Perth, Australia 2014 – Last Day

We spent couple of hours in Rockingham Mall, a mall nearby Mel and Tania’s place.

Wife wanted to do some last minute shopping but I wanted to stay home to catch up on work. So we dropped her at the mall until 5pm – just when everything closes.

Saw a bushfire on the way back! Since it’s summer here, bushfire is pretty common. The cops actually blocked the entire road and diverted us elsewhere.

Last meal before we leave! Mel made siew yuk!

I’m not a big fan of siew yuk but it tasted good.

Highlight for me is definitely the chicken. It was awesome!

The gang at our last dinner!

Last picture with the Kangs before we boarded our flight. Tania left with us to MY leaving Mel alone in Perth. His home was no longer the lively home he saw for the past 1 week. But I guess he’ll be glad that we left him once he saw his electricity and gas bills.

Our 230am flight wasn’t very pleasant. Livia cried and screamed. She didn’t want to be on the bassinet. Wife had to carry her to sleep. Notwithstanding that, Livia woke up with a big smile and smiled at everyone.

While on our way out from the plane, a steward said to Livia, “Bye Handsome”. We need to make sure Livia wears a ribbon at all times!

Perth, Australia 2014 – Margaret River

Next day after Penguin Island, we made another road trip to Margaret River, a tourist spot about 2 1/2 hours away.

One of the main attractions of Margaret River is the wineries. However, we didn’t manage to enter any wineries but instead we visited a chocolate factory, a cheese tasting house, nougat factory, olive farm and a coffee roastery.

Since the journey was so long, we made a few stops by the roadside to attend to a screaming #LiviaFoong. Like many babies, she hates the car seat. Most of the time we would leave her to cry but sometimes mummy couldn’t stand it.

Here’s a picture of a signboard I saw while walking #LiviaFoong at a random stop.

First stop! The Margaret River Chocolate Factory. You can get free chocolate pastilles here. There was a queue of people to get to the free chocolates. The chocolates are divided into milk, dark and white chocolates.

Western swamp tortoise shaped chocolates.

Salty caramel peanut cake and iced chocolate. The cake was really salty. Iced chocolate was so-so. Koko Black’s iced chocolate beats it hands down.

There was a small window to watch the chocolate making process. It wasn’t engaging at all.

“So much chocolate so little time” is a very apt slogan. I don’t know what chocolate to buy hence I bought the pastilles which was given free.

There was also a garden behind the cafe. Livia hung out here for a bit until the flies kept disturbing her.

Saw this lizard outside the chocolate factory. It looked like the flatten lizard we saw at Canal Rocks. It was biting the grass and wasn’t afraid of us.

Next stop, Bettenay Wines. We actually came here for the nougats. It wasn’t very sweet and quite addictive. This small little building is situated next to a lake and has a hotel above it.

Got #LiviaFoong a ladybug here. Didn’t get any nougat or wine though.

All sorts of flavours.

There was also a small window to watch the nougat making process. It was also like watching paint dry.

Cheese tasting was next. I thought it was a factory but it was just a small house.

It was however packed with people. The cheese tasted okay but the dips were nice.

William and Livia

Olive farm, Olio Bello was next. I’m not a big fan of olive hence I dreaded going there for a bit. I was hoping we could quickly rush to the coffee roaster to have coffee.

But I enjoyed the free dips at the place. The place smelled good too as there’s a restaurant there.

This is how the shop looked like. I was surprised that there were no hoards of Chinese tourists.

Olive trees. None of us was interested to go see the trees up-close.

The Mediterranean Relish was excellent. I bought a bottle of this sourish dip.

Olio Bello has an awesome baby diaper changing room. It comes with free baby wipes, disposable changing pad and nappy bags.

I was looking forward to visit Yahava Coffee throughout the trip. But we left it last on the itinerary. By the time we were done with the olive farm, we had only 15 minutes before Yahava closes its cafe. We rushed there but got lost halfway. We ended up in a housing area.

Fortunately, we found it when we were about to exit the housing area. Melvin and I ran to the place once we got off from the car.

I was telling Melvin that I’ve accepted our fate that we won’t make it. It was scheduled to close at 5pm and we were there about 450pm.

Fortunately, the cafe was still open! The coffee tasting section was closed though. To celebrate, I bought 1kg of coffee beans and drank 2 cups of piccolo latte.

Loads of beans to choose from. A staff was there to recommend their beans which suit our taste.

Romeo 5 was highly recommended by them. It’s their standard house blend.

My piccolo latte was made from this Kahava beans. I’ve never tasted coffee beans from India. But the piccolo latte was good!

Black Gold – Another recommendation by them. I’ve also never tasted PNG beans.

Generic name. It was labelled as strong by the staff.

The roastery. This machine is what you use to roast coffee beans. I wonder how many KGs can this machine roast per round.

The shop has many coffee making accessories and related products.

French presses, knock box (that’s to knock off the espresso “cake” off the handle) and pitcher (generally used to warm milk or make froth).

All sorts of mugs and flasks.

Interesting mug. There was a test unit and I can attest it doesn’t topple easily. It uses a suction to attach itself to the surface.

Background info about Yahava. I don’t think we have a roastery that is open to the public and have free tasting sessions daily. Everything is just hipster cafes in Malaysia.

It get a bit annoyed when someone who only drinks lattes complaining that this and that coffee sucks. That’s not how you rate coffee.

There’s a coffee plant outside the roastery. No, the plant doesn’t smell like coffee.

Xanadu Winery was next. I didn’t care much about winery after I had my coffee. Heh

Most of the wineries were open for free wine tasting. However, we were pretty late and most of them were closed.

#LiviaFoong clearly enjoyed herself at Perth. She was very eager to get off the car whenever we made a stop. She was in big smiles whenever the wind gets to her face.

Surfers Point was next. It’s where the actual Margaret River meets the sea.

We had an unobstructed view of the sea. I didn’t see any surfers though.

It was very cold and chilly due to the wind. I didn’t bring a jacket and #LiviaFoong and wife only had a cardigan.

#LiviaFoong braving the cold. She was staring at the sunset.

We had dinner at Margaret River town. It’s just a small street but seems pretty self sufficient. It has a tourist centre, bookstore, pharmacy, toy store and many restaurants including a Thai restaurant that serves AUD20 noodles.

AUD 23 Pizza at Goodfella’s. It was pretty good and the crust, which I usually don’t eat, was soft and doughy. I liked it.

I remember it being AUD23 because the cashier had to return us AUD23 for charging us an extra pizza which we didn’t order.

We also had wine. This particular wine attracted us because it claims to have coffee beans. There was no coffee beans inside nor it had any tinge of coffee in its taste.

We went home straight after dinner. It was long journey home. Livia was sound asleep most of the time. Glad we made a trip to Margaret River.

Perth, Australia 2014 – Penguin Island

On the 1st day of 2015, we visited Penguin Island. It’s just 15 minutes drive from Melvin and Tania’s place.

We also met up with wife’s friend Lisa who married a local here. They brought along their 2 kids.

Penguin Island is just few minutes away from the mainland. It’s so near that you can actually walk there through the sandbank. However, walking is not recommended as some have lost their life using the sandbank.

The boat ride to the island costs us AUD23 + entry to the penguin feeding show.

The main attraction of this island is the penguins. They usually live by the beach. The little penguins can be seen on the left.

Frankly the penguin feeding show is a little bit boring.

Highlight of this island to me is the crystal clear water and beach. We could see fishes swimming by the shore.

#LiviaFoong’s first time at the beach! She loved it. She even crawled towards the water and started tapping on it.

The island was inhibited by a person in 1917. He turned the caves into his home.

More info about the first settler.

This is how the caves look like. At some point, the settler had visitors and turned the island into some form of a resort. He even had a shop and library here.

The caves from afar. I wonder if they ever get flooded.

Seems that some people decided to follow Seaforth’s footsteps and stayed here in the 1930s.

The island is relative flat. You can walk up to the look out point. It takes about an hour to explore around the island. Loads of vegetation here. The penguins live and travel underneath this vegetation.

The other side of the island. Seas more choppy here.

There’s a basic toilet here. There’s no flush and all “deposits” are left to be decomposed.

Facilities are scarce here. There’s no rubbish bins and visitors are required to carry their rubbish back. There’s even a table of rubbish found for anyone to take back to the mainland for disposal. I took some back.

Also there are no shops in the island. Everyone has to bring their own supplies.

We had super late lunch at 530pm. Mel cooked tomyam fried noodles.

We got hungry later at night. Mel made kangaroo and beef burgers!

Perth, Australia 2014 – Burrington and Canal Rocks

We made a road trip to Burrington and Canal Rocks on our 4th day. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get to Burrington which is another city with a very lovely beach.

We had lunch at a place called Zen at Burrington. #LiviaFoong slept half of the journey.

The food at Zen was not bad and the coffee is alright. They even have piccolo latte. The place is a little bit dirty though. Food was scattered all around the floor.

The gang all smiles at Zen.

Some local business cards at the cashier. I guess it’s a way to support your mates.

First time seeing a chimney cleaning card. Amused that such business still exists.

Simmo’s ice cream was the only recommendation on Wikitravel. It has many interesting flavours. I had the Old English Toffee and wife had the Rum and Raisins. William got the licorice flavour and it was black in colour.

The portion was huge. But I think this is the fastest melting ice cream I’ve tried. Probably due to the hot weather. I had ice cream all over my hands.

William’s licorice ice cream melted on his hands and his hands turned black. He looked like he just fixed a car.

Another attraction is the 2km pier. You can take a train to the end of the pier and enter their underwater centre. We were late and we missed the last train.

The end of the pier on the right. It was extremely hot and sunny. Also there were flies everywhere. They always attack our faces.

#LiviaFoong was asleep by the time we got into the car.

Canal Rocks was the highlight of the day. Water was crystal clear and there were no flies! I guess it was because of the strong wind.

#LiviaFoong drove us there. We got there in one piece.

This is the actual Canal Rocks. It’s a formation of rocks. You can actually walk on it and explore the small rock formations. But don’t expect to be saved if anything goes wrong. One wrong step could send you off to the seas.

One dude snorkeled around the rocks. He was fishing there too.

Yada yada. Background about the rocks..

This is where we parked our car. I hiked up the highest rock to get a panaromic view of the place.

The other side of the rocks.

Crystal clear water. I didn’t see any fishes though.

At the small and shallow strait between the rocks

Water was extremely cold. I wonder how could the guy snorkel in such cold water.

Violent seas on the left.

Pier to catch a boat.

This is how the Canal Rocks look like from the top.

Looks like a flattened lizard.

Perth, Australia 2014 – Fremantle

Melvin and Tania picked us up with the rented 7-seater Kia Van on our third day. Our first stop was Fremantle, another city nearby Perth city. I only know the place for being well known for seafood. I must say that the seafood was awesome.

Mel and Tania bought the famous Corica Apple Strudels at the city and brought it to Fremantle. The pastry was soft and the cream was nice.

We explored the beach a bit and even visited the museum.

Large ship uncovered

Thereafter, we headed to the famous Little Creatures brewery for drinks. The brewery is open to the public and contains a café/restaurant.

Melvin ordered a tester (FOC!). The tester comes in numerous glasses with different type of beers. Each beer has two small glasses and hence Melvin and I got one each. I like the cider the best whereas the rest was just so-so. Some tasted horrible to me.

Livia at the brewery.

Uncle Mel clearly doesn’t like kids and have no idea how to carry one.

All sorts of beer here.

The drive back home took us 40 minutes. We even shopped at Woolies for a bit for our BBQ dinner. We reached their home about 9pm. Mel cooked lamb, beef, salmon, trout, portobello mushrooms, corn and chicken.

One of Mel and Tania’s neighbours is into Xmas deco.

Livia would love to be here to destroy everything here.

Perth, Australia 2014 – Perth City

We spent some time in the city before meeting up with Melvin and Tania. We didn’t want Livia to travel too much (she can’t sit still!). Instead, we met up with Wui Ling and her husband for the first 2 days.

Wui Ling picked us up from the airport and had dinner with her, her husband and their kids at a place called Viet Ho.

Beef is quite tender and soup is nice. Noodles was a bit tough though.

We roamed around the city to find most shops closed. One of the rare places that was open was Koko Black. I used to love this place when I was in Melbourne. Their iced chocolate is probably the best I’ve tried.

Spent the whole day at Garden City shopping. Wui Ling, Edward and their 2 kids brought us there. I think the kids got a long well.

The picture was taken at the baby changing room. This is the other side of the room. Quite comfortable. Even the soap dispenser is automatic. Mummy and daddies would know that one of their hands would be busy.

Accidentally had poo poo on #LiviaFoong’s dress. Had to change her again. Luckily we were in the hotel that time.

Livia’s outfit in the evening.

Didn’t know that Perth has an underground.

Cool bookstore + coffee. Had two picollo latte in Perth today and they were just so so.

Yummy sushi for dinner at Aisuru Sushi. It costs AUD17 for each roll of though. Fuuuuhh

Perth, Australia 2014 – Overview

My wife, Livia and I visited Melvin and Tania’s abode at Perth after Christmas. Melvin is one of my hengtais during my wedding and we knew each other since we were 15.

They migrated over there couple of months ago. They now live in a place called Secret Harbour which is about 40 minutes away from Perth City.

Secret Habour. Most houses around here are single storey.

Although we arrived after Boxing Day, the city was a little bit dead. Most of the shops were closed and the streets were pretty empty.

We spent some time in the city before meeting up with Melvin and Tania. We didn’t want Livia to travel too much (she can’t sit still!). We stayed at Sheraton Hotel and got a pretty good room thanks to our friend Elaine of Luxenomad.

Livia was very pleased with the room.

We got a free upgrade thanks to Luxenomad and also a baby cot. The room was spacious and comfortable. They even supplied us with a bathtub for us to bath Livia.

Victorian building at Perth City

A street in Perth City

Saw this while walking to the city from our hotel

Perth City at night

It was our first time travelling with Livia on such a long journey. But the journey there was pleasant. Livia was in a good mood but did cry a little bit. She has this habit of staring at strangers and then smiling whenever they look back.

Livia poo-pooed in the plane once. We changed her in the airplane toilet. It has a baby diaper changing table. Things I didn’t realise until I became a parent.

We got Livia a bassinet. We had to top up RM300 for the seat. We also got free Heinz baby food.

I’ve always enjoyed flying over Australia. The view from the top is amazing.

The weather was scorching hot during the day but cool at night. We literally had to bath in sun tan lotions. Livia became tanned too especially after spending a day at the beach. Livia loved the beach. She crawled around the sand and played with the water (and even tried drinking it!).

Another couple, William and Rachael, stayed with Melvin and Tania at the same time. It felt like my university days when I had 7 other housemates. It was like a party everyday. W & R were having their honeymoon in Perth and we traveled around together. They were quite good with Livia. Wife and I could rest a bit while they play with Livia.

Livia and W. Livia doesn’t really like strangers carrying her but W & R were exceptions.

Most of the attractions of Perth are outside Perth City. We made couple of road trips around Perth on a 7-seater KIA Van which Melvin rented (all of us chipped in for the rental).

Livia however didn’t enjoy the ride on the van much. She doesn’t like to be strapped down on the car seat. Wife had to distract her with food.

Melvin cooked us delicious food throughout the stay. He made us breakfast and dinner. He’s a good cook hence food was always tasty (and he just started a new job as a cook!). He even made us kangaroo burgers!

Livia was pleased with the food

Roasted pork!

Mushrooms and Hainanese chicken.

Barbecue was in our menu too.

After 7 days in Perth, we made our trip home. Melvin fetched all of us to the airport. Tania came back with us to Malaysia leaving Melvin alone in Perth. His home was no longer the lively home he saw for the past 7 days. But I guess he’ll be glad that we left him once he saw his electricity and gas bills.

The journey back home was terrible though. Our 2:30AM flight was disastrous because Livia was screaming and crying. She refused to sleep on her bassinet hence my wife had to carry her to sleep. My wife barely slept. Lesson learnt: Don’t take midnight flights when travelling with a baby!

Asian Patent Attorneys Association Council Meeting @ Penang 2014 – Part II

Makan @ Penang

I met up with Dr Khoo and his wife Irene for dinner at Pulau Tikus market. Dr Khoo is born in Penang but now works as a Patent Attorney in Singapore. He recommended this place to me.

While waiting for them to arrive, I started my dinner with apom! It tasted okay.

It started raining heavily.

My first dish – duck kuay teow teng. We don’t have this in KL as far as I know. It’s rather bland though.

There are two shops selling the same thing but one says Established 1983. Guess which one I ordered from?

Finally get to eat Assam Laksa!

It was sweet and not spicy.

I must say this Muar Chi is damn awesome. It’s sold by the stall selling Assam Laksa.

Oh chien (oyster with fried eggs) was good too.

After dinner, Dr Khoo suggested that we have cakes at ChinaHouse at Beach Street.

We parked at this famous mural by a Lithuanian artist. Very rarely you get to be alone with this mural.

The kid with a kite mural has faded.

China House at Beach Street. It’s a very narrow shop but it’s connected with the shop directly behind it.

There’s a Honesty Shop near the courtyard. Nobody mans the place. Just take your product and leave your cash there. I wonder if it works.

In my area, there’s someone who gets his kid to steal newspaper on the news stand wtf.

A huge variety of cakes here.

We ordered 3 cakes. I didn’t like them much cause they were a little bit dry / too much cream.

I ordered gula melaka milk shake. It was nice in the beginning but the sweetness became a little bit unbearable thereafter. I didn’t finish it.

There’s a small bar adjoined to the cafe.

First time seeing this. You can test the wine using this machine. It will keep the wine thereafter so that it doesn’t turn bad- I think.

Gala Night
We celebrated the last night of the conference with a Gala dinner. I never remembered them to be enjoyable but this time round it was quite fun. It was held in Straits Quay. I drove there with some friends while the rest of the participants took the conference bus under the rain. Heh

I sat with my friends from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Macau, US and my ex colleagues.

This is Manu from Spain. He does my trade mark work in Europe. I met him at San Francisco few years ago and he brought me around SF including the well known gay street, Castro Street. We blended in quiet well there.

Like many other guai lou, he can’t take spicy food. I planted some sambal on his food when he stepped out. His expression was priceless.

Takeshi from Japan and Caroline from Thailand. I met the both of them in Hong Kong back in 2009.

Takeshi is a patent attorney and he works in a firm belonging to his uncle. He said 1st year patent attorneys make USD5000 a month. In Malaysia, they make around RM3000.

(L – R) On from US, Bahari my ex colleague, Caroline and Jonathan from Singapore.

After the Gala Night, we headed to the Hospitality Suite for drinks.

As I was about to head back, some of them wanted to go to Hard Rock for more drinks. Since it’s the last night, I followed them.

I was dead tired by then.

We ended the night at McDonalds. I fit all these people here in my car in one single journey. Heh.

Takeshi was supposed to sleep early to catch his early departure from the hotel at 5am. We managed to convince him to stay for McD. By the time we were done with supper, it was already 4am.

I’m glad that I found a group of friends to hang out with in APAA. The next time I see all of them will be next year in Okinawa, Japan!

Asian Patent Attorneys Association Council Meeting @ Penang 2014 – Part I

It’s been a while since I attended the Asian Patent Attorneys Association Council Meeting. The last one that I attended was in 2009 in Hong Kong. I stopped after my previous firm decided that I should only attend INTA and my other colleague will take over my spot in APAA.

I’ve always preferred APAA than INTA. The people attending the former is friendlier and meetings are impromptu. In fact, I dreaded attending the meetings I fixed not because I didn’t want to meet those people but I wanted to be flexible.

This year’s APAA was held in Batu Ferringhi, Penang. It was attended by more than 1,500 IP attorneys. I drove there. I left home about 445pm and got stuck in a jam for hours.

It was raining quite heavily but I raced there anyway. I think I got caught by the speed trap.

I took the new second Penang Bridge to the Island. The drive was a breeze and it was almost empty. The wind was very strong as well. I soon realised I was in the middle of the Penang Straits.

The problem with second Penang Bridge is that it brought me to middle of no where. The road condition was bad and it was dark. Soon my GPS went dead for no reason. I used my gut feeling to get to Batu Ferringhi. I got so lost.

I made a random stop at this place for dinner. It looked bright hence I stopped here. However, Google had no recommendations for me here.

I went around the stalls to see what’s good. I was peeping at people’s table to see what they ordered but most of them looked bland.

I like Mee Sua especially when it comes with herbal chicken drumstick.

With the herbal chicken drumstick on my mind, I ordered mee sua.


I ate the mee sua anyway. It was disappointing.

As I was about to walk to my car, I saw this old uncle selling newspapers and pao. I got myself a kao yuk pao. It was awesome. It came with a big piece of pork belly. Yum.

I usually don’t splurge on hotels when I go for conferences. Instead of staying at Shangri-la and the like, I am staying in a place called EQ Ferringhi.

Bloody place looks like a prison cell!

However, the room looks pretty clean. Spacious. But there’s no WiFi in the room and no chair for me to sit on!

The hotel doesn’t trust their guests with their TV and aircon remote controls. I got them at the counter.

Although the hotel room came with breakfast, it was not very good. I ended up eating McDonalds breakfast everyday (which I like very much).

Since I drove to Penang, I made it an effort to drive my friends to eat around Penang.

I brought Takeshi (from Japan) and Edmund (from Singapore) to Pulau Tikus to eat hawker food. Edmund and I ordered various dishes such as prawn noodles (didn’t know they call it Hokkien mee here), char koay teow, chicken rice etc. They said the dishes were awesome.

Best thing about these conferences is the impromptu plans. Fix one or two meetings a day and the rest is spent running around.

There was once I bumped into Nitin from India and Edmund and I had some beers with him. Thereafter, Edmund had to go for a meeting. Nitin and I were then joined by Caroline from Thailand for ice cream.

The organisers did a street food fair for the participants. We had char kuay teow, assam laksa, murtabak, prawn noodles etc. The food was just okay. Many foreigners loved them since its their first time trying them. The locals like me were like, “It’s okay lah. Edible”.

Rock Climbing @ Jesselton Park

Prior to the conference, I was told that there are participants who had organise climbing sessions in the previous conference. I got in touch with them and agreed to bring them to climb in Penang.

I brought my new friends from Canada and Japan to climb outdoor at Jesselton Park. I have never climbed outdoor in Penang before hence I was eager to try it too.

Penang’s only bolted walls are located at Jesselton Park, which is accessible through a housing area. We relied solely on the directions of local climbing website

We had to hike into the spot. After half an hour, we realised we were going through the wrong direction!

By that time, my legs were filled with mosquito bites. I even fell down after stepping on a slipper log. I had ants crawling all over my slippers after I stepped on a rotten log! I was a terrible experience hiking this jungle.

We did see some rubber trees here. Someone taps them during the day time I guess.

Found a wall but it was not bolted.

We made a u-turn to get to where we came from. We eventually found the spot after re-reading the directions. It was just few minutes from my car!

The place was empty. It was just the 3 of us. It was filled with mosquitoes until I put on the mosquito coil.

Miho and Kohji

The routes of the granite wall was tough. Although graded 6a, it felt much tougher. Fortunately, our Japanese friend did it easily.

There’s a small stream along the walls. I washed my hands here few times. My hands felt muddy after that.

We did 3 routes before wrapping up. We were pretty tired by then.

View from the top!


After being covered with rotten wood, ants and spiders, we headed back to the hotel to shower. We picked up another Thai friend and headed straight to Lorong Selamat for food. Since its my Japanese and Canadian friends’ first time trying Penang food, they liked them.

I wanted to bring them to eat Assam Laksa too but we ran out of time.

We bought some Tambun biscuits nearby. Didn’t know they got sambal version of Tambun biscuits now.

Penang Hill Hike

One of the perks of APAA is the excursions organised by the organising committee. We are given various choices to go and for Penang, I chose the Penang Hill Hike.

We gathered at 630am at the hotel. I had to be there early to help out because the organising committee asked for help. Fortunately, I slept early hence I felt okay.

A quick warm up before our hike. I had to use to loo and another friend also felt the same. We “watered” some plants at the bushes.

We traveled in groups and the guides lead us up. The 3 hour hike was okay for me. Not too tiring.

The guide said the plant can be used as soup. Just add water.

Great view of the city and sea.

Private property. This place may make way for development one day.

Pitcher plants. Eat insects. Yum. Plenty of them on this hill.

Rest stop. Quite nicely done. They even have a gym and a park here.

I think it’s run by volunteers. They even have donation drive to build and repair things. One Datuk here is pretty generous.

A park next stop the rest stop. I think build by volunteers too.

Anyone from Penang remembers this rock?

Apparently, a lot of Penang kia used to make out here. Heh

Rest stop 84. A stop before going up the hill using the tarred road. I heard volunteers used to serve coffee here but it’s abandoned now.

I guess it’s because the floor collapsed. No free coffee!

Extremely steep 5km hike up to the hill.

Saw this beautiful bungalow by the hillside. Built in 192 by Mr. Khoo Heng Pan, a wealthy Penang Chinese who died in 1934 at the age of 43. He was the owner of a cinema and other properties. There’s a scholarship fund set up under his name. The scholarship fund ran out of money in 2011 (according to the Penang State Audited Report) – almost 70 years after his death!

Another view of the house.

Lunch at David Brown Cafe. Another bungalow turned into a cafe.

Too bad the place didn’t milk enough of David Brown’s name. There was nothing about the history of the place. I had to google it.

David Brown, a Scotman, is the pioneer in nutmeg planting in Penang in the 1800s. He made it big with his business and became a well know philanthropist.

The house has a damn ancient looking urinal.

Great view of the city!

We took the train back down to the foothill. Saw this frog stuck to the train.

We finished our tour at about 130pm and I went back to the hotel to sleep.

Overall the hike wasn’t difficult. I brought the right shoes (I climbed Mont Kinabalu with slippers and had terrible blisters after that). A Korean participant wore slacks and leather shoes. I think he suffered a bit.

Istanbul, Turkey 2014

I spent the first week of September 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey to attend the 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2014. It was a sponsored trip set up by the people from LoyarBurok.

My trip was sponsored by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI). I was given a nice room (with 2 single beds!) at Ramada Hotel, Sisli and allowance for a week. It goes for 200 Euro a night /(*O*)\. I certainly won’t be able to afford it myself!

There were a few other lawyers being sponsored from my region. They were Asep from Indonesia, Prof Harry from Philippines and Ei Maung from Myanmar. We tagged along Freedom House delegates from various regions such as Azerbaijan, Uganda, Venezuela, Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, Turkey , Sudan, Pakistan, China, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Chile. Freedom House is a U.S.-based non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.

I took the opportunity to meet up with Handan, one of the lawyers whom I met when I attended the Multilaw Academy in Chiang Mai. She and her husband, Talip, brought me around Istanbul. Other than meeting IP lawyers, I always take the opportunity to meet my Multilaw friends. It is always great to catch up with old friends.

Journey to Turkey
My flight to Istanbul was delayed for 9 hours.

I didn’t know about it until I arrived at KLIA. MAS offered us a free room but when I realised that it’s in Shah Alam – 40 minutes away – I decided to go home instead.

One consolation I got from this delay is that I get to see my wife & Livia for few more hours. Another consolation was that I found out that I left my laptop charger at home. Phew.

I took a short nap before heading to KL Sentral at 515am. There I was told that my flight is delayed another 2 hours *silent scream*

After a 11+ hour flight, I finally touched down Istanbul. The airport was pretty small and hence nothing much to see. My taxi to my hotel took about half an hour and it costs 50 Lira.

Turkey Legal Practice

I took some time off to visit a law firm called Moroglu Arsevan located at Istiklal Avenue. I know this firm during my time in the old firm. Handan used to work here.

Glass with books visible at the background. Love this design.

Perched at the 12th floor, this firm has a good view of Istanbul.

They recently renovated the office hence everything looks brand new. It’s all about steel, glass and wood and industrial look. I was pretty awed by it.

This is the sign at their entrance at the 6th floor. However, there’s no reception. It’s all office desks and rooms. Lawyers and staff sit together in a cubicle of 4 tables whereas partners get their own rooms.

I always make it a point to visit a law firm whenever I visit a country. One senior IP lawyer once said, “In IP practice, you will never go without a meal in a country. Just call one of your fellow IP lawyers there”. Very true, everyone I met was keen to buy drinks and food!

The lawyer I met today was one of the founding partners. We spoke about business and current affairs.

The partner told me that they hardly have trade mark filings in Malaysia. Most Turkish businesses prefer to invest or trade with countries near them such as Middle East. This firm did my client’s trade mark filing in Turkey. Malaysians are good at expanding our businesses.

I am told that Istanbul has 40,000 lawyers – 4 times the amount of lawyers in Kuala Lumpur. Competition between lawyers is quite stiff here.

Handan just opened a branch office of her father’s firm from Izmir (third most populous city in Turkey) couple months ago. It’s called Diri Hukuk. I saw some Turkish law firms using the word Hukuk as part of their name. Dictionary says it means “in-law”. Perhaps something like Attorney-in-Law.

Handan’s sister and her husbands are lawyers too. Her sister works in a big Turkish firm whereas her husband runs her own firm. After talking to my Turkish lawyers friends, I realise that our legal practice is not much different from theirs. Young associates will work long hours and give up their social life for work. Senior associates will hang on to their firm waiting to be made a partner or set up their own law firm. Lawyers will need to go out to do “marketing” to bring in businesses to the firm.

Internet Governance Forum
The Internet Governance Forum is an annual gathering of Internet regulators and technical experts. Various workshops are held and private meetings are made in the Istanbul Convention & Exhibition Centre (ICEC).

Inside ICEC

The ICEC is next to a park and a military museum. One thing I liked about the place is the view that I get while walking to the ICEC.

Cats are everywhere in this park.

Although I am a big fan of all things Internet related, the workshops were beyond me. It’s either I have no idea what they were talking about or extremely boring. I don’t think there was a a workshop talking about cyberlaw!

The first workshop I attended had a wide number of participants from many countries. Everyone had to give a short introduction about themselves and how they are feeling today.

I said, “Hello, I’m Foong from Malaysia. I’m a lawyer”

The MC then said, “You feeling lawyer today?” -_-

Large conference going on.

Translators’ booths. Translations are done real time. Speeches are also taken down verbatim. Impressive.

Most of my time were spent in the meetings organised by Freedom House.

Freedom House Delegates

I had an enjoyable time with this group of people. However, it was a big group and I did not manage to mingle with everyone of them. Most of them are activists running their own NGOs or part of a NGO. Some are friendly, some are reserved, many outspoken (thus silencing the lawyers) and some are missing from meetings all the time.

Last meeting with the people with Freedom House

Freedom House organised many private meetings with civil society organisations such as Internet Society and even businesses such as Twitter, Google and Facebook. I must say that the Twitter meeting was most interesting. I tweeted some points made by the public policy representative from Twitter:-

  • Twitter is a work in progress
  • Twitter does transparency report every 6 months. Second company to do this after Google
  • Twitter has the technology to withhold content to a certain country
  • Twitter when needed to remove content, it will put a grey box at the tweet to state that the content may run afoul of the law
  • Court orders against Twitter are sent to for publication
  • Although content is withheld to a country, Twitter’s geolocation technology may not be correct. But users may correct its geolocation
  • In some countries, some may need to use pseudonym to speak securely
  • Twitter is stingy with sharing user information with Government
  • Twitter do give information if due process is followed
  • Twitter is serving 500 millions tweets a day
  • Twitter gets Government request that is against their Terms of Service. They enforce the latter around the world.
  • Twitter sometimes get state sponsored attacks on their system
  • Twitter opens offices in countries for economic reasons. It is purely business
  • Recent office is Jakarta, Indonesia. It has a lot of Twitter users. Opening in 6 months. It’s for sales n business development
  • Twitter does not have the ability to censor hashtags
  • Twitter’s transparency report is getting more detailed. We are trying to expand it more
  • Largest problem with removal of content is spam. Unsolicited commercial tweets
  • Twitter’s teams are highly trained to deal with sensitive content and not outsourced.
  • Intermediary liability – Twitter tries but their team is small. They usually work with other companies when dealing with other Government
  • When request comes n Twitter disagrees, Government will have to decide whether to get a Court order
  • New law in Turkey compels Twitter to take action within 4 hours failing which they may be blocked again – see Turkish Law No. 5651 (see page 6 Freedom House’s Report)
  • When we get a request for removal/user info, Twitter will notify user and let them choose to seek legal counsel eg Wikileaks
  • In US, Twitter user filed Court action against request for their information
  • SMS to Twitter service – Sudan delegate thinks Sudan government has blocked it.
  • Data localisation – our servers are only in the US. Surprisingly to Twitter it will put any servers in Russia
  • We also met some people from the public policy department of Google. We had an interesting discussion. From what I can remember:-

  • Google does not reveal user content in any circumstances unless due process is followed.
  • They engage Government quietly when dealing with controversial policies or laws. They usually don’t go direct but through an association. When I asked one of them about our #stop114A movement and why Google wasn’t openly opposing it, he said he couldn’t remember or perhaps they did engage the Government quietly.
  • Any Court order for user information or data must come from US Courts.
  • Google funds some civil society organisations.
  • They have someone in South East Asia to look at policies.

  • Dinner with Google

    We had dinner with the Google guys at a nice place called Cezayir, near Istiklal Avenue. We had to go through a long flight of a stairs to get to the restaurant.

    I think the most important part of the meeting was establishment of new networks. For example, if a Government decides to impose a new law that affects internet freedom, I can easily get in touch with the public policy department of the big boys to work something out.

    I spent most of my time with my ABA ROLI delegates (i.e the lawyers). I learned that Prof Harry does a lot of interesting work like challenging the constitutionality of Philippines’ Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and prosecuting those involved in the Maguindanao Massacre. Asep on the other hand was involved in the Indonesian case of Florence Sihombing. Florence was arrested and charged in Court after she posted a comment online insulting the city of Yogyakarta. Program Director of ABA ROLI, Mark, did a good job organising us. Mark will be moving to Bangkok from Washington to manage projects in the South East Asia. I am told that ABA has a Thailand office.

    I brought Mark, Prof Harry and Ei Maung around Istiklal Avenue when we attended Freedom House’s reception at the rooftop of Mama Shelter Hotel. There was a restaurant and bar on the roof top. However, there was only finger food so the four of us decided to have dinner nearby. I brought them to a place called Şampiyon Kokoreç to eat local Turkish food. I knew about the place cause Handan and Talip brought me the day before.

    3 of us – #wefie

    We saw a group of people protesting against the Israeli oppression of Gaza. They were holding hands and chanting.

    Turkish Coffee and Chai

    Turkish coffee is an acquired taste. It’s like light espresso with coffee residue. It’s thick and slightly bitter. Sugar is optional but there’s no milk. The thickness is caused by floating coffee grounds. I’m not a big fan of it but since I’m in Turkey, I made it a mission to drink it everyday. There’s a special way to make it. Coffee beans are grinded and then boiled.

    I bought some coffee beans back and made them into piccolo latte (double shot with some frothed milk). It still has the Turkish coffee taste but a little milder. It actually tasted better.

    Surprisingly, I prefer to drink their chai (black tea). It comes in a small glass and usually served after a meal. Sugar is optional. It’s refreshing.

    Touring Istanbul

    On my first night in Istanbul, Handan and Talip brought me to a kebab place called Kasibeyaz. We drove alongside the coast to get to the place. It reminded me a lot of San Francisco as the place was pretty hilly.

    The restaurant had a rather strange looking design. The walls were white and ceramic like. I was the only Asian there.

    Food was interesting. I had so much that I was about to explode. They ordered a drink called Raki, a famous Turkish alcoholic drink, for me. It’s colourless until you pour water on it. They kept the drink cool by putting it in a pot with ice. However, I didn’t like it because of the taste of sambuca. Sambuca brings back many terrible memories. Something to do with vomit going up my nose.

    We had baklava and Turkish ice cream for dessert. I love Turkish ice cream’s tough and gluey texture.

    We ended the night with Turkish coffee. We sat by the open area of the restaurant and it was pretty cold. The waiters gave us Kasibeyaz branded blankets to keep us warm.

    On the next day, Handan and Talip picked me up from the hotel to tour Istanbul city.

    We parked at Taksim Sq and walked along İstiklal Avenue. The avenue is a long and wide street with tall buildings covering every inch of the side walk. It reminded me of Vienna. Talip said that her grandma told him that people who walks on this street will dress their best. However, it’s no longer like that now.

    “People mountain, people sea” (人山人海) (Chinese proverb)

    Probably the narrowest shop on Istiklal Avenue

    #wefie on Istiklal Avenue

    The avenue is so long that it makes sense to take a tram.

    While on the avenue, I bought Turkish coffee beans and local chocolates. We even visited a small old mosque. I thought I couldn’t get into the mosque cause I’m not Muslim. Talip said that’s no such rule in Turkey.

    Handan and Talip recommended that I try this mussel and lemon. It was very nice.

    Once we got to the Galata Tower, we found that the queue was extremely long. I was told that there’s a great view of Istanbul up there

    So we walked to this place called Balkon which also has the same view. This place however has no queue and there was beer!

    Balkon is located on top of a building with unobstructed view of the city. I ordered Efes beer, a Turkish beer and had some peanuts.

    Few blocks from Balkon lies the second oldest subway station in the world called “The Tunnel”. We took the the subway to the Eminönü neighborhood. It was very, very short. Less than 2 minutes probably.

    You can see the tunnel quiet clearly and it was lighted brightly.

    We spent sometime looking the Eminönü neighborhood.

    We crossed the Galata Bridge to get to the other side. There were many people fishing and some even caught fishes. However, the fishes were pretty small. There were also stalls selling fishing wares.

    The Eminönü Mosque. It looks huge from outside but it’s actually quite small inside. It’s one of the many ancient mosques there.

    Great details on the design. Photography is allowed inside the mosque. Talip brought me into the mosque while Handan had to hang out outside cause she was wearing shorts.

    We had dinner at a place called Fasuli. It’s well known for its “dried beans”. It’s like oily baked beans to me. You can eat it with rice or pickles.

    I couldn’t finish it as I was full and jet lagged. Handan said that when she was a kid, her mother used to say that the amount of leftover rice represents the amount of children you will have. I told her that Chinese believes that amount of leftover rice represents the amount of pimples on your future spouse’s face.

    Dessert. Looks like creme brule but it’s actually condensed milk below. Very sweet.

    We ended the night at Dolmabahce cafe with Turkish coffee. This alfresco cafe is located next to the Dolmabahce Palace with a view of the Bosphorus strait. It’s packed with people and the seats are free for all. We literally had to fight for a seat.

    Handan and Talip told me that Turkish people sometimes read their fortunes from coffee residue. One has to flip the cup onto the plate and let the residue cool down. You can read about your future from the shape of the coffee stains.

    Few hours before my flight home, I met up with Handan and Talip for drinks during the evening. I visited Talip’s store at Osmanbei, a place where many clothing wholesale businesses gather. Talip’s family run a wholesale business and they sell their stuff to places like Russia and Ukraine.

    Osmanbei area

    They have really unique designs and they are apparently very popular in those countries (sold out!).

    This is part of their winter season collection.

    They design and produce their own clothes. They have an inhouse designer, tailor etc. This is where they cut their fabric.

    Talip’s shop. You can’t walk in to buy a piece by the way. They only do wholesale in this shop.

    First time holding this type of scissors. It is quite heavy.

    This is the name of their brand. Talip had kindly presented my wife one of their dresses.

    Here’s Talip waving goodbye to me. Real nice chap.

    Handan walked me to my hotel after that. While bidding farewell, she said kiss your baby for me. I wonder if this is a common expression in the Turkish language.

    Turkey gotta be one of my newest favourite place. I would love to come back here again with my family!

    P/S: You can read my day to day postings on Turkey on my Dayre.