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  • Writer's pictureKay Redrup


First there was the heat. That humid, clammy heat of my childhood. The heat I was born into, and my bones recognized it instantly and rejoiced. Then there were the glimpses of my childhood in the architecture that no longer exists in Singapore but still does in Penang. The Chinese terraced houses that lined East Coast Road from my home all the way into Katong and on to Tanjong Katong. Penang's UNESCO area reminded me of home.

Chinese New Year celebrations had already begun and we stumbled into one.

a young girl sings to the crowd

And it was time to eat. Penang is famous for its food and it was a hard choice. I just wanted everything. I went for the prawn noodle soup. Hokkien noodles (yellow thick ones) with pork belly, pork leg and pork rib. The soup was made from the prawn heads and held so much complexity and depth.

Dessert was Chendol. A red bean and jelly mix in coconut milk. This was knocked back with a glass of soybean milk.

A walk past wonderful doorways.

We headed to the clan jetties. There are 7 in total that speak of the Chinese migrant workers that came to Penang to work for the (mostly British) companies exporting tin and spices. These dwellings built on concrete stilts jutt out into the sea and the walkway to each house is reached by wooden planks. Many are still homes. The longest - Chew jetty is mostly shops selling souvenirs.

reinforcing the houses (that were probably once held up by wood. And some even have some mod-cons like air-conditioning.

Penang bridge - connecting to the mainland of Malaysia.

Back to a crowded Chinatown to pick up some carrot cake (a savory dish made with daikon radish, pickled radish and lots of other great stuff. The smoke from the hawker's wok was lethal with chilli

And then a few random fireworks that I could watch from my hotel window.

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