Sunday, December 29, 2013

Whirlwind Tour of Penang

It's been at least 16 years since I last saw Stacey and Lynn. Whenever people asked how we met, it's a little hard to explain plus I always get incredulous looks. In a nutshell, we all won a trip of a lifetime to France when we were all teenagers and have kept in touch ever since. Amazing, isn't it? I swear I'm not making this up!

Stacey flew over from Singapore for Sabrina's wedding and since she had 36 hours to kill in Penang, I gamely volunteered to be her guide. Initially, Hubs scoffed that Stacey wouldn't be doing much shopping, after all, wouldn't the shopping in Singapore be much better? Let's just say that the amount of shopping that we did together requires a separate post by itself ;)

We picked her up from the Penang airport and went straight off for Balik Pulau laksa and these steamed delectables: gula melaka buns. I think Balik Pulau is probably the only place you can find these nowadays. Stacey was fascinated with the iced umpela drink - I was more fascinated with the fact that umpela or nutmeg drinks can't be found in Singapore, lol.

After a quick spot of shopping at Gurney Paragon (where she proceeded to buy the entire Padini store), we headed for Sabrina's wedding which had an amazing Bollywood theme. Here we are in my red saree and Stacey's hip white and silver chiffon saree. My cousin very kindly gave me her saree material and the tailor had to pre-sew it for me so I wouldn't need to tie it myself. I am really tempted to recycle it again for Chinese New Year, after all, it is bright red :)


The next morning, brunch was teochew chendul, more assam laksa and char koay teow at Penang Road. Since it was a scorcher of a day, we gladly paid extra for the chendul to be delivered inside the coffee shop.

We then went through some of the labyrinthine streets of Georgetown which in retrospect, probably isn't the wisest thing to do on a blazing hot afternoon. I think we both ended up with muggy headaches and I can feel more freckles popping out on my cheeks :(


No matter how many times I walk through these streets, I always pause at the wonder that is Georgetown, this beautiful melting pot of culture where old meets new.

We randomly went into a pre war houses converted into quirky stores selling all kinds of souvenirs. I can't remember the name of this 100 year old shop house in Armenian Street but it was quite an interesting place, stocking tongue in cheek mementos and what was cool about this shop was that it allowed you to (very carefully) go upstairs to have a look at how people used to live there, free of charge and no purchase required. Stacey pointed out these old school Japanese paper dolls where you could change their outfits with the fold on tabs. I've such happy memories of playing with these and loving them to bits because the dolls had such sparkly eyes and funky wardrobes.

No visit to Penang is complete without some cakes at China House. We met up with Lynn there and had a good girly chat. China House is known for its funky pieces of art and this sand sculpture of a Christmas tree was no exception, though I've to admit I made a certain 3 year old stand far away from it in case of accidents :p As always, trying to pick just one cake from the selection at China House was close to impossible. Plus I love going there to look at the unique selections to get baking inspiration.

The sun was slowly setting and it was the perfect time to visit the Chew jetty. We saw a couple of people relaxing at the edge with some paper and pencils, sketching the sunset while the ocean breeze gentle tugged at their hair.

We ended the whirlwind tour with dinner at Pulau Tikus market for lok lok and Stacey was whisked back to the airport clutching packets of putu mayung and putu piring firmly in her hand amidst admonitions not to exclaim too loudly that the prices for Penang food were as cheap as chips ;)

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