Penang was named 2nd top tourist destination for 2017 by CNN recently and as a pure-bred Penangite, I couldn’t help but teared a little when I read the news.
Man, you’re talking about my hometown here yo!
BELOW: Penang chaboh (meaning woman/lady/female) getting excited seeing the ferry. It bought back so many memories for me!
BELOW: Me at the opening of The Top, a new food and entertainment avenue in the newly rejuvenated Komtar in Penang.
This little island (which has since expanded from all that reclamation works going on) that I grew up in, is now famous.
And I can proudly say it is for the right reasons.
Her culinary flavours drew crowds from near and afar, her city is a UNESCO Heritage Site and her streets are rich in cultural tales.
But the Penang now and the Penang that I grew up in had experienced drastic changes.
Modernisation and commercialisation have its price of course, and while I wished that some things would stay the same, sacrifices were necessary in the name of progress.
Now, each time I walked around Pulau Tikus market; the very wet market that I spent almost all my teenage years getting my provisions, I realized with a sharp pang how much my favourite uncles and aunties had aged.
The soy bean brothers, the aunty who makes the best kuih I’ve ever had, the uncle who sells the char bee hoon and the richest chinese dessert soups at the Pulau Tikus night market and the uncle who is still cooking my favourite wantan mee.
Also Apom Guan, the famous fella who always have a hug for me when he sees me.
How long more before all of them retire and I’ll lose all those homely flavours that I grew up with?
Yes, I miss their food terribly but the truth is, I miss them – the people.
I miss their easy laughter and cheerful banter in the mornings. I yearn for their friendly company and I appreciate their helpful cooking tips whenever I asked them for some.
In essence, they are almost family and they had watched me grew up.
Until today they will ask me “U in KL liow ah.. aiyo.. come back more often laa…”
I miss the days I sat by the side of the road at the Air Itam market and chat with the infamous Curry Mee sisters.
The curry noodles may not taste the same now, but these are the culinary legends that put Penang on the map.
The same can be said for the Red Berret Aunty Char Kuey Teow on Lorong Selamat. Her mouth may be foul, but people flock to her stall for the gigantic prawns char kuey teow.
Growing up, Penang Hill and Botanica Gardens were like my second home.
In KL, I reminisce about my daily hikes up Moon Gate, Penang Hill, always safe and the path clearly marked.
I miss the days I ran wild and free on the roads for my cardio training.
Below: Yes that’ s me in my running gear! Nike shoes, black tights, breatheable top and a cap to shield my face from the sun! 🙂
And gosh, I miss my granny’s home in Penang.
You know the ones with the air wells in the middle of the long house, the long creaking wooden staircase, the standard marble table tops with the rounded seat and high back chairs?
Yes, those ones.
Work and our lives now requires all and more of the 24 hours we are allocated daily.
Naturally we would yearn and reflect upon our past, and of course the longing for home.
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