Monday, March 28, 2016

Traveling with teens: Part 1

On impulse, Enfant Terrible and I went to Penang during the school holidays with my aunts and their families. We stayed at Aunt Debra's parents' (the Grams) place in Island Glades, which is a quiet old suburb on the island.

Obviously, they don't call Penang a food paradise for nothing. The afternoon we arrived, Enfant Terrible and I made straight for a nondescript Indian restaurant canteen on Lebuh Acheh. It's just a few lots down from the very nice Armenian Street Hotel; it's supposed to be called Muthu's Restaurant but it doesn't have a signboard. In fact, you'd miss it entirely if you weren't looking for it.

ET and I looked inside first before entering. The half-dozen or so patrons, all Indian men of the mien that would make you cross the road to avoid if you encountered them at night, peered right back. Then we stepped in and got ourselves 2 banana leaf rice meals and everyone went back to eating.

By contrast, the staff looked more clean-cut and the food was excellent. They serve parboiled rice by default, it seems, and a marvellous mutton soup in place of the de rigueur rassam, which had run out. You can forget about bone broth once you've had this miraculously meaty-tasting mix, which actually contained no meat (or bones).

Brows sweaty and noses runny from the unbelievably thick and rich crab curry (other options are fish, chicken, dal), we stepped out once more into the unforgiving heat, determined to traipse around the Georgetown Heritage Zone as much as we could before the rest of my family finally made it to Penang.

Like, we'd left at 830 AM, the same time as Aunt Andrea did, only Uncle Andrea is a more cautious driver than ET and probably subsequently racks up fewer speeding summonses. Our indirect host, i.e., Aunt Debra, and her family left Kuala Lumpur about 3 hours later (!).

FYI, it takes 3-4 hours to drive from Kuala Lumpur to Penang Island, excluding the heavy vehicle traffic you encounter as you go through Ipoh. As in, you're merrily humming along at 80-100 kph and exiting a tunnel when you have to lean really hard on the brakes because about 200 m ahead is a lorry laden with god knows what chugging uphill so slowly it's practically at a standstill. And that's what you keep encountering for the next 40 km or so.

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