IKEA Tebrau opens today!

Today, Nov 16, I discovered that I-K-E-A are the initials of its founder’s name, his family’s farm and the village where he grew up in Sweden – Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd.

My media pass to the event at IKEA Tebrau
On Nov 16 at exactly 10am, IKEA’s first store in Southern Malaysia that covers 46,713 square meters of floor space, welcomed shoppers into IKEA Tebrau, its biggest store in Southeast Asia.

In the past few months, I passed the site and saw the building gradually taking shape, heard rumours that this brand was soon opening here and recently, I finally saw for myself, that iconic logo which confirmed all the hearsay.

And for fans of IKEA, this became a serious countdown to its opening date.

All who have been enjoying the shopping experience at its outlets in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere, can now look forward to shopping at an outlet literally in our own backyard!

With all the hype spreading on social media, fans and shoppers in Johor Baru were buzzing with eager anticipation, just waiting for its doors to be opened on Nov 16.

Closer to its opening date, IKEA Tebrau sent out teams of their co-workers riding on bicycles and walking about wearing backpack billboards to inform and invite shoppers into their store.

Shoppers corralled in the covered carpark, waiting for 10am
Some fans, eager to catch the proverbial fattest worm along with chances to win prizes, started to queue up at the store from 11.30pm the night before so as to be among the first people to step into the store when it opened at 10am the next morning!

Meanwhile I had the privilege of a media invitation for Nov 16 with specific instructions on where to park and what time to get in to join the IKEA team and other guests for a Swedish breakfast before the official opening formalities started.

Waking up at the crack of dawn for this event was surreal but driving into the carpark and finding it looking like an exact replica of its other stores, was a comfortable and familiar feeling.

I saw young men wearing IKEA blue waistcoats embroidered with white flowers against white shirts and young ladies wearing IKEA blue Swedish peasant dresses with long skirts and matching flower garland headbands.

My serving of Swedish breakfast at the IKEA restaurant
They checked my invitation [on my phone!] and guided me to the second level where I was welcomed into the restaurant which was already a hive of activity.

Guests were eating their Swedish breakfasts and when I approached the serving staff, I was told to sit down and they will serve it to me.

As the tray was served, I glanced at the bowl of cereal and yogurt, a slice of bread and crackers with cheese slices and smiled when my eyes fell upon the Swedish meatballs topped with cranberry sauce, a signature item at the IKEA restaurant.

A sliced hardboiled egg and a slice of smoked salmon on a tiny bed of potato salad were served on a separate saucer.

Needless to say, I started my breakfast by eating the portion of meatballs first!

VIPs ready to saw the log in the official opening ceremony
The event Master of Ceremony was giving a series of announcements to brief us on the event programme and its timings, and he kindly assured me that I had plenty of time to enjoy my breakfast before the speeches started.

He reminded us that after the speeches, the entire event would move to the Ground level for the official opening ceremony.

In his speech, IKEA Southeast Asia managing director, Christian Rojkjaer, expressed his appreciation to the team of over 300 local co-workers and was grateful for their Johor boleh! attitude.

He said that their IKEA store, a one-stop family shopping destination, was like a living organism where there was always something to do here.

IKEA Tebrau is now official declared open!
Among other things, IKEA Southeast Asia retail director, Mike King, said that IKEA Tebrau aims to inspire people to turn their houses into homes.

IKEA Tebrau store manager, Annie Chandler, was excited with the solutions that they can provide.

She commended the planning team for doing an amazing job in preparing the store for its opening and said what they had done was the most inspiring arrangements she had ever seen.

In her 14 months in Malaysia, Annie who’s Australian, was impressed with the 300 local co-workers and their positive can-do attitude.

When the deputy store manager, Charles Sathis Nair, was introduced, I felt a ridiculous sense of pride because Charles is also a Johorean!

IKEA bikers and billboard bearers at the event
Then Charles commented that it was “a momentous day today” and it resonated within me because this was the exact word I used to describe my year this year!

Keeping a close watch on the time, the MC then invited the media to first move to the event area downstairs, followed by others who should take their places for the official opening gimmick.

Instead of cutting a ribbon, IKEA has a tradition in sawing a log in two, symbolic of a new beginning and the stage in the event area, was set up for this.

It was like a photography frenzy as cameras of various kinds clicked or videoed the moments as they watched the VIPs sawing the log with all their might on the stage and (flashed) on the LED screen.

The SIGS Marching Band with colour guard on stage
It took a while but with some cheering encouragement, they finally sawed the log in two!

Then a short video was screened to showcase how the IKEA co-workers on bicycles and walking billboards reached out to the community in and around Johor Baru.

Once the video ended, the stars of the video – the bikers and walking billboards – rode/walked into the event area amid claps and cheers.

When the special performance was announced, I felt another surge of pride as the girls from the Sultan Ibrahim Girls School (SIGS) Marching Band struck up the chords and marched smartly onto the stage, complete with members of the colour guard bearing IKEA flags!

Welcoming shoppers into the store after 10am
The MC got it right when he called the band, “the pride of Johor Baru” because last year, I had the privilege of meeting them and doing a feature on this award-winning all-girls band.

Then it was time for an advance 30-minute peek into the store before the ‘floodgates’ were opened.

Walking in behind the VIPs, I was among the first to step into IKEA Tebrau to experience the exciting displays in the 54 room sets and admire over 8,000 types of products in the store.

As I browsed around, I grooved to the upbeat music played on the store’s sound system just soaking in the IKEA feel – if there’s such a thing – still not quite believing that all this was happening in JB!

More shoppers welcomed into the store after 10am
At about 10 minutes before 10am, the music paused and a voice made an announcement, addressing the store’s co-workers, advising them to be at their respective stations as the store would be opening in about five minutes.

Little did I know that a mighty crowd of thousands of shoppers were queuing up outside while another group was safely corralled behind bars in the covered carpark, just waiting for the doors to open at 10am sharp.

“Where did these people come from?” I wondered. “Didn’t they have to go to work?” I asked myself.

Shoppers entering IKEA Tebrau today
Then I recalled my friend Edey telling me that in his wife’s office, two of her colleagues took the day off just to go to IKEA Tebrau!

I imagined many employers being shorthanded today as they discover staff being absent from work, simply because IKEA Tebrau was opening its doors.

Operating hours at IKEA Tebrau are: Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 10pm, Friday and Saturday, public holidays, eve of public holidays and replacement holidays that fall on Mondays, from 10am to 11pm.

For more info on Opening promotions/activities and limited edition deals, visit website: IKEA.my/Tebrau.  

Singapore's nature parks

With the year-end holidays just around the corner, it’s time to plan some quality time with the family and there’s no better way than to bond over animal attractions at Singapore’s award-winning nature parks – Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Jurong Bird Park and Night Safari.

Have a close encounter with an Orchid Mantis
at the Singapore Zoo
There is plenty to see and do, so plan to spend a day at the Land of Giants in Singapore Zoo and River Safari for some super-sized fun. Then end the day with Twilight Encounters at the Night Safari.

Get to know the amazing abilities of insects at Singapore Zoo and the majestic river giants at River Safari through interesting activities held every weekend from Nov 18 to Dec 31.

The Land of Giants features 20 larger-than-life invertebrates (animals without backbones) including the orchid mantis and net-casting spiders. 

Let the youngsters follow the ant trail for different activity pit stops and enjoy fun stuff like creating a creepy crawler, watching a puppetry performance or spying on some invertebrates through the bug magnifier!

Poster for Land of the Giants 
Over at River Safari, embark on a super-sized edition of River Trails and discover gigantic facts about river dwellers like the Mekong giant catfish and giant freshwater stingray. 

Then at the River Talk, get ready to meet one of the largest flying birds and the world’s largest rodent!

As night falls, take the family on a wild night out at Night Safari to experience Twilight Encounters which includes a mystical glow-in-the-dark trail to find animal lights among the real creatures of the night. 

Discover the secrets of the glowing trails and stand to win attractive prizes.

Look out for special animal appearances by nocturnal creatures like the binturong and watch how Night Safari’s animal residents display their natural skills in exciting animal shows. 

Activities are held at various park locations on Fridays and Saturdays, from Nov 17 to Dec 31.

Poster for the Blue-Zilian Carnival
Then plan another day to join the Blue-Zilian Carnival at Jurong Bird Park to see the world’s rarest blue macaws, including the Spix’s macaw, the blue bird which inspired the Rio movie series. 

If you plan to go on Nov 25, extend your stay to watch the screening of the first Rio movie at the amphitheater.

Native to Brazil, the critically endangered Spix’s macaw and endangered Lear’s macaw are making their inaugural appearance at the park’s Parrot Paradise exhibit. 

Together with Jurong Bird Park’s Hyacinth macaw, they make up the entire remaining blue macaw family. 

The fourth and final blue macaw species – the Glaucous macaw – is already extinct.

Experience a bit of Brazil, the native habitat of these blue beauties and be captivated by Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art form that combines music, dance and acrobatics. 

Look out for animal lights among the creatures of
the night at Twilight Encounters
The Blue theme continues at the park’s food and beverage kiosks which serve specialties like Blue Blue Cha Cha and Butterfly Pea Flower tea.

Bring your cameras (phone cameras will do!) to capture special mementoes with the parks’ mascots. Look out for the giant dung beetle (and his ball of dung) and the lime butterfly at Singapore Zoo as well as Canola the manatee at River Safari. 

Also grab a wild shot with the animal stars to remember your wild night out at Night Safari.

Managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, world-leading zoological institutions – Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Jurong Bird Park and Night Safari – aim to inspire people to value and conserve biodiversity by providing meaningful and memorable wildlife experiences at their parks.  Website: www.wrs.com.sg

A version of this was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times Jom on 16 Nov 2017

Brunch at Kenny Hills Bakers

My brother Kenny – short for Kenneth – has nothing to do with Kenny Hills Bakers except that he was the gracious host who brought me there for brunch on my birthday.

Facade of Kenny Hills Bakers viewed from the carpark
Now based in Kuala Lumpur, he has discovered new places to dine and whenever I visit, he enjoys showing me his new discoveries.

That morning when we set out on the drive to brunch, Kenny was smiling knowingly, hugging a little secret to himself, not quite willing to tell me where we were going to eat.

All I knew then was that we were heading out to brunch.

After a long drive – at least it felt like such a long, long drive – we reached our destination in a fenced-in and tree-lined compound for apartments with an outdoor carpark.

I was told this area was Kenny Hills. I remember this name, not only because my brother shares the same name, but because some 30 years ago, this address was considered a seriously posh place to live in.

A range of plump pies
As we approached the ground floor shops from the carpark, I spied the floor tiles (mosaic squares!) a style that was trendy ages ago, and knew that this was indeed an older block of buildings.

I read its name, Kenny Hills Bakers – Organic Artisan Breads – Patisserie – Coffee, boldly painted on the bamboo chinks, lowered to shield from the slanting rays of the morning sun, and got an idea about where we were brunching.

We snuck in through the bamboo chinks, side-stepping a padlocked Pos Malaysia post box cemented onto the pavement and suddenly my nostrils were assailed by wafts of mouth-watering, freshly baked aromas!

Assorted savoury tarts
Diners were seated at tiny tables arranged on the shadowy pavement while a human jam was blocking the entrance into the bakery. I guess they were probably buying takeaways or placing their orders.

Still enjoying the delightful smells, I stepped aside to allow the others to pass/clear the path, before I managed to squeeze inside.

The cashier’s counter, a shelf spread with pies, puffs, tarts, cakes and loaves, and a chiller (I could see through!) filled with cakes and pastries, occupied a tiny square shopfloor while the rest of the room to the left was the dining hall with diners at their tables.

I spied activity in the bakery just behind the shelf. The helpful staff advised us to place our orders at the counter first and then find a table, either in this hall or in the adjacent (related) café.

Our freshly-baked half-and-half sourdough pizza
“Wow!” I drooled at the spread and thought: “So much food and so little space (in my stomach!)”

Everything looked and smelled so good! But we had to make some serious decisions here.

We were familiar with Chicken and Mushroom pie so we opted for one each of the Beef Cheek and Mushroom and the Moroccan Lamb pies.

Staying with the savory, we also picked the Mushroom Tart and the Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Tart.

Sourdough pizza would be made upon receiving the order so we agreed on a choice of half-and-half of Beef Peperoni pizza and Al Funghi pizza.

The dining hall is a bit of a tight squeeze
Kenny, the gentleman he is, quickly placed his coffee order and proceeded to secure a table – which he found in their sister café next door, Kenny Hills Bistro.

Meanwhile, Veronica, my sister-in-law, was shown to a corner table in the dining hall and there we were waiting for my brother, who went missing.

This was but a tiny hiccup. It took a while before we figured out what had happened and a telephone call tracked him down and brought him back to join us.

By this time our orders were being served and our tiny table for four was jam-packed with our pies, pastries and coffee, and the pizza was on its way!

A slice of Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake
The experienced serving staff smartly suggested that we lift our coffee cups from the saucers and she swiftly removed the saucers to instantly create more space on the table.

It was sheer delight as we savoured the warm and delicious pastries and pizza, shared among the four of us. Then it was time for the sweet.

My choice was a slice of Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake and the other was a classic Chocolate Éclair.

Classic Chocolate Eclair, chockful of real cream
It had been too long since I tasted a classic éclair with crispy choux pastry filled chockful of real cream…mmm… One bite and I savoured it, simply speechless with bliss…

Never mind the compact space and tiny tables. Our wonderful dining experience resulted in satisfaction and a lot of smiles.

Then someone remembered that we did not receive our order for a Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Tart. Veronica checked her bill to confirm the order and asked the busy serving staff about it.

The stack of raisin scones
The staff verified the order and apologised for the error because in the rush, their last Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Tart was served to another table. Oops!

While this was disappointing, it gave us (me – all the way from Johor Baru!) reason to come back again for the Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Tart and other interesting items on their daily bake list.

As we were leaving, we walked pass the stack of raisin scones. They seemed to beckon me with silent voices and looked so irresistible that I had to buy a couple back.

So the next morning, I continued to have a taste of Kenny Hills Bakers when I warmed-up these lovely scones to enjoy with butter for breakfast.

Open 8am to 7pm, Kenny Hills Bakers is at Lot 1-1B Taman Tunku, off Langgak Tunku, 50480 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: +603 – 6206 4111.

Old Street Let's Eat Cafe

If you are exploring the heritage quarter in Downtown Johor Baru and looking for that famous Red House at the corner of Jalan Tan Hiok Nee and Jalan Pahang, you will not find it.

Menus at Old Street Let's Eat cafe on Jalan Tan Hiok Nee
That’s because the landmark building that was once painted red in colour, is no longer red but was given a facelift and repainted white!

I had already spotted its colour-change while the building was being upgraded and couldn’t wait to see what it was going to look like when they opened for business.

Recently I was at the Johor Baru Chinese Heritage Museum for a meeting with cultural activist, Tan Chai Puan, and when it was over, we decided to go for a drink.

I kept up the pace with Tan, who walked with such purposeful strides, and he led me directly to this freshly whitewashed building.

With David Yong [Left] and Tan [Right]
We are familiar with this building because in past years, Tan and I have attended various culture and heritage events which he organised, and were held here.

Its façade, designed in interesting architecture, remains a popular subject for photographers but wait till you see the transformation inside.

We stepped into the cool interior and I was not surprised with how Tan was greeted with such warm reception by the young man behind the counter. After all, Tan is well renowned for his involvement in a host of cultural activities in the city.

I was duly introduced to the young proprietor, David Yong Chee Onn, who happens to be the vice-president of the Southern University College Alumni Association.

Tan and I were taken on a quick tour of the premises and I was delighted to see how the old wooden staircase, windows and window trellises as well as the ancient floor tiles, were carefully preserved.

At the top of the stairs, upstairs lobby
The beautiful furniture and fittings bathed in subtle lighting with soft music playing in the background – popular Mandarin songs reminiscent of the Hong Kong - Shanghai club heydays – thrust me into another charming era, right there in JB’s popular heritage quarter.

The air-conditioning also helped to shut out the noise (and heat!) from outside and created a cocoon of comfortable respite from walking and exploring the area.

Aptly named Old Street café, this Let’s Eat outlet in the heart of Downtown JB was the latest addition to the chain of Let’s Eat cafés with other locations at Taman Molek, Taman Johor Jaya and Taman Setia Tropika.

Yong pointed out the interesting details designed into the café which beautifully matches with the theme of the old building and this old street.

From antique replicas to an ancient armoire carved with a series of Chinese scenes – I cannot tell if it was from a popular legend – but I appreciate how Yong had a wall of wooden drawers installed into the side of the counter.

Traditional Chinese medicine shop drawers, put to good use here
A series of Chinese carvings on this ancient armoire; Also notice the metal dangling door knobs!
A section of the dining hall upstairs
I observed how a staff took out a package of paper napkins from there… The drawers were not just for show but these traditional Chinese medicine shop drawers were given a new lease of life and put into good use!

In that quick visit, Tan and I only enjoyed a drink here but I assured Yong that I would be back again to taste the food.

A quick glance at the menu gave me an idea of the food and drinks – mainly Hong Kong, Cantonese with a hint of local café fare – just what hungry people wandering about the old street need!

Here’s a glimpse of the Old Street Let’s Eat Café, enough to whet your interest (and appetite) to go check it out for yourselves.

Open from 9.30am to 7pm, the Old Street outlet of Let’s Eat Café is at 56, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, 80000 Johor Baru. Tel: +607 – 220 0530.

DoubleTree by Hilton JB in my momentous year

As this exciting year draws to an end I’m looking back with deep gratitude, at the strong working partnership I have with DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru, the hotel located at No. 12 Jalan Ngee Heng.

My place card on the table for a food preview event
It all started in early 2014 when I was invited to the hotel at its pre-opening stage while furniture and fixtures were being installed. Escorted by then General Manager, Simon McGrath, I had an interesting and most unforgettable tour of the hotel.

Simon led me through a maze of stairs and corridors, taking detours to the back-of-the-house and around the building to see various venues as the hotel was taking shape.

I shared his excitement as I visualized the elegance and sophistication in the building when the jobs were completed and the hotel was ready to open for business.

That was because I spent a large part of my childhood living with our grandparents at No. 154, situated opposite the hotel.

Our grandfather's house was across the road from the hotel,
at the top of the road, adjacent to the row of shops
Growing up here, I had never imagined that this old road could be reinvented and turned into a destination with contemporary style for a clientele of urbane tastes!

Our grandfather’s house was a double-storey bungalow with a badminton court in the compound, at the top of the road adjacent to the row of prewar shops.

In those days this row of double-storey shops used to house family-run Chinese provision stores, Indian laundries or dhoby, a coffee shop and a tinsmith while the upper floor were living quarters.

I explained to Simon that while this row of shops was preserved, grandfather’s house was demolished in 1977 to make way for the construction of Jalan Tun Abdul Razak.

The chefs in the Chinese kitchen at Makan Kitchen
All that was left of our family home was part of the driveway where an enterprising trader had set up his food-stall and expanded its premises over the years.

When DoubleTree by Hilton JB prepared to open its doors to welcome their first guests on July 1, I was invited for a trial stay along with other guests that included Hilton Honors members, the property owners and media representatives.

I remember receiving their signature giant chocolate chip cookie upon checking-in and how I was tasked with the responsibility to use the hotel facilities and experience the food outlets so as to provide constructive feedback in detailed forms.

This was how committed the hotel was to their hospitality brand.

Guest chef in action at the
Beijing La-Mian promotion
So after I sampled their food and interacted with the staff (and submitted those forms), I was glad the hotel took a serious view of my comments of their food quality, facilities and service standards and made the necessary adjustments to improve.

In 2011, I met young artist, Yap Hanzhen and challenged him to move from drawing animals and small creatures to sketching Johor Baru’s heritage buildings.

When his impressive sketches was exhibited in Landmark Mall, the building owner, the Daiman Group commissioned him to compile a collection of JB heritage buildings in a book.

The book entitled, Johor Bahru – My City, My Heritage, was launched at an event held in the DoubleTree by Hilton JB on 16 Jan 2015, as a helpful guide to hotel guests and visitors to JB to seek out these heritage buildings on a walking tour.

Hanzhen was also commissioned to provide a collection of his beautiful sketches, including his heritage buildings sketches, to decorate the walls of the hotel lobby, its corridors and Tosca, the Italian trattoria.

The happy chefs with a selection of specialties for
the Ramadan spread
In the next few months as Simon got acquainted with me and the local community through reading my blog, My Johor Stories (www.peggyloh.com), we talked about how the hotel could contribute to the community as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme.

Our discussions ultimately led to the hotel’s on-going partnership with the Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (JARO) and the refugee children education centres, an initiative of the Johor Baru chapter of Soroptomists International.

A section of the Food Store at the hotel’s lobby level, is dedicated to displaying a range of quality handicrafts by JARO’s artisans with disabilities, for sale as gifts and souvenirs.

Since my trial stay with the hotel, I have been back countless times for food-tasting events and celebrations as well as events hosted by other organisations at the hotel.

Gwen Chia [Left] and I enjoying the Tropical High Tea
Fast-forward to 2017, a momentous year for me when I started discussions on my book project on Jan 4 with my friend, Gwen Chia, over High Tea at the Axis Lounge.

I remember how we savoured elegant sandwiches, cakes and pastries presented with the Chocolate High Tea in between sips of Dilmah tea and talked about my book project with a heightened sense of excitement.

Gwen and I had no idea how the project would unfold but looking back now, I’m ever grateful for the amazing series of events and the goodwill and generosity of friends and business partners, in particular the DoubleTree by Hilton JB.

Incidentally on July 12, just two days before my book launch, Gwen and I kept our date for a most delightful time together with High Tea at DoubleTree by Hilton JB (again!) this time with a Tropical High Tea and Tea Drop tea.

Executive Chef Jaffery Othman
Throughout the year, I was invited to the hotel for various food previews including the Lunar New Year food promotion, the Beijing La-Mian and the Ramadan buffet at Makan Kitchen.

While I was working on my book project, I still found time to dine with friends and our choice was usually the DoubleTree by Hilton JB.

The interactive setting in the Makan Kitchen and the range of quality food in its menu, not just for festive seasons or during promotions but also on ordinary days, make dining a pleasure here.

In April I was at Makan Kitchen again for dinner with former schoolmates to celebrate the birthday of Stella, a former classmate who was visiting from the UK and in July, I was there for lunch to celebrate Irene’s birthday with a group from Singapore.

[I’m always grateful at how the Indian kitchen obliges my request to cook a small portion of curry – without coconut milk – for me!]

As my book project made steady progress, it crossed my mind to hold the book launch event in this hotel. It would mean a lot to me because the hotel was situated across the road from where I grew up at our grandfather’s house.

Simon McGrath [Left] making his speech
and introducing Daniel Alcaraz
To find out if it was possible, I wrote to the hotel with a request and I soon received a favourable reply:  Yes! The date and time I requested for was approved!

After this confirmation, the next message I received from the hotel stated that General Manager, Simon McGrath, offered to sponsor the venue as well as light refreshments!

I responded to this generous offer with an email to express my appreciation to Simon and his gracious reply read:

We are most happy to support your book launch, which is a further reaffirmation of the relationship we have enjoyed with you since the pre-opening of the hotel. We share your passion for the heritage of Johor and the stories that support the fabric of its history.”

While I was overjoyed with the hotel’s generous sponsorship, I was however, saddened to learn that Simon had a new job appointment within the Hilton Group and was leaving JB before my book launch event.

I joined guests at Tosca on 28 June for an event to bid farewell to Simon and his wife, Pat. As we wished him every success in his new appointment, we also welcomed his replacement, Daniel Alcaraz.

With Daniel Alcaraz at my book launch event
As a frequent diner at the hotel, I’m familiar with the fare at Tosca. I’ve also had the privilege to be the happy recipient of the culinary adventures of Executive Chef, Jaffery Othman, who often enjoy whipping up ‘something-special-outside-the-menu’ for me.

When Chef Jaffery invited me over to Tosca Trattoria Italiana for a preview of their Grilled Tomahawk Steaks, I didn’t know who else was expected to join me. I was then pleasantly surprised when the place next to me at the table was reserved for the GM!

It turned out to be a most delightful dinner, skillfully prepared and presented by Chef Jaffery. While dining with Daniel, I had the opportunity to get to know him and to share with him, helpful tips to find his way around his newly adopted home.

The hotel’s friendship and goodwill that started with Simon continued with Daniel and I deeply appreciated how their team worked together on July 15 to give me the support for a successful book launch event.

My book is available at MPH Bookstores nationwide
and online via www.mphonline.com
Even my event guests and readers commented that the venue for my book launch was significant and deeply sentimental to me as the hotel was situated across the road from where I grew up at our grandfather’s house!

My book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage shot to the Number One spot in the MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller list on the week it was launched and stayed on the Bestsellers list for consecutive weeks. In October 2017, my book was still on the MPH Non-Fiction Monthly Bestsellers list.

As I’m looking back to the preceding months in my momentous 2017, it is clear that the DoubleTree by Hilton JB played a special role in the events that unfolded since my first discussion with Gwen about my book project over High Tea in the hotel.

My deepest gratitude to DoubleTree by Hilton JB, for your friendship, support and partnership. THANK YOU.