Wednesday, January 21, 2015

1/14/15 Day 363 Two Days in Penang, Malaysia: Street Art, Street Food and a 60 Day Indonesia Visa

Running through all of the possible catastrophic scenarios we could encounter at the Consulate General of Indonesia as we apply for our 60 day visas. All bundled up as required: non flip flops, long sleeves, and pants or a full length skirt (with a tank top and shorts tucked underneath to strip down to survive outside in the 91 degrees of 80% humidity). We walked through security and into the air conditioned waiting room, stumbling up to the counter with our pile of paperwork we are asked: what kind of visa, (60 day one time entry visa) and do we have plane tickets in and out of the country? That is the question we were dreading, I explained that we were planning on taking the Pelni cargo ferry ships in and out (either the ferry or a cheap flight, 60 days is just too far to plan ahead so we need the indecision room), with that she conferred with another employee and let us know that we just need a copy of a credit card to prove that we are capable of paying out of the country if necessary. With a quick trip next door we had our card photocopy, along with passport photocopy, passport with at least 6 months before expiration and 2 available pages all bundled up with the all important 170 ringgit (50$) fee and in return an invitation to pick up our visas at 10:00 the next morning. A 24 hour turnaround is way faster than we were expecting, leaving us optimal time for exploration. With the important stuff handled we met up with Colin our CouchSurfing host (who hails from 45 minutes north from our hometown in Washington, Langley, BC on the Canadian side) to explore some of the local art and food Penang is famous for. The weaving culture of the Chinese, Indians and Malays is evident in everything right down to the Chinese clan houses near Little India and the Hindu temples near Chinatown. The clan houses or Khoo Kongsi, were built to honor the ancestral spirits by men of the same last name or clan. The street art of Georgetown is splashed across the city featuring two main series: one of painted murals with some creative 3D effects like built in chairs and bikes and the other series is made of steel rods forming a comedic cartoon history of the city. You can follow the pieces through the city like a scavenger hunt, seeking them out on corners of buildings, telephone booths and spilling over the sidewalks. 

"Locally known as beca, most of the Trishaw peddlers also double as tourist guides"
Trishaws, an integral landmark of Georgetown
"Trishaw Man"
Famed as a backpacker infested street

"Kids on Bicycle"
A Chinese temple

"Lion Dance"
"Win-Win Situation"
"Cultural Girls" The Malaysian population in harmony: Indians, Muslims and Chinese
"Kungfu Girl"
Little India, completed by bollywood blaring from shops that are touting fine fabrics and salty snacks
"Temple Day" Incense? Candles? Flowers? During the 1st & 15th day of every lunar month, the Goddess of Mercy Temple is packed with devotees seeking divine guidance
All you can eat vegetarian banana leaf for 5.50 ringgits

Tom Tok Mee is the sound hawkers would make to signal their presence
Classic wooden clan houses
Floating on stilts
Linked by boardwalks 
Looking back on the clan houses
"Old Motorcycle"
Pure sugar cane

The best char koay teow
is hands down made by this lady
and looks like this moments before it is demolished

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