Penang: Day 3

On our third and final day in Penang, we visited the Tropical Spice Farm about an hour outside Georgetown.  It was lush, colorful, and aromatic, and afterward, we found an empty patch of beach right across the street. Munching on some corn on the cob grilled with butter and honey, then feeling the waves gently lapping at my feet, it was the perfect summer moment.

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Penang: Day 1

Breakfast at a corner cafe a few blocks from the hostel doing brisk business.  The customers are all locals; in one corner a man is slurping up soup noodles with eyes afixed to an open newspaper, two women are gossiping over iced coffees, a large group of teenage girls are crowded around two tables outside.  It’s not fast-paced, as in people don’t rush past, but they move rhythmically, suggesting familiarity and ease with routine whether server or patron.  After pondering the options, I choose an iced coffee and otak otak, a steamed, strongly spiced, egg-based mousse/custard with white fish fillet chunks and layers of wild pepper leaves. The coffee is rich and sweet, and I watch the coffee vendor masterfully churn out cup after cup — poetry in motion. The process is repetitive but captivating.

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Penang: Day 0.5

It’s good to be back.  I’ve missed being TLG, and fortunately, my recent travels have left me with much to share.  My plan is to spend the next couple weeks getting the blog up to date while dialing down my present culinary goings-on.  By far, the most food-oriented part of my trip was the first leg in Penang, Malaysia.  My chicas and I trekked around Georgetown, soaking in the historic and eclectic city, a UNESCO world heritage site.  We also spent a day at the Penang Tropical Spice Farm, where I may have come into contact with some unknown that gave me the generous serving of hives I received a day after leaving Penang for Cambodia.  But for the better part of three days and change, we ate.  The virtues of Penang’s hawker food are no secret — in 2004, TIMEasia declared Penang home to the best street food in Asia.  I had chosen to visit to Penang almost solely because of its culinary reputation and so was determined to see what all the fuss was about. Our food bible, as one friend anointed it, was Rasa Malaysia’s Insider Guide to Penang Hawker Food.  We diligently mapped out the locations of recommended places, feverishly arranged our schedules around where to eat each day, and went the distance to make sure we got the fullest Penang hawker food experience possible.

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