Monday, April 4, 2011

Penang, Malaysia

Well I certainly didn't give myself any time to wind down from my week long trip to the Philippines!  I headed to Penang, Malaysia last Friday (3/25) for a weekend trip.  Malaysia is a Muslim country; however, Penang is dominated by Chinese.  Penang is more of a place for food and culture than for beaches, which is a change of pace.  I feel like I've been spending so much time on the beach.  Ugh, my life is so hard ;)


Penang supposedly has the best food in Malaysia, but I wasn't too impressed.  In my Lonely Planet, there was a list of "Penang Must Eats" and I was able to try 3 out of 4:  cendol, char kway teow, and laksa asam.  (Descriptions from Lonely Planet)

Cendol consists of bright colored green strands (made from sweetened pea flour) layered with crushed ice, coconut milk, brown-sugar syrup, and red beans.  Crushed ice with syrup and some kind of topping seem to be very popular in SE Asia.  It reminded me very much of ice kachang (from Singapore) and halo halo (from the Philippines).  It's pretty good, but I prefer other deserts to crushed ice.

Char kway teow has medium-width rice noodles that are stir-fried with egg, vegetable, shrimp, and Chinese sausage in a dark soy sauce.  This dish was my favorite out of the 'must eats', but still, nothing out of the ordinary (for SE Asia).

The third dish, laksa asam, is a fish-broth soup spiked with a sour tang from tamarind paste and a mint garnish; it's served with thick, white rice noodle.  I actually really didn't enjoy this one at all.  There was mystery things floating around in the soup and it just kind of freaked me out.  It also didn't taste like the laksa that I'm used to eating in Singapore, which is what I was expecting.


We spent some time hiking at Penang National park, which could be Jurassic Park.  I was expecting a t-rex to emerge from the trees at any moment.  We hiked to turtle beach and saw some baby turtles as well as some monkeys along the way!


My favorite part of the trip was probably the tropical fruit farm!!!  We got a tour and learned a lot of fun facts about fruit.  For instance, did you know that bananas ripen from the bottom of bunch to the top?  Afterwards we ate at the fruit buffet!!!

Best tour guide everrrr! (bags on the fruit so insects don't eat them)

My fruit plate :)

The more tensed up I got, the tighter the snake felt around me :/

Crazy guy.  This snake eats other snakes.

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