Chinese New Year celebrations at Legoland


This year as Chinese New Year celebrations at Legoland Malaysia Resort coincides with the ten-year anniversary of LEGO Ninjago, it presents an excellent opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in an exciting and educational experience here.


Chinese New Year celebrations happening at
Miniland in Legoland Malaysia Resort

In August 2015, I had the privilege to witness the launch of the live show, LEGO Ninjago & The Realms of Shadows, that brought to live the fictional world of Ninjago – Masters of Spinjitsu, presented against a creative set that uses video mapping and illustrations with characters like Kai, Nya, Zane, Cole, Jay and Lloyd, featured as puppets in a 20-minute stage show.


This was a real treat because I had the rare experience of watching a clever blend of technology with traditional bunraku, a Japanese puppetry theatre style, in an entertaining and innovative performance at the LEGO City Stage.


[More than a year later, in October 2016, I had an unforgettable and most enjoyable experience in a unique cross-cultural exchange where Malaysia’s Teochew Puppets were staged along with Japan’s Ningyojoruri Bunrakuza in an elaborate showcase complete with workshop and demonstration of puppetry techniques.


An authentic setting in Johor Baru's heritage
quarter created in Miniland this festive season
[Recognise this place?]

This one-off event was an initiative of Johor Baru: International Festival City in collaboration with the Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur.]


Now visitors can treat themselves to a Ninjago Live Show presented at the LEGO City Stage at two showtimes, 12pm and 3pm daily.


For this Chinese New Year of the Tiger, visitors will be immersed in an Oriental ambience complete with Chinese cultural dances like the Parasol or Gege Umbrella Dance and the Straw Hat Dance, presented at two showtimes.


These dance performances are in addition to the Opening (10am) and Farewell (4.30pm) Shows staged at The Beginning.


Red Ninjas welcome you to the Ninjago Quest

In 2017, I also had fun at the launch of Ninjago World and were among the first in this region to experience a thrilling Ninjago Ride.


I joined the four Ninjago young ninja heroes – Kai (Fire), Jay (Lightning), Cole (Earth) and Zane (Ice) – to ‘fight’ with my own brand of stunts and gained the approval of Master Wu at the end of my ride.


This year, Legoland Malaysia Resort launched the park’s first augmented reality or AR digital experience in the Ninjago Quest.


Enjoy an AR experience here!

The combination of AR and real-life experience will let visitors share in the spirit of Ninjago and see what it was really like to ‘Be Ninja!’ and complete the challenges alongside their favourite characters.


All you need is your handphone and a little guidance from the helpful Red Ninjas at the Ninjago Quest station, set up at The Beginning. Ninjas, Kai, Cole, Zane, Jay, Lloyd and Nya will digitally share their individual elemental powers and lead the way.


Players at this game will not only be entertained but also be educated by the values that LEGO Ninjago represent – Courage, Honesty, Generosity and Wisdom.


At LEGO Ninjago World

Here’s a tip: Master Wu and his team of ninjas have been searching for a missing Golden Amulet that holds the secrets of Ninjago for a very long time. Without it, the future of Ninjago will be in jeopardy.


Now Master Wu is at Legoland Malaysia Resort as he wants warriors to join his quest. He invites visitors to learn ninja moves and be a ninja on a quest to unlock six Golden Amulet fragments and reunite them to protect the Spinjitzu legacy.


This exclusive event will be at Legoland Malaysia Resort for a limited season to celebrate 10 years of LEGO Ninjago.  


Yay! I received my own Golden Amulet!

On completion of the quest, visitors will be rewarded with a mini-AR video of their adventures alongside the Ninjago team. Plus, the chance to receive your very own Golden Amulet.


The LEGO Ninjago augmented reality experience is just one of many amazing Ninjago experiences to be enjoyed this Chinese New Year.


Visitors are welcome to join the Ninja Workshop and learn the ways of Spinjitzu from Master Wu and his Ninja assistants, in two sessions: 11.30am and 2.30pm.


LEGO Tigers displayed next to this golden tiger

Staying close to the Chinese New Year theme, visitors will have fun with LEGO bricks in the challenge to build a LEGO Tiger.


And as visitors enjoy the activities and rides throughout the park, remember to keep an eye out for the character appearances of a host of familiar characters like Bricky and the Wizard, Master Wu and Ninja Kai, as well as Ollie the Dragon.


They will be happy to pose for photographs with you so just strike a pose with any of these characters, especially two in the Chinese theme, the Monkey King and Chengdu Opera actor.


Strike a pose with Ollie the Dragon and Ninja Kai
To usher in festive goodwill and good fortune, visitors at the park on February 5 should be at The Beginning to witness a traditional Lion Dance at 10am and a High-Pole Lion Dance at 6pm.


Speaking of good fortune, visitors can spin the Wheel of Fortune and stand a chance to win Legoland gifts every day.


Over at SEA LIFE Malaysia, visitors can join in the game to Spot the Nian, a Chinese legendary monster, in the aquariums to win a Tiger paper hat.


Monkey King and Chengdu Opera
actor turned up in the restaurant!

This festive season, visitors at the Water Park can look forward to enjoying a Dragon Dance daily at 10am and a Parasol Dance at 4pm on Friday and Saturday.


And at 3pm on February 5, catch a traditional Chinese Drum show at the Water Park.


Happy ten-year anniversary to LEGO Ninjago and to everyone, Happy Chinese New Year, Kongxi-Kongxi Ni and Happy Holidays at Legoland Malaysia Resort.


For more information on the exciting line-up of activities at Legoland Malaysia Resort during the Chinese New Year season, head over to the official website at or via social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.

Humble homecooked for grand celebrations


This festive season, Hop Sing Chinese Restaurant at Ponderosa Golf & Country Club, continues the tradition of serving wholesome homecooked-style dishes for family gatherings like traditional Reunion Dinners and corporate Hoi-Kong Farn (Cantonese) or auspicious Back-to-Work gatherings in the new lunar year.


A Fruity Yee Sang served with slices 
of fresh mango at Hop Sing Chinese Restaurant

Almost two years had passed since families and friends were compelled to scale down their festive celebrations and gatherings due to the global pandemic. Even as restaurant dine-in had reopened, many still prefer to choose the takeaway option.


This is all good for the culinary team at Hop Sing who had earned a reputation for serving wholesome homecooked style dishes in set menus that caters to smaller groups of between four to six diners, or for seven to 10 diners, for both dine-in and takeaways.


Entrance to Hop Sing on Level One

The Chinese usually celebrate with sumptuous meals as they believed that it augurs well for greater prosperity and abundance in the coming year.


But as families and friends opt to gather in smaller groups, the set menus at Hop Sing are designed to cater to small groups that aimed to reduce food wastage.


Hop Sing will usher in the Year of the Tiger with menu options dubbed the Crouching Tiger Set at RM138+ for four to six pax or RM228+ for seven to 10 pax, the Climbing Tiger Set at RM168+ for four to six pax or RM238+ for seven to 10 pax, and the Leaping Tiger Set at RM198+ for four to six pax or RM268+ for seven to 10 pax.


As businessmen in this part of the world had started the tradition of eating Yee Sang or Raw Fish salad at the dawn of the New Year, each of these festive menus will keep the tradition of starting with a prosperity toss of this salad.


A dish of Chicken with Ginger-Paste Sauce 

At Hop Sing, this auspicious salad will be served without the Yee or fish as a refreshing change and to maintain the freshness of this dish in the takeaway option.


I was delighted to see that the slivers of fish were replaced by slices of fresh mango in an appetising Fruity Yee Sang (I privately dubbed Fruity * Sang Salad!) which tasted so good.


The food quality and taste of our dine-in menu in the Leaping Tiger set was as comforting as homecooked food, savoured in dishes that were served almost at the same time for us to eat together in a convivial mood – just as we always did at home.


Hong Kong style steamed Seabass

The serving of half a Chicken with Ginger-Paste Sauce was simply a taste of nostalgia, reminiscent of that traditional specialty of tender chicken that hardworking Sam-Sui women would prepare for their celebrations as a treat from their diligent lifestyle, working at the construction sites.


In the Cantonese tradition, there must be a soup in the meal. And in this menu, it was a refreshing clear soup prepared with smooth ingredients, curls of Fish Maw and ice-berg lettuce.


A beancurd square from the
Claypot Beancurd dish

The Hong Kong style steamed Seabass was served perfectly timed for flesh that was tender and succulent, an admirable skill that the chef had mastered for proper timing in the steaming of a large fish.


Served in a claypot brimming with vegetables, small prawns and of course, squares of beancurd simmered in gravy, I thought this tasty Claypot Beancurd dish would be best savoured with steamed white rice.


Meanwhile, mushrooms were an auspicious ingredient for the new year, so the next vegetable dish was Broccoli with Mushrooms, served with whole mushrooms arranged within a ring of broccoli florets.


Broccoli with Mushrooms

The menu rounded off with a dish of their Signature Fried Rice, fragrant with egg and small prawns.


With our bellies comfortably full, this homecooked-style meal at Hop Sing came to a sweet end with a refreshing dessert of chilled Longan with Sea Coconut.


Hop Sing, the Chinese Restaurant at Ponderosa Golf & Country Club, is on Level One of the main clubhouse at No. 3 Jalan Ponderosa 1/1, Taman Ponderosa, 81100 Johor Baru, Johor.


Food from Hop Sing is prepared with No Pork and No Lard as all ingredients used are sourced from Halal food suppliers.


For more details on the Lunar Year of the Tiger menus and resort promotions, visit website:


For reservations or takeaways, Tel: +6019 758 8093 or email:

FiveS Hotel is opened at Johor Baru city centre


In the brilliant sunshine on a midweek morning, Jalan Wong Ah Fook looked relatively clear of vehicular traffic while the promenade that runs parallel to Johor Baru’s famous main street, was a comfortable pedestrian walkway.


The Johor Baru city skyline as interpreted
by FiveS Hotel Johor Baru City Centre

I was heading to the opening ceremony of FiveS, a local brand hotel by the SKS Group that will offer another accommodation option to visitors, located in a familiar part of the city. In fact, walking distance to where I used to live with our grandparents at No. 154 Jalan Ngee Heng.


To enter the indoor multi-storey carpark of the FiveS Hotel, I drove down Jalan Sulaiman,* a one-way street off Jalan Trus that bordered the side of this Hotel.


On arrival, I saw guests gathered at the hotel forecourt where a red carpet was laid out for traditional Lion Dancers to perform an auspicious lion dance at the Ribbon-Cutting ceremony.


View of Jalan Wong Ah Fook from
the front of FiveS Hotel

The opening of this hotel in the heart of Johor Baru was witnessed by representatives from the SKS Group, in what I guessed, would be a proud moment for its founder, Alan Sim See Kiong, and his family members.


Founded in 1983, the SKS Group of companies is a multi-disciplined organisation with core businesses that spans across property development, investment holding, hospitality, credit finance and aviation in Johor, Malaysia and Western Australia.


While waiting for the event to start, I stood on the promenade to admire the façade of the 22-level hotel building and wondered to myself, “Why, FiveS?”


You see, I had recently witnessed the opening of another SKS property in Johor, the Four Points by Sheraton at Desaru Utama, and could not help wondering whether there was something about going from Four to Five…


Auspicious Lion Dance at the
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Standing on this promenade (which conceals the once infamous Sungai Segget that still flowed below), it occurred to me that this part of Jalan Wong Ah Fook was bordered by towering buildings that housed multinational corporations, hotels, banks and corporate headquarters of internationally-recognised brands.


Directly across Jalan Wong Ah Fook was the ultra-modern Menara JLand which was linked to popular shopping malls, KOMTAR Johor Baru City Centre or JBCC and Johor Baru City Square Mall.


This mall was also conveniently linked to the Johor Baru Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex, an international entry point into the Republic of Singapore via the Causeway.


This energetic Lion Dance 
continued throughout the hotel

Pedestrians can now experience a more walkable city because JB City Square was also linked to the R & F Mall and Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House by a covered pedestrian skywalk while the promenade in front of the hotel, will lead to the city’s heritage quarter, fondly known as Kampung Wong Ah Fook (at left) and the Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk (at right).


The rear of the Hotel was bordered by Jalan Trus for a short walk to the Persada Johor International Convention Centre.


The voice of the event Master of Ceremony brought my attention back to the FiveS Hotel’s opening ceremony and I listened with interest to the speeches that shared some of the proud accolades which the SKS Group had achieved over the years.


There was indeed, much to be proud of and I thought that the opening of their own-brand hotel in the heart of the city was yet another feather in their cap.


The clever use of mirrors created the
impression of a larger space within the rooms

The deafening beat of traditional drums and clashing cymbals set the rhythm for the auspicious Lion Dance which continued to sound throughout the building as the energetic troop pranced and danced from the Lobby Lounge and Reception Desk all the way through to the upper floors.


In the hotel tour, our media group had the privilege to inspect various room types designed in the 243 rooms that ranged from Deluxe Twin and King, Executive Suite and Family Suite, to an Executive Room fitted out for special-needs guests.


A private Meeting Room in the mezzanine floor

All rooms were equipped with ensuite bathrooms, air-conditioning, television with satellite and cable channels, coffee and tea-making facilities, electronic safe box, hairdryer and complimentary WiFi access.


It was interesting that the Executive Suite which could accommodate four guests, had a separate lounge area where the sofa could be transformed into a sofa bed.


The tour also took us up a spiral staircase from the lobby that led to the mezzanine floor.


The buffet lines at Feast@FiveS on Level Six

Here a corner Gymnasium was designed with floor-to-ceiling glass walls for guests to enjoy their physical workout along with a panoramic view of Jalan Wong Ah Fook.


Meanwhile, the enclosed space opposite the gym was a private Meeting Room that could comfortably seat up to eight participants around the table.


Our tour ended on Level Six where a versatile Function Hall was situated.


Over refreshments hosted at the all-day dining restaurant Feast@FiveS also on Level Six, it occurred to me that the “S” in the brand, fiveS was a capital letter “S” placed at the end of the word five which was rendered in small letters.


Entrance to the multi-storey carpark
from Jalan Sulaiman

I did (privately) hazard a guess that this alphabet “S” represented the owners’ family surname and if I was right, I have yet to figure out who the Five-S people were.


Meanwhile I remain hopeful to discover more when I got to know this hotel better.


Congratulations FiveS Hotel Johor Baru City Centre on your opening!


Fives Hotel Johor Baru City Centre is located at No. 45 Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Baru, Johor. Tel: +607 – 219 7777. Email:


For more info, visit website:


*[Last year, the Persada Johor International Convention Centre was used as a Vaccination Centre and to create a better flow of vehicles, Jalan Sulaiman was turned into a one-way street with entry only off Jalan Wong Ah Fook. Please note that this one-way street had reverted to the former where entry was only via Jalan Trus.]

Dine with a difference at Hard Rock Cafe


The stage was set since September 2021 and step-by-step, the team at Hard Rock Café at Puteri Harbour prepared to welcome fans of this renowned brand to experience its unique vibe in Johor.


The rockstar team at Hard Rock Cafe
Puteri Harbour, Johor

Photographs posted on social media created much hype to fan the eager anticipation for its opening and a date when it was safe to go for a dine-in with a difference.


Hard Rock International is one of the most globally recognized brands that owned/licensed or managed hotels, casinos, Rock Shops, live performance venues and cafés with venues in 68 countries across 241 locations.


In 2018, I had the privilege of a sneak peek into the Hard Rock Hotel that was about to open in Desaru Coast, Johor, and the opportunity to join a number of events with Pin Collectors and local celebrities who presented personal items to the Hard Rock Memorabilia collection.


Just follow the sign to Rock This Way

This memorabilia collection started with an Eric Clapton guitar and now Hard Rock owns the world’s largest and most valuable collection of authentic music memorabilia at more than 86,000 pieces, displayed at its locations around the world.


The most memorable experience for me must be being part of Hard Rock Hotel’s Grand Opening Party in Desaru Coast and the one-on-one interview with Johor-born legendary rockstar, Amy of Search fame, the featured artist in the event’s rock concert.


With Hard Rock Hotel opened in Desaru Coast, the arrival of the first Hard Rock Café in Johor was equally highly anticipated.


In September 2021, I joined the virtual Press Conference for the announcement of the opening of Hard Rock Café in Puteri Harbour planned for December, the brand’s fourth Hard Rock Café in Peninsular Malaysia after those opened in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Melaka.


The guitar monument facing the
harbour at Hard Rock Cafe

It was January 2022 when the invitation from Hard Rock Café Puteri Harbour was received for a long-awaited media lunch event and I did not hesitate to accept.


Soon as I was warmly welcomed into the Café, a glance around the glass and chrome interior gave me the impression of a slick and contemporary décor, bathed in natural light pouring through tall glass walls.


I recognized familiar faces, waved to say “Hello!” and thought that I should congratulate Jimmy Wong, General Manager of the Hard Rock Café Puteri Harbour and his team for gathering the Who’s-Who of local media at this exciting event.


“No time to chit-chat,” I reminded myself as I focused my attention on what I was keen to see in the first Hard Rock Café opened in Johor. Firstly, the Monuments…


Just as Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast features an iconic Mandala Guitar in its forecourt, the Hard Rock Café in Puteri Harbour has its version of a similar guitar perched on a raised stand at the outdoor dining area.


A section of the Rock Shop within the Cafe

This alfresco dining area comes with a scenic harbour view and when the sun goes down, diners here can enjoy the stunning sight of the different shades of sunset.


Fans of Hard Rock Merchandise can conveniently reach the Rock Shop which is situated next to the Café entrance.


Here’s where Hard Rock fans and collectors can enjoy a rock star shopping experience for music inspired merchandise like the Hard Rock classic T-shirts, hats, pins, glassware and accessories.


At the entrance, my eyes were riveted to two mannequins standing within a glass showcase that displayed smart suits that belonged to rap stars, Joe Flizzow, and Nicky Minaj.


Eric Clapton's guitar is in Puteri Harbour, Johor

This started me on a quest to seek out the Memorabilia preserved within glass showcases that lined the walls of the dining hall downstairs. Here I discovered the beaded dresses that belonged to powerhouse singers, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston.


My quest for more took me up a short flight of stairs to the mezzanine floor where a range of guitars were showcased on the wall in the private dining area.


My eyes zeroed in on the Fender Stratocaster, autographed by Eric Clapton, along with guitars from B. B. King, Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry among others.


An ornate beaded belt worn by
Elvis Presley, King of Rock and Roll

In the dining hall upstairs, I saw memorabilia from Asian superstars like Jacky Cheung – a Taylor guitar – and black boots that belonged to Jay Chou.


I was pleased to see that the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, was also honoured here with his ornate beaded belt that he wore with his fancy jumpsuits.


Speaking of fancy outfits, some of our media friends came dressed to the nines and rocked their glitzy bling-bling footwear and those black leather leggings and jackets topped with a felt hat.


When all the guests had arrived, the event kicked off with a word of welcome from GM, Jimmy Wong, and lunch was served with live music entertainment presented by Take Five, a seven-piece local band.


It was simply different to dine to the beat of live music, where we can bop to the rhythm and groove to the harmony as we enjoyed the menu of Hard Rock flavours.


The band, Take Five, providing live music entertainment at Hard Rock Cafe Puteri Harbour

I thought the talented band did well in presenting a good repertoire of popular music that ranged from Guns N’ Roses and Gloria Gaynor, to the Bee Gees and Queen.


With Ye Chin and Murray Aitken

Their rendition of the opening lines, “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?...” sung in perfect harmony, seized everyone’s attention (who paused from eating!) and I watched as this interpretation of Bohemian Rhapsody, clearly rocked the house.


This was just one of those Moments when we caught a glimpse of how dining was distinctly different in a Hard Rock Café.


After the final farewells, guests trickled out of the Café while some stayed to capture creative photo mementoes at the many interesting spots in and around the premises.


As for me, I was simply delighted to finally meet with Ye Chin, wife of Murray Aitken, General Manager of Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast. She was a former classmate of my cousin Dennis Ng, who told me that she was now back in Johor with her husband.


Hard Rock Café Puteri Harbour is located at Retail Lot 2-B2 Residensi & Hotel Marina, Persiaran Tanjung, Pengkalan Puteri, 79100 Iskandar Puteri, Johor.


The Café serves Food and Beverages that are free from alcohol and pork products. Open daily from 12pm to 12am. Live band show from 8pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Tel: +607 – 276 9999.


Stay connected for updates and promotions on Hard Rock Café Puteri Harbour official pages on Facebook @HardRockCafePuteriHarbour and Instagram @hrcputeriharbour.