checked the "other" place first, because I thought it was someplace else but looking at your link, I was wrong...hahahaha....serves me right for making assumptions. Won't mention where I thought you were talking about.


ELE, Thanks. Frankly, I'd like to take credit but my subjects were doing all the work! We went for the food but keep going back for the people.


You've really captured Penang – absolutely stunning. Look forward to reading the stories behind the photos.


Good one!! I like it. the Faces of the true heart and soul of Malaysia


Good one!! I like it. the Faces of the true heart and soul of Malaysia


Fantastic pictures!


Wow. Every one of those pictures is stunning. Kudos! And the soy sauce is out of this world. Am so glad I have one of those bottles in Madison... still nursing it!

Rasa Malaysia

I love love love the real people in Penang. Looking forward to reading more about everyone of them. Did you have time to chat with Mr. Guan of Apong Guan (right before Union Primary School at Burmah Road)?

Rasa Malaysia

Oh, and I am so glad that you went back to Simon Tan Gallery. I remember I took you guys there when we first met.

I saw him last week, too. :)


A lovely set of photos. Well-done Robyn !

Charlie Brown

Amazing photos. Out of curiousity, how do you actually take the photos, meaning, do you ask the subjects before you take photos (I find this is polite but more often than not, you end up with somewhat artificial, "posed" photos)? It looks like you have asked them for permission but they look so natural!


Charlie Brown. Thanks! I always ask for permission to photograph people in these types of settings. I think it's the polite thing to do and the best way to involve people in the process. IMO, there's no point in taking a photo of a person that clearly wants you to go away (unnamed politicians and business magnates, excluded). I try to engage the person as much as possible..and, of course, sometimes I just get lucky! Dave


Everyone, thanks much for your comments and kind words.

Mef - yes, sadly some kids will not stay with the trade (and many parents don't want them to). For now, Penang is a great and special place to eat.

Jeff - that's what strikes us to. These people are (rightly) proud of what they do and most appreciate the recognition.

Pete - The son says he intends to stay in the business. Your description of the dish is spot-on ... mind if I borrow your words when I write the post?

Jennifer - yeah,isn't the soy sauce amazing? I'm so glad they package it in well-sealed plastic bottles. Perfect for packing!

Rasa - yes, I remember when the three of us stumbled on Simon's gallery when we were wandering Armenian Street. We went back to Edelweiss Kafe for beers. And no, we didn't make it to Apong Guan this trip. Next one for sure.

Hey Dat - I'd love to take credit for the photos but Dave is the one behind the lens.

The Art of Successful Cooking

Everything I wanted to say has been already said - but I'll still say again - amazing collection of photos!

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