Friday, November 29, 2013

Relive your childhood at ESCAPE Theme Park

Link to PGC

Focus: Relive your childhood at ESCAPE Theme Park, Teluk Bahang ~~~ by Carolyn Khor

Relive your childhood at ESCAPE Theme Park, Teluk Bahang ~~~ by Carolyn Khor
Everyone has an inner child who just cannot wait to come out to play, that is, if given a chance. Spread over seven acres for now, ESCAPE Theme Park in Teluk Bahang is a childhood dream come true. Its Founder and Chief Escape Officer, Sim Choo Kheng is every bit the Peter Pan who still believes in fun and laughter, along with a heavy dose of nature.

“We need to reconnect with Mother Nature. It is only instinctive of us to be protective of the environment when we love it,” said Sim, who reminisces his youth as a kampong boy who used to climb trees, swam and fished for fresh water prawns in the streams in Thean Teik Estate, Ayer Itam where he grew up.

Sim hopes to share this joyful experience with the children of current generation whom he describes as having a ‘lack of creativity and curiosity’ due to the overdosed institutionalized learning.

‘Low-tech, High Fun’ is how Sim describes his theme park.

“We do not have the money like the 'Big Boys' in Orlando, but we have the creative flair, the international experience and more importantly the passion and drive to realise a new theme park genre that is distinctively in harmony with nature and its surroundings,” he said, adding that ESCAPE adheres to the international safety,  operational and cleanliness standards.

Sim, 48, has been in the theme park industry for more than 20 years and is involved in the operating, designing and building of theme parks worldwide. ESCAPE, according to him, will be his ‘final destination’ when he manages to re-create his playground he lost to 'progress'.

"I yearn to be a kid again, I shall return to where it all started!”, he exclaimed.

Having realised ESCAPE since ten months ago is a personal fulfillment in addressing the void of human interaction with nature such as participatory learning and reconnecting with our core values.

According to Sim, the idea of a theme park started during the Industrial Revolution where people needed to take a break to ease their minds off the stark reality of hard work.

Unlike other theme parks, ESCAPE does not have roller-coasters or sugar coated fantasies. Sim thinks that some theme parks are ‘distorted in their views between having fun and being scared’. "We think we have solutions for everything, in reality very often we resolve a problem by creating a new one".

“The idea of outdoor fun is to enhance bodily motor skills and coordination besides boosting physical fitness,” he said.

ESCAPE Waterplay is expected to be featured in late 2014 and Treetops Hotel in the near future. The total area of 44 acres within the vicinity of the ESCAPE Theme Park will host many more attractions later.

“Repurposing this former Teluk Bahang Dam construction site means we didn't have to disturb much of the surrounding nature, almost all the old structures built by PBA were enhanced with many thought-provoking ideas complying to ESCAPE's ethos. We respect nature and we hope that we could convey this message of love for nature to those who visit our theme park,” he concluded.

ESCAPE Theme Park opens daily from 9:00a.m to 6:00p.m. Further details may be found here:

A breath of life for well-being

Link to Penang Green Council

Focus: A breath of life for well-being ~~ by Carolyn Khor

Almost everyone takes breathing for granted. In this fast-paced life, almost nobody takes notice of breathing except for when some problem crops up. At The Art of Living, an organization which is a not-for-profit, educational and humanitarian NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), breathing is taught as a technique to live a stress-free and violence-free life and to experience inner peace.
“Our guruji’s objective was simply to make people smile and be happy always,” said Sam, a 29 year old Penang Art of Living volunteer.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the organization known as The Art of Living, has 152 centres worldwide with five centres in Penang. It was founded in 1982. Sri Sri was born on 13 May 1956 and resides in India. He currently tweets at @srisrispeaks.
Among Sri Sri’s insightful quotes are:
“If there are ripples on the surface of the lake, we cannot see its depth. Similarly, unless the mind is restful, we cannot experience the harmony and union within us.”
“Break through all the barrier and feel that you are blessed. This is the only step you have to take. The rest will all happen.”
“Life teaches you the art of letting go in every event. When you have learnt to let go, you will be joyful, and as you start being joyful, more will be given to you.”
Besides breathing techniques, meditation and yoga are also offered at the centre.
Sam says that the breathing technique taught at their centres, called Sudarshan Kriya, is recognized as a proven method to manage anger, violence and other negativities like anxieties and depression.
The meditation technique used is called Sahaj Samadhi.
The Sri Sri Yoga method adopted by the centre is an integrated approach to Yoga using a combination of Asana, Pranayama, meditation,, ancient yoga knowledge and service. According to the brochure, this is a prayerful discipline that leads to the union of the body and the mind.
Sam’s wife, Angel had introduced Sam to The Art of Living about three years ago due to the increasing demands in life which included juggling with an education, a career and his family life. With sleep deprivation, Sam decided to seek help. Angel was introduced to the organization some time earlier to help her improve on her general well-being.
Both husband and wife found the techniques useful and helpful.                    
“Just one hour of the Sudarshan Kriya breathing exercise tames anger, soothes worries, stress and anxieties and heals emotional frustrations,” claims Sam.
“It also helped me view things in a broader perspective and I now lead a healthier and happier lifestyle with a peaceful mind”.
“We are all on the same journey but using different paths,” said Sam when asked about how The Art of Living differs from all other organizations which claim to also offer the same stress-free solution.
The Art of Living Foundation channels a large percentage of their collection from courses, The Art of Living publications and sales of Ayurveda products to help rural areas in India and other parts of the world with humanitarian projects such as conflict resolution, disaster relief and sustainable rural development, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation, education and environmental sustainability.
For those who are interested to understand The Art of Living may want to attend the basic course which is usually conducted for 6 days continuously from Tuesdays to Sundays, for a total of approximately 24 hours. Class fees are RM350 per course for adults and RM250 for senior citizens above 60 years old.
For more information, please contact Sam 016-4841280 or visit the website:

Real men don’t hit women

Link to MSN News

Fighting violence against women (© Carolyn Khor)

Violence is a vicious cycle and violence begets violence. There should be no excuse to perpetuate violence and every effort must be made to eliminate violence. 25 Nov was International Day for the elimination of violence against women.
In cultures that see no wrong in violence towards women, physical and sexual violence are practiced to subdue women. These women are silenced and victimised by the society to withstand the abuse and are expected to allow these torment to continue as a form of subservience and obedience towards men. This form of ‘accepted punishment’ is derogatory and psychologically damaging.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 3 out of 10 women experience violence by an intimate partner at some point during their lifetime, and 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime. The UNDP also reveals that in more than 35 countries worldwide, marital rape is not considered a criminal offence.

Violence against women

In Malaysia, 35,684 cases of domestic violence were reported nationwide during 2000 to 2010, of which 3,255 cases originated from Penang.

Of these reported cases, only 4% were brought to court and an estimated 45% of the accused aggressors were acquitted, indicating that there is insufficient mechanism to discourage domestic violence.

Chong Eng, through her portfolio in the Penang state government as Chairman of Youth and Sports, Women’s Development, Family and Community together with the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) held an event at Prangin Mall in Georgetown in conjuction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women yesterday. The event marks the first day of a 16-day campaign against gender-based violence.

Chong Eng delivered her speech to an audience that largely comprised of civil activists and members of the public. Penang State elected representatives like Teh Lai Heng, Dr. Afif Bahardin and Lim Siew Khim were also present to support the event. A number of men were also spotted among those present. Non-Governmental Organisations that turned up include Pusat Kesedaran Wanita (WCC Penang), Pusat Perkhidmatan Wanita (PPW) and Soroptimist International Club of Penang.

“There are many ways men can help to end violence against women,” said Chong Eng.

She also urged men to take the initiative to understand the issue of violence against women and to also volunteer in women-friendly organisations.

While Penangites may be enthusiastic and eager to spread awareness against domestic violence, the actual catalysts for change are the women themselves. As Dr. Afif said in his speech, all religions do not support violence against women - citing verses both from the Quran and Bible.

Distressed women may seek confidential help at the Women’s Centre for Change 04-2280342 or