Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fun in Malaysia

Me with my laksa

As much as I wish I could change up my region for work just to do something refreshing, I don't ever get tired of going to Malaysia.  My days in KL were pretty full, but I have some time to relax and enjoy some free time in Penang.  I love this place because it has great food, and if I have the time, I could technically go to the beach, but normally I opt to stay in main city, Georgetown.  I was with one colleague on Friday night, so he and I went out for supper on a street that a Malaysian friend recommended, Macalister Road.  I didn't realise it's famous on the island, but I had eaten there a year or two ago with a different colleague since it was near our hotel, and it looked like it might have some good local street hawker food, which is one of the things Penang is famous for.  I had decided there were two dishes I wanted to eat: Penang-style laksa, which was my first experience with laksa, and char kuay teow, which is something else that Penang is known for, though you can get both of these dishes all over Malaysia.  I like the Penang style of laksa because it generally comes with a clearer, sour broth, unlike most laksas that have a coconut milk base.  I'm not opposed to coconut milk-based broths, but I prefer the flavour of the sour one without coconut.  And of course, I had some satay as well, though my colleague had ordered it, so I just had a couple of sticks.  Besides, I'd already had some good satay earlier in the week at a reception we had attended, so I wanted to focus on my other treats.  I'd also already had some roti canai and roti telur (the kind stuffed with egg) in KL as well, so I was happy to say I'd had all the yummy things I planned to eat while I was in the country.
Roti telur
While my colleague and I were eating, we were served beverages by a sweet older lady, who was missing most of her teeth, and what was in her mouth was mostly blackened from smoking.  She looked weathered and had a raspy voice to boot, but she was friendly and liked to joke around--except when it came to her belief that my colleague and I were more than just work associates or that we should be more than that if we weren't already!  My colleague doesn't swing that way, and I'm sure his partner at home might have been jealous, but it gave us a good laugh.  I had hoped to take a photo of her, but unfortunately, she wouldn't appear in one.  She said, "You know how some Chinese people have that belief...".  My colleague nodded, and so did I so as not to reveal my ignorance.  I asked my colleague after what that meant, and he said some people believe that parts of their souls go out of their bodies when photographed, so that was probably it.  I've heard of that before, but I had never heard it in Chinese beliefs.  I asked a Chinese Malaysian friend at home about it, and he never heard of it either, so I'm still searching for more information.  A quick Google search didn't reveal much, so I'll have to keep sleuthing.

This time in Penang, I had almost a full day to relax and do fun things there because my Saturday was a travel day, and I had booked an evening flight so that I could eat more yummy things and do something fun in Penang because I usually don't have any time to enjoy myself while I'm there.  I learned that there was a butterfly farm, so I hopped a bus to get most of the way there and then took a taxi the rest of the waty since there's no bus that goes directly there.  I love butterflies so much.  As caterpillars, they're hairy and gross and sometimes squishy, as butterflies, they become so pretty as they flutter around with a lightness almost wispier than air itself.  If I had sad somewhere long enough, I know that they would have landed on me because they were doing that to others, but then I wouldn't have been able to do much of a good self-portrait that way, so I decided just to keep walking--though one butterfly did bean me in the head at one point!  There wasn't as much variety of butterflies as I would have liked to see, but I enjoyed myself anyway.  As I was running short for time, I took a taxi back home, but not before checking out the farm's insect section where there were a variety of beetles and scorpions, among other bugs.  It was pretty cool.  There were a few reptiles, too.

I guess there are fraudulent monks here, though I've never encountered one
One neat thing I did this time was that, between my one colleague and I and how we booked our school visits, we ended up doing a ring around the entire perimeter of the island in one day.  I've never been all around it like that before!  I was able to get the name of Indian restaurant that's really good there, called Sri Ananda Bahwan restaurant.  Oh, and we also passed by a sign for one of Malaysia's low cost airlines, Firefly, which read Wilayah Firefly trespassers will be boarded! If you have a ticket, you're not really trespassing, right? Or what does this mean?  Oh well!

Please click on the album to get the full photos and not just the thumbnails:

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