Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easy Malay for English Speakers

One of the biggest worries about moving to a new country is not speaking the language. Fortunately for me, enough locals in Penang speak English so that my questionable grasp of Malay has not been troublesome. At worse, I've been able to find at least one person in a shop who can assist me. Although, the time I attempted to pantomime "googly-eye stickers" was probably amusing them so much that they were only pretending to not understand.

Another blessing is that some Malay words are clearly based on their English counterparts. These remind me of early primary school's "spell it like it sounds" method and actually make more sense than English's convoluted spelling rules.

Can you figure out the following Malay words? Sometimes, it's "as easy as apple pie."

In Malay, adjectives come after the noun.

I've just been robbed! Call the POLIS!

I have a headache. Can we stop at the FARMASI to pick up some medicine?

That crazy MOTOSIKAL weaved in and out of the cars.

If you are looking for a job, read the KLASSIFIEDS.

I'm starving. Let's go and eat at a RESTORAN.

But before you start thinking that you totally understand, remember that some Malay words just look like English but have a completely different meaning.

JAM means "hour"

If a store says "24 JAM," it is not advertising its variety of jellied fruit spreads. That means it's open for 24 hours.

AIR means "water"
Do not put AIR in your tires (or "tyres" as it's spelled here). You'll be sorely disappointed when water comes out. Instead, use the hose marked ANGIN.

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox. Check it out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tokyo Tower Day and Night

To what Parisian icon does this bear a resemblance?

If you ask my daughter what's her favorite site in Tokyo, she will not hesitate before telling you it's the Tokyo Tower. A smidgen of its appeal may be the Baskin-Robbins ice cream treat at the end of the visit, but she was looking forward to seeing it long before we stepped foot inside. She first saw pictures of the tower when hubby visited it on a business trip a few years earlier. "It looks like the Eiffel Tower — except orange!" was her immediate response. She didn't guess that it's also 13 meters taller. Built in 1958, this 330 meter (1,028 foot) TV and radio relay tower has long been one of Tokyo's iconic tourist attractions. For decades, people have been riding up the elevators to its two observatories, one at 149 meters (489 feet) and the other at 248 meters (814 feet).

 Nearby Zojo-ji Temple was built more than 500 years before Tokyo Tower

She really, really wanted to take the Tower home with us.


Instead, she had to make do with the miniature plush version of Noppon the mascot that her dad brought home a couple years beforehand.

Noppon says "Konichiwa."
He has a brother, also named Noppon, who is blue.

Tokyo may have newer places to view the city from high up like the SkyTree and the free Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, but can those observatories match the adorable uniforms of the Tokyo Tower hostesses who take your ticket and escort you to the elevators? Think how lost you could get walking those few feet without them!

Ready to serve you

The tower changed its nighttime color scheme during the course of our stay. For the first few days, it was orange, much like its daytime look, but for the last days, it turned blue and red.

We headed up after dinner to see what Tokyo looks like at night. The observatory goes all the way around the tower so that you look out on the entire Kanto Region of Japan.

The Rainbow Bridge is on the upper left of middle.

Signs around the perimeter indicated distances to other sites such as Mount Fuji which was —surprise, surprise — impossible to see at night.

The city glitters below us.

Roughly the same view in the daylight.

Lookdown Windows in a few spots along the floor allowed us to see the ground directly below us.

Looking directly downwards

The interior of the tower at the observatory level houses a very tiny Shinto shrine, a cafe and a music venue.

Foot Town at the base of Tokyo Tower has lots of kitchsy tourist traps like a Wax Museum (separate admission) plus restaurants and souvenir shops. A small amusement park is on the roof. Luckily for me, the kids were tired at the end of a long day of sightseeing and didn't beg to do anything.

The kids are already asking to go back to Japan, and my girl especially wants to pay Tokyo Tower another visit.

For more information on hours and admission prices for Tokyo Tower, see its website.

Related posts:
Kid-friendly History at Tokyo's Fukagawa Edo Museum
Epic Day at Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo's Meiji Jungu Shrine
Cherry Blossom Viewing in Tokyo's Ueno Park

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travellers Sandbox, Photo Friday on Delicious Baby, and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

5 Places for Kids to Ride Bikes and Scooters in Penang

Letting my young kids ride their bikes on Penang's busy streets can be quite dodgy. They are literally dodging or being dodged. Sidewalks are often blocked and border perilously close to deep storm drains. Good thing that there are a few protected places around town where I can let them loose on either bikes or scooters without much worry.

Following the signs at the Traffic Garden

Traffic Garden (Taman Lalu Lintas)
No motorized vehicles are allowed in this tiny town. (Although, I will confess that my boy thought this place would be perfect for go-karts.) Kids get to maneuver through the paved, child-size streets and roundabouts, passing the pretend school, petrol station and telephone booths. A fence surrounds the Traffic Garden, so I didn't have to worry about the young ones escaping. Plenty of trees offer shade from the sun, and there are benches and tables for parents to relax at if they don't need to assist their kids. Other diversions include a playscape and outdoor exercise equipment.
Located at Lebuhraya Bodhi and Jalan Nirvana, off of Jalan Anson in George Town

Trying out scooters at the Youth Park

Penang Municipal Park (Youth Park)
The Youth Park offers a number of places where kids can ride their bikes and scooters. The oval course near the playscapes is technically for roller skaters, but bicycles and scooters have taken over it.  I liked that I could keep an eye on both my kid on wheels and the one hanging from the monkey bars at the same time. Behind the cafe, you'll find the skateboard park if your kids want a course that's better suited for tricks. This is my kids' favorite place to have a wheely fun time in Penang.
Located on the one-way Persiaran Kuari off of Jalan Utama near Jesselton Heights

Wide boardwalk for Family Fun Rides by-the-sea at Straits Quay
Straits Quay Boardwalk
You and the kids can enjoy the view of expensive boats docked at the marina and George Town in the distance when biking along the Straits Quay Boardwalk. My friends like to head here for a ride followed by a meal at one of the numerous restaurants at Penang's first seaside retail marina.  If you don't have your own bike, GT Bike Rental offers everything from adult mountain bikes down to tyke-sized bikes outfitted with training wheels at the kiosk in the covered Market Street. There's even a tandem bicyle to try out!
Located on Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang off of Jalan Tanjung Tokong

Rent for 4 hours or the whole day. Prices start at RM12 for kids and RM18 for mountain bikes.

Car-Free Day in George Town
Every Sunday between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., a few blocks of George Town are car-free. All motorized vehicles including motorcycles are prohibited. My friends find it the perfect place for their kids to practice riding bikes and zipping along on scooters.
Beach (Pantai) Street between China Street and Union Street ; Bishop Street between Beach Street and Penang Street; Church (Gereja) Street between Beach Street and Penang Street; all of China Street Ghaut

Air Itam Dam
We haven't tried this place out ourselves, but it is recommended by my friends with youngsters. A paved path circles the dam providing a nice surface for families to bike on. However, be aware that some parts are shared with motorized vehicles.
Jalan Balik Pulau, uphill past Kek Lok Si Temple

Need a bike, scooter or skateboard?
Now that I've whetted your appetite for hitting the road on foot-powered wheels, did you suddenly remember that you don't actually have the equipment? CCI Bicycle Shop on Lebuh Carnarvon has a range of bikes from balance bikes to kids bikes to ones for adults. Balance bikes can also be found at Precious Ones on Lorong Selamat. Spiral Synergy sells quality skateboards scooters, and EZrollers. Contact them at spiralsynergyinfo@yahoo.com or via handphone 016 457 0221.

Penang Travel Tips has a good listing for bicycle shops in Penang.

How about Daily Rentals?
In George Town, rent adult-sized bikes from Metro Bike for a day at RM25. A map of suggested routes in this busy area of town is available.  Guided cycling tours of UNESCO heritage sites can also be booked in advance on their website. However, families with young children are limited to the trishaw version of the tour. They have bike rentals at two locations
  1. Tanjung City Marina beside the Jetty Bus Terminal and Hainan Town Restaurant
  2. Komtar Walk at Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong
There are also a few bicycle rental shops along Armenian Street near Lorong Soo Hong. The family-friendly Zhang Trading which has tandem bikes, kids bikes and toddler seats.

No longer a kid but still a cyclist?
Check out Aerochick's blog A Ginger in Asia about her experiences cycling around Penang.

Related Post:
Kids Top Picks for Indoor Fun in Penang
Hammering Pewter Bowls at Royal Selangor in Straits Quay
Thieving Monkeys and Tips on Handling Them

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Romantic Getaway to Puerto Rico

Lookout towers guarding the walled city of Old San Juan

Warm, tropical breezes brushing over me. My first sip of a cold mojito with condensation sliding down the glass. The sound of flamenco music and the staccato stomps of the dancers' feet. Best of all, my beloved hubby by my side. That's what I remember when I think back to that romantic night in Old San Juan. For a few glorious days, we took a vacation from our life as parents and focused on just being a couple. Puerto Rico was a heavenly place to do it. Finally, we could relax and take our time. We didn't have to worry about early bedtimes, overtired kids or picky eaters with unfamiliar food.


Our first few nights were spent at The Gallery Inn in Old San Juan, just a short walk from the famous El Morro fort. Days were whiled away walking the cobbled streets and wandering among the colonial era, stone buildings. Just exploring the inn itself was fascinating.

Relaxing at The Gallery Inn

This 300-year-old mansion is one of the most visually interesting places we've ever stayed. I could almost picture people from centuries past lounging in the rooms or walking through the doorways.

I felt like I had traveled through time to a bygone era.

The artwork of sculptor, painter, and inn owner, Jan D'Esposo, is tucked into nooks and crannies. As the name implies, the whole place is a gallery.

Can you identify this famous, former guest?

Exotic birds near the entrance are eager to have a word with you. Climb up past the Music Room and out to the rooftop deck for a panoramic view of the ancient walled city and the Caribbean Sea. Even the pool is not the typical hotel type.

Ready for a dip in the salt water pool?

This place is rustic and authentic -- as in the plaster fell off the ceiling and onto my luggage. I just wrote that off as part of the charm. Because we booked at the last minute, we ended up in a (starving) Artist Room. It was up a tight, spiral staircase, forcing hubby to hold our luggage above  his head in order to maneuver it in such a small space. The cozy room looked out through a handkerchief sized window down into an interior courtyard. I imagined that this was the perfect place for some mischievous younger sibling to spy on an older sister when suitors came courting.

Guests are welcome to explore.

A few days later, we moved to the Luquillo Sunrise Beach Inn. True to the hotel's name, we were greeted with a beach sunrise out our window. La Pared beach just across the street is famous for surfing. You can even borrow boogie boards from the inn if you want to catch some waves.

Greeting the day at the Luquillo Sunrise Beach Inn

If staying in Old San Juan was all about history, staying in Luquillo gave us a chance to discover the natural beauty of Puerto Rico. El Yunque National Forest is a short, 10-minute drive away. We spent hours hiking through the rainforest and cooling off under a waterfall.

Swimming under La Mina Falls in El Yunque

The highlight of our Puerto Rico visit was kayaking to a bioluminescent bay on a moonless night. Unfortunately for you, this experience was impossible to photograph, so you'll just have to believe me how incredible it was. We joined the guided group in Fajardo and climbed into a double kayak with a green glow bracelet marking the front and a red one on the back. As we entered the channel lined with mangroves that led towards the bay, what was left of the nighttime light faded away, and these small glow bracelets were the only clue of where the other kayaks were. I watched a red light slowly pivot around a green one when one kayak ahead of me got caught on roots.

A few hours of Wii Kayaking didn't prepare me for the real thing, and I turned out to be a less than ideal kayak partner. So, in a way, this whole excursion turned into one of those Marriage Relationship Building exercises in trust and forgiveness. Being short was an advantage as the tree branches that walloped my husband on the forehead passed harmlessly above me. I still maintain that I was not intentionally steering us towards them.

Finally, we emerged into the bay, and all the bickering evaporated. Microscopic plankton in this lagoon light up whenever it's disturbed. It was as if we had entered a fairy land. As our oars passed through the water, I could see a sparkling trail behind them. The water glittered when I scooped it up with my cupped hand and splashed it over my legs. Suddenly, a large fish darted past, and we could see both the details of the fish and the path flowing back into the depths. It was truly one of those unforgettable experiences that put you in awe of nature.

Rio Camuy Caves
We took a day to explore Rio Camuy Caves on the other side of the island. To reach the caves from the visitors center, you don oh-so-sexy hard hats perfect for a romantic outing -- Hah! -- and take a tram down to the cave entrance. The guided tours available in either English or Spanish point out all standard cave features as well as giant spiders. Giant spiders! There's a handy railing in some slippery parts, but it's covered in bat guano so chose which is the lesser evil, falling or touching poop.

The nearby Arecibo Observatory is the world's largest and most sensitive radiotelescope. Plus, it was the scene of the climax of the James Bond movie, GoldenEye, as well as being featured in that Jodie Foster movie, Contact, and an episode of The X-files. In other words, this place is perfectly suited for geeks like me.

It's been almost four and a half years since our trip to Puerto Rico, the last time that we've had a purely romantic getaway from the kids. (I'm so not counting the house and school hunting trip to Malaysia.) Like any great vacation, it lingers in my mind. Memories pop up when I least suspect it, and it gives me sustenance when I'm back in full-on Mommy mode .
This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-word travel inspiration.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lion Dance, Horsey Dance

A traditional Chinese New Year Lion Dance

Sunday marked the beginning of the 15-day celebration that is Chinese New Year. Penang is about 40% ethnic Chinese, so this is one of the major holidays in town. Let me tell you, it's a very noisy time of year. Every night, people shoot off fireworks. During the day, the sounds of lion dances permeate throughout the city. Sometimes, they dance at private homes. Other times, it's at a business or out in public.

First come the loud "Pop! Pop! Pop!"of the firecrackers. Next is the rhythmic drumming. I've been at home almost all day, and I've heard it outside my window at least 6 times. When it starts up, I run around, peering out, trying to figure out the source. Sometimes, all I can see is a cloud of firecracker smoke rising up behind trees. Other times, I catch the tail-end of the performance.

Performers setting up

On Monday morning, I took a break from watching the Grammy Awards live on TV, and ran over to catch a lion dance from the beginning. Preparations included draping a nearby Mercedes with a bedsheet to protect it from the 7 meter string of firecrackers hanging next to it.

If you owned this Mercedes, would you mind them protecting it from firecrackers with merely a bedsheet?

Loud drums, gongs and cymbals provide music for the dance

In Chinese, the words "tangerine" and "orange" sound like the words for "luck" and "wealth".
These fruits are a common part of the Chinese New Year celebration.

The lion rolls tangerines to the crowd, spreading luck everywhere.

People reach into the lion's mouth to take the coins it's handing out.

Lions visit the hotel check-in desk to perform "cai-ching" by plucking a green leaf from above.
This brings good luck and fortune to the company.

Check out my You Tube video if you want to see the dance in action.

Horsey dance
On the other side of town, many Penangites gathered at the Barisan Nasional (a political party) Chinese New Year Open House to watch the trendy Psy perform his viral hit Gangnum Style and its accompanying Horsey Dance.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Penang Cooking Schools

When you visit Penang, everyone will tell you that you absolutely must consume as much street food as humanly possible. Watch Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations if you want to hear him wax poetic over the gastronomical delights. Check out CNN Travel for a more specific guide of where to eat. The Penang Street Food iPhone app is fantastic for explaining the dishes listed without any descriptions on a stall's signboard and pinpointing a food court near your current location. You can even pick up a handy Food Trail Map at the airport.

But what will you do when you return home? How can you get your fix? Go to cooking school. I've tried the Tropical Spice Garden, Nazlina Spice Station, and Penang Homecooking Class to add a few traditional Penang favorites to my repertoire.

Tropical Spice Garden
Head out of crowded, historic George Town, drive past the beaches of Batu Feringhi, and arrive at the idyllic spot of nature that is The Tropical Spice Garden. Before our cooking class, a knowledgeable guide took us through the gardens explaining the culinary or dastardly uses of plants. Even though I had taken this same tour a year earlier without a cooking class, different plants were highlighted, so I didn't feel bored.

On the tour, we learned how to pick out the best star anise (which I didn't write down and, hence, forgot).

The Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School is very hands-on. Ten workstations are set up in an air-conditioned kitchen with recipes and ingredients laid out mise en place.

Every student gets a chance to cook the dish.

We gathered around Chef Sugu as he explained how to cook Char Kwoay Teow (flat rice noodles with prawns, sliced fish cakes and bean sprouts) and Satay (grilled beef or chicken skewers). He demonstrated some steps himself while allowing students to take over for the easier parts like turning on the blender. As we each started cooking, he walked around examining our progress, making comments and giving tips.

Chef Sugu shows us how to roast peanuts just right.

One funny cross-culture moment came when we couldn't find the ketchup he told us to add and then realized that he was saying "kicap" (pronounce kee-chap) which is a type of soy sauce. And before some wise guy adds it in the comments, early European explorers took Asian kicap back home where it eventually morphed into tomato-based ketchup.

A small bowl of peanut dipping sauce that I wanted to eat by the spoonful, Cucar Udong prawn fritters, chicken and beef satay, and Char Kwoay Teow Noodles.

By the end of the session, I really felt that I could go home and replicate each dish. We plated our food and dined al fresco in the gazebo overlooking the beautiful gardens. Afterwards, we stocked up on spices and other Penang souvenirs at the gift shop. The Tropical Spice Garden also has a tasty and scenic Thai restaurant called Tree Monkey if you're not in the mood to cook your own meal.

The Tropical Spice Garden cooking school offers a variety of classes by different instructors. Check their schedule to figure out which one best appeals to you.

Nazlina Spice Station
When I first arrived in Penang, I found shopping at wet markets intimidating. The wet market tour is one of the main reasons I was attracted to Nazlina's class. She led us past stalls, explaining what the various mystery vegetables were and how to pick the best specimens. It was also the first time I bought meat that wasn't in a styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic, and sitting in a refrigerated case.

Freshly butchered meat

Back at the hotel where our cooking class was held, we set up the newly purchased ingredients in the outdoor, makeshift kitchen with a few, portable gas stoves. She explained the culinary history of each ingredient such as the "four sisters" typically found in Malay food — star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, and clove. Nazlina is an advocate of the Slow Cooking Method and focused on the traditional methods of preparing each dish such as grinding spices by hand. No quick and easy blenders or food processors here!

Nazlina softens banana leaves for wrapping Nasi Lemak while Beef Rendang simmers on the left burner.

Everyone worked on a different part of the recipe. The assistant toasted coconut in a wok until it turned from bright white to a dark brown. After she poured it into the rough granite mortar, I took over pounding it with the pestle for at least 15 minutes until it resembled melted chocolate. I was amazed that 3 cups of freshly shredded raw coconut shrank down to only 2 tablespoons of paste for the beef rendang, a spicy, robust stew redolent with the exotic flavors of Malaysia. While I was working on the coconut, others ground shallots, chopped vegetables or tended the wok.

Traditional method for making toasted coconut paste

It was a true communal effort and took hours. This is the type of cooking perfect for multiple generations of women in a household or, barring that, delegating to 2-4 maids. Nazlina passed the recipe on to us orally as a mother would have done for her daughter in the olden days instead of handing out printed copies. Being a modern woman, I whipped out my iPhone, googled the recipe on her website, and followed along.

Working together to prepare Beef Rendang

When the one gigantic pot was done, she ladled some onto each plate and had us each assemble a traditional pyramid of Nasi Lemak (pandan-flavored coconut rice with sambal, toasted peanuts, fried anchovies and boiled egg on top and wrapped in a banana leaf). We sat around a table and enjoyed the feast that we had all worked on together.

Spicy and pungent Nasi Lemak

Penang Homecooking Class by Pearly Kee
In addition to street food, this class can include the Nyonya cuisine of the Straits Chinese or spicy Indian food. Pearly teaches at both the Tropical Spice Garden and at her home near the Gurney area. The class I took at her home included a tour of a nearby wet market which is one of the best one the island, and each student had their own workstation during class. As we cooked and ate, Pearly regaled us with stories about growing up and living in Penang. The food and conversation made it delightful way to spend 4 hours. Read my more in-depth review here.


If you're living in Penang or just passing through, taking a cooking class is a great way to learn about the local culture through its food. All three of these schools accept children, too, if you want to make it a family activity. They're spread out across the island and have different "personalities", so pick the one that best suits you.

Penang Cooking Schools
Tropical Spice Garden between Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang; RM220 for 3-4 hours plus garden tour

Nazlina Spice Station in George Town at the E&O Hotel, Straits Quay, or her store near Little India; RM180 for 3.5 hours plus wet market and Little India tour

Penang Homecooking Class by Pearly Kee in Pilau Tikus near Gurney Drive; RM250 for 3-4 hours

Makers Shakers Bakers offering weekly classes to teach children to cook

Related Post:
Penang Homecooking Class with Pearly Kee
Kids Cooking School in Penang
Spice Girls
Dine with Pearly: Homecooked Nyonya Meal

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox. Check it out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Living in the Tourist Zone

Every week, I get online and read travel blog roundups that take me away to far-off destinations. But lucky for me, I live in the midst of a tourist hotspot, too. Other people daydream about visiting the place I call home. It's not just that I live in Penang, an island with much ballyhooed street food and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vacationers are right next door.

My condo is along a stretch of beach lined with the type of mid-price hotels favored by package tours. I've found blog posts excitedly showing pictures of a Penang vacation with shots taken at the beach outside my window. I come across tourists almost every day, sometimes even in the elevator since there are a few Vacation Rentals by Owner in my building. People watching is the best part of living in the tourist zone. We see everyone from Aussies in their flip flops, tank tops and shorts to conservative Muslim women in full burkas.

"My" backyard

Cruise ships sail by my home every morning and night.  My friends who live near the pier in George Town have an even closer view of the boats.  I imagine the passengers on deck gazing out as it makes its way around the top of the island. Are people already getting down to the business of gambling and drinking, especially if they're on the one night, International Waters cruise? Or are they relaxing by the pool as the boat sails towards Thailand?

Cruising past Penang

Watching the crazy people frolicking in the water near the hotel beach is even more fun. From my bedroom, I can see people jetskiing as if there's a protective force field surrounding them. They seem to have no fear that their crazy maneuvers and criss-crossing paths will cause a collision. So far, they've been okay. Whole families hop on banana boats to be hauled around in the midst of the insane jetskiers. There's always a few parasailers, too. Yes, it's definitely a holiday atmosphere.

These jetskiers were circling around in opposite directions and nearly hit each other.

The self-proclaimed World's Largest Toy Museum, a major kid magnet, used to be located near our school. Families poured out of cars and excitedly lined up for photos in front of the facade evoking ancient Egypt. (These weren't toys. They were merely leftover decor from the building's former life as a nightclub.) In fact, I'd have to make sure I didn't run over youngsters with my car as their laser focus on the Toy Museum blinded them to their surroundings while they skipped towards the building. It was a popular place for school field trips, too. Teachers grouped the kids on the steps and then stood in the middle of the street to get the perfect picture. I tried not to collide with these folks either. What struck me was how just plain happy everyone was to be there. I could feel the positive vibes radiating from them.

Who can rescue Woody and Buzz Lightyear?

We love passing by the numerous tour buses on our walk to school. Stickers on the window advertise the amenities offered inside. For a long time, my daughter thought karaoke and DVD players were the best ones. And then a few weeks ago, we came across a fancy, double decker bus. It advertised Food and Beverage service, massaging chairs, PC games, and personal entertainment systems. I really should have found out what tour group it belonged to since that one is definitely tops. Sometimes, people are boarding the bus as we walk to school. They are off to their next adventure on holiday while my kids must toil for the day. Don't worry, our turn will come.

I wonder what sights they'll see today.

The only downside to living in a tourist hotspot is all the traffic. Local tourists tend to swarm Penang every public holiday. I have invented the Tour Bus Indicator. There's a direct correlation between the number of tour buses outside my condo and how tremendously crowded the roads will be that day. Four buses means I should probably just enjoy the comforts of home instead of heading out if it's not absolutely necessary. The road with the nearest major mall, Gurney Drive, normally takes me about 5 minutes to drive down. On a public holiday, I've sat on that same road for 1.5 hours slowly inching the car forward. (If I'm in a metric country, would the phrase be "centimetering the car forward"?) One of my daughter's classmates who lives on Gurney had her birthday party on a public holiday. Imagine her tears when not one guest showed up despite all their good intentions because they couldn't bust through the gridlock.

3 buses = Double the normal driving time

Come on over and visit Penang. It's a fabulous place, and the tourist I meet seem to be envious that I get to explore it at my leisure. I consider myself lucky to call it home for a few years.

This post is part of Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check it out for more travel inspiration.

Web Analytics