Its been a while, a few years as a matter of fact, since I last stepped foot on Penang island. While still very much recognisable, I did see a few things that have changed in that time. For one thing, its a lot cleaner than it was, plus more and more properties seem to be coming up, not to mention a few places with modern facelifts.
Coming back to Penang this year was kind of nostalgic for me, especially since I haven’t been there for Chinese New Year in a long time. For one reason or another, I was a lot more keen to be there than I was previously, hoping to see most of the places I did as when I was a little boy.
Whether it was Campbell Street, Penang Road, Transfer Road, Gurney or wherever, I was just happy to be there. Mind you, Penang’s not my hometown, but it contains more than a few memories from my childhood. Of course, the most iconic place for me would be where I’d stay almost every time I went to Penang.
You know you’re in a different ‘class’ of building when you see switches like the one above, or the vintage Telekom logo on an ‘old school’ telephone too:
Of course, anywhere you go, the place doesn’t matter a tenth as much as the people you meet in them. That’s where the closest people to my family come into the picture. The Chinese side of my family probably isn’t the closest but my parents are more than familiar with my grandaunt and granduncle who we’ve been close to for many many years.
It was really great to visit them in Penang, especially since the last time was for my great grandmother’s funeral, a sad occasion of course. To me, they’ve hardly aged beyond the time I knew them, which I suppose means they’re in pretty good health. It was nice to hear their voice, and fun to listen to some of their witty remarks, hahah.
Food of course, was another thing I was there for, but its a little different with it being Chinese New Year of course. The only ‘Chinese’ hawker place I got to eat at was at New Lane, but it was more than enough.
Char Kuay Teow
Roasted chicken wings
Of course, there was Penang road as well, obviously for the cendol, it just has to be one of the best desserts in the world.
Probably, one of the clearest memories I have of Penang as a child is walking down Campbell street during school holidays. I was always there to get a new schoolbag, only my mother knows why. It was nice to walk down there, even if 90% of the shops were closed for the new year, hahaha.
More than the before-school shopping though, Hameediyah is another fond memory. Of course, back then being a kid (or any human being), I got hungry and I remember going into Hameediyah for the murtabak, which unfortunately is less awesome than it was (since nowadays everybody’s cheating by loading more egg than meat), but they still have good curries.
Kambing Mysore, a must try!
That aside, while in Penang I finally went to a place I haven’t been since I was in primary school! Penang’s botanical gardens are probably one of the better parks in Malaysia that I’ve been to and you’ve got to love those sections where its cool even on a blazing hot afternoon, thanks to the streams and thick foliage.
I got around to Straits Quay as well, definitely one of Penang’s new uppity places. If you don’t think so, the presence of the new Penang Performing Arts Centre and the many yachts should convince you, that is if you haven’t already seen the upcoming (probably multi-million ringgit) condos.
It’s a lovely place, right on the coast, whoever lives there will have a really nice view, and you’ll get to be on the view if you’re sailing a yacht. Any plans to be on a Penang postcard, anyone?
A few days into my stay, I was already posting up a few photos of Penang foods online when I got an anonymous text asking me, “Dude, Buat apa kat penang?”
I totally forgot that Syah’s from Penang and Farhan had followed him up for the weekend, en route to Hanif’s wedding which I’d have to miss. I tried to set a time to meet the guys, but timing wasn’t great, which is really too bad because I haven’t seen them since I left UTP.
Still, I got to meet my British friend of a Hokkien origin, hahah. I got a pretty neat souvenir out of it and an overdue face-to-face meet. Someone’s cheeks are getting rounder these days (safe to say since she probably won’t read), hahahaha!
That pretty much was the end of my time in Penang, taking a flight back to KL later the next day. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my grandaunt and granduncle for their awesome hospitality (as it has always been since I can remember) and good company. Thank you very much aunty Sally and uncle Ong. =)