Sunday, June 04, 2017

penang: me

I loved that this was a Digital Media trip, which was made that much more pleasant and navigable because we tried out several digital solutions for the first time.

Yes, I’m very slow to the boat, but better late than never.

Local SIM

In Taiwan, I observed that many of my (younger) musician colleagues rushed to a counter to purchase local SIM cards after landing.

I didn’t even know that was possible, and that it was cheap, even cheaper than getting the Changi wifi router we used in Japan (although the advantage of that router is that it offers unlimited access).

So upon landing in Penang, I went straight to a Digi counter at the airport to purchase a local SIM card to slot into KK’s mobile phone. He then configured his phone to become a “Wifi hotspot” (the wonder of it! I never knew that was possible!) so both Jo and I could leech off his access.

That secured us Internet access throughout.

I’m sorry I’m so noob, but I really do think it’s marvelous.

Grab

And the reason I needed the Internet access was so I could use Grab.

I have never used Grab or Uber, not when we have a car, and even without the car I prefer public transport.

But in Penang we had no car. Taxis are scarce and are meter-less which meant being at the mercy of the taxi driver’s preferred pricing.

I chose Grab over Uber (no reason really) and it turned out to be a dream. It’s so easy, and there seem to be so many Grab drivers there, so we always got our (very comfortable) rides within minutes after ordering through my phone.

One of our drivers, a young lady who runs a restaurant in Penang but drives on the side, told me a lot of Penangites increasingly rely on these taxi apps because parking is sometimes tough in the city.

Well it would really have come in useful when I was alone in Bangkok with the kids but like I say, better late than never.

airb&b

This was the biggest revelation.

Sure I’ve heard of airb&b, but never tried it.

Tried it this time. Since we’re going to a familiar destination, might as well try unfamiliar methods. Booked the house two days before our departure day, and that house we stayed in was the highlight for me.

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* A video lovingly produced by Jo in four intense hours (Note from Jo: "I'm very frustrated because the frame dimensions are different from when I edited, so everything is compressed and there is a line across the subtitles throughout the video, and at the end the cast list is not aligned even though I spent a long time aligning it correctly, because the frame dimensions are different")

Not for the rest of the family, they’re not fans of old houses, but they did enjoy the house and I loved every bit of it. It reminded me a bit of the Kedah kampong which belongs to the relatives on the Malaysian side of our family.

An old house located in a quiet cul-de-sac just off the main road, walking distance from some great food haunts including Penang Road and Kimberley Street, it cost us about S$70 a night and it was really well-equipped with the softest bed and pillow sheets. The host also put in lots of touches (books, DVDs, music selection) which I appreciated.

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* Ghostly Lu wandering around the street at night

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* Getting ready, applying sunblock for the blistering Penang heat

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* Heading out in the day

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* Watching a DVD from the host's collection, Echoes of the Rainbow

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* A note I left for the host

What some people might not like (and I know these sorts of people because I count many of them as my friends!) is that its not fully air-conditioned (not the living area, kitchen) with no wifi, and there's only one rather primitive bathroom which isn't even on the same level as the bedrooms. Water from the shower and toothbrushing ran into a small open drain which Jo abhorred.

I’m now scouring all sorts of airb&b properties (the Nepal villages are a real draw… and glamping in Scotland!) and dreaming of living in another exotic home. I think I’d be happy for an entire holiday to be a homestay.

For all I’ve said on the wonders of being connected, the other bit I really liked about our Penang trip was that Day chose not to bring his mobile. He CHOSE not to! I’m not sure if he was trying to prove a point (that he’s not addicted) but for six wonderful days, he was screen-free.

Well he did grab my phone now and then, but we got to enjoy his lovely engaging presence for long periods of time.

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My favourite food in Penang: Duck salad from What The Duck.

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* Very yummy char kway teow but not quite my thing these days

As I age, I suspect my taste buds have slowly veered away from oily and fatty and anything wok hei, to bland and simple. Even in Singapore, a salad bowl would be my first choice.

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* What The Duck

I really enjoyed those green vegetables, oranges and walnuts after incessant char kway teow which I seemed to eat a lot of for some reason.

Dislike: Paying RM150 (S$50) for 3kg of excess baggage on our flight back.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You may want to try booking.com too. We find it a lot easier and user friendly then airb&b. Actually there are many other sites depending on where you are going. We have not stayed in a hotel for our holidays for many years. What we do not like about airb&b is that you have to provide your social media profile which is rather invasive.

Haiwei

Sher said...

really?! ok i'm not v clued in... the airb&b locations just seemed v exotic..