Why I Love Penang

What a great place this is.The easy way of life here, from the hawkers, the trishaw riders, the beachboys, the taxi drivers, the Post Office staff, the owners of my guesthouse, they are all ready with a genuine smile, you can have a bit of a laugh with them all.

My fruitman as I call him he runs this little cart parked on Chulia St, he has a couple of eskies full of fruit, 2 big wooden chopping blocks, a blender so can juice the fruit, he and his mate are always chopping , always cleaning, juicing, its a very busy little cart. When he sees me he grabs a mango starts chopping it for me, laughingly calling me the mango lady, he tells me no jackfruit but I should try the rockmelon from China, which I do, I ask him why is this mango so orange, he tells me its variety is Black Gold and the other yellow one is Mango King. He knows I have a fruit interest other than just eating them but he always laughs, he works from his cart from about 8 am and it is open until after dark, he works 6 days a week and he gets up to go to the fruit market to pick out the best. I am lucky that it is mango season here now because I love them. The rockmelon from China is crunchy not to sweet but the same colour as Rockmelon or cantaloupe in Australia although a different shaped fruit more oblong than round.

I eat at a place called Red Garden most nights of the week, the drink lady always comes to me and says iced Lemon tea no sugar? I smile and nod, she is a very old lady has worked there many years but is slowly getting frailer, I notice her boss lady comes up to her at times to push her to sell more beer for the bosses get a commission on the amount of beer they sell, they hate me with my $1 iced tea, but the lady always smiles we have a little chat, she is lovely. The food there is a multiple choice possibly 40 or so different hawker stalls some BBQing satays, fresh fish on ice to be cooked your way, rice of all countries, even American rice I haven’t eaten it ,why would I, the picture depicts a mound of rice with carrots and peas served with 2 sausages!!! You can choose frog hotpot, crispy pork, duck, roti, naan, curries, tempura veggies, dumplings, shawarma, western hamburger, its endless the choice many travellers come here for a meal so the diners are probably 40% western with the rest being local. The vendors aren’t pushy, they all serve fresh good tasting meals at a reasonable price. As some reviews say its a little more expensive than street food, maybe it is but I can still have a decent meal with my tea for under $4.00 Aust. Sometimes I wonder about these folks that write the reviews about oh you can get it cheaper at this place don’t go here, how much cheaper do they want things to be, really they have never had to pay rent on a business and know that these stall holders pay whereas the street vendors may pay a bit but not as much. Obviously, this annoys me. They are all friendly, you ask for more chilli sauce they get it no extra charge just a smile.

Public transport here is easy and cheap, the major bus depot is well signposted so you know where to catch your bus if not there is a booth with a friendly man you can ask, all buses have a screen that shows the next stop coming up. To travel to Batu Ferringhi which can be an hour depending on the traffic is still less than $1 Aust. It makes it an easy place to navigate around. You must have the right money as they don’t give change.

This is an island with the main town being Georgetown, the British occupied it for nearly 200 years, the influence remains in the old colonial architecture, a small statue of Queen Victoria on a plinth on a corner surrounded by chicken wire , but there is an understanding here that perhaps cannot be found in other SEAsian countries almost a familiarity that makes you comfortable being here. It is a Muslim country but a country that is accepting of all religions that exist here. As you travel on the bus to wherever you pass an elaborate Indian temple, next minute a golden-domed Mosque comes into view around a corner a Taoist temple with its dragons on the roof tails curling, further up the road a Methodist church you pass all interspersed with roadside shrines and men selling coconuts or nasi lemak. That’s what I love this intertwining of cultures, how over the decades they have learnt to respect each other’s traditions, religion and food. So as a traveller you feel a harmony here that so far I haven’t felt anywhere else, even Australia. In Australia and America different nationalities have come over a long time due to gold rushes, wars, here they all arrived at the same time. Penang was a fishing village until 1780 when the British decided it would make a great port for the distribution of spices. So the Chinese and Indians came to work on the wharves, in the godowns, they all had to live together with the local Malay population that arrived from the mainland to work learn to speak English as a means of communication but still retain their festivals, their religious traditions, best of all the food. That is why I love Penang.

I mentioned food before but Penang is a food heaven a pot of deliciousness. I am very lucky that the Penang International Food Festival is on this week, last weekend I went to the street food part managed to see the fireworks, a touch of food theatre, the mix of food stalls , I had some satay, dim sum, ondeh ondeh a Malay sweet pandan flavoured and brown sugar covered in coconut, you only need one but they are so pretty. Some amazing wok work by these professional hawkers, they are so deft with their hands, the whole family there behind the counter, preparing, taking orders money, so lovely to see that this generational skill is being passed down and will be here to see for years to come. There was a huge crowd, hats off to the organizers of this festival they did a great job I hope to go to the curry night tomorrow night if the rain doesn’t arrive as it normally does at around 6pm. All in all the food here is abundant, a lot of the hawkers only do days then their stand is taken over by the night time food. Some foods are only eaten during the day, Hokkien Mee or chicken rice are traditionally breakfast and lunch foods. You can eat any time of the day or night there is always something open, the Indian place I go to JAYA is open 24 hours. A lot of the hipster cafes do a western style breakfast if you don’t feel like noodles.

Thats why I love Penang, the people, the food, the traditions, the whole shabang!!

I went to the dentist last Thursday, he found a filling that was chipped, fixed that combined with my clean it cost $80.00 Aust all up. Clean, professional up to date equipment and painless financially and physically.

I am off to Thailand next Wednesday so my blog day will be Thursday from the town of Krabi. Until next time..

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Trollers, Followers, Fake or real

img_20190404_181443My budget is going well, I managed to make up for my tickets in one week, although tomorrow I visit the dentist for a clean, In Australia I was admittedly going to a periodontist so it was costing me $280.00 for a clean. That is true. Here tomorrow it will cost me $40.00, the dentists here are all trained in Germany or Australia sometimes Ireland. The surgeries are top notch, very clean, most up to date equipment and painless I hope. It’s only a clean, to be honest I like dentists, having no childhood dental traumas I think that is why. You see I was raised on a farm, we drank milk instead of water as there was often drought, the school dental van only came once as I recall to my school, my teeth were perfect. I never visited a dentist until I was 25 years old, had one filling and he told me I would never get my wisdom teeth. I know explains a lot!!! Apparently, I am a highly evolved being, although due to heredity I have ongoing gum disease. As long as I don’t get lost going there I will be right. Since I lived here 4. 5 years ago  a lot of the streets have become one way to avoid traffic jams  so where you get off the bus doesn’t necessarily  mean you can catch it back on the opposite side as I discovered the other day when I was waiting for a bus as the covered stops are still there, finally a smart taxi driver came and explained so I got him to take me home. Tomorrow I have to get off and walk through the Thai Temple area to find my dentist. Another dilemma I have to get up at around 7.30 am which now I lead the life of a writer on the road in charge of my own routine so it will be a bit of a shock. My sleep patterns are all over the place, as it is so hot in the afternoon here, when I say hot its around 33-34  with high humidity, between 2 and 5 seems to be the most uncomfortable time for walking so I am not one to spend hours in a coffee shop, my writing spot on the second floor heats up then so the best place is my air con room where 9 times out of 10 I fall asleep reading , then I am out walking , hunting for my dinner until about 8  then  I cannot sleep until past midnight. I shall report on my dentist trip next week, I have set my alarm for 3 different times.

Having a social media presence makes you vulnerable to fake people, trollers, scams, men that want to get into your pants and take all your money.  When I first started my twitter account around 3 weeks ago my first follower was Jason Moama, Aquaman, he has a @name of pride of gypsies. At first I thought wow, then I thought why, then Jason sent me a message saying he thought I looked like a wonderful person, flattered I answered back, then he asked me what movie did I like of his, I replied I actually have never seen him act. Then I noticed that his spelling of gypsies was gypsiies, I also noticed this hunky movie star only had 5 followers yet on Instagram he had 10,000 or more. I asked him this, I became a catfish!!, he replied with a tirade of how could I not believe him, he was exclusive on twitter and only chose beautiful souls, (insert vomiting emoji) and if I didn’t believe him I could unfollow him. I didn’t but his fake posts stopped soon after, he is still one of my now 30 followers, looks good on my CV. Next was only the other day when fake Keith Urban came into my world, sending me a private message saying I was beautiful, I didn’t reply to fake Keith as I am a follower of real Keith and real Kieth wouldn’t do that to his lady. I did delete fake Keith.

Now on Pinterest  a guy Chris, who had very few  pins started following me, that’s ok, but then he messaged me, once again  opens with hello pretty lady, I mean really, then again on twitter this very handsome guy Jorge someone started following me  so I reciprocated because Twitter is a polite intelligent forum correct, but oh no Jorge has started sending me messages   Hello pretty lady !!! actually he sounds like Chris the Pinterest guy, probably the same dude sitting in a crowded room trying to get some lonely lady sucked into their scam. Been there done that in my own individual way thank you. One day a real man will contact me and Ill be like yeh , yeh, cynical bitch that I am.

Update on my rice milk soap, made in Thailand, it is so good, smooth combined with the new  Korean caviar moisturiser that I finally found, my skin is getting better by the day.   My hair, it gets so dry here becomes knotty where my double crown is, yes a double crown why people have them I don’t know, they give you a flat head, cause knots  in that area not at all attractive,.Maybe its something to do with the not getting wisdom teeth highly evolved human that I am. I bought some coconut oil in little India to put on the night before I wash it, rapidly comb knots out daily for them only to appear again the next day. With my hairdresser in Melbourne  he is now in New York, I would joke that I will have dreadlocks while I travel, that fear seems to becoming true, You may ask why I don’t want to go to a hairdresser here or anywhere in Asia or the world, Anyone who  has travelled Asia know all the people are so beautiful, friendly but one thing they are is brutally honest, they have no boundaries, so I don’t want to sit at a hairdressers and be tugged at and criticized for my fine hair, double crown and the odd knot. I am my own hairdresser, Kristian if you are reading this I may get you to give my hair a trim when we meet in Kampot!!!!I have nail scissors.

The speedy German contacted me to say that my would be travelling companion would be in hospital and rehab at least another 3 months, he gave me an address so I have sent off a letter, hope it brightens her day. My word count on my novel is slowly getting to my goal. I was writing on the verandah of the guesthouse yesterday when I started talking to a Frenchman and a German man both travellers done their stints in Thailand now spend winters in Malaysia, Cambodia and summers head back to Europe, back home.  The result of that 2-hour chat was that I wrote 2 words, there is a reason writers must be isolated.

I am thinking I may go back home for a month over Christmas. I need to downsize my luggage, want only a backpack on wheels, not a wheelie case, just have carry on. Though the airfares internally here in Asia are cheap the cost of 20kg of checked luggage is nearly half the fare added on.  I am seriously going to look at Cambodia as a place to stay for 1 year, the visa system there is not as complicated but I will find out in June. I may not even like it. I love Penang its essence will be hard to find anywhere else. How can I explain as a solo woman staying here is easy, I am not getting complacent, I am always on my guard in regards to safety. English is widely spoken, the city is easy to get around on foot or on buses,  there are a lot of expats here, a lot of young backpackers, older travellers, not many families here in Georgetown. There is a good bar scene at night on LoveLane, easy to sit down have a glass of wine while the evening breeze flutters around, the parade of travellers strolling past, the Bangladeshi bar boys, being polite to you. I don’t feel uncomfortable here to do that where I did in HCM . Perhaps because i lived here before, but I don’t think so  its a good destination for a solo woman traveller.

Penang architecture is highly influenced by British Colonial times, as they ruled here for nearly 200 years, all the Jalans or streets are arch covered footpaths, they are a curvaceous  reminder of the past and I love them. I must now go hunting for my late breakfast,  lunch and even my early dinner!!!Try not to have a nanna nap and awake in the morning ready for my trip to the dentist.Until next time.img_20190405_170606img_20190407_185108

A POEM.

Watch Netflix till 3 in the morning

Wake at 10 still yawning

Do my morning ablutions

Check the internet  for solutions

Go for a walk to cafe for coffee

Chat to random travellers

Young, old and free

Think what is for lunch

Fruit or wonton mee

Go to 7/11 get top up for my phone

Buying my fruit then go home

Go to my writing space  on the second floor

Get lost in a cloud of fiction

Making words on paper create friction

As I weave my tale

Of a woman who does not want to fail

Drink my water eat my mango

As  my characters dance the tango

The fan above my head

Whirls and spins the flow

The hot air filters through the open window

I get drowsy

Words blurring in my head

Time for a nap

To my room on the bed

An hour in the aircon

I am awake ready to go on

What’s for dinner I think

Crispy pork with rice

Mmm that would be nice

Tandoori chicken with my favourite spicy beans

The food here is the food of dreams

My phone states

Only 3450 steps I have done

Its hard to walk in the hot sun

7000 is the minimum I have set

Still have 3550 to go yet

Early evening I set off

To Little India

Its flashing lights, bright coloured saris all around

Smells of incense , jingling bells abound

Loud  Indian pop music blasting

Like being in a Bollywood movie with eclectic casting

After dinner of vegetable curry

I wander home in no hurry

7.30pm dusk has fallen

Same time sunrise sunset no matter what the season

Give me one good reason

The life I live has no meaning

I know on the surface it seems so

Staying here , staying there always on the go

But the words it evokes

The photos it takes

The memories it makes

asasolofemaletravellerofacertainageonabudget

I think I am living the dream

My life took a turn for the worse

That made me scream

I cried a million tears

Lost in melancholy for 4.5 years

Through the resilience of my soul

Keeping positive even though I was old

Losing fear of the unknown

Perhaps destined for life to the end alone

No lover,no house, no savings, no car, no cat

I had to overcome that

Travel through SEAsia  has inspired me

I am a different person to the one I thought I would be

As the words pour out  my novel takes shape

I am excited as to what path my future will take

I look at my steps as I reach home

7500 it says

Ok time for Netflix and to bed.

 

 

 

Wonders , Words,Wandering

img_20190331_121527img_20190329_132821img_20190331_121459My week began with trying to get some sort of order in my travelling life. I am writing a novel but I am easily distracted by my own thoughts , easily distracted by social media, thoughts of my next meal, contemplating my life, I can spend all day doing this, ha  people think I am retired!!!! I do achieve a lot with these head chores. For example, I have been wondering what my next move will be. Being totally in charge of my own life I have to make all decisions, plan, work out visa requirements, look at flights, look at my budget, do a timeline, these days you cannot go oneway to a place and then decide your next move. I found that out in Vietnam when they wouldn’t let me catch my flight to Penang unless I had apoot, proof of outbound flight, so at 5 am  with a ph that wouldn’t pick up the internet I was forced to go to the Air Asia man who would only sell me a ticket to Singapore, so I blurted out a date and purchased a ticket caught my flight, here I am,I worked out in  my head spinning contemplations that I would not be using this on May 5th because me and myself had other plans. Luckily I have an air Asia office just around the corner from me, but before I changed the date, at a price, I had to work out my plan for the rest of the year, this in its self took most of the last few days, finally I came to a decision, on the 24th I will go to Thailand for 7 weeks, this requires a visa for 60 days, the visa requires 2 passport photos which I no longer have as all mine are in Vietnam stuck on my entry visa. To be honest I thought this would involve a bus trip to a mall but just up from Air Asia is an express photo shop, $5.00Aust and 10 minutes later I was out with 4 passport photos . But to get the visa I have to have a poot from Thailand that was easy as I am meeting my good mates and maybe even my son,  in Cambodia so I booked a flight to Phnom Penh for 17th June. I then had to take my bookings , photos to Jimmy who is an old  friend and runs a travel agency here he does the visa for you I dropped it off yesterday it will be ready in my passport tomorrow. Now before I leave I have to work out a ticket out of Cambodia , I can wait until I get to Krabi if i like the Island vibe I may return however have another friend from the mountains who lives in Rayong which is 2 hours from Bangkok, so may even go there for a week or so, then I know I am coming back to Penang on the 12th August, so I then changed my Singapore ticket for 90 days after the 12th.  It really is a full time job, then of course I had to find accommodation, work out how to get to Kampot from Phnom Penh decided I would catch a bus which entails me staying the night in Phnom Penh so many travelleres have nothing nice to say about PP so I was reluctant to stay even one night there but needs must.

I am now doing a daily budget my limit is $60.00 per day, including accommodation, by having 2 meals a day , bottles of water by 2, not drinking wine or beer, having fruit daily and a sneaky coffee even a packet of nuts I spend  $20.00  on food  at the moment I am paying $20 a night for accom. Yesterday I spent $340 on flights and visa, last week I was $180 under budget so this week already I am $60 under so by the end of the week I would have just about paid the airfare out of my budget without dipping into my savings. That’s what budget travelling is all about, the budget. Funnily when I was having my iced black coffee at my favourite hipster coffee shop here the other day I was calculating and I noticed the couple at the same table where doing exactly the same thing, we had a great talk, young English couple with plans of marriage and children next year so this was their last foray into backpacking ,they are going to be in Krabi when I am so may do some more adding and subtracting  over a coffee.

I have resumed writing my never-ending novel,luckily I have been working on it in my head for years so when I put my mind to it words pour out, for me its finding the right space, where I write my blog is in the foyer of where I stay but upstairs there is a sitting room all open overlooking the temple next door, it is my happy space I love writing there looking out to the numerous gods sculptured on the wall plus one of Penang’s most well-known street art the blue girl hovers at eye level, for some reason this outlook inspires me so every afternoon I sit and write for a couple of hours, the last few days it has been rather stormy with thunder, rain, its enjoyable. Slowly I am getting into a routine about time but I have 3 weeks to go and have set a word count of 45000 by then. I am up to 33500 at the moment.

Social media is a daily event having a blog you want people to read it,I am competing with 4 million other bloggers out there. I love writing it and feel I can offer the voice of a mature female solo traveller on a budget so to get myself out there I have to have a presence  so I have gone from 35 to 130 followers on insta, 0 to 27 on twitter, 0to 30 on Pinterest, but you cannot be complacent in this platform, you must post daily, so you are constantly thinking about what to put on what. Twitter you have to be intelligent in your posts, I have started  writing and pinning my own life quotes toPinterest, to do this you have to take the right photo, it must resonate in some ways and an inspirational quote will come to me, so I love doing that, no one has pinned them but have many looks. Instagram is my favourite I guess thinking of the hashtags that attract people and have reference to the photo. So to my family and friends out there wondering what the hell I do all day well there it is.

Deciding what to eat, when to eat where to eat is a constant, the other day I felt like Indian vegie curry so Iwalked to Little India on dusk found a favourite restaurant had a most scrumptious curry, the next day I had many visits to the bathroom so didn’t feel like eating until around 4pm, so I went to my hipster cafe and had a bagel, I needed something Western and bland. so for dinner, I just had dry crackers and cashew nuts. I didnt have my fruit this morning but now I feel like Economy rice so I will imbibe in that later,I have at least 5  cuisines Indian, Chinese, Malay, Nyonian, Western to choose from so that plays a major part in my day.

Also wandering around up and down the alleys, catching the bus snapping random photos, the other day I was on the bus taking shots of shophouses as we sped along. later when I looked I saw giant Teddy Bear in a window in one, you have to love the randomness of life but you must walk around with your eyes wide open so you dont miss anything.

Until next time

 

Comedy of Errors.

I sit here writing this as the 70’s classics bounce out from the speakers, these guys that run this place play the best music. For a budget hostel, it ain’t to bad, they at this stage not on Booking.com or any accom sites, they have enough regulars to be busy.  you can get boiling water any time so I have my lemongrass and peppermint tea, just walked to get my morning mango and watermelon today, sliced ready to eat, I am a regular there now and the guy says to me ‘Mango???’ The owner just walked in said Oh yes Blog day!!  Staying in one place for a while as a solo traveller is a good feeling, you become part of a small community that involves your daily routine. Caught up with another old friend originally from Queens New York he has lived here on and off for 10 or so years, an ex-banker, so we discussed the economy, the dollar he has his finger on the pulse of the money world. That’s what I love about the internet it allows you to travel stay in touch with world affairs, friends affairs, show your new life, whether they care or not it doesn’t matter the main thing is I so enjoy participating in social media, its a constant in my day. Tomorrow I am having lunch with 2 other friends whom I met when I lived here. Its funny I thought people would judge me for  the man I was with tarring me with the same brush but apparently my truth showed through and they all are happy to see me , for I never told a lie. To live a life of lies has its consequences I am sure.

Yesterday I went again to Little India, I just love the atmosphere there, you sort of feel like you are in a Bollywood movie. The Indian music blares out of some stores, the smell of incense hovers in the air, women in saris with their bindi’s, all just full of colour, flower garlands fake and real, hot pink saris, temples, shops full of Ganesha my favourite God , the ridder of obstacles. I am out of my goats’ milk soap I brought some more back with me in Jan, have been using sandalwood soap, not as smooth as the goats milk, Found an Indian supermarket last week where I purchased coconut oil for my knotty hair, but that is another story my hair!!!  So I went back there to see what soaps they had and found rice milk soap so I will give that a go. Here I am a blonde wanting to get a tan and all skin products are to make you whiter while the hair products are to make your hair darker!! Have to laugh. I will report on the attributes of the rice milk soap next blog. My skin hasn’t looked this good since I was in my teens, I updated my profile pic on Facebook and people thought I had been over here having work done! I believe it is a combination of many things, number 1 is that I am constantly sweating therefore my skin never dries out,

2, after finally signing over my car it was like I had been released from a prison as it was a constant worry for me for 4.5 years.

3,My diet has changed eating lots more fruit, vegetables all fresh,

4,drinking a helluva lot more water than I ever did.

5. I think I am happy living this life, ok it can be a bit lonely but I am used to that ,

6,I have also lost weight, feel so much fitter as I walk everywhere my achilles is sore some times  but only when I begin my day , my new phone has your steps on along with time date etc, so most days I aim to walk 7 to 8ooo steps I know you should walk 10,000  which on occasions I have done  probably will today as after this I am heading to Gurney Plaza a large on trend shopping centre with an supermarket that sells alot of international goods, I want some cheese and water crackers.  Gee if that rice milk soap has amazing effects I may be asked for my ID if I get a drink hahaha.

This next event is a comedy of errors.

It all began when Nikki was leaving to fly to Thailand , after a few trips to the malls she had purchased a few things and when packing time came it was discovered that she would have to post a few things back to England, we  caught a bus to the post office that was near Batu Ferringhi where we were going to see the sunset. The POS as they are called here didn’t have any jiffi padded bags nor a box that these articles would fit in. Panic set in but I said I would post them in the next day or so . Nikki left me with 150 myr which is about was was quoted at the POS. On Thursday I caught the bus to Gurney Plaza one of the shopping complexes here, found a store that may have tape , bags or boxes just as I was about to enter they were closing the door for stock take but directed me to another store. So with out to much trouble I got bubble wrap, a box , tape and 2 big jiffy bags just incase the box was too small, all this cost about $5.00 Aust.  On arrival to my “home” I  made the box and of course the items didn’t fit, 2 are small framed prints. So plan B worked a treat. I googled closest Post Office , went on google maps, saw my route  headed off at 9.30 am warm but not hot, I always carry a bottle of water here as the humidity makes you sweat profusely. Turn Left at love lane, done, Turn right at Farquaher , done turn left onto another, right to another next thing I am walking past a building I had walked past an half hour prior, a bus stop was looming and an unsuspecting Chinese lady was waiting, I asked her politely which way to POS, she said she spoke no English, so I showed her parcels miming stamping and flying she nodded and pointed across the road, I walked some more again recognizing the streets a young  Indian guy was walking towards me, excuse me I asked politely can you tell me which way is the post office, he pointed to his ears and started signing, he was deaf, on I trudged nearly out of water no 7/11 on the horizon, found a solitary tree and rechecked my map , I was going the way it said then I thought perhaps it is because a lot of the streets are one way it has lead me this way, because it thought I was driving?? by this time I was still recovering my steps when I spied a Malay woman with folders, she looked as though she worked in one of the govt offices around here and would definetly know. Excuse me I asked, then did the where is thePOS mantra I had been asking, She smiled and said she was from Perak which is a state on the mainland and didn’t know. I could have cried so up another familiar street I went until  I spotted a gardener , when I asked him he laughed shook his head and said no POS around here Google maps got it wrong, so I wasn’t the first, probably not the last. Parched, sweating, sun beating down I hailed the first taxi I saw. When I got to a POS  a 10 min taxi ride away, I got my ticket and it said 11.11 that has to be good right??? The POS was not near a busstop that would bring me back to where I started so I just started walking found a great coffee shop where they roast their own beans recuperated, rejuvinated and full of beans I walked on at least now I was surrounded by streets lined with shophouses, cafes, not the stark conditions I had been in earlier in the day.  Stumbled across a dealer of chinese antiquities called in to get some cool air, ended up buying a brooch from Siam, only $10.00.  On reflection I will probably never wear it but it is lovely if a little chipped. Off I went again only this time to find myself on the far edge of Little India. Hallelujah for the first time in 6 hours I knew where I was. Got home collapsed on my newly clean bed aircon blowing , checked my steps 11000. !!!!

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Condos, Cocktails,Conversations.

Lets start with the quick getaway of my Speedy German, he in the past 10 days has been to 5 different places on 3 Thai Islands and today is flying back to Germany 6 weeks ahead of his planned departure. It makes me laugh this guy had an opportunity to stop and smell the coconuts, taste the foods, savour the sites but instead he tore here and there what will he remember, who knows. Who am I to judge.

On a different level all together my friend Nikki is heading off today to go to Phi Phi where she will taste the 5-star life after 4 months of guesthouses some that don’t even rate a star. It has been great to enjoy having a glass of wine and chat over a dinner of tandoori chicken or duck with rice. We went to a ladyboy show last Thursday night at the Red Garden food court, it was hilarious, if not a bit cheeky, ladyboy Selina certainly put the moves on some unsuspecting male tourists. What fun to be able to go out after dark , yesterday we went to Batu Ferringhi, the beach resort of Penang a 30 minute bus ride, costing $1.00 we went to a bar restaurant that is situated on the beach, called Bora Bora, enjoyed a bottle Deakin Hill Estate wine ($30) and 1 mohijto ($7) as the mint supply was exhausted we switched to wine while we watched the sunset, as the night draws in the beach adventures draw to a close and the boats that tow the parasailing, the banana boats, jet skis are towed by a tractor to their resting place under the trees , the beachboys retire for another night maybe have a date with an international backpacker they have flirted with during the day.At dusk the horses come out for diners to ride, I hear there is a camel but I did not see it, the horses get a few takers. I will not ride a horse my childhood memories of a horse called Trixie haunt me to this day. That horse hated me, she would bite, kick and even bailed me up in my father’s blacksmithing shed standing at the door for hours, no one missed me (insert sad face) until milking was finished and my dad heard me yelling and the bloody horse just walked off!!! Horses sense when you are afraid of them and react accordingly playing on your weakness.As they stood quietly, on the sand the sun sank behind them silhouetted, serene a beautiful scene.

An old friend I met 6 years ago through my ex picked me up last week to take me out to dinner and show me some condos. I am thinking in about August , September I may settle here for a year , there are so many condos being built, more than people to live in them, like Australia . Foriegn buyers are the target market, a lot of Singaporeans , Chinese, Koreans invest here along with a trickle of Europeans. Prices are around 750,000 Aust, however rental is quite cheap. He took me to this newly built area right on the coast, by the Pinang River, we didn’t look at any but checked out the buildings, I had myself on a balcony watching the ships go by before we drove off, of course there is a pool, gym, a walking path newly built and a small bridge over the river which would take me to where I am staying now. We went to a foodcourt right on the sea, had Vietnamese Bahn Mi !!! watermelon juice, my friend said that they rent out for about 1500 myr which converts to $500 Aust a month, he showed me another new complex closer to where I am now, same price range, this is for a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom Condo. Very rarely do you get a one bedroom apartment here in Malaysia. Who knows what my future adventures in Thailand and Cambodia will bring maybe I will feel as comfortable there as I do here. Although Thailand is making it harder and harder for foriegners to live there visa wise, Malaysia you get 90 days automatically, Thailand you have to apply for the extra 60 days through a visa agent or the embassy all costing money then have 20,000 baht cash on you when you enter Thailand.

Also went to visit old friends Annie and Raj on Sunday. Once again friends I met through my ex when I left they had a homestay but not long after they relocated to Goa wher Rajs brother has a huge yoga studio. They returned so their children can finish their education in Penang, Raj now has his own Yoga studio, He had a class so Annie and I caught up over some Dhosa and Dahl with mint tea, so thats where the mint goes too!!!!

In the mean time I can now get my budget and routine back on track, get back into my novel, no drinking, no walking the streets after dark,just eating mangoes , drinking coconuts, sounds a bit dull but there is so much action happening here all day long it will not bother me at all, even now I sit in the foyer of my $20 per night guesthouse watching , tourists with maps , that one that just walked by is wearing jeans I mean how can she its so hot here , floaty tops , shorts or loose dresses are the way to go, so you see I can walk , sit , watch, observe , judge all in day light hours, Why is she on her phone , look around you for goodness sake. See there I go again, solo travel you value your own opinion, always talking in your head. A lot of mainly older European men that have chosen Asia as their retirement come to stay here for their Visa run, some are funny , some are serious, some have their Thai brides with them, they are not big drinkers as you would think. A frenchmen, walked in before with a loaf of bread and a quarter of an Edam cheese he is off now to buy himself the red wine he just told me, as rice is too much for him all the time. I do crave a lamb chop with mint sauce now and again but it passes, for I am a lover of rice and spices, dhosa and naan, curries and rendangs.

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Until next time my friends.

STREET ART AND SAMBAL

Made it back to Penang late Friday night, after a 9-hour bus ride, trip there had been smooth sailing 5 very quick hours in a half-full bus, Friday afternoon on the freeway heading out of Kl was not smooth sailing. I was so happy to be free of the angst that haunted me, having the car in my name for the last 4.5 years was a dark shadow in my life. The new owner took me to see the car, it made me so sad, it had been so long. For the first time since I arrived back in Penang ,I felt quite emotional, fabulous memories flooded back of my then love and I on our road trips zooming along with the sunroof open, laughing and singing. I had to stop myself from dramatically throwing myself on the car and wailing for my lost love.

But I threw those memories to the universe a few years ago so I could move on with life. On the freeways which are only 2 lanes each way if a vehicle breaks down the back up of traffic can be for many kilometres, we crawled along in our bus for over an hour out of Ipoh where it is hilly, cars were in roadside stops bonnets up passengers sitting under trees. There are many many cars in Malaysia, in 2017, 28.2 mil cars were registered, the population of Malaysia was 28.3 mil in 2017, it is now 32.3 mil!!!!! Basically a car for everyone .The freeways are ver well maintained, the roadsides are immaculate with  mowed median strips, rows of blooming flowers, well pruned trees.The countryside beyond is a mass of Palm Oil plantations their oily fronds glimmering in the sun.

Back in Penang, it feels like coming home, I met up with the Speedy nomad, who had come back 2 days early, not liking Malacca in the daylight, travelling to the Cameron Highlands looking around for an hour then hopping on a bus to Penang, he wears me out!!! As soon as he saw me he said let’s go walking in the national park, through the jungle to Monkey Beach. I came up with some excuse, truthfully I was buggared, all that running around in KL the stress of getting the transfer done, a 9-hour journey getting me back in my bed at around 11 pm. No way I was jungle trekking, it would be aircon and Netflix day for me as my friend Nikki, her blog is Zen Abel Life, whom I met in Hoi An was arriving late evening. Sunday morning I met Nikki and Speedy nomad for a tropical juice frappe, my new breakfast, Speedy wanted us to go to jungle again, Nikki wanted to go to a shopping mall, strange I know but the air con is so good plus she has been travelling  for the last 3 months through Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar raw backpacking, not a lot of  malls to visit , but she has been to some fabulous out of the way places , visited temples, pagodas so ancient and intricate . We had a great day, usual ladies shopping day, stopping having an iced coffee in the most amazing book shop.

Speedy was to meet us for dinner but he didn’t show, the next day he whats app’d me  and he had caught the bus to Krabi which is an island in Thailand about 5 hours from here,  later that day he messaged me  that he was now in Koh Pahang, as he didn’t like Krabi, he was probably there for 5 minutes. I can’t understand that sort of travelling, he doesn’t stop for a minute to absorb the soul or essence of a town, city, or country. No way have I ever travelled like that, I love this journey I am on, a road with no end until I decide to pull the plug and return back to Australia. I love getting in a routine, staying in one place for a month or more, after Penang in May I head to Koh Samui for a month, then on to Cambodia to meet up with my fabulous friends Kristen and Stuart together we will visit our friends bar in Kampot, what fun I can’t wait. It is so great to be a solo traveller but what an added bonus when you get to hang out with your buddies. I am enjoying hanging with Nikki, she is staying at the same guesthouse. I moved here yesterday Star Lodge,  not modern, not fancy but clean, comfortable big rooms with own bathroom, air con in the heritage area and if we feel so inclined we can wander across the street to a little cocktail bar, but drinking is what bursts the budget, I am not a big drinker, I can count on my hands the amount of alcohol I have had on this trip. Yesterday we set out early to walk around the streets looking at street art. This art started in 2012 when the Georgetown Festival commissioned a Lithuanian Artist to do some commissioned pieces since then other artists have contributed, its quirky art that is connected to Penang. Have put some photos down below.

We stopped off at this innovative tea shop, all ingredients of the teas are sourced in Malaysia, the owner gave us samples of Lemon grass with Pandan, lemon grass with peppermint and Java tea. all have health benefits, I purchased the Lemon grass and peppermint, there are tea making facilities here in the guesthouse so look forward to having a brew of this healthy refreshing tea. It is very hot here everyday,  so most afternoons are spent inside in the aircon, morning walks, evening strolls to get dinner are the norm, Today we were so busy doing our digital nomad thing .poor Nikki is trying to show me pinterest, getting my head around it slowly, I think I may drive her to drink !!! We went to a local economy rice shop for lunch, lots of tasty vegies, long beans in sambal, bokchoy with garlic, pumpkin, morning glory in sambal sauce,  with rice , tea , cost $3.00 each. Love sambal.

Till next time..img_20190312_111000img_20190312_093002img_20190312_112210