Friday, August 20, 2010

Just Another Day of Errands, but Check Out Our Home Depot!

I have been so glad to have Craig with me during the days, he's such a good buddy to go out on errands with me around our new city. His school starts sooner than I want to think about, but here is a pretty typical day of errands for us. To make "errands" sound a little more fun, we call them "adventures." This is my absolute favorite street to shop on right now, Lebuh Chulia. You can find just about everything on it, and it's just a 5 minute drive (or more acurately for us, a $3 cab ride) from our apartment.
Craig's first stop is always the bakery, since they make really yummy brownies, and after that we headed to our version of The Home Depot. It's this alley off of Chulia that sells just about any tool or hardware item that you need. What do you think?
Craig gets pretty tired carrying that bread around so he asked if we could stop for a little lunch. Today we decided to try a local Malaysian favorite, Chicken Rice. The restaurant is right on our favorite street, and Craig is always treated like a little King there! Everyone in restaurants around here love our little man. Last week he hopped off his chair, and I thought he was just making small talk with the waiter a few feet away from the table. But about 2 minutes later a large bowl of ice cream appeared in front of our clearly expectant boy. Apparently Craig had requested it during his conversation with the waiter. And, they didn't charge us for it, they said it was a treat for Craig! Here is Craig and the restaurant owner (the man holding him) and the waiter/cook. You can see the chicken hanging in the window behind them.
We ordered one set of Chicken Rice, which comes with soup. This is a perfect meal for us because the chicken is roasted in a delicious bar-b-que soy sauce and served with bean sprouts and cucumbers (odd combination - but definitely tasty!) This alone is tangy but very mild, but look at that tiny little bowl of sauce next to the plates. That sauce has enough heat to make even my Uncle Richard (king of spicy foods) happy. Craig gets the mild version and I can kick mine up with that wonderful spicy sauce. We were extra thirsy, so we both got a soda and ice. We were charged 9 ringitt for our meal, including drinks, which comes to a little under $3. You can see why I don't cook much!!
Now this day we only walked around 3 blocks of Georgetown, enough to get us to our shops on Chulia, lunch and a few extra little goodies. But look at the streets we walked around in such a short distance - each street is it's own little world, but they are all connecting! Here is a small part of Little India - look how the ladies are dressed! The other sections of Little India, primarily the Muslim sections are pretty quiet during the day right now. Due to Ramadhan they are fasting from about 5:30 in the morning until around 6:00 at night.
This is why I love this area of Penang so much - there is so much diversity all living together. We're currently enjoying the culinary delights of Ramadhan (in the evenings) while also attending operas and puppet shows celebrating the "Hungry Ghost Festival" of the Chinese population of Malaysia. I needed to stop by a little jewelry boutique (not for me - for a gift for a friend!!) and this is the wonderful Hindu family that runs the store. Craig was not delighted to be looking at accessories. I really can't understand why, but he was promised a little treat for being so good.
After purchasing my gift (and maybe something for myself - 5 earrings for 10 ringitt = 5 earrings for a little more that $3!!) We passed this Chinese Temple. This is a Taoist Temple, and the oldest one in Penang. The large red/pink sticks that are being burned are joss sticks, and they are offerings to gods in hopes of good fortune for a business, or another circumstance. We didn't have time to walk in, but we will soon!
Still on our way back to the car we stopped into a Chinese shop, where Craig was able to find a Luigi "figure" (not doll!) that he got in exchange for trampling along the streets of Penang with me.
We also passed an Indian Hindu Temple. I believe this is also one of the oldest in Penang.
And finally a Muslim Mosque! This Mosque will allow non-Muslims to enter at certain times for tours, but we haven't been inside yet.
Now, if I hadn't cared about the heat or Craig's aching feet we could have walked 1 more block. On that block we could have seen a Buddist Temple and St. George's Church, the oldest Christian church in Penang. But, we'd had quite an adventure already! Can you believe what we can see just walking around three blocks? And tell me, what do you think of our Home Depot?!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Fish That Ate Our Feet!

Take a look at our fun new hangout at our closest mall, (a 10 minute walk from our apartment) Gurney Plaza! Just a nice place to relax, read some magazines and have some family fun. So why am I smiling like a crazy person? Take a look at my feet dipped into a cool pool of water! Can you guess what I'm really doing?
Here's a closer look - I'm being eaten alive by a whole school of fish! Aren't they huge?! This is a very traditional "therapy" here in Penang. The fish are called "Dr. Fish," and they help keep your feet nice a soft by eating all the dead skin from your feet - or anything else you dip into the water, they have a full body submersion tank too!
Here's a look at Brent and Craig. Take a real close look at Brent's smile. He's gritting his teeth because the smaller fish actually tickle like crazy, but he didn't want to try the big fish. They're a bit more sharp. But look at Craig - he's actually enjoying it! He has lots of nurses to love in our extended family and so he kept insisting that some of the "Dr. Fish," were actually "Nurse Fish." His favorite thing to do was to spread his little toes so that the fish would get up in between them. Quite the little adventurer!
Here's a nice shot of the feet of our family. Unfortunately, with three of us using the same pool of water the fish had to spread out amongst 6 feet, so I went back to the big fish!
And here is one more shot of Craig, he loved it so much he went back! You never know what's going to please our little mister!
We're having so much fun here in Penang! We're smack in the middle of Ramadhan for the Muslims and the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts for the Chinese! It's a wonderful mix of people and cultures and we're trying to see all that we can. We'll update you soon about all the festivities going on in our new neighborhood!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bukit Hijau

During our first weekend here, we followed another U.S. family accross the bridge to a national park called Bukit Hijau, which means "green hill". It's a series of waterfalls cascading through the jungle. It was really beautiful and really wet.

We hiked to three waterfalls. Jennifer and Craig sat next to the first one, which was surrounded by giant toadstools. No, these aren't real toadstools, they are made of concrete, but they're pretty cool anyway. The bridge that spanned the river was coated with vegetation on the underside. We found that if an object didn't have moving water on it, it had something growing.

All along the way were multiple picnic areas. Craig and I stopped here for a quick break.Most of the areas were made of concrete shaped like some naturally occuring object. In the shot above you can see the tables are shaded by more toadstools.

Each waterfall had some swimmers. There are two hazaards for swimming in the waters. First, you might get pulled in by the undertoe. Second, you might get a leech. We didn't do any swimming. The water was really warm, though.

Craig was a real trooper! The trail led up and down the side of the mountain with lots of steps, slippery rocks, and even washed out paths. He didn't complain once, and had a great time. He thought the whole thing was very "kung fu-ey".

Here we are at the end of the trail. The waterfall in the background was about 50 feet tall. We ate lunch nearby (thanks Subway), had a break, and then trekked back down to our car just before it started raining.
Below is another view of the same waterfall. It was really pretty!

We made it there an back with no incidents. We are safe, happy, and having a great time. Check back soon for more from Malaysia!