Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Introduction: Penang, Malaysia

Malaysia was our most anticipated country. Neither of us has been there and it was the most foreign country of our travels. Malaysia was the most culturally diverse country we traveled to and we were looking forward to experiencing as much as we could.Malaysia has a very interesting cultural history and an eclectic mix of cultures – Islamic Malays, Chinese Nyonya & Baba (Chinese who migrated to Malaysia in the early 1900s to work on the palm oil and tea plantations who married Malaysian women and had children) and Indian Hindus (brought to Malaysia by the British when Malaysia and India were British colonies). Imagine walking down a street and there are Muslim women wearing traditional Hajibs, which are the tradition headscarves. We even saw a few very intimidating Islamic women fully cover except for a small strip of their eyes, which were mesmerizing; Chinese women in western clothing and Indian women in their beautiful saris.
It was fascinating.
Equally fascinating as the people was the cuisine of Malaysia – a morphed version of the traditional foods of India, China, and Indonesian, some you can only find in Malaysia or Singapore and we quickly set out to discover it. After checking into a very filthy, but highly-rated-by-readers hotel, we set out for the night market.The night market had a large dining area encircled by hawker food stalls with a stage in the middle with nightly cabarets. We checked out every food vendor before settling on Nyonya rice called Nasi (Rice) Briyan (Spices).The deceivingly red and saucey rice was actually fairly dry and tasted of cloves and exotic spices unlike any rice we have ever had. Mike went straight for the national dish laksa, a spicy fragrant coconut based soup with thick noodles and fresh herbs.Sure we have had lots of rice, lots of soup and lots of noodles, but these two dishes were utterly different. We soon realized we’re really in for some adventures.

1 comment:

Tri and Justin said...

Malaysia sounds awesome! I can't wait to hear more about it.