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Penang, Pearl of the Orient

Currently it's about 6pm, 22nd of November, in Penang, Malaysia.

I took AirAsia to Penang at 7:25am. So I got out of the hotel at 5am. Let me tell you, it's easy to get around Bangkok at that time of the morning! Unfortunately it's still quite far from the guesthouse to the airport. It took about 30 minutes by cab, all told, whereas it usually takes over an hour or even more during rush hour.

AirAsia is a budget carrier, only booking over the Internet, and so the airfare is quite reasonable, however with few amenites. They do offer a menu of snacks to buy, and of course, I'm a sucker for this sort of thing.


Starting on the left, that's sweetened green tea with honey, salmon spread with crackers, and Knorr's Instant Cup Jook (I guess Cup O' Jook is probably trademarked by the Cup O' Noodle people.) These tea drinks are everywhere, especially Japan and Thailand so far, so I've had a bunch of those. The salmon I bought as more of a goof than anything, and it wasn't great - just salmon, mayo, some waterchestnut for texture and I think some sweet pickle relish. But it is a product of Thailand or at least packed in Thailand, and I wouldn't normally think of salmon and Thailand at all. As for the jook (congee, or rice soup) I had some real hope it would be at least passable, but the rice was too fine for my taste, it was runny, and the spongy "chicken"bits took it down a few notches. I guess I should have tried the instant Tom Kha Gai soup instead, but I thought I had better odds of the jook being good. Oh well. Total was 170 Thai baht or $4.25US.

It's a little overcast and gloomy today, but about 83F and comfortably humid. My buddy made reservations for me at the Cititel Penang, so I finally have a chance to break out my AC travel adapter kit and wireless card. It's rated four star (not sure by whom), so it's plush compared to what I have been staying in, although about 6 times as much per night. Still pretty reasonable, all plushness considered. By the time I got settled, I was ready for another snack.

Right across the street is a 24 hour Malay/Indian place called Jaya that called to me right away. I don't know how it compares to other places around here, but it had a steady stream of locals and it looked promising. They cook to order in the back, but all the action is at this table up front. I think this is sometimes called the banana leaf style of eating, or rice plate. [clarification: this is a nasi kandar place, which is muslim Indian. Banana leaf usually means Southern Indian, like from Tamil-nadu, Kerala, etc] A counterman starts with steamed rice on the plate, then the customer chooses from what's available. A thin sauce that goes over all the rice is also chosen. The red chunk is a piece of fish, I guess like tandoori. Then I got a chicken stew (I think there was turmeric, garlic, clove, some cardomom and a few other things in it) and some green beans. With a bottle of water it was RM 7.80 or about $2.00US. I'm not sure how you could beat that for value. I'm pretty sure I'll end up there again before I leave.


Also nearby are two street corners of ad hoc mini-food courts where Chinese food is served from carts lining the street. They offer such as roast duck over rice, yam rice, Hokkien noodles, Hainanese Chicken Rice, etc and customers sit on the inside of the ring. I may hit some of those as well. I also stopped at a convenience store and picked up some interesting drinks.

By the way, if you're ever in a situation like I am in this hotel where you're composing a long email or blog entry in IE or Netscape or Opera, and the Internet access is on a timeclock rather than flat rate, here's a trick. You can economize your time by getting to the new entry page (or webmail new message page), stop the clock, then compose the entry, so that the clock isn't running during the time you taptaptap, umm, maybe, nah that's dumb, retype, etc. the way I do. Then just turn the clock back on before you send or submit the page. That's because the WorldWide Web is setup as a client/server scheme, where the client sends a page request blahblahblah.

Another way to do it would be to compose your text in MS Word, then start the clock, get to the page and copy and paste the text into the webpage. BTW, the access here is RM 20 or around $5US for 24 metered hours.


Hi Tad

Glad to see you're adventuring with Penang food. Erm...Malaysian currency is Ringgit Malaysia (RM). I had a hard time trying to figure out $5.00MA. ;)


Thanks for the correction, Tepee. I changed it in the text for better readability.

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