Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Georgetown, Penang

Eleanor really can speak Hokkien.  Georgetown is supposedly around 40% Chinese and many of them are Hokkien speakers.  On the way from the Georgetown bus station we were shown around town by our Hokkien speaking cab driver.  I haven't a clue what he said but he supposedly told Eleanor where to eat and what to avoid.

We didn't know how good we had it in Kuala Lumpur.  We were staying in a new 5 star hotel in the 5 star part of town and quickly grew used to it.  Jet lagged we'd wander each morning in the dark past the Petronas Towers to our roti and mee noodle breakfast at the 24 hour ever hopping Nasi Kandar Pelita, with free wifi!

In comparison Georgetown, especially the old part of the city at first glance appears kind of third worldy, grimy, mildewed and tumble down.  The sidewalks are falling apart.   Our hotel is a renovated old Chinese shop house brought up to date with solar power, sensor activated compact florescent lighting, in room jacuzzi and much needed and appreciated air conditioning.  The furniture has been restored but the wifi is weak, slow and goes out entirely every few hours. 

Slowly some of the stronger points of Georgetown have made themselves evident.  There is wonderful Indian and Chinese food here.  We haven't had a bad meal since arriving, a great meal for 2 can cost $12 US.  The city has a British history reflected in some of the street names that the Malaysians haven't wanted to or have been able to change.  The capital of Penang state is still called Georgetown and the city that faces it on the mainland is still called Butterworth.  Posted streets are still known as Hamilton, Dickens, and  Campbell.  Our hotel is on Jalan Hutton.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kuala Lumpur: Want to Get Away?

Gosh, do I ever.  It’s been a rough year for me with a death in the family and all that being an executor of an estate entails.  It’s coming up on a the one year anniversary of my Mother’s death and I’ve overseen the distribution of house and property in the way that my Mother wished.  Seattle is cold, wet and dark this time of year.  Escape beckons.

Kuala Lumpur is more than 8000 miles from Seattle.  In flying here I easily lapped myself at more than 30 hours of being awake.  But it’s a world away and that’s what I wanted and what I really need.  To crawl the streets of a steamy tropical metropolis just north of the equator.  To stuff my face with fragrant, creamy durian.  To relax when the withering sun saps my strength. 

There’s fresh durian (but unlike Thailand there's none in the supermarkets) and I’m also eating durian ice cream.  But temps are in the sticky 90’s, the food is great, our hotel has the pool in the middle of their bar which is a great escape from the steamy streets and having the sun rock down out of the sky and beat down on my poor balding head.  To hear the Muslim call to prayer as the morning sun lights up the Petronas Towers on the way to our roti breakfast.