Penang, Malaysia

Penang is a tropical island forming the western tip of Malaysia. If Chiang Mai is my introductory class on southeast Asia, Penang is a crash course on the rest of the continent. Due in part to its location, part to colonialism, and part to its opium-trading pirate adolescence, the island is bursting with cultures from every corner of the continent. Indian Tamil and Telugu, Chinese from Guangdong and Fujian, native Malay, and tourists from throughout the Middle East — you can find them all on this tiny square. They’ve brought their religions with them — Sunni Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu influences are immediately seen on the architecture and fashion of the city. But, most importantly, they’ve brought their food! Huge “food courts” (tents that can span half a block) are ringed with stands of each culture’s cuisine. Curries, Kebabs, Noodles, Skewers, Dumplings, Kimchi, oh my! Standing in the middle of it all can be literally dizzying. Oh, what’s this, everything’s only a dollar? And this friendly waiter will just bring me a beer? Have I stumbled into Anthony Bourdain’s wet dream?

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, be assured I’m not the only one to think this place is the cat’s pajamas. In 2008, the historic district of Georgetown (Penang’s capital) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. These guys want to preserve the history in these walls. And I can see why. There’s much left to explore (and now that we’ve finally found an apartment, we can do more of that!). This is only the start. The second leg of this journey feels fantastic already!

This week Amanda and I flew to Malaysia and sniffed out a (quite amazing) apartment. Next week, we’re taking a vacation to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia’s capital). No time in either week for any game work — hence the lack of a progress update. Don’t worry, games are my passion and this one in particular is a life goal. No other dreams (not even yours, Anthony) will get in the way of that.

Images by Amanda Gansfield