I always look forward to visiting Penang.
I think I’ve always liked Penang since I was little, but this ‘like’ deepens as I grow older, as I got to see more of this humble yet silently developing state. My mom’s from Penang, and so when parents said that we’ll be spending the first few days of CNY in this island this time around, you can’t believe how ecstatic I felt! We haven’t spent this festive period in Penang since…forever.
Why do I like Penang so much, you ask?
I like it for how real it is, how down to earth the people and things are, how it is always so bustling with activities (“lau zuak” in hokkien), how it is developing so quickly over the past few years and yet not forgetting its roots and traditions.
Throughout my traveling experiences, I’ve come to observe that people living in the Northern part of countries are generally friendlier, more open to welcoming guests, and to a certain extent more generous. I felt it when I was in China for a work exchange, and when I was traveling in Vietnam. And I feel the same about Penang each time I’m there! Is this a common trait in most countries?
Oh and not forgetting the most used dialect in Penang; Hokkien! Very pleasant to the ears, whenever I’m there and I get to listen to them locals speak, it’s a warm tingling feeling inside 🙂 I grew up speaking hokkien with my grandmother at home, which my mom said is a blessing, for without my “ah ma”, my brothers and I probably wouldn’t be able to communicate in this dialect.
This trip back was a fruitful one for us. We got to see relatives we haven’t seen in years – both older and younger (them babies just keep coming!!), we got to see the art-sy side of Penang, and indulged in familiar and some new eateries. I ate so much I experienced my first food coma in life.
Will kick this post off with Soo Hong Lane, where mom spent 13 years living in! It’s situated in the Heritage Area in Georgetown, near where Armenian street (ya know the kids on the bicycle mural?) is. A pleasant surprise bestowed upon
Mom’s old home has now turned into a cafe! A cosy and quaint one, at that.
And what a punt the name of the cafe is… Soo Hong… Soo Hungry… SooHongry… geddit?? Haha.
The inside of the cafe where little pastries, coffee, and tea is served
It says: “Laugh at your problems, everybody else does!”
Mom and the two operating tenants of the cafe and place…
Both were so keen in hearing stories from my mom, and mom equally as overwhelmed and excited to share too; of how was it like growing up in this place, living with god knows how many other people, each family squeezing into a room, which was the favourite hangout spot in the house, the “bucket system” when using the toilet, etc.
It was definitely a walk-down-memory-lane sentimental moment for mom 🙂
Other mural and heritage spots include:
Papa carrying this little boy up the chair while mom looks from the sideline.
Ah, so relevant. Almost similar to a guy asking a girl what does she want to eat (didn’t mean to generalize, it could be the other way! hah). Except if you ask me, I will always have an answer for you where I want to eat….or go. Haha.
“Where do you want to go?” (lu ai ki to lok?!)
“I don’t know” (um zai)
Moving on… We were so thrilled and fortunate to have caught the art exhibition by Ernest Zacharevic, the man behind the murals you see above!
Art is Rubbish, Rubbish is Art
At the entrance
where everyone was waiting outside the Old Hin Bus Depot before the exhibition was open
Inside the depo where it’s turned into an exhibition of his amazingly creative work
– where he turned rubbish into art; and not just any art, but relevant art that makes your heart warm, especially those localized to the Penang culture
A broken cupboard spelling out a human body
Susu + Kopi O = Kopi Peng! My loveee
A picture of a cow framed with wall pins black, grey, silver, white, and gold in colour
This explains why I can’t even get through a yoga class.. hehe. Definitely need to give yoga a second chance this year
Truly, rubbish is and can be art.
Outside the museum: Lim (drink) kopi and teh with the Penang Chief Minister
And inside we were awed by so many 3D art that is SO REAL!! And very interactive too. Like the one above, a mirror image between you and someone else if you both act the same way!
‘Tam jiak’ mummy… hehe
We took a while to realize that there are actually foot positions for you to stand on to perfect the photography angle and distance. There’s also a sample photo beside each 3D artwork for you to have an idea of how to pose and to emulate.
Will Spiderman be able to save me?
Not to forgetting the relatives, which are just so nice people all around!
Mama and her siblings 🙂
Mom’s generation or mama’s siblings sons and daughters, aka my “uncles” and “aunties”
And it’s in this trip that I realize that I love babies…
Baby Jean Wein!
“chee yee poh”, or the 7th aunty; mama’s older sister (mama’s the 8th) who’s one of the most jovial and light-hearted woman of her age I know. She was the one who told us about the 3D museum btw hehe
Where she lives is so near the longest cafe in Penang!
China House cafe 🙂
A mirror selfie? No? Hehe
Had to mark my presence there hee
And at night…
We enjoyed some good live band music and beers at The Library, Straits Quay
Mom brought us to take a walk at the jetty area… This is the Lee Jetty, her surname, though not ours.
If you have watched the movie The Journey, the ‘bai ti gong’ prayers was shot at one of the jetties! Absolutely great movie, which I will blog about it in another post.
The dim sum place we stumbled upon by chance that houses a whopping 138 tables!
A panaromic shot taken to show you the sheer size of… imagine only 70% of the tables filled, with an average of say 4 people per table, with the turnover of say 3 times in one morning, you do the math.
And lastly, I just had to wrap my trip with this picture: So simple, so delicious, so satisfying. My favourite prawn mee (or hokkien mee in Penang) and kopi o peng