Friday, January 01, 2010

Penang Revisited


With cousin Nancy on my right, and sis-in-law Saw Kim on my left

The paper bag from Sunshine Department Store which says, "Our world is beautiful
without plastic bags".

Sunrise taken from the balcony of brother's condominium at Sungei Ara

My grandnephew Johnson with sister, Kai Wen and grandnieces Yap Zen and Yap Ning.

Now that I think of it, this would probably be my first visit to Penang during Christmas time. I usually go back to Penang during the Chinese New Year period and once, as a surprise visit for brother Kee Seng's birthday party on 22nd November.

I decided to spend Christmas this time as my niece, Tyng would be back from the States. As usual, everything turned out accordingly to plan, by God's grace and blessings. Sometimes we can plan and plan, and things go awry. Sometimes man proposes; God disposes. Upon arrival at Penang, I called up my beloved cousin, Nancy and was delighted to find out she would be free on that day. Hence, Nancy picked me and my sister-in-law, Saw Kim up and we went for lunch and some shopping. Nancy is a born joker; she is natural in her narration of anecdotes which sent me and Saw Kim rolling with laughter.

On the second day, another relative, James, took me out and we visited his mother-in-law, my beloved aunty. I felt somewhat sad that aunty has deteriorated in her mental capacity and is unable to recognise and remember things. Nevertheless, she is still alert, and would only nod her head when asked some questions. I brought along my violin and played some Christmas songs and Mandarin and Hokkien songs for her. My relative, James, is such a hospitable man. His home is like a hotel, offering accommodation to endless visitors from abroad. We name his home "James Loke Hotel". James is retired and both he and his wife help to babysit their grandaughter at their lovely condominium.

We had a lovely Christmas eve dinner ....not your usual turkey, but something down-to-earth as fried mee hoon cooked by my sister and law, and I fried some Penang Char Koay Teow which turned out to be a hit. I was flattered when my grand nephew, Johnson said, "Aunty Choo, I could eat ten plates of your Char Koay Teow!" Knowing how fastidious Penangnites are with their food, I was very encouraged indeed. Choo can cook after all!

We spent three days and two nights at Tanjong Bungah beach. My relatives all insisted on eating out at different restaurants nearby instead of at the hotel cafe. Penang is such a lovely island and is indeed a pretty and dainty pearl. I brought along my violin, and while my relatives were swimming at the pool or in the sea, I practised my violin. What a lovely feeling when I played at the balcony, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the sea at the same time.

On the last day, I decided to roam around town on my own so that I could pick up some gifts and souvenirs for friends. At the same time, I could have my favourite chendol dessert. I was surprised that the bus journey from Penang Road to Sungei Ara cost me MR2.70! I bought a bunch of bananas and to my surprise, it cost me MR5.00.

I guess no matter how often I have travelled round the world, Penang will always have a special place in my heart for it is my beloved hometown - full of good food and wonderful people.

Gan Cao
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