The date is 1941 and the British army has left the island of Penang, leaving Penang to fend for itself against the Japanese invasion during World War II. No one knows how old this tree is but it changed hands many times during this period and today it is so revered it has to be kept under lock and chain bolted to the concrete floor. The British army finally returned in 1945 but the ties between Malaysia and Britain were strained. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Every mother knows peanut and butter and jelly sandwiches are the perfect food for road trips and lunch boxes. Why? Because they last the ride and some times are better the second day. So, with peanut butter and jelly sandwich in hand I’m off on my road trip to Penang Island.
Penang and the port city of George Town is a four-hour car ride just to the north of Kuala Lumpur. Penang makes claim to a number of UNESCO heritage sites, rated by NY Times as the number 22 on the “Must see list” in the world, and boast the best Asian cuisine in the country if not the world.
George Town (MalaysiaMap.org)
In 1786 Penang ceded to the British East India Company in exchange for military protection from Siamese and Burmese armies, making Penang the most important shipping port in South East Asia. The shipping industry brought in thousands of Chinese and Indian immigrants. The city of George Town is a mix of old 17th and 18th century British style architecture, ancient Chinese temples, specked with modern 20th century offices and malls (Wiki).
Today Penang and George Town are a tourist destination and three days did not give me time to see it all. The largest population is Chinese and Indian. Most of the streets of George Town are narrow and only allow enough room for one car and one pedestrian to pass safely.
I gravitate to the old and imagine what it may have been like back in its day.
My first night a friend and her family invited me to dinner, they where so nice and made me feel very welcomed. They were patient with my lack of verbal skills but everyone spoke English and grandma was so sweet just look at that smile.
Makanan Laut is a seafood restaurant and, I was fortunate to try some items I have never had before. There is no menu, you walk to the front of the kitchen and place your order. The cook/chef asked if we wanted shark, luckily no one ordered it.
First came out the okra then these small sardine size deep fried fish. Next the STING RAY fin. This was my favorite! A sweet spicy sauce of garlic, chilies, maybe tamarind not sure but it was wonderful. The meat was mild and melt in your mouth flakey.
Sting Ray Fin
Little clams, small fried shrimp, just pop in you mouth head and all and of course Sweet and Sour Crab. Yum!