So we’re in Malaysia. We’re in Penang now and were in Kuala Lumpur a couple of days ago. Trees are everywhere, with huge, dark, broad leaves. Sometimes, fruits dangle off of the leaves and elsewhere, on menus, on streetcarts, they are heaped in giant mounds of affordable goodness. Affordable: that’s the kicker. I’ve eaten more fruit in the past few days than I ate in 6 months in Japan. After years of subsisting on dented 100 yen satsumas, I can’t get enough. Guava juice. Durian juice. Watermelon. Pineapple. Mango. Coconut. I’m on the lookout for spiny rambutans but so far, haven’t spotted any. I was led to believe they’d be everywhere, like boiled peanuts on the roadside of the Florida town in which I grew up. We’ll see. They must be somewhere. Spiny little buggers. I expect to return to Japan with a fresh, rosy glow in my invigorated cheeks. People will think I’ve had a transfusion but no – it’ll be gallons of healthy fruit juices running through my veins.
It’s scorching here. Scorching during the day and rainy at night. We make vain attempts to explore in the daytime before taking refuge in a museum and play cards on the patio of our bungalow at night. I’ve been on the hunt for dim sum for days now. They close much earlier than the dim sum places back home. It’s been an elusive hunt so far.
We’re eating as often as we can. Black chili frog legs, steamed greens, tandoori chicken and lots of nasi goreng. We eat at Chinese hawker stalls or Indian restaurants mostly since they serve alcohol – even if it is priced high enough to give potential imbibers second thoughts. Sean is amazed and perplexed at a nation that appears to frown upon drinking. He isn’t doing well without his hourly beer transfusions, my friends. A word of advice: don’t bring an Irishman to a Muslim country.
Nobody shouts “herro!” at us on the streets. No one gapes at us. We are surrounded by people of all shades, all of whom seem to have better things to do than stare at travelers. Malaysia has certainly had its fair share of visitors: the Dutch, the English, the Indians, the Japanese … the Chinese began intermarrying with the Malays as early as the 14th century. Were you not aware of that?
We’re heading to Penang Hill today, where it’s rumored to be cooler than sweltering Penang itself.