Friday, October 28, 2011

Nostalgic Penang - Day 3

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

Friday, 28 March 2008

Today, Quick would be coming over with his family. He was expected to arrive at about noon.

Meanwhile, we have to move hotel today. Continental Hotel could not give us any room for tonight because it was already booked by others. There were a lot of hotels along Penang Road. A short distant away from Continental Hotel was Oriental Hotel. I went in, make some inquiries and booked a standard twin room from 28th March onwards. I was also able to book a family room for Quick and his family, adjacent to ours.

At Kafe 78, across the road from Oriental Hotel, I saw the Tua Pau (big bun). This was one of my favourite while studying at USM. I could not miss the chance eating it, so I ordered one. It was not as good as I hoped.

Ling's primary purpose was to visit CTY Aquarium at Jalan Burmah. We did not know the distant from our hotel but from the map, we did know the direction. We would be going there this morning.

We reached CTY Aquarium early. It has not opened for business. Its business hours was from 11:00 a.m. Photography was not allowed within the shop. I could only say that there were many species of fish, coral, sea grass and sea creatures for sales. Ling was mesmerised with such a wide selection of sea creatures to see.

Before noon, we hurried back to our hotel to await Quick's arrival. After many minutes on the phone telling him our location, Quick finally found us.

Soon, we were off for our lunch of Hainan Chicken Rice in his van. Lunch was good. The restaurant was full of lunch-time diners.

In the afternoon, Quick and his family took their rest. I was restless. Before 4:00 p.m., I asked Quick whether his family were interested in going to CTY Aquarium. Yes, they were interested. Soon, Ling was leading the way to CTY Aquarium.

Quick and his family returned to the hotel earlier. Both Ling and I returned just before 6:00 p.m. We dropped by the Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul at Jalan Keng Kwee, just off Penang Road, for some sweet, cold cendol.

That evening, I asked Quick whether we could visit our alma mater, USM. Soon, we were on our way there. We were waved through the Sungai Dua Gate to USM. Quick drove through the campus pretty quickly. I did not have the chance to step out and walk around the campus to see how much it has changed after 13 long years. I was only able to take a few photographs from inside the moving Toyota Unser.

After USM, I asked Quick whether he wanted to visit our former landlord. He agreed. From our former landlord's house, we proceeded to Gelugor.

Tonight was our night of Nasi Kandar. We were still early. At 7:50 p.m. we were at Shariff Nasi Kandar stall. All the side dishes were still available for us to choose. The queue was still long, like it was 13 years ago. We decided to order take way Nasi Kandar, this time with my favorite omelette.

At 8:40 p.m., we were in Jelutong. Yes, the place where I had curry mee almost every time at the stall operated by Ah Nee's mum. It was to see Ah Nee and it was nostalgic memories of the extremely beautiful Ah Nee that brought me searching for her mum's curry mee stall when we arrived at Jelutong. The stall was no longer there. Ah Nee was no longer there. How would she look like after this long 13 years, I wonder! Has she grown even prettier?

Quick's favorite stall at Jelutong was the "Pek Kui" drink stall. It was still there. 13 years ago, he said that drinking Pek Kui would ensure that the skin would be fair and beautiful, like the girls serving the drink. Indeed, they have beautiful, fair skin. But those girls were long gone, replaced by the present batch of young girls.

Back at the hotel, we could not wait to open our packets of Nasi Kandar. My favourite omelette did not taste like it was 13 years ago. Time passed, people passed on. The present cooks might not have been as great as the old cooks.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nostalgic Penang - Day 2

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

Thursday, 27 March 2008

We were up before 8:00 a.m. on the second day. The breakfast at Continental Hotel was a very simple Malaysian fare. Chong said that he would pick us up at 9:00 a.m.

With the free time at hand, we went exploring along Penang Road. Just behind Chowrasta Market at a street stall, I found very large curry puff on sale. It was however not very good.

Chong did not arrive until about 9:30 a.m. He was caught in a traffic jam at Penang Bridge. He would bring us on a round-the-island tour in his Innova.

The first stop was at the Penang Museum & Art Gallery. After paying the entrance fee, we entered. There were no other visitors, except for the three of us. Taking photographs inside the museum was prohibited.

The next stop was the flea market, located beside Stadium Bandaraya. There were a few vendors selling antique products.

During the course of our conversation, I mentioned to Chong that a former course mate, TSH owned a restaurant called Fortuna Restaurant. She dropped out before completing her degree. I asked him whether he knew where it was and that the address was somewhere along Anson Road. He could not recall knowing this restaurant but nevertheless, he drove towards Anson Road. Eventually, we ended up at Zim Sum for a Dim Sum lunch. What great luck as Dim Sum is one of my favorite Chinese food. We could not finish the food as we ordered too much for the three of us.

Soon, we ended up at Him Heang Sdn. Bhd, where Chong bought us some Tau Sa Peah. This was one of the two most popular places among visitors to Penang to shop for this pastry to be brought home as present.

Our next stops were Wat Chaiyanangalaram Thai Buddhist Temple and the Burmese Buddhist Temple right across the road from the Thai temple.

After that, we started our round-island tour. We stopped at the beaches, including the one where the tsunami hit and the famous Batu Feringgi Beach.

From the beaches, we arrived at Penang Butterfly Farm. I remembered when it first opened more than a decade back, there were more species of butterflies fluttering around and a lot more visitors. There appeared to be very much fewer butterflies and visitors around now.

From Penang Butterfly Farm, we went to Tropical Fruit Farm at Balik Pulau, where Chong treated us to an iced fruit cocktail.

We carried on our tour and ended up at the new Paya Terubong township.

At about 5:20 p.m., we reached Air Itam area. Chong drove us up to Kek Lok Si temple ground where we stayed for a while only, and from there, we went to Penang Hill, known in Malay as Bukit Bendera. By this time, it was almost 6:00 p.m.  There were not many people around. The view of the surrounding area from the top of the hill was fantastic.

After about 1 1/2 hours, we were back at the ground station again. My belly was still full from the Dim Sum lunch, but anyway, we went for our dinner. I have Curry Mee for dinner, and I had already forgotten how Curry Mee looked like and what the paste in the spoon was. I thought the paste was belacan so I added only a little of it to my Curry Mee. No wonder, my favorite Curry Mee did not taste as good as I remembered it when I had them so frequently while studying at USM. Ling has his bowl of Hockien Mee, also known as Prawn Noodle or Har Mee. Chong has Fish Head Noodle.

At about 10:20 p.m., I asked Chong to drive us to Gelugor for supper. Gelugor was the location of Shariff Nasi kandar stall, where Quick and I had our dinner almost every evening during our study at USM. It was late already, and there were not much dishes to choose from. My favorite egg omelette was not available. The prices have also increased three folds. Then it was about RM2.20 for a serving of omelette, a piece of ayam kapitan and liver. Now, it was almost RM6.00.

From Gelugor, we went in search of the residence of my former landlord at Cangkat Minden (Minden Height). It took us sometime to locate his house as I could not recall the exact location of the house. Cangkat Minden lies between Gelugor town and USM. It was already 11:15 p.m. then. My former landlord has retired and his children have both grown up and are working already. Both husband and wife have not changed much physically after all these years. Their home is no longer rented out.

Finally, it was time to go back to our hotel. The time was already past mid-night. Chong has to drive back to Sg. Petani. Tomorrow, he would not be coming to bring us around.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Nostalgic Penang - Day 1

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

It has been 13 long years since we went our separate ways after graduating from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang. The reunion was planned in December 2007 and in March 2008, we finally met up in Georgetown, Penang. Chong and Eng came over from Sg. Petani, Kedah and Quick and his family came all the way from Kota Baru, Kelantan. I flew in from Sibu, Sarawak with a friend.

Though our primary purpose was to meet again after these long years, I have other objectives - visit our alma mater and our old haunts, see how Penang has changed, revisit the tourist spots, walk the streets of Georgetown (which I never did before) and makan my favourite Penang food (which I greatly missed).

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Airasia Flight AK5921 was scheduled to leave Sibu at 11:55 a.m. However, it was delayed. Subsequently, Flight AK 5951 from Kuching to Penang which was scheduled to leave at 15:10 p.m. was also delayed.

We touched down at Bayan Lepas Airport at about 7 p.m. in a drizzle. Chong was there waiting for us. He still looked the same after 13 years. It was great meeting him.

Soon, we were on our way for our dinner at Queensbay Mall, which Chong said had just opened and was the largest mall in Penang. We ate at a foodcourt but the food was not that great.

After dinner, we went searching for our budget accommodation. I have planned to stay at Hutton Lodge, which had a favorable review. However, the price for two persons did not fit into our budget. Furthermore, Ling wanted an en-suite room. After exploring for a while, we managed to secure a room at Continental Hotel, and it was only available for two nights. Nevertheless we decided to take it since it was already late at night. It was located at the far end of Penang Road.

After checking in, we were on our way to Gurney Drive for supper. It was 10:30 p.m. already. There, both Ling and I ordered Yong Tau Foo, costing RM17 for two bowls. I have never had Yong Tau Foo before. Chong ordered Asam Laksa, also known as Penang Laksa. Later, he ordered Or Chien for the three of us.

After supper, we walked around for a while before deciding to return to our hotel at past mid-night. Chong had to drive back to Sg. Petani, and we did not want to hold him any longer.