Penang... island of spices

Penang Travel Blog

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Chinese latern and mosque.

Salamet Datang!!  Warmest greetings from the island of Penang, Malaysia!
 
Arrived safely and have already experienced a lot just in my first few days.  I had a pretty uneventful flight via Singapore until an over pedantic customs officer confiscated my tube of vegemite at the airport just I was departing for my flight to Malaysia.  I didn't realise that vegemite was lethal weapon!! 
 
Arrived to a warm welcome!  It is great to be back in Asia.

Old part of Penang
So, why am I here?... I am here for 4 weeks conducting our first TESOL training course in Malaysia.  I have also been invited as a keynote speaker at a conference in KL next weekend.

The TESOL course starts on Monday with 18 students from all over Asia.  The college is situated on a steep hill overlooking the northeast coastline of Penang.  I overlook the most dense jungle then out to sea.  It is actually quite beautiful.  
 
But it is a real jungle.  Ants are as big as lizards, monkeys as big as children, rats as big as possoms.  We have been warned about scorpians and centipedes - which apparently like to sleep in your shoes. Everything is just bigger in the jungle!  It is a jungle. I would hate to see the snakes!
 
The markets and eating places are awesome.  Ate mango chicken satay last night.  I think we will be able to eat a different type of food every single day.
The Butterfly Farm
  Indian, Chinese, Malay, Western, Thai... everything you can imagine.  Most of the shops are closed during the day and it is a night culture. Everything comes to life at about 7.00pm.  Bright colourful vibrant high energy stalls.  Just fantastic!! 
 
It is a lot cooler than I expected.  It is about 28 degrees.  It rained very heavy yesterday afternoon and evening and it is lovely and cool.  I may have to buy a jumper.  Silly me, I didn't think it would get this cool.  And of course they still have the aircon on every where which just makes you shiver. 
 
Our hosts have been great.  Can't do enough for us.  They have arranged one of the students who has a car to be at our disposal.  They have provided me with a phone with a Malaysia SIM card.  All very very good.
Enjoying Chinese New Year with Chinese friends.
  We have everything we need.  I am sharing a small 2 bedroom flat with my co-worker, Pam.  The flat is on the college campus.  The campus is a collection of buildings scattered over the hillside connected by stairs and pathways through the thick overgrowth of the jungle.  Our flat is just 3 rooms plus a bathroom the size of a toilet.  Yes, the shower is over the toilet.  At least it is a western toilet. 
 
I went for a walk yesterday exploring up and down these very steep paths and driveways.  If I can keep the walking up I will certainly get fit.
 
As I type, monkeys are screeching outside the window.  Yikes, I hate them.  I will really have to overcome my dislike of the things.  They move around in groups and have incredibly noisy fights.  Just like a real family!! :-)  We have to keep our door bolted and locked as the clever little things try and open the handle.
My Chinese host
  They would tear the place to shreds if they got into the flat.  They scavenge for food and steal everything that isn't locked away.  They can be aggressive so I will be giving them a very wide berth.
 
I learnt that Penang is famous for it’s spices, especially nutmeg.  Nutmeg grows on trees and is the national tree of Penang.  The nutmeg tree is even features on the Penang state flag.  Usually, in Australia, we only eat the ground spice of the nutmeg seed, but here they eat the fruit too.  Apparently the ground seed is used as a medicinal herb. The fruit is eaten fresh or dried.  I tasted some and it’s really very good!

 

We don’t have a lot of time, but I have visited a few of the local sites.  Absolute ‘must do’s’ are the Butterfly Farm and a trip up Penang Hill on the tram. 
 
So, from the land of spices, I have attached some photos soon.  But, I can assure there won't be any close ups of monkeys!

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Chinese latern and mosque.
Chinese latern and mosque.
Old part of Penang
Old part of Penang
The Butterfly Farm
The Butterfly Farm
Enjoying Chinese New Year with Chi…
Enjoying Chinese New Year with Ch…
My Chinese host
My Chinese host
One of Penangs most famous mosque…
One of Penang's most famous mosqu…
One of my favourite scenes in Pena…
One of my favourite scenes in Pen…
Downtown Penang
Downtown Penang
The Petronas Towers.
The Petronas Towers.
Graduation
Graduation
Love Lane
Love Lane
One of the gorgeous beaches
One of the gorgeous beaches
Me (left) with some of our graduat…
Me (left) with some of our gradua…
One of my favourite photos.. taken…
One of my favourite photos.. take…
Also known as Walking Street.
Also known as Walking Street.
Afternoon storm
Afternoon storm
View from my apartment
View from my apartment
Graduation ceremony
Graduation ceremony
Penang Hill
Penang Hill
Some of our cute students
Some of our cute students
Teachers and students
Teachers and students
My teachers.
My teachers.
One of our teachers teaching
One of our teachers teaching
A class photo of teachers and stud…
A class photo of teachers and stu…
Tanjong Bungah, Penang
Tanjong Bungah, Penang
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Penang
photo by: Aurora78