Some of my worldly insight:
It’s funny because when you live somewhere, it often loses its luster. You’re not as intrigued by the buildings you pass or the people you meet, but when you travel everything is new. Everything is beautiful and mind boggling. I invite you to admire the simple things where you live because to others, your home is mesmerizing, unique and incredible. No matter how far you travel, people are the same but insanely different at the same time. We grieve, love, seek out delicious food, laugh over a meal and are curious about the unfamiliar. While cultures, traditions, languages and locations make us seem vastly different, it is only because. We go about things in different ways.one thing I admire is that we’re always able to laugh together and share a meal.
Alright. I am currently people watching in Bangkok and sucking down a Thai iced tea. It’s a cool 90 degrees (32° C) today (no really, it feels cool) and the breeze feels nice.
After my week in Yogyakarta I returned to Malaysia. I spent the first view days in Kuala Lumpur to relax and plan my next move. The decision…Penang.
Penang is an island off the northeast coast of peninsular Malaysia. I was drawn to Penang because of it’s capital, George Town.
To begin my journey in Penang, I hopped on a high speed train in KL and rode for 4 hours through the Malaysian countryside, palm oil plantations and towns. When I arrived I fought off pushy taxi drivers and made my way to a guesthouse via Grab (S.E. Asia’s Uber). I stayed at a guesthouse with a lovely Japanese family a mere 100 feet from the beach. I was invited to a traditional ramen breakfast where I slurped noodles like a pro. They were quite impressed with my dexterity and ability to use chopsticks.
I spent those days walking to find little local restaurants, hunting down an ATM at the local Tesco and making friends with a beach cat who followed me around. I named her Daisy.
When I left, I was bid farewell by my hosts, who stood outside and waved goodbye until I turned the corner and invited me back any time. I was reminded of my family.
Next stop: George Town.
George Town is another gem in the crown of the world. Not only is there history that can keep you busy for months, but there is street art hidden in shops, alleys and on the sides of buildings. The city has been influenced by so many cultures and wears each one proudly. There is a Chinatown that was preparing for Chinese New Year, which is happening now. There is a Little India that has busted at the seams and has expanded beyond it’s original location. The food…incredible. The people…unforgettable.
I was lucky enough to be in George Town during the Hindu festival of Thaipusam, which falls on the day of a full moon. I went to a ginormous festival with the girls I met in my hostel and we took in the sites, ceremonies and food. The festival is a time of repentance and many pierce their bodies or drag sleds by hooks, which pierce their backs. It was a truly intriguing and amazing experience.
So I am a bit over Chinatowns. I lived in China for 8 months and have visited them in multiple cities and countries. I needed a break but… it’s me were talking about. I ended up lost and in Chinatown multiple times. It would seem all roads lead to Chinatown. That being said, the Chinatown in George Town is unique because it is adorned with street art, diversity and eclectic shops and people. While it looks like China, it feels different. The highlight: Khoo Kongsi.
Khoo Kongsi was on my mom’s list of places for me to visit. Thanks ma! It is a massive clanhouse surrounded by shophouses and sits in the middle of Chinatown. In fact, scenes from Anna and the King were filmed here. The impressive and elaborate temple and clanhouse demonstrate just how prominate the Chinese have been in Penang. Strangely enough, the clan is from Xiamen in Fujian Province; where I lived in China. Alright universe, what are you trying to tell me? 🤔😊
If you’re ever in Malaysia, I can’t recommend Penang enough. Check out some of the awesome street art I found! The artists use the buildings and surrounding items to make their art come to life.
What does the cat below see in the top corner?!?!
To leave Penang, I hopped on another train to cross the border into Thailand with a friend I met at a hostel. This trip was 18 hours but despite the length, it was enjoyable. I felt like Rick Steves; mingling with locals, sharing snacks and sleeping on a top bunk and trying not to roll off.
That concludes my time in Malaysia and I was lucky enough to hang out with penpal three times and have her show me some sites and yummy food.
Stay tuned because my next post will be about my time on three Thai islands in the north of Thailand. I’m also working on a post about what it’s like traveling as a woman of color and the racism that we face while traveling abroad.
Is there anything else you’d like to hear about?
Ciao for now. 🐝