Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Trip To The Pearl Of Orient

What comes to you mind when you see this?
Ferry with Komtar in the background.
During my last summer holiday, I paid a visit to my aunt and cousin, who are living on Penang island. She has been living there for more than fifteen years now, ever since she graduated from USM. Now, she sees herself as a Penangnite, instead of a Taipingnite.
I took a bus from Taiping and stopped at the poorly maintained bus terminal in Butterworth. No, I did not drive there because the recent hike on fuel price is one thing (although it has been a significant reduction ever since), and that my aunt would be taking me around once I reach the island, being the other reason. During my younger days, my family used to make trips to Penang whenever there is a school holiday, because it is just about one-hour drive up north from Taiping. We usually take the ferry on our way to the island, and used Penang Bridge on our way back. Hence, I guess I had only taken the ferry as pedestrians for no more than five times.
The procedure for pedestrians who takes the ferry is quite simple actually. We just have to walk up to the jetty and after going up an escalator, we would come to a counter. Adult would cost RM 1.20, while children will need to pay half that amount.
#1 Pay
Then we would come to the waiting area, and they provide chairs for people while waiting for the ferry to arrive.
#2 Wait
After almost all the passengers from the ferry that had just arrived have enlightened from the ferry, then the gate will be opened and we will get to board the ferry.
#3 Board
Here is the tricky part. Usually, there are several ferries that operate simultaneously on a particular day, and all of them have different destinations. Since I was going to Penang Island, I have to wait for the ferry which has "Pulau Pinang" written on the ferry. That took some time, because there were ferries that are bound for Pulau Kapas, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Payar and Pulau Udan for instance. So, I waited.
08-09-21 Summer Holiday 10
There were ferries to Pulau Kapas, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Payar and Pulau Undan, but not Pulau Pinang.
Finally, I saw that ferry.
Too bad that it was on the jetty next to the one I was waiting, and it already started to leave the jetty by that time, which means I have missed the ferry that I was supposed to take. So, I waited for that ferry to return. I continued waiting until I felt like an idiot, that in the end, I could not be bothered anymore that I took the next ferry that arrived.
Pulau Angsa, was where I was heading to.
In the end, I reached Goose Island. However, they sell more chickens that goose on this island.
So many chickens everywhere.
You know what? I suggest you to give yourself a slap on your face if you really believed my lame crappings above. Actually I followed my aunt to the morning market after we had our breakfast at Kayu Nasi Kandar. She wanted to buy some stuff for cooking lunch later that day, before I leave. I used to follow my mum to the market when I was still studying in Taiping. It was from there, that I learned how to recognise various kinds of vegetables and stuff sold in the market and of course, the art of bargaining. If the seller doesn't want to sell something cheaper, my mum will usually ask for a few extra stalks of the vege instead.
The wet market here is still very much like the one in my hometown, just that I didn't see anyone who arranges their vegetables on the floor and the seller sitting on a small stool.
Fruits and flowers.
My aunt initiated to take me around to places like Penang Hill, the Botanical Gardens, Batu Ferringhi and a few newly opened shopping malls, but I have been to those places before. Furthermore, I was only there for less than two days and I didn't want to tire myself by going to too many places. When we were not outside eating, I spend time chatting with them and had fun playing around with my seven-year-old cousin, Sonia, who is currently studying in Standard One.
My aunt and me, with one huge soft toy.
Sonia with her dad.
I prefer to call her Wei Ling; I find it nicer.
Posing for the camera.
Being the only child, she have the privilege of owning a full set of soft toys, from the biggest to the smallest. All are dogs, which names start with the letter D for all but one of them. Dexter, Dudu, Bonny are the three names that I could remember. For the other two more, I couldn't recall anymore.
Her friends, arranged in order from big to small.
I joined in as well.
Do you realise something is missing in this post? Yes, a visit to Penang will not complete without trying the food there. We ate so much that by the end of the day, our stomach felt so full. But it was worth it because I only get to eat this kind of food when I am back to Malaysia.
First up was the Penang Road Famous Teo Chew Cendol.
Even Singapore's Phua Chu Kang has been here once.
Compared to cendol in other places, what I like most about the cendol here is the cendol itself. It is not too soft, yet not too hard either; the texture is just perfect.
Three basic ingredients used, big red beans, coconut milk and cendol.
My bowl of cendol.
No matter when you go to this stall, there will always be people standing around the stall enjoying their cendol.
Look at the people.
But it was not the case for the stall just opposite of this stall. It sells exactly the same kind of cendol, but usually there are hardly any people who orders their cendol from that stall. The owner must have thought he could tumpang the feng sui of this famous stall that he decided to open one stall opposite of it, but in the end, he spends more time chasing the flies away.
Next, we drove to Gurney Drive and after doing some light shopping at Gurney Plaza, we went to the food stalls nearby.
Ahh, food stalls. How I miss them so much now.
In my hometown, rojak refers to the fruit rojak, but it is different in Penang. To them, rojak is this.
We call this pasembor in Taiping.
Pasembor, or rojak, it is the same thing, a combination of various kinds of fried stuff like toufu, flour fritters, squids and prawns, in which sliced cucumber and bean sprouts are added onto it. As the topping, it would be the sweet and spicy kuah kacang.
Look at the varieties.
For drinks, we ordered something cold and refreshing.
Luo han guo.
It tasted something like air mata kucing (longan). On our way to the car, I had a picture taken with Sonia along the beach.
It was low tide at that time.
For dinner, we opted for something different. There is a new place which was opened recently in New World's Park, and there is where we had our banana leaves dinner.
Passions of Kerala.
Basically, we either order curry chicken or fried fish, to go with the rice. As for the vegetables, we could take as much as we want, and same applies for the rice and pappadam. It is something like half-buffet style. Taste wise, it was satisfying because it has been a while since I had a real Indian meal.
Pumpkin, bitter gourd and cabbage really kicked ass, but I couldn't really take the acar. It tastes weird.
Fried bawal, chicken curry, fish curry and daal.
The next day, I was suppose to leave the island around noon to head to Nibong Tebal to visit handsome boy, but since I was already on the island, I called out another friend of mine, Ryan. It so happened that he was already around the jetty area and he picked me up and we stopped at a stall to have a short chat and some kind of local desert.
The son continued running the business from his dad.
A bowl of okio.
They called it Okio, which is a combination of some jelly-like thing which comes together with sweet and sour lime water and grounded ice. Just the right thing to have on a hot day.
Thanks for your box of Him Heang's tau sar phneah.
That was the end of my short trip to Penang.


Anonymous said...

really good post , i enjoyed the banana leaf rice part , i never knew u also liked it , lol, i love the spices in the banana leave meals , lol

Kae Vin said...

lol. Who's the handsome boy?? :P

and don't you try to confuse people with the Pulau thing la. Stupid. Only one destination ok?

By the way, that one is Pasumbor aka Cneh Hu la. Rojak is rojak. Don blog the wrong info here la.

Ben Foo said...

Apa "poorly maintained bus terminal"? ggrrr
lol they are everythere. not only Penang.

And don't play play with that Ais Kacang seller! Even got homepage. lol

Wah many new stores eh. Haven't been to the New World's Park place.

Anonymous said...

Specialhuman , tak baik anda memarahi calvin kerana salah informasi , dia mungkin tersilap , saya rasa lebih baik saudara memohon maaf daripadanya

rojakrojak said...


calvin said...

@ duke of mask:
we share the same liking for indian food, eh? but i think everyone loves indian food, more so when it's served on banana leaves :)

calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
eleh, see lah, still want to pretend now =.=

i'm not confusing people here. if there is anyone who believes that my fairy tale is true, then i don't know whether i should laugh or cry with their smartness lol xD

now i remember than malaccans refer pasembor as rojak. but as long as it tastes good, who cares what the name is, right?

calvin said...

@ breachno:
haha, a true penangite will always defend his own state :)

well, at least i find the bus terminal in butterworth is worse than the one in taiping. but it will be another different story if you compare it with puduraya >.<

i think i have seen somewhere about the homepage for that cendol stall. super high-tech nowadays lol xD

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
an apology is not what i want from specialhuman, but a bowl of ais kacang with extra ice cream topping =)

calvin said...

@ rojakrojak:
rojak is drooling over cendol. what an irony lol =P

Anonymous said...

yup , i like the food pics that u put too..Calvin , ur aunt is of what race? pardon my curiosity , but she really looks mixed, is she a chindian or indian or sri lankan?is her husband also mixed parentage?If its true she is of some indian/sri lankan ancestry ,i think u should be lucky as now u can actually taste different cultures in ur blood .And u should really embrace it as not all of us have the opportunity of tasting different cultures .I too have many uncles/aunts that are malay/chinese and indian .And even i made use of that fact by meeting them and understanding their cultures.You know what, after knowing a culture , all racial stereotypes will be destroyed as we realize we are all the same :)

calvin said...

@ duke of mask:
this world will be a much better place to live if every one of us shares the same thinking as yours.

as to answer your curiosity, i come from a background of mixed parentage. my maternal grandpa is a sinhalese (he hails from sri lanka) while the parents of my grandma have some thai influence. as for my paternal side, they came from pure chinese background. you mix everything up and in the end, you get somebody who looks like me ^.^

as for my aunt, she is neither an indian, chindian, or sri lankan, although she certainly has come sinhalese influence. she is a malaysian :)

his husband is pure chinese although he has quite dark skin. it is no surprise that their daughter doesn't really have the chinese look.

and yes, i certainly agree with what you pointed out. the best thing about coming from a family of different background is you get to experience the rich culture of course, the food!

p/s: i hope i managed to clear your curiosity regarding my aunt and my family background ;)

Anonymous said...

lol, u did clear my doubts, u are indeed an multicultural person, i will look forward for more posts in ur blog ,thanks

calvin said...

@ duke of mask:
glad i did, and you are welcomed =)

Anonymous said...

aiyo... everything is so fine... until i reached the last photo.... and that's when you told me your story .... #$%&#!!!

Tau Sar Phneah said...


my beloved penang...gonna be back to home soon for cny!!!...nice post...and great photos esp on the food...drooling...

and remember the lo han kuo?? haha.. :)

mg said...

> kh: what story? him dating another guy rite? haha.

> calvin: that one is considered indian rojak i think cos it's with spicy sauce. the normal rojak is the one with prawn sauce.. miss that in png so much.. T__T

Endoru said...

I call that Indian rojak. :)

Anonymous said...

hey , keep up the good work , really enjoy ur posts , very original and the food pics are great .

[SK] said...

well i think the pearl of the orient should be Hong Kong, Penang whereas is known as the garden of the orient.. :)

calvin said...

@ kh:
i think we shall discuss about that story at some other place. anyway, i think that story is perfectly fine, don't you think so? xD

calvin said...

@ tau sar phneah:
you should be grateful that you get to celebrate cny at home. i am not that fortunate though =\

yea, it was for this entry that i asked you the name of that drink the other day =)

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
safe to say that it is some story regarding some guys' talk which i don't think you will want to know =P

the dark sauce is not really spicy, because it is quite sweet. as for the normal rojak, i suppose they usually mix fruits using the prawn sauce, no?

calvin said...

@ endoru:
thanks for the clarification as a penangnite ;)

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
thanks for paying a visit here. glad you'd enjoyed it ;)

calvin said...

@ [sk]:
personally, i have never heard about people referring penang as "the garden of the orient" though ;)

KOKahKOK said...

yala, you don't you try to confuse people with the Pulau thing la. I was such things one meh? in the end....u are trying

look forward to meet you some other days!

calvin said...

@ kokahkok:
haha, did i get even a penangnite like you to think for a while first? well, i am just trying to sell penang, that's all. isn't that a good thing? :)