Penang Island, a true Duplicate of San Francisco (Part 1)

To study herbs and what other islands in beautiful Malaysia have to offer, I drove 4 days through Penang Island. I am a very lucky to travel a lot and like to compare different cities with each other. For example, let’s review ‘my’ great city of San Francisco. Don’t Hong Kong and Vancouver possess lot of similarities with San Francisco? Of course it does. But how about a small rainforest island all the way in Southeast Asia? Well… be prepared to be surprised!
Stunningly beautiful Penang Island in Malaysia is only less than an hour flight from the capital Kuala Lumpur. And less than 30 minutes flight from Langkawi UNESCO Geopark island… two small tropical islands with mountains, wildlife, the ocean flowing around them bringing cooling air, a diversity of races and cultures, and… yet Penang island reminds me more of San Francisco than any other city I have seen so far. More than Vancouver and more than Hong Kong as well, and no, I am not losing my mind. Let me try to make a compelling case in 3 blog stories.
Arriving at Penang
When one drives north from the mainland to Penang, the coast line of Penang island unfolds with an impressive view that could be the same as seeing the shore line with the huge buildings of New York City or Chicago. A very long bridge connects Penang island with the mainland Malaysia and for sure that bridge reminds me of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Also ferries that sail every 15 minutes is giving the same impression as leaving Sausolito to San Francisco. And arriving by air, planes fly over the ocean almost touching the water like San Francisco airport… flying so low one thinks the plane is going to hit the water before reaching the landing strip.

But arriving in Penang by boat is the most exciting way of all to arrive at Penang island. Almost the same as Fisherman’s Wharf, with a marina, small eateries including many fish restaurants. Visitors enter an international island with a rich history plus the capital Georgetown as a modern city where the colonial past is being preserved among high rise buildings, luxury shopping malls and – when one is interested – museums, temples and much and much more!
People are very friendly and many speak English… Just ask for directions while stopping your car parked partly on a busy road, and you’ll definitely get answers with a smile. Maybe that part is little bit too much to compare with San Francisco because over there you would have a traffic ticket to deal with in no time! 🙂
Penang, like in certain parts of San Francisco is permeated with particular smells of food…each part there is a different flavor of food in the air. I learned by experience that during traveling, where one smells food, it means hospitality is in the air as well. Maybe food helps keep people happier by living together? Because in Penang, like in San Francisco as well, religions and ethnic background such as Chinese, Malay, Indian, Portuguese, Caucasian (you will find them all over there) live together respectfully and in peace.
Georgetown, the capital of Penang
This fast moving city contains lots of greenery, same like San Francisco. Even in Georgetown you see the lush mountains from almost everywhere, yet also breathtaking views of beaches because the ocean flows all around the island. Yes, the crazy traffic in Georgetown is absolutely horrendous. But many streets going one way makes it still rather easy to drive. Large international corporations have branches in Penang and I noticed few well-known high-tech companies that are from south San Francisco.
People are health conscious and Penang has a dozen of the very best hospitals in the world. People from Europe and US travel to Penang for high quality health care and operations that are done for a fraction of the cost in the US. What more?
Penang is an architectural gem of the first order. Part of the city is renovated under UNESCO and the diverse cultural past provides wonderful and unique forms of food, art, music and craft to enjoy.

    Georgetown, Penang                                 San Francisco, California

In the next parts 2 and 3 I will reflect more on other parts of Penang Island that truly reminds me so very much of my beloved city of San Francisco!

Want to smell good? Eat some candy

This message from the perfume industry got my immediate interest, although I am not sure what I really need to think about it… nevertheless… quite interesting.
A Bulgarian company introduced a candy which incorporates body fragrance working from the inside out! Certainly a most innovative product that is created by a confectioner who claims that when his sweets are being consumed, the skin emits rose oil contained in the candy.

His concept was developed as part of R&D to assist candy manufacturers in using healthy, alternative and innovative food ingredients to break new ground in confectionery markets worldwide. A rose fragrance is released through the skin once the candy is eaten.
The ingredient that causes the smell is geraniol, a colorless liquid found in plants such as rose, lavender and vanilla. Once the natural antioxidant geraniol is consumed in candy form it is leaving the body through the skin pores, creating a naturally sweet smell that lasts for hours. The effect seems similar to the pungent garlic that transmits odor through the skin pores as well.
So I am curious whether we all are going to eat more candy now? But now… what about our dentist bills? Hmmm … yummy…. 🙂

Australian Hair & Makeup Artist Promotes Natural, Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

One of the very proud moments in my life with the incredible Jane Goodall during the launch of her film at IMAX…. A brief background on myself… Hi : -) I am Nicole Groch. I have been a professional freelance hair & makeup artist based in Melbourne, Australia for over 19 years. I have been working in the fashion, advertising and music industry both in Australia and overseas. Quite some year’s back now, I took it upon myself to rethink my attitude towards the makeup & hair products I used in my kit.
I had been a vegetarian for many years for ethical reasons, and only used ‘cruelty free’ products in my work, but I was also very interested in all the natural and organic products that were becoming more readily available.

I did research into the common ingredients used in the majority of cosmetic brands and was astounded at how many toxic ingredients they contained and how they can adversely affect our health. I then converted my kit, so I now use on my clients only the safest, cruelty free and natural products that I can source. This is how I came to love the Paul Penders range as they stood for everything I believed in, vegan, natural and safe. Over the years I got to know Paul and he is an incredible inspirational person.
Because I didn’t believe it was ethical to use or promote any products that were tested on animals I was constantly turning down work for companies that either used such products, or had real fur in their ranges, including their TV commercials, fashion parades, fashion shows and product editorials. Particularly I wanted to do something positive with my makeup skills to help animals!
So I got in contact with the Australian (they accredit cruelty free companies) and offered to start “The Cruelty Free Makeup Tips”. I arranged a huge celebrity launch for the “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” poster campaign I had put together and did all hair and makeup for it as well.

I was able to use my connections to get celebrity support for the front covers of our magazines and for campaigns. After a few years I was asked to become a Director of Choose Cruelty Free and as their PR Director I found Paul Penders products. Our Preferred Product List lead me to do PR work for other natural and cruelty free companies.
Now I am the mother of two beautiful children. And along with doing my hair and makeup work, and PR for CCF, I embarked on a journey that I am very passionate about! I have become the writer, editor, photographer, marketing and PR person for a website my husband Jonathan (an IT professional) and I together designed, called:

The aim of Living Safe is to give individuals easy tools and accurate knowledge to help them create a safe and healthy environment for their children, pets and …ultimately themselves! Since we have launched the site several months ago we have been getting fantastic positive feedback, especially from parents thanking us for creating this much needed site. It has made them more aware and informed about these very important issues. We hope our site will help to create a better world for the all of us. We also have a directory of “Safe & Non-Toxic” companies and of course, Paul’s products are on it as well as they fit the Living Safe ethos perfectly!
Paul Penders is now available in Australia. For more information please visit:
Author: Nicole Groch

What Matters Most is Found in Moorea

In the bestseller, The Book of Secrets, author Deepak Chopra states that, “The greatest hunger in life is not for food, money, success, status, security, sex or even love from the opposite sex…it is for transformation: turning fear, aggression, doubt, insecurity and emptiness into their opposites.” Indeed, this transformation is what I came to Moorea for and what I believe I found, at least a little, in this South Pacific outpost.
Moorea is the baby brother of Tahiti, an idyllic island in French Polynesia where everyone knows everyone else and life remains deliciously slow. Like many of its neighbors, Moorea is essentially a set of huge, volcano-formed mountains surrounded by shallow turquoise waters. It is covered with flowers of virtually every possible variety, including twelve-foot tall wild hibiscus that share the unending sunshine with papaya, mango and avocado trees. With a single road encircling the island’s 37 mile perimeter and few conventional trappings of civilization, the overall effect is a lush tropical paradise where birds, fish and humans live in harmony.

The island’s great natural beauty is, I believe, a critical part of its inhabitants’ happiness. A growing body of clinical research has established a firm connection between nature and mental health. More frequent exposure to nature via activities such as walking or hiking has been linked to increased brain activity as well as improved moods; in fact, brain scans have actually revealed a difference in the areas of the brain that are active in people who have regular exposure to nature compared with those who don’t.
This may help account for Mooreans’ happy-go-lucky nature. Pass a stranger on the street, and he greets you with a smiling “Bonjour!” or “Iaorana!” Drive around the island at just about any time of day, and you’ll see groups of Mooreans gathered to swim, picnic or just chat outside, relaxed and happy to be together.

In that way, the island reminds me of Langkawi. Although the Malaysian Geopark is larger and more cosmopolitan, its rolling hills and ancient rainforests similarly seep into the souls of its inhabitants, so that those who are lucky enough to reside there are as transformed by the island’s great natural beauty as the Mooreans.
It doesn’t take long to feel these effects. All the considerations of my normal routine – ongoing emails, deadlines and dinner plans – quickly pale in comparison to the majesty of these dramatic green mountains and the endless ocean that surrounds them. The awe and wonder I feel at the greatness of this place is overwhelming and constant; I have to keep from gasping, “that’s so beautiful!” each time I turn and look in another direction.

But I am a visitor here for just a week, searching for meaning to take home with me. I visit the gift shops for a few trinkets, but what I am really interested in are the pearls of wisdom that will transform me – those things I can learn here that will change me, even in a very small way, to bring me closer to the person I wish to become.
So here is what I have concluded. It is something I have known all my life, but Moorea reminds me that it is true and it is important. Beauty is vital. We must have it if we are to be happy. We can live without it, but that life will not be nearly as rich or satisfying as if we do have it. Beauty may be different things for different people, but we all know when we are in the presence of it. It is not necessarily expensive, because there are many places, like Moorea, where it is available to everyone, free of charge. It’s just a matter of opening our eyes and seeing it.
By Alison Kritzer

Huge Beauty & Health benefits of Noni

An awful taste yet huge benefits…. the amazing Noni.
The history of Noni is unique. Noni was distributed from Asia and now throughout the Pacific Islands. For centuries Noni was served as food and also medical purposes.  Now the health benefits of the plant are used all over the world.
Biological Description of Noni
The scientific medical name of Noni is Morinda citrifolia in the family Rubiaceae. There are a few other common names which are Indian Mulberry, Beach Mulberry, Morinda, Noni Fruit, Noni Juice, Tahitian Noni, Mengkudu, Hog apple, Wild Pine, Meng Koedoe, Mora de la Indi and Ruibarbo Caribe.
It is a tropical evergreen tree that grows to about 3 to 6 meters. It has a 4-angled stem and wide, glossy, dark-green opposite shiny leaves with a creamy-white flower. Noni bears a fruit about the size of a potato that starts out green, and then ripens into yellow with lots of seeds inside that are edible when roasted.

The fruit has a pungent odor when ripening. It smells absolutely terrible! That is why Noni is known as “cheese fruit” or even “vomit fruit”. When eaten you really want to throw up. The leaves taste terrible too!
Many unique health benefits of Noni
If one has inflammation, swellings, high blood pressure and conditions of aging, Noni can help to cope. In some researches it has also shown very promising anti-cancer activity. Noni also serves as prevention to different cardiovascular diseases. The plant is generally a pain reliever. Some researches state that Noni can help when you have depression, addiction, and headaches. However there is no reliable clinical evidence available in the medical literature to support these claims.

In different countries Noni is used for different sickness. In India the plant is mainly used as a remedy for asthma and dysentery. In the U.S. Noni juice becomes popular as a dietary and nutritional supplement, general tonic, stress reliever, and facial and body cleanser.

In Malaysia Noni serves as coughs, nausea, or colic relievers and even as a remedy for head lice. In China, Samoa, Japan, and Tahiti different parts of the plant is used as tonics and to contain fever, to treat eye and skin problems, gum and throat problems as well as constipation, stomach pain, or respiratory difficulties.
On the Indonesian island of Java, the trees are cultivated for dye purpose. In Surinam and different other countries, the tree serves as a wind-break, as support for vines and as shade for coffee trees.
Noni for sure has many great benefits. The plant grows at many places in Malaysia, and even on our small tropical rainforest island Langkawi UNESCO Geopark. Paul Penders Co is interested to do research on the beautifying elements of this truly wonderful plant…