Brigitte Bardot… An Example of True Beauty

In Los Angeles, California, more than 10 years ago, we produced a 30-minute “infomercial” television show called “A Lifetime of Beauty.” It was aired in all the big cities of the U.S. including Boston, New York, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco and Houston. The show promoted the newest product which our company pioneered — the first natural AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) cosmetic product in the world.

    GlycoFruit was the first natural AHA on the market

The novelty was that these special products called “GlycoFruit” contained acids from the rhubarb plant that naturally sloughs-off old skin cells to reveal clear and fresh-looking skin. So how did it happen that this product became featured in a 30-minute television show?

    Street sign at the famous Hollywood Boulevard

GlycoFruit became a hit in a few stores in San Francisco and our best-selling product ever in the history of Paul Penders Co. It was also advertised in several natural lifestyle magazines around the country. The advertisements got the attention of a few Hollywood celebrities and soon their agencies started to contact us.
To make a long story short, soon afterwards Katja and I were invited to Hollywood to visit several movie stars wanting to discuss a business deal about this new GlycoFruit product. According to them, GlycoFruit would make for a perfect 30-minute infomercial product to be shown nationwide on television!
Dr. Joni Laughran while working in our company in California wrote a book for the show, also with the same name, “A Lifetime of Beauty.” The book was a give-away for people who called the Paul Penders Company enquiring about our newest beauty invention.
Honestly, Katja and I had a blast meeting these movie stars at their homes. I can say this was a very interesting tour, and we got to meet several popular stars over a few days.

    Meredith MacRae with her special friend Bob Hope

After meeting these celebrities and their Entertainment Lawyers, I finally signed contracts with 2 stars; the most important one was Meredith MacRae (May 30, 1944 – July 14, 2000), best known as Billie Jo on the TV sitcoms, Petticoat Junction and as Sally Ann in My Three Sons.
Several weeks after the signing ceremony, we started shooting in the studio of Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” It was a time of learning, fun and excitement. During the shooting days, got to know Meredith better. She turned out to be a charming, intelligent and very kind person with a healthy amount of humor!
Part of the filming for the show was in Hollywood and part at our company’s base in Petaluma in Northern California. Meredith, her agent and a crew of beauticians all flew out to Petaluma for the shoot at Paul Penders Company.
We had dinner with the group the night before filming and then became it apparent how much she looked like Catherine Deneuve, the beautiful and distinguished French movie star I admired so much as well. Probably too it was that which attracted Katja and me to Meredith in the first place.

    French movie star Catherine Deneuve

Since I am talking movie stars, there is another movie star I REALLY admire and have since a young age — Brigitte Bardot. I fell for her because of a few great movies with producer Roger Vadim, and later because she became a fierce fighter for animal rights.
To this day, Brigitte Bardot’s focus in life is to end the suffering of animals. A little while ago we wrote about the vote in Catalonia, Spain making bull fighting illegal this year. Let me mention that Brigitte Bardot’s latest fight is to stop the bull fighting in the South of France where it is still legally practiced.

    Brigitte Bardot still looks fabulously beautiful.

She was interviewed not long ago by “France Dimanche” and told the reporter, “My life would have been worthless if changes are not made to stop bullfights in France before I die. But I am like a pit bull; when I start biting, I don’t let go easily”.

      Thank you, Dame Bardot, for being a
      living example for me by helping
      to set the standards to stop
      cruelty to animals!


Meeting Intriguing People

Simple living and simply being honest – living by a few simple principles so that we can live our lives to their fullest.  How ‘simple is simple,’ one can ask? I think that the beauty of life lies in simplicity — the simple joys of friendship, love, commitment, and most of all, respect. In regards to this, I like meeting new and exciting people — ones who can change the course of our own life for the better. Again, by ‘simple simpleness.’
Last year, my most impressive meeting with someone new was encountering Mr. Gary Goldschneider in person. He is not only an accomplished American classical pianist, but also one of world’s best astrologers — and lives in Amsterdam.
I bought several of his books in San Francisco some 25 years ago. They are available in bookstores worldwide. Since he was giving a piano recital in Amsterdam and I wanted to know more about him, I decided to take the plane from Asia all the way to Europe in order to see him perform rather than just listening to his CDs.
As it happened; I had a wonderful opportunity to meet him. Actually after the concert he came up to me and asked me a few questions. He looked me straight in the eyes and suddenly something like a light went on – like an instant connection – or whatever we want to call it. Mr. Goldschneider and I became friends. He invited me for dinner at his Amsterdam home. And I am proud to announce here he has been invited to perform by the Penang Art Community, in Malaysia.
Last week I met with Doctor Rahman, a professional healer of alternative and local Malay medicine who has studied in Australia and other countries. He lives in Ipoh which is in Malaysia in the State of Perak – a truly mountainous area where you can find indigenous peoples still living according to the old beliefs of centuries ago. They live amidst trees, plants and waterfalls which they believe have healing properties.
I have invited him to come to Langkawi to show him what we do and share some plans I have for new products using herbs and waters coming from the Perak mountains and communities. I had that same feeling of connection when meeting him and right away I knew that this is a contact forever.
Actually he reminded me of my dear friend Dr. Ab Steyn in Holland who was a famous natural healer who people from all over Europe used to consult. I am sure that in a way Ab brought me to Dr. Rahman. I know by heart that something good will come from it.

Then last month I met Teviot Fairservis, a most interesting American woman living on Langkawi UNESCO Geopark Island, the same as me.  Only a few Americans happen to live in Langkawi and they seem to be perfectly delighted with this wonderful and unique environment. As I am myself American (but Dutch born), I was eager to meet Teviot after I discovered that she writes for www.langkawi-gazette.comI was stunned by a great article about our magical island.
We had coffee in her apartment near the beach, together with her 2 cats. It was very pleasant and I connected very well with her. She is truly intelligent, a great organizer and has a professional background in non-profit administration.  She has a great sense of humor!  I wondered even more about what an American woman alone would be seeking by living in this beautiful paradise located on the other side of the world. I got my answer and much more than I bargained for.
To keep it short…..
Teviot agreed to be one of our writers.

She will handle the Paul Penders blog and will start doing research on local herbs and natural cosmetics related with what we do and represent on this beautiful Langkawi island. Actually her first article will appear on the Paul Penders blog very soon about one of my first products which I developed some 40 years ago — the “non-emulsified shampoo”–  which we are considering bringing back in its same simple form as it was decades ago!
Meeting wonderful people is exciting and actually very simple and truly can enrich our lives. To me it is the perfect example of ongoing learning and a way to gain more happiness. While trying to lessen my own ego each day, I wonder often at the beauty of life, love, and the cultivation of respect – the simple things.

Penang Island, a true Duplicate of San Francisco (Part 3)

To see what other islands in beautiful Malaysia have to offer, I drove for 4 days through Penang Island. I am so a very lucky to travel a lot and I like to compare different cities with each other. For example; let’s review ‘my’ great city of San Francisco. Does Hong Kong or Vancouver not possess lots of similarities with San Francisco? Of course they do. But how about a small rainforest island all the way in Southeast Asia? Well, be surprised!

The Cooling Face Powder
On my 4th day of this trip, the following was an interesting experience. Since being in the cosmetic industry making natural herbal beauty products for over 40 years I was very interested in a little cottage industry that produces cooling face powder. The family has been producing this in the same way for decades and the business has grown to a traditional beauty product. It is all natural, made from milled (broken) rice and perfumed with the fragrance of certain plant leaves. To use the cooling mask add some water to a couple of rice drops, crush and apply on face and body.

It is said to reduce pimples and problems of very oily skin. Obviously this is a good remedy because often in this part of the world women complain about oily skin. I am certainly going to make an in-depth study of this interesting natural product. During my 4-day trip I also saw home-made health drinks made from palms claimed to cure diabetes.
I stopped at small eateries eating delicious ‘Hokkien Mee’ and ‘Laksa soup’ and the one Laksa Soup here that is claimed to be the best made from the ‘original-original’ family recipe. The Organic Fruit & Vegetable Farm I visited uses eco-friendly and sustainable farming methods. A sustainable goat farm produces fresh goat milk every day that claims to cure a variety of illnesses and including skin disorders.

I saw various Hindu and Buddhist temples, a beautiful catholic church as well as some impressive mosques. I saw a home stay village where local people offer their homes to guests so they can experience the true Malaysian village life.
Returning to where my trip started
From the town ‘Balik Pulau’ there are two ways to drive back to the hustle and bustle of the big city of Georgetown. Both roads take you again through the mountains with a new road, that brings you either to Penang International Airport, while the other road brings you quickly to Georgetown.
On top of the mountain on the road to Georgetown there is another truly breathtaking view of this part of the island. You can sit and enjoy a locally freshly pressed fruit juice while the sea breeze cools you down. Sitting there with sea breeze flowing around you seems nothing less than a form of meditation. Also, this is a striking comparison to San Francisco where you can drive up to the height of the Golden Gate Park and have a breathtaking view of the city.

So many comparisons to be made between Penang and San Francisco!
I could go on and on but better stop here. One thing that keeps running through my mind is the odd thing that people living on the one side of the island do not know much about the people at the other side. Many people living in Georgetown just a couple dozen miles away – and I am not kidding here! – they have never visited the “other side of the island”. Why?
I asked many people at Georgetown and they seem to have no idea why they don’t visit Balik Pulau. They also don’t seem to have the curiosity to discover a stunning natural beauty available to them on the other side of the island, with easy driving over a modern road through the mountains. Even a city bus goes there…..merely a 15 mile drive!

But this too is what I noticed in San Francisco. Many who live downtown never took the small effort to go to the Golden Gate National Park and experience the stunning beauty over there… only a few miles away…. Quite amazing isn’t?
I concluded that many seem to be perfectly happy with the hustle and bustle of a city. They don’t want to be bothered with a short the journey to see the other side of their island so very nearby but a totally different world. I say to them … Go… please go!!
I will do it again and very often. Because in Penang Island in the same mountain area near the National Park, just beside the fishing village, Teluk Bahang, we have been setting up our own new Paul Penders R&D department!
All the way from San Francisco we came… now we continuously will enjoy the unique diverseness of this amazing Penang Island that keeps reminding us of one of the greatest cities in the world… San Francisco!


Penang Island, a true Duplicate of San Francisco (Part 2)

To see what other islands in beautiful Malaysia have to offer, I drove for 4 days through Penang Island. I am so a very lucky to travel a lot and I like to compare different cities with each other. For example; let’s review “my” great city of San Francisco. Does Hong Kong or Vancouver not possess lots of similarities with San Francisco? Of course they do. But how about a small rainforest island all the way in Southeast Asia? Well, be surprised!

Balik Pulau, the quite side of the island
Here is where my 4-day traveling in Penang Island became especially interesting, the local herbs and plants that grow abundantly on many parts of this truly gorgeous island. The name “Balik Pulau” means nothing less than “The Other Side of the Island”.
Driving through this “back-part” of Penang Island was an amazing discovery, and believe me, not many people living in the over-populated, busy parts of Penang Island have ever been here. Some don’t even know the existence of this natural gem.

    One of the best fruits on this part of the island includes durian, known as “King of Fruit” with its texture and flavor that ranges from smooth and fragrant to husky and bittersweet. Lots of people visit Balik Pulau just to taste durian!

Again such an amazing comparison between Penang and San Francisco. Two entirely different faces in one city as I ever have seen, again … in San Francisco. In San Francisco go north on 19th to highway 101 to take the Golden Gate Bridge and then arrive at the other side of the city in a green area, so quiet, so serene, and so beautiful… one feels themselves in a totally different world just a few miles away from this huge city.
It feels the same in Penang…. drive out of Georgetown through the mountains and the calmness of natural greenery embraces you with absolutely stunning views of the magnificent ocean. All its wildlife, bright flowers and the aromas of different fruits is an experience almost unimaginable.
This is an absolute incredible comparison again with San Francisco! In this “back-part” of Penang Island one feels the staggering difference of serene nature compared to the big city less than 10 miles away as a true experience by itself.

Welcome to “The Other Side of the Island”
The sound and feel of cool, fresh air, the sound of tropical birds and frogs amid the fog that hangs in the mountains in the mornings make this drive a moving spectacle. Meanwhile you pass spice fields, flower and fruit farms and even a nutmeg factory.

The Tropical Spice Garden is the location where they grown herbs and flowers in beautiful natural settings and where last year we made professional photos of my daughter Katja that are shown on the Paul Penders website.

Leaving Bulik Pulau through the mountains to the old fishing town.
This mountain road takes one to the border of the National Park. No busy highways. No high-rises. Leaving the impressive views of mountains and agricultural land. Almost the same like Marin County near San Francisco, here in Penang Island the low land and the ocean are surrounded by mountains. Looking back from the top of the mountain there is no other way then thinking…. this is really “grandioso”.
After a 15 mile drive through the mountains you arrive at the fishing community of Teluk Bahang where people live their lives in the same ways their parents and grandparents did. Life is simple and people are friendly. The road brings you to quiet fishing communities and there is always the view of the ocean and beautiful beaches.

    The right photo of the fishery village Teluk Bahang reminds me to the place near San Francisco of early days of the fishery development where at night Chinese immigrant fishers went out into the Pacific with small fishing boats. In contrast with Fisherman’s Wharf as a #1 tourist attraction in San Francisco, in Teluk Bahang it is almost the same scenery only without many tourists. A true rustic and very natural setting where one can enjoy and relax.

In number 3, the final part of my review of Penang Island versus San Francisco, I will talk about “The Cooling Face Powder”… a true generation-long cosmetic family gem only made at this part of this intriguing Penang Island… please stay tuned?

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!