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Explorations of Georgetown

The Hutton Lodge was in a place called Georgetown, named after Britain’s King George III, and breakfast at the Hutton Lodge was quite nice, and as a nod to the British, served in the courtyard. We munched on buttered toast and a kind of banana lemon poppy cake, while washing it down with cup after cup of lackluster instant coffee, lightened with nonfat powdered milk.

Feeling quite refreshed and refueled, we took to the streets.

The first waypoint was Citibank, where we were not surprised to find that CitiGold status here too would not allow us to change currency, only withdraw funds. The Citigold lounge with free coffee, filtered water, and plenty of Chinese fellows chilling out was almost enough to make us forget all about it.

We stopped at a beef bone noodle joint for lunch and were invited into the back kitchen for a lesson on local coffee preparation. The Penang style, we found, was to take raw beans and fry them in butter until they were very dark brown.

The coffee was then made by boiling these buttered beans in water and filtering them through a kind of sock.

The resultant brew was creamy and oily black.  The coffee was truly some of the best we’ve had on all of AsiaWheeling, up there with Cafe Grumpy in New York City, Pointage in Tokyo, and Pablo’s in Denver.

The fellow also took a moment to explain to us another local delicacy, which was a kind of sweet nutmeg drink, served hot or iced.

Back on the cycles, we worked our way toward the looming forested mountains that back the city of Georgetown. They seemed to be collectively called “Penang Hill,” but to this Iowa boy they seemed to be much more like a bunch of small steep mountains.

At the base, we selected one of the many small snaking roads that worked its way up into the hills. We climbed for a while, eventually finding ourselves at a kind of park. Turning off the main road, we noodled into the park, where we spent about as much time riding as we did portaging the cycles over stairs and other obstacles.

One quite steep descent and a bone rattling ride over some frighteningly large bits of gravel later, we were back on the road, wheeling toward the city center, calling waypoints from time to time to explore some of the stranger and more beautiful pieces of Penang’s modern architecture.

A short waypoint was called to investigate a Protestant cemetery that felt like something out of a Washington Irving tale rather than a feature of this Malaysian island.

Back on the cycles, we decided to indulge in a wheel through Penang’s “Little India,” enjoying the music as we traveled.

There we made special note to revisit a very interesting looking coffee joint, advertising a kind of siphon coffee. My suspicion was that this was a variation of vacuum pot coffee, but it would be interesting to see how it was implemented in a retail setting.

At the advice of a local Tamil magazine vendor, who was also able to provide us, to our great joy, with an issue of The Economist, AsiaWheeling’s favorite publication, we tore on toward a local giant shopping center called “Pacific.” The Tamil fellow had explained to us, through his very large mustache that we would find the largest selection of chips and snack-food there. This was true, but we found ourselves almost unable to enter the establishment due to the blisteringly loud broadcast of its theme song, “Pacific, Pacific… something in Malay, something in Tamil, dedicated to your customer value!”

We barely escaped with our sanity and a load of local chips, the most delightful of which displayed a small child struggling as though immersed in some kind of viscous fluid. The chip itself was a fish-flavored curl of fried lentil flour. Highly, highly, recommended are these Murku Ikan.

That evening we dined at a local Indian restaurant. This was the first re-introduction of authentic Indian cuisine for AsiaWheeling since our time in that strange and wondrous land during the pilot study. We instantly became very excited about our upcoming travels in India, and delightedly dug into our dosas, tandoori chicken, paneer naan, and vegetable biryani, knowing there was plenty more where that came from.

Exhausted and happy, we settled into our room at the Hutton Lodge, and quickly drifted to sleep.

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Comments

  1. Helen | February 25th, 2010 | 6:40 am

    Love those architecture photos. Really jealous of your meals.

  2. Mark/Dad | February 25th, 2010 | 9:30 pm

    Were those all window air conditioners tucked in that column of balconies? Love that nutmeg juice man!

  3. Woody | February 27th, 2010 | 12:55 am

    @ Helen
    Thanks! We’re just praying the the trend of good food continues into the rest of the trip… (we think it will)

    @ Mark/Dad
    Well, not window air conditioners; rather a kind of remote air conditioner. All those units are attached by a long conduit tube to a dispensing unit in the room. I think the tube moves some kind of liquid cooland between the two. It’s by far the most popular style of AC that we’ve seen.

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