Monday, November 22, 2010

Hail Penang

I was going to give you a blow by blow account but since that would bore all two of you, and since time is passing and the flurry of the present replaces the past, I'll be brief.

See this?

It's my favourite picture from the trip.

And this?

It's my second favourite image. Both my shots. And both outside the E&O. We were posing (at least Mary was because I made her). She kept saying...I know I'm born in the year of the monkey but that doesn't mean I'm your performing monkey, and I was like, yeah, yeah, whatever, now drape yourself on that cannon...come on, this is the price of being beautiful, you have to pose!

And the second one...well it was drizzling and the two of them were trying to get a handle of their respective umbrellas. You know how those moments caught in time...that split second between spontaneity and well-rehearsed poses, the knowing smile...don't they just look gorgeous?

And if you want to see the entire 3K (that's Tiga Keling or Three Keralites for all y'all who haven't been following this blog long enough to know it) here's the three of us. In Soho, which is a happening night spot. One thing, gentle readers, we were all this side of tipsy. Me, on Sambuca, Evelyn on Medori and Mary on Pimm's Lemonade.

Now you've seen all of us together, let's get on with the story. We arrived to find that we had booked a spacious apartment with three rooms (we had requested and paid for two), two bathrooms, a kitchen, a hall with a large-screen tv. All nice. Except that the shower in the master bedroom was koyak. So Mary (who got the MB) had to come shower with the rest of us in the tiny little outside bathroom. But the warm water was warm, and sides, we weren't in the apartment much to mind. And there were air cons in the rooms and the beds were comfortable.

Our first stop was the famous and many-storied E&O Hotel. We looked at the pictures of the Sarkies brothers, I took some pix but they weren't that good, wandered in an out of the bakery (it was too late for high tea...I had wanted high tea), went to the gift shop where we met and made friends with Merlene Narcis, the cheery lady who ran it (she was so friendly she showed us pictures of her three sons, her husband, and even invited us over for a bottle of wine at her very nice house in MarVista in Batu Ferringhi...we said yes, maybe, we'll call you if we come...and didn't go. Penang hospitality seems to be legendary)

Here's a picture of Merlene for you:

Merlene told us about Soho. We were going to go for char kueh teow. But the rain came pouring down, angry waves crashed onto the tembok at E&O and basically, were stuck in the hotel. So we decided to have our dinner at the terribly Mat Salleh Farquhar Bar (OK sorry if you're not Malaysian and you don't understand this - Mat Salleh is how we refer to white people - it's not rude, not really). The food was OK and overpriced and the service was poor (I know, I know) but it was an experience and one that I had wanted to have since I'd first been in the E&O.

When the bill came we did our usual fight...and found out that it was on one of Mary's siblings. Apparently, since she's the one in SP looking after her mother (while the rest of them are scattered all over the globe) they wanted her to have a real treat. Pull out all stops. That kind of thing.

Only funny thing was Mary said the meal (which in my mind was mondo expensive) was too cheap. Huh! Go figure. Different strokes for different folks.

The rain subsided and we took a slow walk to Soho's. As we neither of us were good at navigation or following directions, we had this puzzled, confused look on our faces as we tried to make out where Soho was. (I, more puzzled than the other two). Which is why a taxi driver approached me hopefully:


I smiled: "No thanks."

He went and sat down again. Then got up to ask: "What exactly are you looking for?"

I told him. He said: "Just cross the street. See that nasi kandar place? It's next to it."

(OK as an aside, young Arnold has just come back from gallivanting the whole day and he's sitting right under the fan. He gulped down two bowlfuls of water and he's in the process of passing out. My poor baby)

We found Soho, lived it up (the way aunties do, with just one drink each...but the drink had to be something we had never tried before), made more noise than a fish market at dawn and then staggered our way back to the carpark...where I would have to find my way back to our apartment. One wrong turn heading in entirely the opposite direction, and then a series of quick turns into dark streets and we were OK. Got back all in one piece.

And proceeded to pass out respectively. (At least I did. I donno about the other two).

Part two will follow as now I have to add someone's comments to my follow-up story on the Auditor General's report and send it off as well as shower and wait for the Prabhakaran who will be wending her way here. We are going to Bangsar and then to Backyard. (I will take my camera and bring you all along with me, whether you want to or not).

Later for you.


Tudor Rose said...

Clearly someone (or, well, three someones) had a very good time :-)

Jenn said...

Indeed! :-)

Jenn said...

On re-reading this I realise that it is anything but brief. Huh! Trust an Indian to be brief. That is like calling A Suitable Boy a novella. Oh why can't we all be like RK Narayan?




perl hacker said...

Because? Because? Because? (perhaps a quote from Wizard of Oz). Sounds like a delightful night out with your pals. I like the random occurence of Malay words and phrases, as it provides a ready excuse to fill my mind with still more random information. I particularly like the term merajuking... I suspect I do it way more than I should. :)

Interesting Wiki entry on the Mat Sellah rebellion. The Inuit (indigenous people) of the Hudson Bay area of north central Canada have a similar term for white people: Qallunaat. I think the popular translation is 'a person with bushy eyebrows' or 'one who pampers their eyebrows' owing to the furry-faced appearance of the whalers, trappers and missionaries that established first contact. It is a generic categorical term for non-Inuit, but as with all language, a whole lot of flavor is added by context.

Sambuca... single-handedly responsible for several episodes of missing time, while I was stationed in southern Germany. Quite a lovely way to reach your intended destination.

Jenn said...

Merajuking? You? Surely you jest. Mat Sallehs - my cousin Evelyn has an explanation. Of course, as you said, Mat Salleh was also the name of an anti-British rebel. But I think it refers to Mad Sailor. Or something like that.

Haha bushy eyebrows, good one.

John Calica said...

Hello my friend! Looks like you had so much fun! Nothing, as in absolutely nothing beats travelling with friends! :)

Jenn said...

Yeah, especially when one of the friends is a cousin.