Greetings From Up North!

February 22nd, 2011 @

Expat Magazine February 7th, 2011

Greetings From Up North!

How are your New Year resolutions going? Really? Oh well, you can always set some new ones during the Lunar New Year this month.

You could say that the Lunar New Year is the festival of the year in Penang due to the significant proportion of the population being of Chinese decent and that the celebrations go on for 15 days. A custom started in Penang can be seen on the final day of the Lunar New Year – Chap Goh Meh, where unmarried ladies throw tangerines into the sea in the hope that their future spouse will pick it up. The Lambs will definitely be watching along Gurney Drive on the 17th to see if any ladies are using catapults as the water seems to be moving further and further out each year!

Love will be in the air this month as Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Book your table early and you too can experience an intimate dinner with your loved one whilst listening to locals slurping their spaghetti (true story!).

On a different tack, we had the opportunity recently to have a tour of St. Nicholas Home that has been assisting the visually impaired since 1926 by offering occupational skills training and support. The reason the visit was initiated was to take a look at their Open Air Sculpture Gallery which contains a piece by Femke Ligthart (see Penang Personalities for more) following a request from the editor to do an article on Femke’s work.

Although we pass by the St. Nicholas Home many times a week we were pleasantly surprised at the scope of services that St. Nic’s offers and that may be unknown to the expat community. Did you know for example that St. Nic’s train masseuses and for a very reasonable fee you can go for a relaxing foot massage in their centre? Also, did you know that cakes prepared during the kitchen skills training are available for purchase?

One initiative that caught Colin’s attention is the work that St. Nicholas Home are doing in the field of Bahasa Malaysia to Braille translation. We were introduced to Dr. Peter Knox of L-Ex who, along with St. Nic’s staff, are developing a Bahasa Malaysia to Braille conversion utility that incorporates an Optical Character Recognition component to make visual translation all but seamless. Such technology is being harnessed to give complete literary translations that are invaluable in terms of interpretation and a hard copy is also created for their library.

Being an iPhone user, Colin was also impressed how Dr. Knox has a broader interest in developing phone technology for the visually impaired, which is like saying “the phone for the blind is like a car for the sighted”. We wish these initiatives well in terms of securing funds for development and their future implementation.

That’s all for February, hope to see many of you at the Quiz Night on 12th. Please email us at upnorth@theexpatgroup.com for more details. As always, suggestions for articles/information you would like to see are most welcome so please contact us at upnorth@theexpatgroup.com