Hearing our names over the system being called for last minute boarding was a very refreshing experience. It felt rather enlightening and light, in a “kind of way”. Before that we were strolling the departure grounds in a hunt for my neck pillow (which I eventually found during the trip instead). Dad also squeezed out a good sale at Longchamp. And then we ran to the boarding gates. My parents ran faster than I. As I said, a rejuvenating experience.
It’s been 2 weeks since the trip and I can still feel the pull of the sleepy town’s effects on me back home. There was tons of sun and dust. My face is still broken out. Lots has passed, I will log that next.
I digress. Back to Penang.
On the plane seat I think about future trips with friends, with a partner, with myself for work. I have never ventured away from the sights of my parents out of Singapore, but that is going to happen very soon. I used to enjoy plane rides before my I was diagnosed with a horrid back, but now taking off makes me anxious. It feels like an pending panic attack ready to bust my sorry self. Eventually that anxiety turned into an hour nap, and I woke up to the view of Pulau Pinang. Familiarity.
We shuffled into our room upon arrival at the hotel, it had a large bed right in the middle of the room unlike the usual tuck-in-a-corner. I told you, this was a refreshing trip. I felt bad for Dad who was tucked in the corner though, because that’s where they placed the spare bed. I crashed onto the white sheets but was soon cruised away by my grand-uncle and grand-aunt, and we drove to nowhere else but New Lane. It was an obligatory trip and there were no arguments, though I didn’t like the place as much as I did before. Every table there orders almost the same thing. You know your good stalls and you flock to them like grabbing a Hunger Games pack. It’s a battleground over there. I had 2 plates of kangkong cuttlefish, done my way. RM12 with no peanuts and sauces on the side. By the second order the aunty knew exactly what I wanted.
The next morning mum and I went down to the breakfast buffet first, Dad came later, but it was a terrible spread for a hotel like that. I was remarkably disappointed. I mark hotels by 1) cleanliness of the toilet 2) decency of their breakfast spread 3) convenience of location. I reversed by disappointment when we got to Pulau Tikus market, I got myself a plain egg ban jiang kueh and it was heaven. The glorification then crashed as it got saltier by bite. I don’t know why, these things aren’t supposed to be salty. Or are they?
We walked through the narrow alleys of the local wet market, it wasn’t any different from Singapore. I enjoyed it nonetheless. Looking at fresh produce makes me happy and I’m expecting a lot from Borough Market in September. Little India was a gem. We bought a huge bag of spices and herbs, I got asafetida (and made the best dahl to date on Mother’s Day after)! The famed mural paintings at Armenian were around the corner, so we drove through the installations and paintings, but they didn’t fascinate us very much unlike the throngs of tourists queuing for a photo. Singaporeans are so distinct. At 2PM I died and went to food heaven. We went to Padang Brown. That place shines from a distance in all its glory and I recognise every inch of it. We had lunch there for the 3 remaining days. I leave you with photos below without captions because there is no need for them. Not when it is Padang Brown’s paseumbur and seafood popiah. You just don’t need any explanations.
Other than being caught in the act.
We ventured around the malls next to the hotel in the evening. I was too full for dinner so I went to the gym. I picked a treadmill facing the sea and thought “the darkest nights produce the brightest stars”. By the time I got back to the room Dad was out for his late-night whisky and Mum was in the shower.
On the 3rd day we hired a taxi instead so my grandaunt didn’t have to drive us around. We went to buy biscuits as gifts and drove to Ke Lok Si temple. That was as touristy as we got. Lok lok was open today! Devoured, then drove down along the coast of the beach. Parts of it were in ruins but that made it seem all the more authentic. It looked breezy outside. I have no memory of the bits and bobs we did in the mid/late afternoon, but I went to the gym till we had to leave for dinner. They booked a table at Hai Nan Town. It poured as we pulled into the parking lot, and there was lots of table chat over dinner. It was a meal that felt distant and foreign but seemingly the same. I always feel like that.
Day 4 was hazy. I vaguely remembering speaking with the lok lok uncle, and saying goodbye to Padang Brown :'< We covered the remaining of the malls and had dinner at Nando's before the car took us to the airport. For record purposes I must archive how dismayed I was when I found out Nando's was priced lower than our outlets here, and it was in RM. Conspiracy! Rental in Singapore is a throat-slasher. So I took the chance to order a double hehe. The flight back was quick, the ride home from the airport was even quicker. My body has accustomed itself to budget flight seats. Next, I conquer 13hr flights.