Passing time in Penang

Gleneagles hospital in Penang and Ellen with flowers for a friend.

Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen

Readers of this blog know what a strong, unselfish, wonderful wife I have. We’ll, she’s at it again.

For the past couple weeks, Ellen has been spending lots of her time helping a very sick friend here in George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

Once again, it seems our travels have put us exactly where we need to be to do some good. We surely don’t mind. We know how blessed we have been, so we try to accept whatever comes our way with grace and a smile.

Still, major props to Ellie for her tireless dedication in a tough situation. And she’s doing all of it with a right arm that is still half-useless after the cast was removed just two weeks ago. What a woman! An angel. Again.

Passing time in Penang

Meanwhile, I’ve been keeping myself occupied. I continue to pluck away on my book; recounting the two years we spent during COVID working with the Ati tribe in the Philippines. I’m not sure anybody wants to know it all, but at least I myself will be able to go back and read and remember what happened. Yes, already the details are fuzzy, my memory banks overloaded.

Fun times

Theo enjoys time in Penang hawker centers - outdoor cheap eats.

Of course, we continue to enjoy our second international destination (first was Thailand) after the COVID travel bans were relaxed. Anywhere with a cartoon-like drawing of a coconut tree on the flag has gotta be a fun place. Actually, the Penang state flag, seen above, features an areca nut palm tree, which is native and common on this island. Still, pretty unique. Combined with the red, white, and blue of the Malaysian national flag, very eye-catching.

Penang is a special place; combining old and new, pristine and rustic, cheap and expensive, beaches, mountains, city, water, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Asian, Indian, Chinese, Western, English, Malay — lots of everything!

Most every day we eat at least one meal at traditional hawker centers (covered outdoor food courts) that are found everywhere. Small plates of every imaginable cuisine are under $2.

My favorite desert spot is a short walk from our apartment too. I eat a few of these ‘Ice Cacang’ snow-cone type treats each week. The name translates to ‘iced beans’ in English. And yes, there are kindney beans in the sweet syrupy mixture. Trust me. It’s cold and tasty!

Check the advertisement on the tabletops at one nearby hawker center; for Russian universities! Most alarming, they are promoting their courses on International Relations and Cyber Security… lol. Yikes! Officially, Malaysia is a ‘non-aligned’ country but has voted in favor of UN resolutions dealing with the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Durian taste test with friends in an Audi

Theo tastes Durian for the first time with friends in an Audi.

Without Ellie, last weekend, I took a day-tour around the more distant parts of Penang island with friends from India, Malaysia, and USA. It was a fun time with a great crew in a sporty Audi sedan.

On the trip I had my first real sample of durian fruit. The strange-looking, weird-smelling, spikey fruit is loved – or hated – by many in Asia and China. El and I have avoided it until now. My taste test verdict: too sweet and mushy for my liking. The smell – no problem. Kinda tasted like a sweet, creamy peach… plus vanilla… similar to a creamsicle. Personally, I prefer other tropical fruits.

The photographer’s tour on a used bike

Theo enjoys time in Penang by taking pictures and writing his book about the Ati.

I repaired the flat tire on my second-hand bicycle this week. Thanks to our neighbor Michael for lending me some tools.

There’s the bike on a cell phone photo safari in colonial George Town. The cultural mixture I mentioned earlier provides endless opportunity for photography. Colonial architecture, recent rehabs, great street art, temples and mosques, and plenty of characters. Penang!

As always, be thankful and generous. Happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Passing time in Penang.”

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