Saturday, November 26, 2011

Second Anniversary in PNG

Today marks my second anniversary in PNG ... and the beginning of my  third year here. How time flies!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nostalgic Penang - Day 6

Monday, 31 March 2008

(This post was published 3 1/2 years late)

Today would be our last day together. Quick and his family would leave for home at around noon.

That morning, Quick joined us for a walk. We went exploring along Lebuh Kimberley, Lebuh Carnarvon, Lebuh Acheh and Gat Lebuh Acheh streets.

We passed by Ah Chew Bar. Was this the seedy bar that Eng brought me 13 years ago to experience the atmosphere of a cheap bar?

On our return, we went for breakfast at Seng Thor coffee shop. Quick could not wean himself off Hockien Mee, also known as Prawn Noodle also known as Har Mee.

I could not wean myself off from Tua Pau (big bun). I only had this opportunity of buying one piece of Tua Pau at Leong kee Tea Garden because this particular piece was not picked up by the person who 'booked' it. This Tua Pau was really good, just like those that I first had at USM, more specifically at a stall outside the Sungai Dua gate, more than 13 years ago. Quick bought breakfast for his family here.

At 10:00 a.m., we were out again. Ling wanted to go to Bee Chin Heong to shop for some religious artefact. This shop was 'discovered' while we were out exploring Jalan Kimberley that morning. At that time, the shop had not opened for business. Quick and his family were shopping at Jalan Kuala Kangsar, behind Chowrasta Market, which he 'discovered' that morning too.

On our return to Oriental Hotel, we shopped for some preserved fruit at Penang Road.

At 11:20 a.m., we took farewell photographs with the family of Quick. These would be our goodbye photographs.

We checked out of Oriental Hotel before noon. Our last meal together would be at the Teochew congee stall near Komtar.

At about 12:15 p.m., we parted ways. Quick would be driving back to Kota Bharu with his family. Ling asked to be dropped off by Quick at CTY Aquarium for his last shopping of corals, while I walked over to have a look at the Komtar that we used to go so often 13 years ago.

Before 3:00 p.m., Ling and I would be on our way to Bayan Lepas International Airport for our flight to Kuching.

Bye-bye Penang.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nostalgic Penang - Day 5

Sunday, 30 March 2008

(This post was published 3 1/2 years late)

Eng brought me to the Teochew Congee stalls somewhere near Komtar 13 years ago. There, I saw diners squatting on low, small stools perched atop benches eating congee, and it was a strange sight. The congee with the side dishes was good.

Last night, I asked Eng where the location of the Congee stalls was, because I intended to eat there again. Based on the direction given by Eng, I decided to explore the area in search of the Teochew congee stalls this morning. Finally, I found it.

I continued walking the area around Komtar. There, lies the old Gama shopping complex. On the top floor of Gama, Ah Nee worked as a salesgirl at the gold smith shop. Yes, the pretty Ah Nee. What nostalgic feeling.

Breakfast was at a coffee shop along Jalan Hutton. I decided to have Kuey Tiaw Th'ng (flat rice noodle in soup). I have never tried this noodle dish before because it never looked appetising. It was not bad, 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

At mid-morning, we were at a beach. I did not know the name but it was not Batu Feringgi Beach. Quick's children enjoyed themselves riding the horses at the beach.

Then, we went to Ghee Hiang, another shop popular with tourists for its Tau Sar Peah pastry. The other shop was Him Heang.

For lunch today, we were going to try out Nasi Kandar Line Clear, off Penang Road. Five packets of take-away Nasi Kandar cost RM47. At the corner shop to the entrance of the Line Clear was another Nasi Kandar stall, but this stall has very few customers compared to Line Clear.

The afternoon was again spent at the hotel resting. In the evening, at about 6:30 p.m., Ling and I went to explore the streets of Lebuh Campbell, Lebuh Buckingham, part of Jalan Kapitan Keling, Lebuh Armenian and Gat Lebuh Armenian.

Tonight, Quick and his family would be joining a distant relative for dinner whom we bumped into while Quick was parking his van at the Oriental Hotel Parking lot a day earlier. The relative, a lecturer at USM, was someone I knew too. I stayed overnight at his house once with Quick 13 years ago. Though Ling and I were invited, we declined because we did not want to be 'intruders' in a family gathering. We would be looking for dinner ourselves on foot. Most stalls along Penang Road closed at night, but at the far end of Penang Road, just in front of Continental Hotel and Hotel Malaysia, food stalls would open for business only at night. One of these was Sup Hameed. 13 years ago, Eng brought me to have the first taste of Sup Ekor (Ox tail soup) somewhere here at a small Mamak stall. I remembered that somewhere there was a Hotel Malaya. Did Sup Hameed originate from this humble stall? Was this the place?

After dinner, we went for a stroll, walking along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Jalan Transfer and back to Hotel Oriental along Jalan Argyll. I was surprised to find Foochow Association here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nostalgic Penang - Day 4

(This post was published 3 1/2 years late)

Saturday, 29 March 2008

While I was in studying at USM, I seldom went out. The fear of getting lost was too overpowering. I hardly explored the city, and was unfamiliar with the streets of Georgetown. On this visit, I was determined to explore the city, to make up for what I did not do 13 years ago.

I was out before the sun came out, and decided to explore Jalan Chulia. Ling was still sleeping. From Oriental Hotel to Weld Quay and back took about one hour.

Quick would be ferrying us around again today. We were going to Taman Lip Sin, at Sungai Dua, just outside USM. We used to go there regularly for Curry Mee. The area was sparsely populated and there were not so many building then. Now, there is hardly any space left for more building.

Super Tanker has taken over as the premier destination for hawker food. We went there for our brunch. I had my bowl of Curry Mee. This time, I mixed all the chilly sauce into the soup and rediscovered how delicious the Curry Mee was again. After the Curry Mee, I had the Penang Char Koay Teow (fried flat rice noodle).

After brunch, we explored the adjacent market. From there, Quick drove us to Air Itam, to visit Kek Lok Si temple. I saw the bank and the vacant land beside it. It looked so familiar. Where was the shop at the corner lot which I remembered housed the Bak Kut Teh stall where we used to come for dinner, with many choices of ingredients for the Bak Kut Teh? Has the shop gone bust? There was a shop selling Bak Kut Teh but it was not at a corner lot.

Soon, we arrived at Air Itam. Quick dropped Ling and I there, so that we could walk up the flight of steps to Kek Lok Si temple while he drove his family up in his Toyota Unser. In just about five minutes, we reached the ground of Kek Lok Si temple.

From Kek Lok Si temple, we decided to go to the Botanical Garden. I remembered there were lots of monkeys around. But, Quick did not drive us to the Botanical Garden proper itself, rather, we went to a vacant piece of land outside the Garden. There were a lot of monkeys around too.

From there, we went to Prangin Mall. With so many new malls and shopping complex going up, Komtar has been abandoned. It was the destination to go during my time. At that time, there were only Komtar, Sunshine Square and Gama, and pretty Ah Nee was working at the gold smith shop on the top floor of Gama.

There was a food court at Prangin Mall, where we all took some food. Again, it was Tua Pau (big bun) for me, and this one was large. But it was only average in taste. Ling has his Asam Laksa. We ordered fried popiah (spring roll) too.

We returned to the hotel, where Quick and his family took a rest. I was restless. At about 6:00 p.m., I asked Ling whether he wanted to go out for a walk to explore the streets. He agreed. This time, we walked along Lebuh Muntri, Lorong Stewart and Lebuh Cina until we reached Penang Ferry terminal.

We went out again at about 8:00 p.m. for our dinner at the night market in front of Sunway Hotel. This place was so crowded that you could hardly find an empty seat.

Tonight, Chong would be coming again. He would be bringing along Eng to meet both Quick and I. I had asked Chong to bring Eng along because I had hardly any contact with Eng, though Chong, Quick and I still communicate by email now and then. Finally, we would all meet again for the long awaited reunion. They finally arrived at about 10:00 p.m.

We decided to go out for a light supper and exchange news, to Red Garden food court along Lebuh Leith. It was almost mid-night when we left.