1. When I was picking up my Marking Georgetown map I overheard a couple of people signing up for a walking tour that was starting in 10 minutes so I found myself on a last minute tour of the Chinatown area. Some snippets of insight into the life of a Chinese temple:
Burning money from the bank of hell to make sure the ancestors are comfortable. All the notes are in the millions by the way, because hell has a crap exchange rate.
Nameplates to honour the ancestors (the equivalent of gravestones basically) most of them have two names on for husbands and wives – sometimes one name is covered up if one of the couple is still alive!
The shrine of abandoned gods :( Chinese people often buy nice shiny new god statues for their shrines, because… well, everyone likes spiffy new things, but you can’t just throw out the old one, because it’s an image of a god. So they sneak out in the middle of the night and leave it by this tree for other people to come and pray to.
Asking for answers to problems. The tubes are full of sticks with different numbers on and you’re supposed to shake them until one stick falls out. Then because the gods are fickle and can’t be trusted you have to check if it’s the right answer by throwing two yin/yang blocks. If you get one of each you can go and swap your number for an answer, if you get two yin or two yang, nope, try again sucker.
2. Occupy Beach Street. I don’t know whether it was just because it was the end of the year or whether Penang always has loads going on, but there seemed to be at least one event every day I was there – craft markets, talent shows, sponsored walks, traditional dance showcases etc. Occupy Beach Street is an (I think monthly) event where one of the main roads is blocked off to cars for the afternoon. The aim is to make it car free permanently. The road is full of craft and food stalls, performances, roller skaters, giant board games… and this was happening
3. Tropical fruit farm. I kept being told I should get out of Georgetown and see the rest of Penang island. Unfortunately I am still a wimp when it comes to renting a motorbike, which is another way of saying I refuse to do something potentially dangerous which I’m not remotely insured against. So, buses it is. Since the buses take longer I had to pick one place to go so I opted for the fruit farm. A tad overpriced in retrospect, but hey, it was fun and had an all you can eat fruit buffet.
Growing the fruit in bags for a pesticide free way to discourage birds and bugs.
Look at the size of that jackfruit!
Mmmm, so much tasty fruit.
4. Food. Much food. All of the food. Yum.
OK, Georgetown has butt tonnes of street food. Seriously. Go and eat here now. There are food courts and food streets (my favourite was lorong baru, of jalan Macallister) but there are also individual places all over the town. I briefly considered putting poncey Instagram style filters on these because that’s what people who take pictures of food do, but my computer went mental and started deleting photos when I tried editing them, which I suppose was its way of telling me to stop being a ridiculous hipster.
Chicken rice. The Asian food for people who are scared of Asian food. (Still tasty though.) And nutmeg juice, which was approximately as gross as it sounds.
Um. Three meals, because when faced with an array of food stalls I clearly can’t chose just one. The winner was poh piah – little wraps of tasty mystery, which I later found out were probably crab meat. Huh. Didn’t think I liked any shellfish, so there you go.
Apom manis, which are basically banana pancakes. Yes, banana pancakes are the backpackers’ staple food, but these were by far the best I ever had. And they were mini, which of course makes them 10 times better.
Enormous balls of compacted ice flavoured with fruit syrups and served on unfeasibly fragile sticks. Somewhat difficult to eat.
My food is problematic.
Name that quote and you win the right to be my best friend forever.