12 things I did in Penang

This might be my best trip to Penang! Three reasons: 1) I went with my favourite people in the whole world and 2) It’s for my Mommy’s 60th birthday 3) I started my journey at the right place…a bookshop!

1. Visit a local bookstore
We drove directly from KL to Gerak Budaya. I can talk a lot about this place, but I’m trying to complete this series quickly (work involves a lot of writing and I am trying to record my personal journey as quick as I can…). All I can say is I’ve bought more books that I should and, on top of opening my eyes to a whole new Penang, they led me to #2 and #3

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2. Bought handcrafted mahjong
Very much into culture, I’ve found a book about dying trades in Penang. Since I’ve always wanted to get my own set of mahjong for Chinese New Year, I thought I’ll support a local artisan and got a set of handcrafted mahjong. It’s not cheap though – RM 310 for a set!

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3. Go on a tour at the Tropical Spice Garden
Ah, this is the highlight of my journey. There exist a beautiful tropical garden in Penang. It’s so secluded, you will probably miss it but you shouldn’t! I learned so much from Cikgu, our tour guide. I used a kacip, a traditional tool, to break open a betel fruit for it’s nut! 😀 Oh, and I so wish I have an edible garden at home. What will I plant? Sawtooth coriander, misai kucing and even cinnamon tree!

Read: Asia’s Hidden Eden

tropical spice garden penang

4. Discovered nutmeg drink!
My brother introduced me to my a unique drink in penang: nutmeg drink! Nutmeg is grown in Penang since the spice trade era and still exist today. Can’t believe I didn’t bother to know this before. I love this drink so much I bought bottle of nutmeg cordial for RM 8.
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5. Had local tea/coffee and toast at an alley
I had wanted asam laksa for breakfast but Penangnites rarely open their restaurant on time. So we went to a little alley for local toast, tea and coffee. Toh Soon is a good place to go when you’re in Penang. You will have to wait though. It’s crowded!

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6. Ate the real Penang white laksa (nope, not from the packet!)
I like my kerang cooked, but the owner of the store always refuse me. He say it’s “Penang style”. But I loved it anyway!

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7. Devour my favourite asam laksa!
I have no words for the most delicious dish in the world (can you see that smile on my face?!). Ah, I need to experiment to cook asam laksa as good as this. Ok, I shall do it this April!penang laksa

8. Eat at Nasi Kandar Line Clear
Unfortunately, I don’t understand the popularity of this place. All I know is the men in my life pile up heaps of calories and cholesterol on their plate *trying not to be a wet blanket*

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9. Explore Georgetown
A UNESCO World Heritage site in Malaysia, but most Malaysian only go there for food. What a pity! I need to go back to explore more museums, old shops and artisans. It’s such a unique town!
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9. Buy some tau sar peah
My family love this. I can at most take a few pieces. Isn’t it too sweet? But I love their sesame oil.

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10. Visit Chao Rasta market
A market you can get all kinds of snacks and other things like nutmeg oil. I need to create a shopping list when I go back next.rasta

11. Have cendol!
Of course, this cannot be missed.
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12. Babysit and Do yoga with Mommy
I am elated to find our hotel offer complimentary yoga class on Sunday morning. So I took Mom for her first yoga class. So funny to see a 60 years old bending into weird position. She’s good for a first-timer though – probably thanks to her frequent practice of qigong.

Yen is a wonderful yoga instructor. She taught me some new moves and tips to improve my wheel pose  (Read: bending by the beach). I also ask how I can do headstand without the support of a wall. She told me I need to improve my core strength and I’m getting there!

Ah, Mom is so playful. She wants to climb up the little rocky hill near the beach. I was so afraid she will slip and break her bones! Sometimes, I feel like I’m babysitting her 😛

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To-do next

  • Discover galleries and museums
  • Visit a nutmeg plantation
  • Buy local produce: nutmeg oil, nutmeg cordial, pickled nutmeg, etc.
  • Have asam laksa at Ayer Itam
  • Attend a cooking class
  • Check out more books at Gerak Budaya and get Gareth to answer my questions (e.g One book that changed his life)
  • Visit: Colonial Penang musuem, the Church along Lorong Maktab and Peranakan museum

Oh, can’t wait to return. Hope Sam will be back then!

=:D