I was in Penang last week for work.The last time I was there was at the end of 2006 for a backpacking trip that led us to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Dao. For the entire 30 hours I was there, I thought of the 6.30am ferry ride from Butterworth to George Town, food at the Chinese hawkers' stalls, Edelweiss Cafe for drinks, stopping by 'ais tingkap' after rummaging baskets of books at Chowrasta, the josstick-maker uncle, yellow 'Milan' buses, Rio Hotel's breakfast, Balik Pulau's nutmegs and animated silver-smith uncle and temples and rumah kayu and beautiful colonial buildings.
And and and.
But this time around those sights and sounds were replaced with the flat, grey landscape of Bayan Lepas... the main industrial hub of Penang, home to the Free Trade Zone and 1 million factories. Crazily hot, humid, hazy and on the other side of the island.
Now I've got 2 tips for you if you ever find yourself stuck in Bayan Lepas:
- When in Penang, forget long pants. Skinny jeans, as I found out, aren't made for Penang weather
- When the thought of battling traffic to join civilization in Georgetown is not so appealing, seek refuge at Queensbay Mall. The largest mall up North will cool you down when you're shopping at Gap, Forever 21 and MNG