Malaysia, Personal

My favourite place to visit, or, a story about Penang

inkstone: Favourite places to visit.

I am going to be super predictable and say: Penang, always! I never get sick of visiting Penang. There is always something interesting and quaint and new-to-me to see. I like going with friends because then I have an excuse to visit tourist attractions, and there are always a few I haven’t visited before, or don’t remember, because usually when I go to Penang I am going to visit relatives.

I like the relatives who live in Penang! I am quite happy just going there to collapse on a sofa to watch Asian Food Channel all day. (The channel is Asian, not necessarily the food, so sometimes you are watching a Singaporean lady raving unconvincingly over guilinggao, and sometimes you are watching that poor man who only has a grill to cook on, and isn’t allowed into his own house until he has made some burgers on it.)

And when all else fails there is always the food.

Here is a story of something that happened when I was in Penang last year with colorblue. We had visited Penang Hill, looked into the Hindu temple, visited a sort of bird garden, and failed to get onto the canopy walk. (There were signs pointing to the canopy walk and we strolled for about 15 minutes to get to it, and then when we got there, lo! It was closed. It had clearly been closed for a long time. I felt this was very Malaysian, and the most Malaysian thing about it was that nobody had bothered to update the signs all pointing to CANOPY WALK to add some sort of indication that it was closed.)

When we had descended we still had a bit of time before we were going to be picked up, so we wandered off-road, following a sign to a Bat Temple. We walked past houses and stray dogs snoozling by the road, wondering if we were going to find anything, until we did arrive at the temple, which is in a cave. After we’d had a look around we went outside to stand on a bridge, looking down over a mess of stones and water that might have been a river in better days.

As we were chatting, CB remarked casually,

“There’s a crocodile down there.”

“Is it?”

“Yeah, look, behind the rock.”

argh monitor lizard

“That’s not a crocodile,” I yelped. “That’s a huge fucking lizard! AAAAAAAAA”

When my auntie picked us up, we mentioned this encounter and she confirmed that it was a monitor lizard. “Got a lot around here. Some people eat them. They say tastes like chicken.”

Me, interested: “Is it?”

Auntie: “I don’t know! I don’t eat them! If they bite you at 12 o’clock it’s poisonous.”

Me: “What about if they bite you at other times?”

Auntie: “Er, I don’t know.”


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