A week in Penang, Malaysia

Travel logs and questions
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Ethan Kurland
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Tue Jun 25, 2024 11:17 pm

On June 4th I & my lady, Nit, came to Penang.

Our visit was influenced by very high temperature, my watching vlogs that showed people raving about the food they were overeating (before the trip was arranged), & my surprising lack of skill in dealing w/ a new country for us.

The sites: How much will one enjoy seeing them? I think it depends greatly on how much that is similar has been seen by the tourist. Like tourists in Europe who loved seeing cathedrals that are not the greatest at the beginning of their trip & hardly enjoyed the greatest cathedrals at the end of their tour, I at 72 am difficult to amaze. I am pleased moderately by almost everything. Trying to be useful as well as honest, I'd say when the temperature is not around 37 C, the highlights of Penang should be impressive enough for most of us,but are not something one makes a trip for on their own.

Nit is blind & after taking her to many temples, I am amazed that she picks up a vibe at special places usually; & I am amused that after I tell her whether the statue of Buddha is standing, lying down, etc., Nit's prayers are not the same for each position. If your companions don't keep you so occupied, I'd say the tourists at Penang are not bothersome (except the amount of them on Friday - Sunday) & sometimes fun to watch.

Things to buy: Not the place for that. I did not search hard. I hoped for some good traditionally handwoven silk. Did not see any.

Getting around: Buses were disappointing. Bolt (Asian Uber style) was excellent. We mostly walked & were challenged by lack of signs directing one to sites, even no signs at some sites, & by people not knowing where they were & what was around them. People working at hotels did not even know the address of the hotel where they worked.

Eating: Known as a food paradise. I'd say, it is not really. Lack of vegetables w/ almost any meal. We found good food not terribly more expensive than Thailand, but after the hyperbole of blogs, it was difficult not to be disappointed. Really refreshing herbal teas, freshly prepared carrot juice (& others) mixed w/ some water & simple syrup (sugar & water) were a pleasure (& cheap). Some pastry was very good (not cheap but worth it). Some bakeries & specialties recommended by vlogs were ordinary (e.g. Portuguese cheese/egg tarts). The "best" ($$$$) durian was overwhelmingly strong for us & milder durian was not better for us than what we eat in Thailand. We did not take the trip to durian farms which looks like a nice outing.

The very best: For us it was time w/ OCTO. A kind, generous, charming host, who treated us w/ his company & a good breakfast of Indian food that was not only quite tasty but included an Indian bread that I had not had before (& I thought I was an accomplished glutton :). Riding w/ him to the nice, quiet, airy restaurant & to his friend, where we drank pu-erh & some Alishan (which was excellent), was a pleasure. Drinking tea w/ OCTO & his friend, who was almost as charming as OCTO, was what makes teaforum & our hobby worthwhile.

Overall: I'd say if not going to beaches, Penang is a place for 2 or 3 days. I wanted to be in the Heritage section, but a beach hotel or one w/ a good pool, makes more sense & for a couple of more days, if affordable. Of course, various factors effect our decisions (e.g. it was time for me to make a visa run & to be at a new place). Cheers
GaoShan
Posts: 356
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:06 am
Location: Toronto, Canada

Tue Jun 25, 2024 11:44 pm

Sounds like you had an interesting trip! I melt in temperatures over 30C, so I'm impressed that you were able to sightsee when it was that hot. I've also heard that Malaysia is a food paradise and I do like Penang curry, though I'm not sure that's actually Malaysian.

Were you able to pick up any good tea? I know Hojo has a location in Kuala Lumpur.
Ethan Kurland
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Location: Boston
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Wed Jun 26, 2024 12:28 pm

We were only on the island of Penang. I did visit 2 teashops but did not like them. One also sold Cuban cigars at prices so high....; the other shop had an owner that immediately decided that I was a fool & said some crazy things about tea & was not at all interested in having me drink any of his teas. Prices at both stores were so high.

I did buy some pu-erh from OCTO's friend. Drinking pu after a spell w/o any reminded me that I should have some about once a month. It's sort of how I feel about the white tea from Nepal that I drink, not a favorite but not something that would is missed, like eating corn flakes & shredded wheat cereal, parts of life that have unique value w/o being wonderfully delicious.

Only one day were out in the heat for several hours being real tourists. After that a lot of time was in our room w/ the A/C on strong. I read every word of 2 books, 1 by a Canadian doctor named Gabor Mate' who is profound, wise, informative, & interesting; & I read magazines....

Thanks for using the word, "interesting" Gaoshan. We need trips to Penang or other places, imperfect trips & imperfect places to make life interesting. Cheers
GaoShan
Posts: 356
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:06 am
Location: Toronto, Canada

Wed Jun 26, 2024 5:52 pm

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2024 12:28 pm
We were only on the island of Penang. I did visit 2 teashops but did not like them. One also sold Cuban cigars at prices so high....; the other shop had an owner that immediately decided that I was a fool & said some crazy things about tea & was not at all interested in having me drink any of his teas. Prices at both stores were so high.

I did buy some pu-erh from OCTO's friend. Drinking pu after a spell w/o any reminded me that I should have some about once a month. It's sort of how I feel about the white tea from Nepal that I drink, not a favorite but not something that would is missed, like eating corn flakes & shredded wheat cereal, parts of life that have unique value w/o being wonderfully delicious.

Only one day were out in the heat for several hours being real tourists. After that a lot of time was in our room w/ the A/C on strong. I read every word of 2 books, 1 by a Canadian doctor named Gabor Mate' who is profound, wise, informative, & interesting; & I read magazines....

Thanks for using the word, "interesting" Gaoshan. We need trips to Penang or other places, imperfect trips & imperfect places to make life interesting. Cheers
I've heard that Malaysia is expensive. Too bad you had such a negative experience with the tea vendors. Several years ago, I was also treated rather dismissively at a Toronto tea shop selling Taiwanese oolongs. Little did they know how much money I spend on quality tea! I did end up buying a Lishan that was decent but not amazing. They were also expensive and have since closed, and while I feel bad to see the end of a small business, I also feel somewhat vindicated. Customer service is important!

Yes, there are teas that I don't want to drink often, but that sometimes hit the spot. Dong Ding is like that for me.
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