No sign of snow in Penang
Even when you decide to go slow for Christmas or as we are calling it this year, a ‘Christmas Amnesty’, it is still pretty damn busy. I have conquered my allergy to shopping malls, and have now become rather too familiar with the Gurney Plaza Mall where I frequent the Jatomi gym a few days a week.
There are so many malls in Penang, and for locals it provides favourite spot for free air-con and window shopping during the hot months. Open from 10-10pm this place will be packed out from early afternoon until close, covering most of what you might need although you have to be prepared to generally pay a premium. We have our equivalent to PoundStretcher in the UK, or Warehouse in NZ with Daiso Japan providing for our everyday needs from household goods to everyday necessities at 5RM an item.
I think my Christmas Tree could be mistaken for any other mall in the world at this time of year? At 50cm high we have the smallest Christmas tree on the planet, but it has lights and baubles and is, in my humble opinion, totally Christmassy.
The boys each have an advent calendar and don’t seem to mind there being little else, though we each lust after mince pies, brandy butter, roast turkey and more. We are used to a hot Christmas from previous years in New Zealand, yet it still feels all wrong to see Father Christmas in his winter woolies in this heat, and of course arriving to school via Trishaw.
The boys are in fabulous spirits. They have had several playdates and are very, very happy at their school. I had a delightful dialogue with Z who requested he stay at the school for ever. “Well, thats unlikely” I replied. “Anyway, maybe you’ll want to return to Mummy’s Homeschool?” “Sorry, Mum, I mean I love you, but I think this school is better for me”.
Wizard of Oz
We have all been fully occupied with the various end of school term activities. Big O has been in the thick of rehearsals as a Munchkin for a Year 4 production of The Wizard of Oz. There are 3 classes in his year, and all have been learning songs and lines, as the parents have been doing their bit with stage props and costumes. There were some busy days with painting work but I relished the opportunity to feel involved having been unable to commit this simple time in the past. This was clearly a hit with Big O which made it worth the time and effort.
The play was wonderful with the school hall full of proud parents witnessing a great effort from all the kids. We were able to celebrate as a family at our own after-party at Northam Beach Cafe beach-side hawker centre along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah in Georgetown. There is plenty to eat here although it can be overwhelming the choice and selection. It was also our 13th Wedding Anniversary, and luckily a cheap date for J.
It has been unusual to have J here and without the pressures of work be it paid or volunteer. We have made the most of this time by keeping it simple, snatching time to share a walk, coffee or a lunch. We haven’t done anything flash, just simple things that we know we will probably crave in months to come.
I am such a curious creature and just love to explore and discover somewhere and something new. This week it is yet more cafes, and some new foods such as the Chico fruit, or Sapodilla. It looks like potato, or kiwi and yet it has a sweet, honey-like flavour. Courtesy of a quick google, I learn the chico has high nutritional benefits similar to the banana and kiwi fruit although I have yet to persuade the boys to have a try.
It blows my mind each time I go into the old town jus the colours and the old versus the new are just a photographers dream. It will be my New Years Resolution to spend far more time getting familiar with my camera and the sights and sounds of Penang.
We are loving the street food here in Penang, it totally lives up to its reputation and is cheap and tasty. Already we have our favourites, particularly at Pilau Tikkus market in the mornings with fresh chicken curry puffs, and my favourite egg and peanut pancakes.
A dear friend here has been sharing all her favourite eating hotspots and believe me, we are doing our very best to try them ALL. Our latest favourite is Annalakshmi Vegetarian Restaurant at the Temple of Fine Arts, Penang. A veritable smorgasbord of the most tasty, authentic Indian food for which you pay as much as you can afford or what you think is reasonable.
Anyone for Dim Sum?
I have totally indulged in my love for Chinese Dim Sum. For those of you less familiar with Chinese food, dim sum is an assortment of dumplings and bite-sized steamed sweet and savoury dishes. I love to observe the ladies pushing trolleys full of steamed and fried delights, you can never be quite sure what they contain, but mostly it tastes just fine and even more so with a full teapot of Chinese tea. A new discovery this week at Old Winston Coffee Garden in Jalan Anston, Georgetown. It is certainly not the highest quality, but certainly cheap (RM24/GBP4 for a meal for 2) and perfectly edible according to the masses that eat there from 0530 in the morning.
Of course Dim Sum isn’t just a breakfast dish, it can also be a perfect pre-drink snack when you are out on the town with the Miami Green girls. Tho Yuen Restaurant, Lebuh Campbell offered just that and lined our stomachs just perfectly before the Tower of Long Island Ice Tea cocktail. Both of which gave us dancing feet that took us well into the early hours (yes, totally taking advantage of Daddy Babysitter).
Never without a weekly drama, this past few days has been spent trying to discover how exactly to pay our traffic fine for parking on the wrong road, Malaysian style. First failed attempt to pay at the traffic police in Komtar and sent to the police station, and finally on to the downtown central police station which caused great excitement for the boys.
And so as we head into the weeks of Christmas, we wish each and everyone of you a fabulous sprint to the finish. Relax, enjoy, and keep smiling. For our Sunflower Journey, yet more learnings as we have the first without family. We are determined to lace it with yet more adventures as we head back to Johor, a sneaky trip to Ho Chi Minh City and a full week of exploring further afield right here in Penang.