Monday 16 January 2012

Tiffin City

Tiffins have a long tradition of use in Penang. These stacks of stainless steel or porcelain containers held together with a locking handle have been used used for a,long time as lunch containers by the local population. Of course we had to acquire some so the kids could take their lunch to school in them - plastic lunch boxes are so passé! We walked thru the open air food market where sellers displayed freshly slaughtered meat, fish head and various vegetables and fruits. We found a local café (carefully screened for the absence of westerners) and had fish ball soup and lime and sour plum juice. A trip to the Komtar the main shopping centre surprised India and Torsten with the strong presence of an Indie culture. Cute Peter Pan collared floral mini dresses and floral men's shirts - Torsten was served by a cute Chinese boy with bleached and bobbed hair in shorts and white bobby socks. That evening Faridahs friend Rey and her friend Waty called on us and took us to dinner at a nearby Indian café where we indulged in the rather excellent murtabak - a pastry/omelette dish filled with meat or vegetables and served with a curry sauce. Rey and Waty then took us girls on an expedition to see another friend of hers, Rafidah, so we could be 'properly' fitted for bras. Rafidah took one look at each of us and had our sizes down pat. She quickly sorted out what was wrong with each of our breasts and prescribed the correct bras to 'fix the problem'. She was actually amazingly expert and runs a successful business exporting and personally fitting to New York, Melbourne and KL. With newly 'fixed breasts' we ventured out the following day looking scarily Madonna like. Heads swiveled as we made our way thru Little India to the Buddhist Bookcafé, a Taiwainese charity organization, R and I had discovered on a previous visit. We sipped at rosebud tea and recharged in the serene surroundings. We found a Chinese café and ordered spicy whole fish, deep fried squid tentacles and nutmeg juice before meeting up with Rey and Waty again for a trip to the seaside. Much to everyone's astonishment a family of otters came swimming by, not native to those waters. We all wondered how they had got there. The largest family member was extremely proficient at catching fish and feeding the others. Rey and Waty took us to another Indian café for dinner. They were both so delightfully entertaining and full of bonhomie. They insisted on taking us to the airport but caught in a traffic jam they drove all the way out there to meet us there instead and made sure we were feed and watered with iced coffees before we flew flew out. On our last night I took the kids to the Eastern & Oriental hotel, a luxurious hotel from the colonial era akin to the Raffles in Singapore for cocktails in the Farqhuar Bar, old chap. (I will update this post with photos when I can access proper Internet).

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