The article reproduced below was first published in the New Straits Times on 4 April 2002. It was written by Dr Zoraini Wati Abas, one of our country's foremost authorities on the internet and multi-media. She expresses her opinions on PenangTalk.com.
Discovering Penang the fun way by Dr Zoraini Wati Abas
Penang brings some form of excitement to many of its visitors, in particular, the holiday makers. I have always liked Penang. My children enjoy the beaches, food and night stalls in Batu Ferringhi. However, it was not until I viewed the many pictures of Penang at the PenangTalk.com website that I realised I had missed some of the best parts of Penang and that it is time to visit the Pearl of the Orient again.
PenangTalk.com is not your typical tourism site. I have visited many local tourism sites that have only managed to provide scant or "official" sort of information for tourists. They are your typical travel sites with recommendations to visit the same list of places and with similar looking pictures.
Visit PenangTalk.com and you will experience a different sort of environment. It is informal and yet well organised. And it seems to have attracted many visitors - the postings in the forum come from many overseas travellers. In short, its simplicity may give a wrong impression but if you were to spend time going through its contents, you will be pleased with what you can learn.
PenangTalk.com is not the official Penang website, neither has it won any awards. It is a simple site filled with beautiful photographs and valuable information. But what I like about it is that it provides more insights on Penang. I did not get the same satisfaction from any other promotional site on Penang.
When I first strolled into PenangTalk.com, I thought it was too plain. But allow yourself to go through parts of the website for at least half an hour and you will soon develop an interest, no, perhaps a fascination for Penang.
I was mesmerised by the many beautiful shots of Penang. These images led me to click on one shot after another. Most of the images are embedded within the forum. The more images I clicked on, the more alive the site became and the more interesting Penang became.
I was made to understand that PenangTalk.com has about 800,000 hits per month and that there are about 4000 images of Penang in it. The owner of the site is a keen photographer who developed his interest in photography since he was seven years old. And his interest carried on for the past 60 years - a veteran photographer today.
Kayes, the website owner, first started the site to help local students overseas cope with the feeling of homesickness. It has today become a place where potential tourists to Penang can ask questions about all things connected with the Pearl of the Orient. All these questions are usually answered complete with appropriate photos within the space of a few hours! Tell me of another site that does this.
As I perused the pages, I found a link to PenangPage.com which is also set up and maintained by Kayes. There are a lot more pictures of Penang there. In fact, I wondered whether there could be several slide shows of Penang. One slide could focus on food and another could focus on the historical sites. Just a thought. However, limited to say, 10 images per slide show.
I was also informed that there is yet another website by Kayes and this one is about the oldest town in Malaysia, Taiping. It is TaipingTalk.com. So what are you waiting for - go and visit it. I am sure you will be equally pleased with the photos at TaipingTalk.com.
Penang Talk is my daily "cup of coffee" to wake me up before i start my day's work. I agree with Paul on the grave-site story for a British lady. That was an immediate replied. Kayes - you make me proud to be a Penangnite. Best wishes - teslee
I visit PenangTalk just about every day I log onto my PC. Being an expat, now living on the island, I have learned so much about this place, its people, its surround manors and its diverse cultural and multi facetted heritage.
The forum can be seen to be used by visitors and locals alike. Kayes does an excellent job of updating the site, creating discussion threads, posting his wonderful images and the keeping the discipline of its many users. I have posted questions to the forum that have all been answered in very fast time, and feel proud to have actually furnished answers to a small number of questions posted by others.
I guess many will have a favourite memory of the forum, mine is when a visitor posted a query to gather data about a gravesite of a friend's uncle who was tragically killed in an accident while serving in the British armed forces many years earlier. Kayes took up the challenge before he had even had breakfast! I don?t think his camera ever leaves his side? On his morning jog he located the said gravesite, arranged for flowers to be placed by the headstone, and had taken pictures for the forum before most of us were out of bed. In addition to Kayes' photos, others had provided information to the original poster on and off the forum, so not to break the rules by attaching links to forum posts. Shortly afterwards there was a heart-warming and grateful reply from a young lady in England, who's uncle was buried at the cemetery... A piece of a puzzle that had been missing for many a year, was now able to cast extra light on part of her uncle's past.
The forum was also used to great effect during the post tsunami period to dispel blatantly inaccurate reports bouncing around the world's media about the effect it was having on the island.
If you need an example of how the Internet can be used for good purposes, you need look no further than PenangTalk and the other forums so graciously provided by Kayes. Regards to all the regulars at the forum, and also to those that only pop in for a quick glimpse. Paul
I totally agree with dr.zoraini wati abas. Penang Talk website is highly addictive and contains profound side effects. its just out of this world, hardly a day passes by without paying kayes' site a visit. it is highly motivational in getting a person charged up in visiting penang. i being a (satisfied) victim of the site, am planning to visit penang sometime this year :-) i nominate penangtalk website for the highest award deserving.....
On ya Kayes ... Keep up the good work. Lee