almost like home…

Penang has turned out to be the perfect city, at the perfect time in
our trip. What I mean is, after leaving Bangkok and now having to
transition back into “modern” society from  mainland SE Asia, Penang
was a great landing spot.
I personally, after leaving the Secret Garden and switching to the Red
Inn, after the hectic noise of Bangkok, all the traveling, food,
emotions, experiences, and people were catching up with me and I was
beginning to get homesick or more than that…comfort sick. I was really
at the point of major Nicole Freak Out. The inability to be in the
same place for a period time, the inability to eat home cooked food,
the inability to just relax on a couch. As a traveler I was getting
kind of nutty….always on the go, always “seeing” what the tourists
come to town to see and really going a bit nuts at always eating out,
having crappy showers or uncomfortable beds or noisy neighbors or
smelly busses or….
Anyway, Penang rescued me.

After a rough nights sleep and transferring hotels, our sweet Shirley
swept us out to dinner to the Red Garden. The Red Garden is set up as
an out door food court with western food, Malay food, Indian food and
well tons of ethnic yummys. 

We were just up for a snack but Shirley ordered everything under the sun for us to try along with Ambla Juice.
While we ate, there was live entertainment, a stage, some
dancers..very fun night.

I have no idea what day of the week it is, or what day we arrived in
Penang….calendars kind of go by the way side… but on our second
morning in Penang, Adam armed with the camera, his ipod and a map, on
his own (you know how he is with maps) toured around the city, took in
the sites and people and had a day to himself while I caught up on my
much needed sleep, watched some TV season finales on
and awaited my husbands return. 

We also purchased a new camera lens and a great wall hanging for our future home. (its the elephant one on the top)
Shirley wanted to take us out again, but we took a rain check and went out to Upper Penang for a nice
chicken and steak dinner, a dart tournament on the big screen, and a
beautiful evening on the shore.

In the morning, after getting a bit of a late start, we headed off in
search of the Fruit Farm. We jumped on the U101 bus and rode it around
Penang. The Island was much bigger than we had thought with a
beautiful coastline, tons of condos and shopping and restaurants.
Instead of making it to the actual fruit farm, we didn’t know we had
to switch to the 501 bus, we went to the Taman Negara Pulau Pinang National Park.
I refused to pay 100R (or almost $35) for a boat ride, so we hiked a
bit through the forest, although I definitely didn’t have the shoes
nor was I dressed appropriately for some humid rain forest hiking. Our
goal was to make it to Monkey Beach where I guess there are wild
monkeys playing on the beach as you swim. 

We made it ½ way to the USM  Marine Science Beach area which was very nice. The water was crystal
blue and we spent some time just watching the tide (we also didn’t
have swimsuits with us) we then waved down a boat and spent 10R ($3)
for a ride back to the park entrance

When we got back to the Inn, Shirley swept us back out to Buta
Ferringhi Beach area where we once again ate a ton of Hawka and Indian
food, drank Ambla Juice and knock off shopped. I picked up a nice
Jimmy Choo bag and Adam and I both decided to cave and bought Crocs…my
god they are so comfortable I wish we would have gotten them before we
had left for our trip.

The next morning, . we jumped back on the 101 armed with the plan of
going to the fruit farm yet again. It was a Malay New Year (I think it
is just the Indian Malay’s that celebrate it) and the busses were
jammed. We waited for 4 different 101’s to pass and each one was more
full than the next, so we opted to take the 103 to Gurney Drive (we
spotted a Subway there). I munched away at my tuna sub while Ad
devoured his chicken. We walked along the sea shore, in front of the
million dollar hotels and condos. We saw a HUGE monitor lizard on the
rocks next to the water.

Then, we headed into the mall to spend a day like normal people, as if we lived here. We looked at floor plans to
the huge condos and talked to sales people, we looked in the shops. We
tested out some of the heavy duty massage chairs and I bought a wallet
at a store called fourskin so Adam could get a bag with the name on
it, he found it quite funny.
Our time in Penang was extended from 2 days to 5. We spent our last
morning with Shirley and her friends. It was her day off and she chose
to pick us up bright and early at the Inn.

 We went to the BotanicalGardens and walked with the locals. I guess it is a very popular thing
to do in the morning, there were 100’s of people out there, along with
dogs, babies and wild monkeys.

 We all stopped at the fruit stand for tons of fresh fruit and then Shirley and her friends took us out for a
Chinese breakfast. They treated us like we belonged there, we had tea,
fish, noodles, veggies, tofu, dessert, and more fruit. We were so
stuffed, but more than that, we were so honored. It was such a great
feeling to have these wonderful, caring people, take time out of their
own lives, to show two American’s their city.

We all talked about the harmony among cultures and people here in
Penang. They also gave us the name of the local International School
to check out. Penang was the first city that we have traveled to where
Ad and I both felt at ease. We didn’t have to constantly be guarded
“watching out backs” thinking everyone had an agenda. We were able to
enjoy the people, the scenery and the fresh air.

And to Shirley and her friends…Janet and the rest…thank you so much
for taking Adam and I in, making us feel at home and welcoming us into
your circle of friends. You are beautiful people.

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