Tag Archives: penang

Orangutans and Betel Juice

21 Jul

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]They say you learn something new every day. And today I learn that gambier, AKA catechu, is a common ingredient used by Asians in chewing betel.

Which nice for me, nice for my mother, and absolutely blinding news for the staff of any museums in our path across Malaysia. Continue reading

In Which the Family Dines in Considerable Style

19 Jul

view of revolving restaurant atop the bayview hotel, georgetown, penang[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]It was my Dad who said it first. “That singer,” he whispered, over the sound of a particularly special Malaysian band. “Is she actually a man?”

He is, I realise, very possibly still scarred from my parents’ last trip out to join us on our travels. That was the Philippines. A nation where he couldn’t walk more than thirty yards down the street without some chancer endeavouring to sell him Viagra.

I think his personal record (best? worst?) was six pushers over two hundred yards in Manila.

Perhaps the nine year old was dawdling at the time. But it wasn’t good for the ego of a man who, although a grandfather, only just passed sixty.

Anyway. My dad has a point. Were we in Thailand, or, for that matter, the Philippines, at least one of the chicks would have been born with a dick, and most likely still retain at least an attenuated version of the original. Continue reading

The Rockefeller of the East

16 Jul

Cheong Fatt Tze blue mansion, Georgetown, Penang[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]This is one wing of the Georgetown mansion of Cheong Fatt Tze, the last great mandarin of China, known in New York, where he did business with the original John D., as the Rockefeller of the East, and in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, where various of his eight wives and concubines kept house and raised his many children, by more respectful names.

That’s Georgetown, Malaysia. The capital of the island of Penang, which feels, for all the Silicon Valley industry below its surface and the highrises over the harbour, like one of the last great outposts of the British Empire. Continue reading

Smells Like Drains, Tastes Like Syllabub

15 Jul

Sign with crossed picture of durian fruit and text No Durians Allowed, Penang, Malaysia[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Ahhh… The sweet scent of durian. Known across South-East Asia as “the king of fruits”. Celebrated at festivals across Malaysia and Indonesia. Freighted cross-continents by fans of the delicacy.

Yet routinely barred from public places, as this sign at a Penang hotel shows.

There are reasons, of course, for this lethal weapon’s unpopularity. It’s not just the aesthetics. Savagely spiked, with a cannonball heft, the durian won’t be winning any beauty contests any time soon.

It is, to be honest, the smell. Continue reading