And here we are, the final photos and tales of our little Penang trip. Ah, I love the way that photos can feel like the sprinkling of memories, the little trigger/nod that unleashes all that lies underneath, the smells, the emotions, laughter, tears, the goings on beyond the frame.
Walking past these folk playing chess with beer bottle tops, before heading to dinner at a chinese restaurant, all seem quite innocent, no sign of the night of hell to follow. You see not long after this Ilo decided to lick, yes lick a glass door of a 24hr mart in downtown Georgetown. We were about to walk out said door (which was decidely grubby) and his little tongue just reached out and licked. I wiped his tongue on my skirt, washed out his mouth, plied him with probiotics and vitamin C and then a few hours later when a fever struck him, held him close and vowed not to sleep until the fever past. In the dark hotel room with Scott lying by me wide awake, my brain ran wild with catastrophic thoughts, of typhoid, hep B and then went even crazier as outside fireworks became explosions, it was a long night. Ilo awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed, oblivious to our despair (and sleeplessness).
Anyway I digress, back to this little store. As avid readers might be aware I do love to op shop, both Scott and I (and our children and most of our extended family for that matter) prefer to buy secondhand, we wait for things, we search, we delight in the joy of finding treasures that others have discarded. So you can imagine my delight when on our last visit to Penang we found this shop full of wonderful bits and pieces and lots of old clothes wrapped up in these delicious bundles. Yes a lot of the bundles held rags and scraps but they also held wonderful and scrumptious morsels of vintage Kebayas, white lace tops (heavily stained but easily fixed) a little but gorgeous patchwork quilt and a few patchwork baby tops.
I must admit I did have a moment of pure joy as the shop owner sat me down, once registering my interest in some 'old clothes', on a little stool and handled me bundle after bundle as offerings. It was quiet in the shop (Poe and Ilo and Scott were at the hotel) and I lapped it up, I sat and smiled and nodded to the lovely shop keeper (who spoke very little english) and did not feel rushed at all. Pure bliss. And then only after all the bundles had been looked through, and a gathering of purchases made, I was thrust back out in the sunshine, amongst bikes and cars, dogs, people and smells and I smiled all the way back to the hotel with my precious bundle of bits of Penang's, history, some of it's stories told through these worn cloths, tucked safely under my arm.
This food market was the perfect place to sit and watch, looking and smelling all these different and delicious foods like satay, roti canai, clay pot rice, fresh seafood, char kway teow, kuih, dumplings, apom and more. Seeing the people cooking on the simple stoves, others eating, talking, staring, laughing.
We all stopped and looked and took in the beauty and wonderful repercussions of that fortuitous first look, imagining my mum and dad in their twenties in old Penang seeing each other for the first time, with no idea whatsoever of what was to come, just cherishing and delighting in that first flutter that came with that first look.
My dad recalled his first visit to Penang, he had just flown in from Australia and met up with a RAAF friend (my dad was in the RAAF for a few years, which was why he was in Penang when he met my mum), the friend put my dad on the back of his motorbike and offered to take him around the island, and he did. My dad said it was terrifying as they essentially raced around the island on a motorbike, it was definitely a surreal experience, particularly coming from a small country town in Australia and this being his first experience overseas, never having been on a motorbike before, least of all hooning around a tropical island full of so many strange sights.
A metal rocket ship teetering on the edge of a cliff, old bungalows offering tired accommodation, but perfectly manicured lawns being tendered to by a number of staff.
Sadly there were cages with squirrels running about, birds squawking and a very sad looking chameleon in dirty glass box.
We stopped and ate a few delicious thai entrees, the lone customers in this mighty place. The taxi driver said that when it first opened a few years ago (!, yes surprisingly this was not a remnant from the 50's despite all appearances pointing suggesting so), there were tremendous line ups and people would drive from all over the island and brave the ridiculously steep and long driveway to eat here. It was very good Thai and although we didn't try it, it apparently has the most amazing Tom Yum Goong.
As we clung onto our seats on the way down the hill (seriously, if you haven't gathered already this was steep and a little scary), we delighted in the surreal and pretty wonderful experience, we would never have found this place on our own.
The second last day of our holiday, we were back at the G for two nights to celebrate Scott's birthday and delight in that buffet breakfast for one more time. Even though we were paying the internet rate we were lucky enough to get an upgrade to this crazy suite, yes the bath looks onto the bedroom (or vice a versa), it did kind of feel like we were in a hotel room in a movie. We also received a special birthday message from the hotel for Scott, a bottle of red wine, and a birthday cake, yep, totally fancy and quite surreal.