Wow it has been a long time since I have written a blog post. Hmmm….not sure why that is. I think the next week or two might see a bit of a deluge from me on the site as I have lots to say and share. (new camera just seems like a built in excuse to visit places I have already been to and take better pictures!
So this is going to be a bit of hybrid blog post. First will be some of the great food I ate in Penang and the second part will be a photo tour of Penang. Iris and I went there last weekend for Chinese New Year. When we told people what our plans were for the holiday, people laughed at us. One person laughed and asked “no really, what are you doing?” Chinese New Year is one of the BIG holidays in Malaysia (and China obviously). Many of your probably saw the photos of the girl who had the whole plan to herself in China, or the 100,000+ of people waiting outside a train station in China. The reason for this is that on New Year’s Eve, it is traditional to spend the night with your family. If you can not, you are instructed to stare at the moon and imagine they are looking at it too. Most people try to go home and a lot of places are closed for the week. Iris had three days off, I had two, but the child of Iris’s boss had the whole week off. Even Hari Raya doesn’t get the whole week off! Because of this, everyone has a traffic horror story of traveling on CNY.
We set off at 5am on Saturday morning in an effort to beat the worst of the traffic and we did okay. Penang is about 3.5-4 hours away from KL and it took us 6 hours to get there. Most of the slow downs were due to one accident, and the massive amounts of people getting on/off the highway at the rest areas. Seriously. Don’t understand that one myself but whatever.
Penang is great and we had planned to go back before we even left for this trip and boy was that a good attitude to take! It is suppose to be one of THE food capitols of the world and my dear wife Iris was sick the whole time we were there. She ate slices of bread from a loaf I got at 7-11 the whole time we were there. She claims it was good bread but it was not as good as what I ate for sure! I present to you the food I ate in Penang in no particular order at all.
Here is some Hokkien Char. Fried noodles, pork, shrimp paste, all around great stuff.
Steamed Pork buns! Always amazing, no matter where I find them!
Nasi Kandar of course!
Great claypot briyani rice! With mutton and a nice little egg in the middle there
So CNY eve most things were closed, as they were the next day as well, which made finding good Chinese food difficult. A brief refresher: Malaysia is mostly Malay, but with a giant Chinese population (25-30%) and a smaller but significant Indian population. They have been here for generations, because their ancestors were traders hundreds of years ago, or they came over during the British Era, as the Brits believed that the Chinese were better for running their commercial interests than the Malays or the Indians. Penang, as the photo tour will show, is a Chinese town first and foremost. It is still Malaysia, but somehow a little different. Most of the signage is in Chinese and English, no Malay. I did not see Malay anywhere except at government areas. (the national park, for example) When I was at a hawker stall center one night there was a karaoke show and they sung in Chinese and all their stage announcement were in Chinese. So with the Chinese shutting down their shops to celebrate the holiday, Little India was the only place where anything seemed to be open, hence the Indian food.
Speaking of which, here is that hawker stall center I went to
And here is the food I got there:
I got the Ee Fu Mee. Still not really sure what it is, but is seemed to be a lot like the other typical Chinese noodles dishes: Fried noodles, pork and/or chicken, and some prawns on top. Not complaining, it was very very good, just saying.
It was better then the first dinner I had that day. As usual, I do not remember the name of the dish but it was noodles of some kind:
Mostly, it was just too small of a portion. Of course, it cost me about $2 so I guess I can not really complain.
Next up, the New World Hawker center. We went there for breakfast. Or rather, I went there and Iris watched me eat. Still sick at this point, still sticking with her bread.
The above left are banana pancakes. Eh…could have been better. The bananas were just chopped up and stuffed inside along with peanuts. Good flavor combo, but I imagine it would be a lot better if it was all put into the batter together. Above right is popiah, kind of a breakfast spring roll. Now this I have had several times before and LOVED it. This one, was just okay. The rice on the bottom was soggy, which made the bottom of the roll soggy, and that was just no fun. When I have had it in the past, it is crispy on the outside especially with the crispy pork on top, and that plays nicely with the rice inside.
But now a saving grace: Kacing!
This place is apparently well known for it’s kacing and it lived up to the hype! Of course, this is a hard dish to get wrong. The corn as a dessert still throws me off a bit but I am getting used to it.
Like I said, hard to enjoy the food knowing my poor wife can’t enjoy it with me, but I still ate pretty well. We left a half day earlier on Monday night, because of being sick and to try and avoid traffic. It worked, as we got home in 3.5 hours.
Next up, a photo tour of Penang! I am going to put these up with little to no comment.
First, some street art!
This one I have to comment on. We went out side the city to go to two places we had ready about: Cat Beach, and Monkey Beach.
Cat beach had cats but no beach. Monkey beach had a beach, but no cats. We still had fun on our hike in the national park on our way to Non Monkey Beach and did see monkeys on the way there.
Lastly, just a few scenes from around town, including Iris and I next to our Chinese zodiac symbols!
That’s all for now. Jumpa Lagi!