First Games of the Season

Yes, I do get away from writing and performing arts for one sport. Baseball. And since Malaysia doesn’t play baseball, softball will do.

My team, after only 1 week of practice, had our first two games today – friendlies against two local schools in Taiping.

softball1Won the first and lost the second, but most importantly, we now understand what it is we need to work on!

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The weather was blistering hot, and we shed buckets of water standing there for hours. Where is the rain? Please come back!

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The Burger Man of Tanjung Bungah

It’s been a while since I ate from the “Burger Man,” so I did it last night. I ordered a chicken burger with everything.

Now the burger man in Tanjung Bungah has been around for more than a generation. He’s been setting up shop in our beachfront town for more than 30 years. I don’t know precisely how long, but way longer than my mere 10 years I’ve been eating from him.

burger 1People line up for his burgers, beef and chicken patties, and his chicken or beef hot dogs because they are unique. It’s not your normal American burger, and actually the meat itself is not the driver of the food. It’s his unique take on the burger which makes it special.

What is his take? First off, red cabbage. He piles high the red cabbage on the grill, mixing it with sauteed onions. It’s a delight to see. He presses the burgers hard on the grill, as he also does with the split hot dogs, getting rid of all the excess moisture. Then when ready, he places an egg mixture on the grill, putting the burger on the egg, and folding the egg around the burger. He plops it on a butter toasted roll, adds the grilled vegetables and sauce, and it’s ready to go.

The burger man of Tanjung Bungah. I wonder if that’s a good name for a novel?

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A Few Photos from Chinese New Year 2016

Yesterday, on the eve of Chinese New Year, I took off on my motorbike and encircled historical Georgetown in Penang to see how everyone was decorating for the year. Here are a few of my photos.

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(above) At the esplanade, a Chinese New Year display which will be the backdrop for a Feb 13 celebration. You can see the Strait of Malacca in the background. (Below) A closeup view of the water with the Penang Port on the mainland in the distance.

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(above) Typical Penang street at CNY.

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(above) A busy temple on the eve of the New Year.

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(above) Outside the esplanade.

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(above) This looks like a lucky place to eat on the eve of the year of the monkey.

 

Our Fall

I live in Malaysia. We don’t have autumn. But we have entered our “fall.” There are several characteristics of our fall which occur each year. First, the weather turns dry. The almost daily rain of October, November, & December comes to a screeching halt as the skies turn a permanent beautiful azure blue. The days are gorgeous, the ocean looks amazing. This is the first characteristic of our fall.

But it doesn’t stop there. Without rain, it gets hot. I mean penetrating hot. The kind of hot where you’ll sweat by breathing. You will seek the air conditioning during our fall. That’s another characteristic.

But, just like any fall, it also has leaves, dry and crinkled on the ground. Sometimes, the wind blows hundreds off the trees at the time just like I might experience back in Pennsylvania. On mornings like this, I can trick myself into feeling the cool morning autumnal air which only exists in my dreams (or in the movie theaters here.)

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The final characteristic of our fall is this:

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Dying grass. The beautiful lush green turns an unappealing crunchy brown. I only have to mow every three weeks, if even that. I used to water it, but such a vain task means nothing here. As soon as the March rains return, the grass will turn an envious shade of Irish green. So why bother?

It’s not my favorite time of the year here, but it is a little different from the monotony of tropical living.

By the way. I love the monotony.

I’ll leave you with a another picture of our yard.

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Another Penang Food Post

I can’t help myself. A couple weeks back, I posted about my favorite little Thai stall that I eat at most days, but I felt I should also give a little love to the spring roll man.

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He serves a variety of unhealthy, delectable fried foods including his wonderful spring rolls. They have substance – lots of filling and a wonderful tangy sauce for dipping. All for RM 2.50 – or about 60 cents. His are not like other vendors around who serve spring rolls with practically nothing inside them. We called them “fried wrappers.”

The spring rolls are great, but I must also mention a Penang specialty of his: Roti Babi. I direct translation might be “pork bread.” A better translation would be deep fried pork sandwich, or weak hearts don’t apply sandwich.

Here’s what he does. He takes two slices of ordinary white bread, slaps some pork filling in the middle and makes a sandwich. Then he dips the entire thing into his homemade batter and fries it golden brown. It is cut into bite size pieces for dipping in that wonderful sauce of his.

This stuff is lethal. And incredibly delicious. The filling is a wonderful mixture of pork with some vegetables and even raisins. It has a lightly sweet flavor which blends so well with the crispy fried goodness of the outside.

So there you have it. Another Penang specialty – the deep fried pork sandwich. Find it at your local stall. This excellent one is in Tanjung Bungah opposite Tenby School.

Penang Tourism: Tropical Fruit Farm

I finally got around to doing one of those touristy things that locals never seem to do. I took the tour at the Tropical Fruit Farm. It costs around $10, and so I always thought why should I pay that much to look at fruit. Well, this time, someone else was paying so I went. And I really enjoyed it. Now, I recommend it to others. Here’s a few highlights.

The scenery is gorgeous – in the “green zone” on the backside of the island. Here (below) you can see the reservoir and ocean in the background.

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(Below) We happened upon our first fruit tree – pink guava.

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(below) Our energetic and entertaining guide is showing off the rose apples.

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(below) Passion fruit vines.

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(below) What’s this thing called?

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(below) Coffee – robusta

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(below) Here is the luscious smelling cinnamon tree. Scratch and sniff.

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(below) Acai berry.

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(below) You recognize this one, don’t you?2016-01-08 14.51.27-1

(below) Here’s the nutmeg fruit separated from it’s pink outside which is used to make mace.2016-01-08 15.01.26-1

The tour ends with a tropical fruit buffet and smoothie, which is included in the price. It’s a fun, educational, and delicious tour in the gorgeous tropical hillsides of Penang. I recommend it.

 

 

Views from the Top of Penang

Visited the restaurant 59 Sixty at the 59th and 60th floor of Komtar in downtown Georgetown, Penang. So I thought I’d give you a peek at what Penang looks from the top.2016-01-07 13.17.11

(Above) This is the heart of Georgetown – the old quarter – with Butterworth and the Penang Port is in the distance across the water. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Imagine yourself scooting through these maze of streets, looking at the street art, stopping by one of dozens of hip cafes, enjoying the architecture, and stopping for the best food anywhere. This is Penang!2016-01-07 14.00.23

(Above) The main traffic intersection southwest of Komtar. 2016-01-07 13.16.08

(above) Looking southward over the eastern half of the island – south of Georgetown.

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(Above) Looking eastward across the Penang Strait which is part of the Strait of Malacca. The Penang Bridge can be seen in the upper right corner.

 

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(Above) Looking southeast. Good view of the Penang Bridge in the center, including the suspension bridge in the center. Jerejak Island is in the top right corner. The second Penang Bridge could be seen by the naked eye, but the camera didn’t pick it up.2016-01-07 13.58.55

(Above) Looking westward. The first little hill near the center top is Pearl Hill. My home is on the other side of the hill. The piece of land which juts into the Strait of Malacca is where my home away from home is – the Penang Performing Arts Centre. Heading northward, you’ll leave the strait and end up in the Andaman Sea.

This has been my home for the last ten years. I love it!