Well what can I say about Penang? The last time I visited my family was way back in 2005 and before that in 97 and 98, so to finally see and spend some time with them was not only exciting but emotional at the same time.
Penang has gone through a massive change over the years especially around where my family are based in George Town. When I travelled to Penang for the first time, I vaguely remember the area being slightly run down and even though the place didn’t have a lot of money, there was a tight, positive community spirit.
Fast forward nearly twenty years, George Town has not only gone through a radical change but there’s a lot more money within the area. This is because the government has given the area a massive makeover renovating most of the houses and turning it into boutique hotels, coffee shops and bars. It was great to see George Town thrive due to tourism but it’s somewhat lost that community feel. Unfortunately the families that lived in the area for generations are no longer around but luckily for my family, they were able to buy back the house where my Dad and the rest of his siblings grew up, keeping the Teng foundations firmly in place.
Penang itself is a tiny island but there is so much to do, places to visit and a vast number of areas to eat. I was very lucky to have my family take time out for the six day that I was there and even more so for Alex as it was his first time visiting the island.
I could go on for days about the food. Locals live and breathe food all day long. Its an exciting part of the day because family and friends all get together, eat a extortionate amount of food and talk about their day and reflect on things. Everyone is so close and seeing my family all get together made me realise how lucky I am to have one. I feel that back here in the U.K. we take our families for granted. We don’t seem to get together as often as we should. I know we all have different lifestyles and the culture is totally different here but it’s a shame that back in the U.K when we do get together it’s for big occasions only.
But anyways back to the food and what a place it is for it too. With so much choice, I was eating non stop until the day I departed. If I wasn’t drinking, I was eating and even when I didn’t have an appetite I was still eating all of the dishes I remembered when I was younger. From eating curries for breakfast, to eating the best chicken rice, Dim Sum and freshly caught grilled fish in town, I ate my body weight in food. Penang has a ridiculous amount of hawker stalls with every street corner filled with them, cooking up different styles of dishes. Not only do the Teng’s like to eat out on a regular basis but they’re great at cooking too with my aunties cooking up a storm at home and my uncle serving up amazing lobster at the luxury hotel he works at.
FoodPunkers, below are the videos and pictures of the food that I ate during my time in Penang.
As I mentioned earlier Penang has changed dramatically over the years. A number of shopping complex’s dominate certain areas, there are new houses being built on a regular basis especially as you head out further from the town and along the coast and beaches, the views are nothing short of spectacular.
The people of Penang, including my family are very proud of their cultures, traditions and religions. I didn’t see one bit of animosity between the Malays and the Chinese. During my time, I went to visit many temples learning about Buddhism from my families side and I even saw a popular lion dance competition that my younger cousin organised. The competition was based around a simple format but to execute it was extremely difficult. Forget Strictly Come Dancing, the teamwork and trust within the respective teams was unreal. Teenagers dedicating themselves to the art of lion dancing was impressive and I totally respect the effort and the skill that went into it.
My time in Penang was obviously an unforgettable one. To spend time with them after many years apart meant a lot for me and being a lot older now made me realise how lucky I am to have a family that treated me with so much love, care and hospitality. I am so impressed how far Penang has come and there is no way it will take me eleven years again to come back again. I will definitely be back in 2017.