Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

This week, let’s explore the creative potential of limits, borders, and dividers of all types…

So let’s explore the various “boundaries” from my travels:

Golestan Palace , Tehran

Marble Throne (Takht-e-Marmar) which is made of yellow marble from Yazd Province. The throne with elaborate and detailed marble carvings was, unfortunately, surrounded by glass panels to prevent damage which made it difficult for us to admire the ornate carvings up close and to take a picture due to reflections from the glass.



Blue Mansion , Penang

The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, also known as the Blue Mansion, is a private residence but the property also operates as a boutique hotel of 18 rooms; a restaurant serving Chinese and Sichuan cuisine; and a perfect venue for weddings, parties and private dinners.

The corridor leading to the boutique hotel was barred from the public who comes for guided tours of the mansion.


A glimpse of the hotel via the windows outside of the mansion.


Pangong Lake, Ladakh

Pangong Tso (Tso: Ladakhi for lake) is one of the largest saltwater lakes in Asia. It is 134km long and extends from India to Tibet, and interestingly, sixty per cent of the length of the lake lies in Tibet. Pangong Lake is in disputed territory whereby the Line of Actual Control passes through the lake and incursions from the Tibet / Chinese side are common. In 1962, the lake saw military action during the Sino-Indian War whereby the Indian army experienced bitter losses along its shores. Until the mid-1990s, this area was off-limits to visitors and tourists still need a permit to come here.

Just behind these spectacular mountains is Tibet.


Wagah Border, Amritsar

Interesting thing about Amritsar is its close proximity to Pakistan with Lahore only thirty kilometres away. At the border of India-Pakistan lies a village called Wagah and at sundown every day, there is a rousing border ceremony where the tallest soldiers from each country perform Monty Python-esque marches and walks with fake menace and aggressiveness. The crowd on both sides of the border would be cheering and shouting patriotic slogans – quite theatrical actually. The ceremony concludes in the lowering of the national flags and the banging shut of the border gates.

Soldiers clad in beige brown are Indian while the ones clad in are Pakistani. The India-Pakistan border is between them.


FlyMe360 Oct 2015 interview cover

Interview with FlyMe360 Magazine (Oct 2015)

I am very humbled to be approached by the editors of FlyMe360 Magazine, an online travel magazine based in Malaysia which was newly set up a couple of months ago. They ran a competition last year to look for contributors on travel writing and my piece on Mumbai won their Honourable Mention Award :-)

The Mumbai article was scheduled to be published in the October edition for quite some time, and just two months ago, the editors contacted me and asked if I would be interested to do an interview as well (via email). Needless to say I was more than happy to do the interview :-)

To view the interview and other travel articles featured in the magazine, subscribe to FlyMe360 NOW, click here .

In the meantime, here’s the text format of the interview for easy reading:

FlyMe360 is proud to have Kathleen with us this issue. Let the camera roll…

1. Hi! First of all, thank you for taking time to sit down with us. To start the snowballing, could you please explain what does Kat Pegi Mana mean?

Kat Pegi Mana means Where is Kat Going To. It’s a question most friends ask me ever since they found out how passionate I am about travelling. They are curious to know where my recent travels were or where is my next destination.

2. What basically started your decision to travel so much? Was there a ‘spark’ of some sort?

I think the “travel genes” runs in the family. My parents love to travel too, in fact, their first overseas trip was in 1972 to Japan & Korea, and if I recall from their stories, they had then been to other places such as Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong in the 1980s. It was a big deal in those days to have that opportunity to travel abroad.

Although my sister and I never travelled abroad with our parents when we were schooling, we went with them on domestic trips to Ipoh, Penang, Pangkor Island, Cameron Highlands, etc. I often recalled being on road trips most of the time. My father used to say that we should always take the opportunity to travel and explore places, and to learn from these experiences.

So I started travelling during my university days in Australia. Then travel plans were put on hold during the initial years of my career in KL because I wanted to save money. However, the ‘spark’ or the urge for wanderlust became greater in 2009 when I befriended a group of work colleagues who shared the same crazy travelling interest as I. And with the advent of low-cost airlines, my life has changed since then – I became a frequent traveler! FlyMe360 pg1

I no longer travel with this group of friends because we have moved on to pursue other life opportunities – relocation to other countries, change of jobs, birth of a child, etc. – but we still keep in touch and hope that we might have a big reunion someday in Bali!

3. How exactly do you choose your location when you travel? Was there a plan? Or just random decision?

Well, I’m a Capricorn and my job function is in business planning, so there is always a plan! I may not plan my activities to a tee but I like to have a rough idea on where I want to go and what I want to see. I guess this planning habit is helpful as I have limited time off from work, so I would like to visit and experience as much as I can within a short period of time. I would probably “plan less” if I’m a full-time traveller :-)

I have a bucket list of places I want to visit…oh c’mon, all of us have a bucket list of some sort! But I don’t travel to places just to tick off the checklist. Most of my destinations are chosen based on a couple of factors: ability to take time off from work, climate/weather and budget.

There had been situations of random decisions too in the past – travel talk over pints of beer and flights were booked the following morning for travels a few weeks later :-)

4. Of all the countries you have visited, which one is your favourite? Will you go back there again?

I have a few favourites: India, Bali and Italy. I have been to India 8 times and will be making my 9th trip in Oct. I fell in love with Bali a few years ago and have been there twice and would love to return again. Italy never let me down and I would love to return to Italy in the near future when the foreign exchange rates are more favourable.

Oh, can I add Sri Lanka too? I have been to Sri Lanka twice and it is such a beautiful island with amazing beaches, ancient history and incredible gentle people who love to smile. A very special place. FlyMe360 pg2

5. Do you plan your travels? If yes, how?

For airfares, I like to make comparisons of a few airlines. There were times when I didn’t mind paying additional MYR100-200 (USD$23-47) for a national carrier flight because baggage check-in and meals costs are inclusive of the airfare.

For accommodation, I usually stay at guesthouses, B&B or 3-star hotels, depending on the country or city. I often check reviews in Tripadvisor before booking. I have also stayed in boutique hotels in Thailand especially during the low season when prices are much cheaper. I have tried AirBnB this year and the experience has been positive so far.

In terms of sightseeing, I research quite a bit on where I want to go and what I want to see. The amount of information available on the internet is endless. Although it can be daunting for some people, I would urge travelers to read about the country before travelling particularly about its culture and customs. We certainly do not want to offend the local people for not respecting their customs or not adhering to attire rules.

Having said all that, I don’t plan my trips everything to a tee as it’s always good to have some flexibility in my plans for changes that could occur anytime. And it’s the changes that make the trip more fun and memorable!

6. Any travel experience/story you will never forget?

I travelled to Iran in May this year. It was an unforgettable experience because Iran is such a misunderstood country due to global politics, as a result, people have avoided travel to this country. Despite its global political circumstances, Iran welcomes foreign travelers with open arms. It’s fairly easy to travel in Iran especially for women.

I had enjoyed my trip immensely – the country is very rich in ancient history, arts and culture; jaw-dropping Persian architecture with colourful mosaics and frescoes; beautiful gardens and flowers; delicious food cooked with saffron (saffron is king in Iran), rosewater, yoghurt, fruits and nuts; and most of all, Iranians are the most generous and hospitable people I have ever met.

7. What is the biggest challenge you face when travelling as a woman?

I don’t go on organized tours because I prefer independent travels and there have been several solo travels as well. Touch wood, I have not had any major challenges when travelling.

My advice to female travelers is to be observant of your surroundings and be street smart. For example, look out for landmarks when moving around so that if a taxi driver takes you through an unfamiliar route, your instincts would tell you that something is not right, you can speak up. In that way, the driver is aware that you’re not someone who he can fool easily.

Another example is act confident even though you could be feeling lost and confused. Eventually the false confidence helps you to put the situation into perspective and you would find a solution to the problematic situation.

Other than that, just go out there and have fun! FlyMe360 pg3

8. What are the five most essential items you bring along every time you travel?

Passport, camera, mobile phone, book and a shawl (to keep me warm on flights).

9. Kat Pegi Mana is a website you have started. Do you have a future plan for it?

No future plans really. At the moment, I’m enjoying sharing my travel experiences with my readers.

10. How was it like to run a travel blog/website? Was it as easy as you initially thought?

I’m actually not a techie so the initial experience was a little mind-boggling. It took me a few weeks to get the site up with contents and design layout but once it was up and running, the website was easy to navigate and manage.

I blog twice a week but I don’t actively blog during my trips. I create a travel series of the destination that I have recently visited, hence readers are able to come on a journey with me as they read my posts.

I enjoy running my travel blog. It is energizes me, provides a perfect avenue for me to express my thoughts when I write about my travel experiences and to share my photographs. Managing a travel blog also helps me to get in touch with other bloggers and camaraderie is formed among us. We share experiences and tips with one another.

11. To those that want to start a travel website, what will you advise them?

Go for it…and don’t stop regardless the number of followers. Just keep on writing and sharing your experiences, and one day, your travel website will get noticed. FlyMe360 pg4

On The Lighter Side…

I guess that’s enough of serious questions. Let’s do a few light ones.
Let’s start with… Coffee or tea?

Definitely coffee but I switch to masala chai when I’m in India. There’s something invigorating and comforting about masala tea.

If you are a fruit, what kind of fruit will you be?

A banana. Friends call me a banana anyway because I’m a Malaysian Chinese who can’t speak Chinese!

Any pre long haul flight ritual?

No, I don’t have pre long haul rituals. I’m generally not a very fussy person when it comes to flights.

Apple or Android phones?


What are the books you are reading lately?

Just finished reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. I have just started The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Change in Weather

This week, show us a change in progress…

Two months ago, I went for a beach holiday in Rebak Island which is one of the many islets of Langkawi. Rebak is home to the only resort on this island of 390 acres: Vivanta by Taj Resort. Vivanta by Taj is part of The Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces group and is the group’s first landmark in South-East Asia with the island specifically chosen for exclusivity.

The weather was perfect on the day that I arrived. It was a glorious, sunny afternoon of which the entire time was spent chilling out by the pool, drinking, reading, snoozing and swimming, of course.

Celsius Pool Bar

Celsius Pool Bar


Sadly, the weather turned for the worst the next day – dark clouds came rolling in as early as 11am – and it rained on and off for the rest of the day, and continued the next morning.


By the time I checked out of the resort to return to Port Cenang to catch the airport transfer, it was heavy showers :-(

Port Cenang

Port Cenang

Speaking of change in weather, we are currently experiencing bad weather in Malaysia now – haze – due to slash and burn of forests in Indonesia. We get the brunt of it when strong winds from Indonesia blow the ashes and smog over to Malaysia and Singapore.

This is the view from my apartment – it looks like the city is shrouded in mist but unfortunately, it’s the haze. Two years ago, we had it really bad – the sky looked brown, acrid smell in the air and people fell sick with respiratory ailments.


This morning, my sister and I drove from Kuala Lumpur to our hometown Malacca, and visibility was not very clear.


We are hoping for the rains to come sometime at end of September but the weather forecast says that the rains are delayed till October. Fingers crossed for positive change in weather!

Related post:

Vivanta by Taj Resort on Rebak Island, Langkawi


Art Fun in Penang

I appreciate art but am not an art aficionado, therefore am not going into details about the different kinds of art and art talk :-) However, I enjoy the fun side of art and one can experience a lot of that in Penang.

Lots of street murals are burgeoning around the world, and Penang has not left behind in this. The street art painting was commissioned to a Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic who painted murals depicting characters and scenes in the inner city of Georgetown especially in the UNESCO Heritage Site.

My favourite mural in Penang is “Little Children on a Bicycle” and thankfully, I had managed to get this shot in Feb.


Unfortunately, the mural was defaced with a political-theme graffiti about a month ago :-( I saw the defaced version of it during my last visit in August and there were tourists taking photo of that mural but I didn’t want to because I was disappointed and angry that saboteurs would stoop that low to destroy a beautiful work of art just to send their message across!

Another form of art painting is the 3D interactive museum. There are a few 3D interactive museums in Penang but the one which I went to was “Made in Penang” which let visitors explore the island via 30 interactive trick art paintings in a whole new dimension.

The 3D museum also has a Diorama Gallery showcasing life at the waterfront of Penang in the early 20th century.

And then having fun posing with these 3D murals!

This post is also linked with #MondayEscapes


For related posts on Penang:

Warm Hugs

Procession on Foot

Night Festivities at Clan Jetties

Clan Jetties

Blue Mansion








Travel Theme: On The Move

It has been five months since my last trip abroad and in between there were trips locally for a long weekend. Is it enough? Any traveller would definitely say NO!

For me, I love being away but after some time, I long for home..and the good thing is, when I’m home, I recharge and rejuvenate, and then long for another trip. I had this conversation with a friend recently, and he said “we recharge after a recharge”…sounds illogical but makes sense, right? :-)

Well, this week’s Where’s My Backpack Travel Theme: Move has got me thinking about my next move i.e. my next trip. Here’s reminiscing my past travels, photos showing people on the move:

Bangkok, Thailand

Night scene in Bangkok

Night scene in Bangkok

Colourful taxis of Bangkok

Colourful taxis of Bangkok

Amritsar Railway Station, Punjab



Mopeds in Ho Chi Minh City



Colombo Railway Station, Sri Lanka




Travel Theme: Apollo Fountain From Every Angle

Here’s another week of the theme Angle though this time I’m linking my post to Where’s My Backpack ‘s Weekly Travel Theme.

It has been quite some time since I last shared photos from my trip to Paris. One of the sights never to be forgotten was the Palace of Versailles. Versailles is undeniably overwhelming in its opulence and scale. Sadly, I was there only for a day and there was a whole lot more of the Palace which I didn’t get a chance to explore.

Here are various angles of the Apollo Fountain in the gardens of Versailles:





For related post:

An Opulent Transformation: Palace of Versailles


An Experiment With Slow Sound of Snow

We were ushered into the auditorium situated on the first floor of Penang Town Hall and we sat third row from the stage. Props were ready on stage but the stage was still in darkness. Once the audience had settled down, the lights in the auditorium began to dim. A moment later, a flicker of light appeared on stage which grew clearer and stronger revealing a small, slanted platform on which crammed with four mannequins, a table and four stools, and a door. Initially, I thought they were mannequins because they were so still on the platform but realised they were actually the actors as they started making slow movements. When I say slow movements, it’s slow and minimal movements. The movements were so minimal that a few minutes passed before the next movement, and it was 15 minutes into the play when we heard the first audible sounds of conversations.

This is a work by A Hole in the Wall, an Iranian experimental theatre troupe performing a play called Slow Sound of Snow. Slow Sound of Snow explores the tension and dilemma of a woman going into labour during a midnight snowstorm but she has to keep quiet or else, risk an avalanche. Any single loud noise could unleash the furious avalanche onto this family’s cottage in the mountains. Hence, movements on stage were made in calculated and minimal steps, and conversations were said in hushed tones.



The play went on with the woman quickly going into labour and obviously she could not be kept silent. Due to the risk of triggering an avalanche, the grandparents mentioned that every woman in the mountains who starts to give birth before spring must be buried alive. Therefore, they made attempts to bury this woman in the cellar to stifle her screams. However, the grandparents were met with objections by the father of the baby who threatened to play his guitar loudly should they subject his woman to such a treatment. Eventually, the woman went to the cellar and gave birth there but had to leave the baby behind in order to save the others from death should an avalanche occur (newborn cries could also set off a disaster).



That was my first time watching an experimental play. I had no idea what an experimental play was as I hardly watch theatre and my experience so far has had been limited to musicals only. I enjoyed Slow Sound of Snow as I found the acting intriguing particularly the precise, slow and minimal movements to portray the fear that the family has of making a single loud noise to avoid an avalanche burying them alive. Some might find the pace of the story, erm, slow but I hardly looked at the time during the play.

However, the one thing which I found rather odd was the way the play ended. When the new mother emerged from the cellar and mentioned that she left the baby underground, the entire family then, slowly, sat on the stools by the table. Gradually the grandmother ate her bread and the father slowly rose from the stool and lied down on the floor to sleep, and the grandmother followed suit moments later. The bereaved mother remained seated in grief for abandoning her child and the grandfather lit a cigarette. That was obviously the cue for the end of the play but not to us.  We waited for a curtain call like one would expect in a typical play but there wasn’t. Lights in the auditorium were turned on, the audience was confused as to whether they should applaud or not. A few people stood up and left, but majority still sat there looking puzzled. Ushers were waiting on the side lines and that was when I said to my sister, “Let’s go, I think this is the end”. On our way out, I asked the usher if that was the end of the play, and he said yes and added that the actors would end the play once every member of the audience has left the auditorium. Right, that was interesting.

Like I mentioned, I was new to this and it was quite an experience for us to come all the way from Kuala Lumpur to Penang to catch this experimental play. I guess we were “experimenting” :-)

Slow Sound of Snow was part of a line-up of arts and culture festivities for the Georgetown Festival in August. Prior to that, the troupe performed at the International Theater Schools Festival in Warsaw in June and the Venice Open Stage Theater Festival in July.  If Slow Sound of Snow does come around in your city, do get the opportunity to watch it.


Program booklet

Hole in the Wall Theatre Group led by director Jaber Ramezani, have been producing theatre since 2008. They were named Best Student Theatre Group in Iran in 2010. Since then, they have travelled nationally and internationally, garnering awards both locally and abroad.