Day 3-5: Penang
My mother-in-law looked pale as she made her way to the arrival hall of Penang International Airport. She still didn’t feel very well but decided that she couldn’t bear to stay another day in bed. Also she didn’t like the idea of us leaving them alone in Singapore, so she mustered all the strength she had to journey on with us.
Sometime last year….
“The dinner at the restaurant was phwoar…horrible!” I shuddered at the thought of our dinner last night with some friends at an Asian restaurant nearby. “Don’t know how people can stomach that junk,” I said when my in-laws asked us how our dinner went over our weekly Sunday lunch.
“Really? But people like going there,” said my mother-in-law looking surprised. My in-laws’ idea of Asian food is limited to sushi, fried noodles and fried crispy duck over a steaming plate of rice with mixed vegetables on the side. “Can the food really be so bad?”
“Na klar. Wait till you come to Malaysia and I’ll show you the REAL deal,” I promised.
Yes, I loved my time as an expat in Singapore. Didn’t expect to like it but I did. There, I said it.
Such a statement of affection coming from a Malaysian who’d spent most of her twenties exploring obscure nooks around the world might elicit some shocked gasps and widened eyes from some of you. You loved it? How? Wasn’t it boring and a little too orderly? Turns out Singapore can be exciting, if only we dig a little deeper.
Just the other day in Kuala Lumpur, amidst the noise and delicious smells of tandoori chicken, I suggested to a friend who was looking for potential places to move to, “What about Singapore?” She made a face and said, “No freaking way.”
We had our first run-in with bad luck on Hatta island. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a little about Hatta island–the jewel of Banda Islands.
We’ve loved the looks on people’s faces when we tell them that we were going to the Banda Islands for our honeymoon.
Eyebrows furrow and blank looks all around. One was even suspicious that I was actually pulling his leg.
No one has heard of the Banda Islands before. I don’t blame them. I didn’t too–until I ran a deep search about Indonesia’s lesser-known islands, especially the small ones that deliver huge rewards.
Indonesia is a beautiful country that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Like a drug, I keep coming back to explore her mystical far-flung corners. Mostly untouched by mass tourism and usually promising a great deal of adventure, Indonesia can be so much fun but there’s often a price to pay.
The price is, you can never rely on its transportation network.
Maybe the ferry leaves today, maybe it doesn’t–Depends, the locals shrug. Maybe you lucky.
Sometimes, it isn’t only inefficient, it’s also dangerous. If I survive this taxi ride from Tulehu port to Kota Ambon, I’ll call my dad and tell him that I love him. These thoughts race through my head each time I find myself in a taxi or a minivan in Indonesia.
And the planes? Don’t get me started. Here’s our recent flight comedy of sorts with Lion Air at Ambon and Makassar airports.
One morning, I’m flicking over one of the weekly shopping brochures. It is from a furniture store not too far away and a reasonable sized wardrobe caught my eyes. We’ve been looking for a wardrobe for a while now but due to our uncertainty over where we’ll be living in the future, we’ve been putting off the need to purchase one. But still, our makeshift wardrobes are now bursting at its seams. Out of sheer practicality, our situation is actually dire.
But my typical backpacker self thought instead: Do I need it? Would I die without it? Would my life change if I get one? Old habits die hard.
I’ve adopted this line of thinking for most of my time as a nomad. Buying large and expensive things fire off all sorts of cautionary alarms in me. What if I need to up and move again? What am I going to do with it? That’s why, up to this point in life, I’ve never had many possessions. And my need for a variety of clothes and accessories were minimal, so I never had to get a wardrobe. Ever.
Okay guys, I’m going to say this only once, so listen very carefully.
This is going to be the most controversial thing that you’ve ever heard on this blog but to hell with it, you guys need to know the real truth. And what’s that?
You don’t have to quit your job to travel the world.
(Sighs. I can hear you guys clicking the Unlike button on my FB now, but that’s okay.)
Wait, you say, blinking in confusion. Didn’t YOU quit your job to travel the world? Weren’t YOU the one who kept harping on about packing up and leave to chase your dreams?
The dense and sticky air filled our lungs as soon as we walked out of the sliding doors of KL International Airport. Chris, no longer used to the humidity, felt like he is hit by a ton of bricks.
It was still the middle of winter when we left Germany for Kuala Lumpur. Only fourteen hours ago, we were covered in scarves and three layers of clothes. We’d been dreaming about Malaysia’s tropical climate for a while now. I’d plodded through the snow-decked streets, daydreaming about the day when we would wear shorts and flip-flops.
The blissful warmth and sunshine that played out so wonderfully in my imagination was quickly erased by stark reality: the real 32°C deal was less pleasant than I thought.
It’s only for two weeks, I can do this.
You’d think that living in a highly globalised society, and having German friends (prior to meeting Chris), nothing about Germany will surprise me. Well, not true.
To my (pleasant) surprise, there are still plenty of interesting traits and habits that I’ve come to discover. They don’t shock me but it sometimes make me go, “What the hell…”