around Georgetown with PC

Kopitiam crows

From an earlier kopitiam (coffee shop) visit comes this photograph of the large crows that sit under the eaves of the cafeterias, watching for scraps of food that they can swoop down and grab. It’s quite remarkable to be having coffee under the watchful eyes of half a dozen big black crows. I took this while having two black coffees along Jln. Sri Bahari.

Yesterday was a foodie day, spent at kopitiams and food carts around Penang Road.

PC Lim is the creative doyenne of the blog Meijo’s Joy, featuring crafty DIY projects as well as the chuckle-worthy antics that her two little girls are always getting up to.  When PC told me she lived in Penang, I asked if she’d like to meet up while I was there. My first face-to-face with a blog friend! I think we were both really excited.

We finally caught up yesterday, and as soon as I spotted her coming toward me, I felt as though I had known her forever. Many first meetings between slight acquaintances can be strained, or at least subdued. Not so this one; within thirty minutes of being together, PC and I were teasing each other like old friends. We walked around Georgetown arm in arm, PC pointing out all the authentic Penang shops and places to eat, and loading me with an insider’s knowledge of “the real Penang” that I could not have had from any guidebook. A friend who knows the city is worth her weight in gold.

I had nasi biryani with a squid curry, and another dish called “squid eggs” which were not unlike the sacs of fish roe from large fish. Then, at last, the long-desired bowl of ais kacang—not from any of those “famous” ais kacang places along Penang Road (PC says that ever since they’ve been featured in guidebooks, on blogs, and youtube videos, a lot of those “best source of” places have become arrogant, and careless)—but from a tiny wheeled cart down a narrow side street, where you eat standing up, from a little plastic bowl with a stainless steel chinese spoon. And it was sedap! Yummy! She also showed me where that Kek Seng Cafe is, though we were both too full by that time to go and eat again. Tomorrow, I’ll try and find my way back there! My hankering for durian ice-cream has not been addressed yet.

I feel like an idiot, photographing food I’m about to eat…it just seems so wrong to turn even your meals into some kind of National Lampoon’s Vacation documentary, as though life were nothing but material for your photo album…besides, I come from a culture that reverences food, and for reasons I can’t explain, photographing what you are about to eat seems disrespectful.

So you probably won’t see any pics of the food we had today…but I did grab PC’s arm at some point and ask her to stop so I could photograph the entrance of this fabulous building. No idea, once again, what it is…and if I hadn’t accidentally included the street sign, I wouldn’t even remember where I saw this (Jln. Sungai Ujong, and Sungai means ‘river’). As I said before, the streets are completely packed with old buildings, the whole city has been declared a historical reserve, and no buildings, not even the abandoned ones, can be pulled down. It is the most marvelous thing I’ve ever seen…and it’s not just one specimen road for the tourists! The locals still live, work, or run their businesses from these buildings. You could wander Georgetown for days, soaking up and photographing the architectural details.


While a lot of major buildings have been restored, I find I am partial to the old, crumbling ones…I love the patina on stonework, the peeling paint, the verdigris on the brass, the mossy walls and dilapidated woodwork. I love the evidence of time’s hands having been all over the surfaces…the ancient signs and rotting tiles. All so utterly grand…I find myself feeling nostalgic for the days when Penang was this powerful hub of trade and culture, and here it isn’t even my own culture!

Lion door handles


9 thoughts on “around Georgetown with PC

    1. Ah, thanks, PC, saw it na, but did you notice: “You must be a US resident and at least 18 years of age with a social security number (or EIN), a US bank account, US address, US state-issued ID (driver’s license), and major US credit or debit card.” So maybe someday, but not now!


  1. Man, all those wonderful descriptions of food is making me hungry! I hope I’ll be lucky enough to visit Penang someday. I love how they’ve declared the entire town a heritage site, unlike Manila where anything older than 20 years old gets torn down. What I’d give to wander down old streets and lose track of time just *looking* at everything. 🙂

    Glad you’re having fun, Nat! Ingat! 🙂


    1. YOu would love it here, some pockets are so familiar, you could almost be in Chinatown in Manila…even bahasa Malayu sounds familiar, and then there are parts that are so alien, like Little India…a clutch of streets packed with saree shops, bangles shops, Bollywood videos, curry staalls, the smells, the incense, the massive speakers playing Indian doof-doof music for the whole block to hear, it’s just such an eclectic mix! I’m sure you’ll get here Marnie, it’s not far from Manila at all!


  2. my gosh, I wish I could be there and food trip with you guys! 😛 must be so beautiful seeing all those old buildings – i often find asia a lot more fascinating (those places I haven’t been to or know much of) because theres so much history thats hardly discussed (much of it subtracted out of school curriculums). im going blah blah but really, nice door. lol


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