24 hours in Penang with Josh Lee

We are going to ask perfumers and creators located around the world to take us with them to discover their native or adoption town; to unveil their favorite places, where they draw their inspiration from and mostly to let us discover the scents of their cities… So, for this very first edition, let’s go traveling to Penang, northern Malaysia, in the company of Josh Lee.

Josh Lee is an independent Malaysian perfumer. After training at ISIPCA and several years of experience in the industry, he decided to launch his own brand in 2012; Josh Lee Fragrances promotes through scents, the heritage of Malaysia and the richness of his culture.

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It is midnight on a Friday in Tokyo. I am in the subway that connects Haneda airport to my hotel in Aoyama. Immediately strong smell of sake reaches my nose. I have just arrived in Japan and I am submerged in feelings of both impatience and excitement. For years, I had dreamed of visiting the land of the rising sun and it took months to prepare for my journey.

Like many others before me, I have come to Japan during the month of April to experience the renowned cherry blossoms. Following months of bare branches and fallen leaves, Hanami, as it is known, is a hugely popular time of year in which it is tradition to observe and pay tribute to the natural and ephemeral beauty of flowers.

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Your scented travel memories: South East Asia

“As I walk towards the plane, towards my next adventure, the toxic fumes of petrol burn my nostrils and begin to give me a headache; but it’s these scents that also make me giddy with excitement as well as making me nervous. I have learnt to associate the smell with a new journey that is waiting for me just around the corner. Boarding that initial flight to Singapore was no exception. I could almost feel the adrenaline running through my veins as I took my seat on the plane, I was ready to face this whole new world!

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The incense spirals of Man Mo temple, Hong Kong

In our discovery of Hong Kong’s perfumed places, it is a small Taoist temple that truly fits like an olfactory destination not to be missed. Located on the slopes of Victoria Peak, among the huge buildings of the city stands the traditional and discrete Man Mo Temple 文武庙.

Built in 1847 in colonial times by the Taoists, the Man Mo temple is the oldest in the city. Despite having been renovated several times, it still retains its original appearance and reminds visitors of Hong Kong from another time. Two deities are worshiped there: Man, the god of literature and Mo, the god of war.

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