I spent four whole days in Penang in mid-March for my off days from work. Always after spending time in solitude in a place I’m travelling, I quickly get used to the rhythm, pace, weather, and sound. Penang is doused in my memories; its people and history that make the place interesting are difficult to get them erased off from mind. Especially, the friendly and accepting locals, their helpfulness and an aura of sangfroid and contentment in attitude really warm my heart. In this post, I would share some memories which I have been gifted from Penang.
- A book I bought – Horror Stories by Tunku Halim
“But I had to face my fears. I knew that. It was logic against superstition. Science against primitive fears. The illogical wasn’t going to scare me, no matter how hard it damn tried.“
I was not familiar with any authors from Malaysia. This is an interesting book as it digs into a world of folklore and urban legends that are notoriously known in Malaysia. I would never know what “orang minyak”, “pontianak”, “toyols” are without a chance of reading this collection of short stories. Also, there are references that sprinkle a touch of the Malaysian culture, such as “balik kampung” – the return of homeland during festive seasons for itinerant workers. My favourite ones include Four Numbers for Eric Kwok and The Width of a Circle. Plane Load proves a promising start that has me eyes bulging and racing through the pages as the story concerns a clever twist of a pharmaceutical conspiracy and deals with a bit of claustrophobic tension. However, it gives way to some explicit sexual content in the end that really annoys me. Most stories in this book really puts me off as sex and lust always prevail in the plot, although these elements are primitive desires and it equates a primitive fear which exists in human mentality. I agree with some reviewers on goodreads, but probably I would give a few more marks. I have to say there are more gems in the Bookstore and I regret I haven’t given myself much time wandering around!
- Rich background history with a tour in the Colonial Penang Museum
This museum has a rich collection of antiques and rarities which were owned by the affluents of the time. Of course, there are many great museums in the world but this one impresses me a lot. In fact, I was the only one who walked in the Museum and I got the tour guide there all my myself:-D See the ship in that picture? It was made by hundreds/thousands of cloves. Cloves were invaluable in the olden days, the only path to purchase this spice was to get it imported from Indonesia. It was until the time David Brown (1778-1825) successfully experimented in cultivating cloves alongside nutmeg that this spice finally became popular.
I really adore this work by William Morris as well as all the stained glass windows found in the Museum.
I’ve got my memories of what the tour guide said beng jotted down on my notebook. Next time I would come to the Museum and make another visit along with the Old Protestant Cemetery!
- The lovely nature sounds up on the Penang Hill
I forgot to take a photo of the quote that birds are the nature givers of a free concert when I was walking in the park. Indeed, strolling on the hill proves that nature is a great consoler. It frees our worries that agitate us when living in the concrete jungle. I loved listening to the sounds of the creatures up there. It was an unlucky day; I was not able to see the black squirrels and dusky leaf monkeys but I felt satisfied with the time I spent there.
It’s not until this trip that I consider visiting Bako / Gunung Gading National Park in future. I’ve never realised I could be interested in the wildlife before!
- Mosquito bites and tanned skin
Although locals are friendly and benign, mosquiotes are cunning there. I had wore long sleeves in my sleep and put on repellant in case of mosquitoes wandering around in the hotel room. They did not bite me during the nights because they were to prepare for my alarm calls in the morning. One of them bit me on the wrist and one on my thumb in two consecutive mornings. Very very clever indeed. Also, the sunlight is fierce! But I do like travelling in tropical countries. The cold weather somewhat sags my mood of sightseeing.
All in all, I am thankful of what Penang has given me. The only regret is that I should not have gone back to the hotel so early as I hadn’t got enough time to check out the cafes and bookshops. I will be back George Town!