Jun 012011

Third time’s a charm.

After waking up and immediately checking out of Jimmy’s most unwelcoming guesthouse, I moved to yet another spot just a few blocks away: Hutton Lodge.

Oh my God, it was like night and day! For only 10 ringgit more (a total of 50) I upgraded from a dank, drippy old building to a bright and spotlessly clean proper hotel – with a fully air-conditioned lobby, outdoor terrace, and even free breakfast. Bathrooms had huge hot-water showers which, unlike Love Lane Inn, weren’t crammed into a tiny cubicle shared with the toilet. Yet amazingly, if I’d paid Jimmy’s “air conditioning fee,” the price actually would’ve been the same! Man am I ever glad I moved.

The one and only pitfall of Hutton was that the WiFi was quite slow – but other than that, it pretty much felt like the perfect lodging. And it came just in time, because after my first night at Banana Inn and my second at Love Lane Inn I was honestly close to calling it quits, packing up camp and moving on to KL. Suddenly my whole outlook on Penang had changed.

Yay, finally time to explore πŸ™‚

The vast majority of my stay in Thailand was overcast – yet since arriving in Malaysia, I hadn’t seen a even a single bad-weather day. I wonder if it’s just been luck or if the climate really is different only a few hours South? Whatever the reason, I was not about to waste it.

After dropping off my bags at the hotel I popped around the corner for a new can of shaving cream, but before making it even a block I was approached by a local. He saw me leaving the newly-renovated hotel and wanted to ask my opinion – if I’d suggest it for his visiting friends. I told him “hell yes,” we got to chatting, and next thing I knew he’d invited me for a bowl of steaming hot noodles. Nice!

Then I killed an hour or so online while they finished prepping my room, unpacked, and set off on foot into the city.

Once again, before reaching my destination in Little India I was beckoned by a local. This time it was a man and his wife, as I walked past them at a small streetside restaurant. “Hi! Would you like to join for a bite?” he asked as our eyes met in passing.

“Sure!” I said.

I’d now had random unexpected Malaysian company for both my meals of the day πŸ™‚ The food was great, and they even treated me to a cup of hot tea. When I inquired about the random invitation, he simply replied “That’s just Malaysian culture; if you meet eyes with someone while eating you should always invite them to join.”

How nice πŸ™‚

Cultural lessons for the day:
1) Malaysians are a lot friendlier than I’d initially thought
2) Indian-Muslim food is eaten with your hands, no utensils – even drippy curry and rice. Just make sure to use your right hand…because traditionally, the left was used for something quite different.

Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above narrative took place on Sunday, January 16th.

  11 Responses to “Friendly Lodge, Friendly Meals”

  1. haha! “Just make sure to use your right hand…because traditionally, the left was used for something quite different.”

    i always thought it was “wipe with the right, eat with the left”? i guess either one works, as long as you remember which is which! πŸ˜€

  2. Hahahaha…and therein lies the danger! πŸ˜›

  3. Glad it worked out for you! You *should* eat with utensils lest you want to use your [pick hand] more than plenty times a day πŸ˜›

  4. I always do. I’m pretty flexible when it comes to “doing as the Romans,” but I too have my limits…and shoveling drippy curry into my mouth with filthy bare hands is where I draw the line πŸ˜›

  5. You have limits?!

  6. One or two.

  7. glad you found better lodging…..that sounds like a way better deal, and for roughly the same amount

  8. Exactly the same amount, if you include the A/C! πŸ˜€

  9. yum!

  10. That food looks plenty appetizing to me. You need to get rid of these “limits”, sir. Food eaten with your hands always tastes better. That’s one reason why Mexican is so good!

    But seriously, limits? ;P

  11. Haha OK, point taken πŸ˜› But when you’ve been roaming around a humid place with with sweaty/filthy hands and then have to dig directly into a gooey meal without being able to wash up, it just feels a bit nasty – and somehow different from holding a burrito wrapped in paper πŸ˜› Besides, it’s possible to finish a Mexican meal with clean hands, but no matter how you cut it, after a meal like this you’re literally covered in sauce. Until you can find a restaurant or hotel where you can clean up.

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