Monday, March 19, 2012

My Mom's Penang Transformation

My mom visited Penang about one year ago. In the spirit of catching up on posts that we missed, I'm writing about her visit this week. We had a great time exploring Penang, shopping in Bangkok, and touring Singapore.

Jennifer gave my mom the "Penang" experience, which of course starts at Sam's Batik. Sam's Batik is a wonderful little clothing outlet where you can buy a one-of-a-kind kurtis and cool pants. Here's my mom in her regular "American" clothes, prior to her Penang transformation.

And here she is after, wearing her brightly colored pants and her white kurtis with hand-embroidered flowers on it, ready to enjoy Penang hawker food!

Now that my mom is properly dressed, it's time for a visit to Vincent's. Here is Craig, getting his "rock star" hair from Vincent. We can thank Auntie Em for that one - she gave Craig a shirt that plays guitar (literally) to Craig and he got way into being a rock star. My mom also got the Penang salon treatement, including the famous hair wash and head massage while sitting upright in a chair.

The next step in becomming a true Penang-ite is a visit to the fish spa. This is where the little fishies give you a nice, relaxing foot reflexology treatment by gently nibbling the dead skin from your tired soles. Yes, it tickles -- a little.

After the fish reflexology, you have to go for some real refelexology at Alpha Foot Spa. Here, they don't just concentrate on  your feet, but they also rub your shoulders, neck, head, back, or whatever else ails you. Here's Jennifer getting the knots in her shoulders rubbed away.

While in Penang's Little India, my mom picked out a sari to take home. This one is "ready made", or tailored so that my mom doesn't have to wrap it, it will stay in place on its own. The locals don't have their saris ready made, they literally wrap a six-meter-long piece of fabric around themselves for a dress. For westerners who don't want to run the risk of over-exposure, it's best to get a sari ready made at the local tailor.

After a hectic day getting to know Penang, it's time to relax on the beach. Here we are in Batu Ferringhi enjoying the spectacular sunset and relaxing in the soft sand.

Visiting Penang is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for most people, but my mom didn't end there. She wanted to cram as much into her trip as possible, so we packed our bags and went to Bangkok for a weekend! Here we all are striking a Thai pose in front of the library in the Royal Palace in Bangkok. We toured all of the major sites, including Wat Arun and Wat Pho.

My mom's favorite part of Bangkok was shoppting at the Chatuchak weekend market. This is reported to be the world's largest outdoor market. It's so large that we spent two days there, and didn't even come close to seeing everything.

If you know my mom at all, then you know she loves cruising. Bangkok is a "cruiseport" for old rice barges that have been converted to floating restaurants. We took a dinner cruise on one of these barges up the Chao Phraya river. We enjoyed traditional Thai food while viewing all of the brightly lit wats lining the riverbanks.

My mom returned to the USA via Singapore, so we took the opportunity to spend a few hours touring the city before she left. Here's my mom and Craig standing in front of the iconic Marina Bay Sands Casino and Hotel, which looks like a giant boat straddling three tall buildings.

We had a great time with my mom, and look forward to her return trip this year when we get to see more of Penang and also add Bali to the list of stamps in her passport!

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