Wednesday, 5 January 2011

A short taste of Penang

My recollections of Georgetown are all intimately connected to food.

First day in town: exploring the waterfront in the torrential rain, hems of my trousers dripping water all over the entry hall of the 19th century Nonya merchants' houses. Slowly, very slowly, drying as I sit in an Indian restaurant for lunch, eating a banana leaf meal with my right hand, thinking how my mother would screw up her nose at the sight of her daughter sans-cutlery.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion - did Penang have a blue period?

Second day in town: slumped exhausted over our iced melon juices at the top of Penang Hill (it's a long walk, 5.1km up hill all the way, when the funicular is closed for repairs). Back down at the bottom, buying bags of cut fruit to eat in the botanical gardens, fending off greedy monkeys while knees and thighs tremble from the walk. Later, ordering more food than we can eat in the Red Garden hawker centre. The older ladies in our group flirt with the drinks waiters.

Kek Lok Si Temple - disappointingly the temple had more souvenir sellers than food sellers

Third day: char kway teow at at tiny, blue and white tiled shopfront for lunch. Chewy cockles and oily noodles. Does it get any better than this? Then a bus up the coast, and an afternoon spent wandering around the tropical spice garden and the tropical fruit farm. Exploring plants in well-tended jungles, sampling fruits I've never seen before. It's all good.

Do I have to leave, when there's so many more flavours to try?

I don't know what this is

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