Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hail Penang continued (and then some)

It would not be wrong to speak of people as having a compulsion to photograph: to turn experience itself into a way of seeing. Ultimately, having an experience becomes identical with taking a photograph of it, and participating in a public event comes more and more to be equivalent to looking at it in photographed form. That most logical of nineteenth-century aesthetes, Mallarmè, said that everything in the world exists in order to end in a book. Today everything exists to end in a photograph. Susan Sontag, On Photography

And now we've got that out of the way, let me proceed to prove her right. Here's us at Backyard last night. Me, the Prabhakaran and the Ads.

And here is Mark playing (but of course, why else would I be at Backyard?)

So I was going to tell you about Penang. Well, we went to the museum but weren't allowed to take pictures so I can offer you no visual record of the place. Instead, here's a frontal view of the E&O.

Anyways, we woke up early the next day (despite our relatively late night out) because I wanted to have the roti kosong and kopi susu at this place in Teluk Bahang. I kept telling the other two how Jackie, Julie and I had stumbled upon it in our meanderings through Penang and just how wonderful it was. All I remembered was...near the roundabout.


The place was closed. We asked a guy hanging about...and he said...raya. It was Hari Raya Haji the next day, so these guys were celebrating early. When would it open? After Raya. By which time we would be outta there. So we took our sad selves away, trying to find another place for our roti kosong and kopi susu (the other two wanted kurang manis and as for me, hey, what is life without sugar, lots and lots of it...healthy, you say? slim, you say? yeah, well there's more in life than that...like sugar)

The mamak around the corner was not half or even quarter as good. There was no fler in his sarong tariking the coffee. And the roti lacked ooomph. Young Eve and Younger Mary were not satisfied. They needed their morning coffee. So we ended up at a restaurant in Ferringhi, having morning coffee. Just coffee. And then...

Fast forward to a couple of hours later (bout the only hours in the day when we weren't stuffing our faces) and as we wandered through the fascinating exhibits (I think Penang has the most interesting museum in all of Malaysia) the two of them were dragging apace and complaining of hunger headaches. There was only one thing to do. Whack banana leaf. Accordingly we made our way to Vellu Villas. Being naturally unable to follow directions or trust in the directions we were following, we made phone calls to ascertain the way and stopped a satisfied looking Indian man who said, yes, yes, you just go straight and turn right there.

Mary, being the astute chickadee she is, asked him: "Did you just come from there?"

Nodding vigorously, he replied: "Yes, yes."

This is us whacking banana leaf. When you're really hungry, there's nothing so satisfying. Geez, I wish I could have some now. But Dadda is making rice and we will be having it with pickles and prawn sambal shortly. Shiokalingam!

And here's Mary...I can't remember what she was asking...maybe for the fried bitter gourd (they didn't have that but their vegetables and curries were fantastic anyway) I had the mutton curry and it was too errie for me. So Mary had to take my mutton and I took her chicken. It would have been OK if I had slathered the whole thing in tairu. But I have been known to change places cos I can't take the smell. Can't stand tairu, so can't eat hot mutton curry.

We dragged our overfull carcasses outta there in search of Bru coffee. Apparently Vellu (or is it Velu) Villas doesn't serve coffee until the evening. But coffee was of the essence so we went to Woodlands nearby and had our fill.

And then Eve decided that it was time to see the Khoo Kongsi. If you think we were clueless before, you should have seen us then. I think we asked about 10 different people for directions (although we kept advancing, generally in the right direction). Because Mary looked like this...

...everyone took us for tourists. One particularly bright spark we stopped and asked directions from asked if we were from China. I mean to say, what?

It cost us about RM10 each to get into the Khoo Kongsi and was totally not worth it. Going through renovations or something...I thought this was cute though:

And here's some more of it with my two superstars posing:

Well, by this time we were hot and sticky. Really hot and sticky. It was back to base for a shower, nap and out to very good dinner at Mario's...it was an interesting dinner. Especially interesting in that we didn't pay for it. In fact, most of our meals in Penang seemed to be sponsored by someone or other. (And except for breakfast, which we paid for ourselves) they were all VERY GOOD MEALS. When I tell anyone that we overate in Penang, they look surprised and say...but what else is Penang for? So yeah. And we didn't walk worth a darn because it was too hot and the humidity was another thing altogether.

But young Evelyn didn't get her char kueh teow at Gurney Drive (or wherever) because were shanghaied away for dinner...and we didn't get to walk along the beach or go to Flag Hill or to the nightmarket by the beach. All stuff to do next time around.

But there was one thing I had to do. Simply had to. When we visited the gift shop at E&O I had seen their drool-worthy coffee table book. I mean it was really something else. Ilsa Sharp drawing from multiple sources to tell us why E&O, and by extension Penang, was just the most interesting place, like ever! (Yes Nits, I know you agree...)

Here's me glued to the fancy vintage seat in the gift shop leafing through the book. Merlene and then her assistant (whose name I do not remember but who was a very nice sweet young girl) let me sit there for as long as I liked playing with the book. It was just too cool. But it was also RM188.50 and I would have to justify it to my conscience. Finally decided to give myself a birthday present. And guess what? Mary decided the same thing. So here was the book I really really wanted, compliments of my friend. Woo hoo!

Awwww, look at the the little pudge! Isn't she cute?

OK, young Evelyn took off for Langkawi the next morning. We did an early morning drive to airport (finding our way through a mixture of directions and road signs) and then came back via Balik Pulau which was a mistake as the road was windy and I felt like throwing up by the time we arrived back home and I crawled into bed for a nap.

Then it was off to Mary's where I was staying the night...and here's her with her cute little mommie...

So....that's the end of the Penang pictures....all good things must come to an end.

Btw Jack, lemmee introduce you to our new sofa. Dadda's Christmas present. The Shi Sho girl is presently breaking it in...she's curled up in her blankie on it, fast asleep.


perl hacker said...

That first picture is a real prize, wonderful smiles all around. When one whacks banana leaf (looks quite tasty, btw) is it taboo to eat with your left hand?

Gotta love that sign--it needs a smaller sign hanging beneath it, saying "Beware of the Leopard."

Jenn said...

You know, since you're a mat salleh you could even request a fork and knife and it would be ok. I think it's perfectly ok to eat with your left hand. After all, banana leaf is about your ease rather than manners. But when you finish, remember to fold the leaf towards you rather than away from you. That way you signal that you enjoyed the meal.