De-ri-ku [noun]: Japanese pronounciation of an English name belonging to a Chinese guy in Malaysia. Electronics engineer currently based in PJ. Chinese-educated and proud of it.
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Monday, May 29, 2006Pearl of The Orient
I was here last weekend.
Me and my family went up north to visit mom's hometown, Penang. It's been ages since I've been there, and even longer still together with the family considering my last two visits were with friends.
When I was a kid, I used to go there during the year-end holidays. Those days we'd drive our old Proton Saga and brave the 400 or so kilometres to enter the Pearl of the Orient via the majestic Penang bridge, and sometimes by ferry. I always enjoyed the view from the bridge, even more during the days when there were less cars.
Someone decided to play bumper car in the middle of the bridge, resulting in this.
Before the rents skyrocketed some time back, my grandma stayed at this ancient shophouse at the corner of Penang and Burma Road. We'd put up at her place everytime we visited. It was a noisy place where cars would pass by even in the middle of the night but I loved the sounds of the city. The floors were wooden, and I miss the creaking sound the boards made when we stepped on them. The house was filled with antiquities, not real ones but actually goods that were stocked there (my grandpa owns a souvenir shop). We used to play hide and seek, hiding behind the boxes trying to elude the seeker. The toilet and bathroom were downstairs and I'd try not to be frightened while bathing since it was almost pitch dark down there.
Since grandma shifted years ago to live with my uncle, we stayed at the Crown Jewel Hotel at Tanjung Bungah. It's located just near the beach so we spent some time at the seaside. The seawater was nothing to shout about (it's the Straits of Malacca ok) but walking in the sand was fun nonetheless.
Had my name crafted into the sand. Beats a sandcastle anytime.
Attempting to do a Smashpop jump but ended up looking weird.
Ah the lovely beaches of Penang.
I was glad to see my maternal grandparents again. I just love my grandma, although I only speak a smattering of Teochew. Somehow the dialect puzzles me, unlike Hokkien which I'm more used to listening (and that's very seldom too). That's why most of our communication requires mom as a translator. It's good to see them healthy and doing well.
Since Penang is known as a haven for foodlovers, we didn't miss the chance to sample the gastronomic treats there. Besides filling ourselves up with delicious 'chang' made by my aunt, we tried the food at some of the more popular hawker centers.
Hawker stalls along Newlane.
By 'hawker center', I mean that the stalls and tables can be anywhere. Inside shops, along the five-foot-walk, and even by the roadside, sometimes on BOTH sides of the road. The waiters, scurrying here and there, must have an amazing memory to be able to recognize the faces of customers.
Since we didn't know which stall produced the best dishes, we simply ordered. The food turned out to be nice overall. Mom said never to bring children for meals at these places; according to her, they were unhygienic and unhealthy.
We also paid a visit to Komtar. Most people might know it as the former tallest building in Malaysia. To me though it was a lot more. I used to roam the 'alleys' inside the shopping center when there was nothing to do at grandma's home. It was like a huge labyrinth of passageways and trying to find your way through wasn't easy. There were a variety of shops too, enough to keep you busy for a full day browsing through the various items on sale.
Komtar used to be the premier shopping complex in Penang, but ever since malls like Gurney Plaza and Prangin Mall popped up, it has never retained its former glory. The place now appears to be dodgy with homeless beggars roaming the area.
One of the 'alleys' inside Komtar. Notice the disabled man on the left? He's been there since years ago, selling prepaid phone cards.
Super Komtar supermarket, near empty and trying to clear its remaining stocks.
The latest addition to the landscape is a sculpture created by a famed Japanese sculptor not long ago.
Batu Ferringhi was on our list as well. It was already night time when we reached so we visited some of the stalls there. Foreign tourists nearly outnumbered the locals and it is THE place to be if you wanna hook up with a caucasian guy/gal.
I don't know if I'll ever regret giving up the chance to pursue a career in Penang. But now it's time for me to stop procrastinating and get a place to live, before I end up sleeping on the streets of PJ!