A Quick Visit To Penang

Trip Start Dec 25, 2005
Trip End Apr 28, 2006

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Saturday, March 11, 2006

Our visit to the island of Penang, specifically its capital, Georgetown, was brief as the Captain was determined to make sure everything went right for our next port of call, Myanmar. We decided not to take an official tour, but opted to venture out on our own. The ship had a shuttle bus from the pier to the very old and British E&O Hotel, which is centrally located to Little India and the markets, so that was our plan. As we ventured out to the pier, there were dozens of trishaw drivers offering their services. Tina began negotiating with the one that looked as though he needed the job the most (actually, they all did), and off we went for a 1 hr. tour of the city by trishaw. It may not have been the wisest move as it was 95 degrees with 90% humidity, but since the driver had jeans on, we suffered in silence. He was 56 years old and looked 90. His cheekbones protruded so much that he looked skeletal. He said more than once that we were helping the poor by being there. It was very sad.
We told him we did not want to shop, so he took us through the ethnic neighborhoods, including Little India, and through the small area of high rises in the city center. He made a stop at the Dragon Hall Temple and Khoo Kongsi clan house, which are showcases of Chinese architecture and art dating back to the 1800s. Rather than go back to the ship, we asked him to take us to the E&O Hotel, so we could check it out and have a much-needed beer.
Again, this was a place where the currency has no value anywhere else in the word and the people fight to survive. I think the sites here, and in the many other places we visit in Asia, will stay with us forever.

Tidbits from Sea Days....
On a lighter note, Tina started her Cordon Bleu cooking classes, and got a double treat by pairing with Captain Dag along with Susanna, a lovely woman from Spain (who is on the world cruise with her husband and 4 children!) to cook her first meal. There were lots of laughs and, while the final product was none too attractive, all pronounced the lamb delicious.

Part of the program includes (hopefully) a visit to the morning market in Yangoon in a couple of days, which should be very interesting. However, nothing is ever guaranteed in Myanmar, so she'll have to wait and see. Now that Tina has her Cordon Bleu apron and toque, she will never be the same in the kitchen again.

When we were in the bar at the E&O, they served us the best peanuts we had ever had. In fact, the Captain (yes, him again) was also there having a drink with friends and came over to us to comment on how great they were. After he left, we asked the bartender if we could buy them, and he said they were locally grown but not sold retail. He offered to give us some and came out with a five-pound bag.

Lou, of course, wanted to share the bounty with the Captain so we split the bag and sent half to him. As I'm writing this, we have just arrived in Myanmar to pomp and circumstance, complete with roses for the Captain and balloons floating up in the sky. Just now, the phone rang and it was the Captain, who was munching away on the peanuts, to thank us. I thought it was so funny that he would look like a head of state based on the welcome we just had, but was already back in his office appreciating the peanuts.
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