The trip in short:
Hong Kong was awesome. The airport express makes BART turn over and whimper in submission. Best part of the train? It does not smell like urine. We got there very early, like 8am on Saturday, so a lot of the shops weren't open. We did fint Cat Street and there were a few antique shops of antiquity unknown open. Jonathan got a few pocket watches and I got a chairman Mao watch with the serial number of 666. BEST. PURCHASE. EVAH! Air quality in Hong Kong is horrible, but it was such a wonderful way to break up our flight. Despite the water I drank, my lower legs swelled up like massive water balloons. NOT FUN.
Malaysia itself is pretty awesome. IT's the "winter" time here so that means it's pretty "cool." And by cool I mean "think the north shore of Minnesota in the middle of July." Barb and Gary have an awesome view of the ocean, and there's only a few high rise buildings near by.
Every early evening it rains here. Big, huge, storms roll in and drench Penang. THey normally only last until sunset, which is good because that's when the city really comes alive. From about 9:30 am until Dusk, nobody does much of anything because it's so hot and muggy. At night there are many food hawker stands and out door restaurants and people walk up and down the main drag by the water front.
Driving in Penang is not for the faint of heart or timid of nature. From what I understand, rules of the road are loosely followed. THe only thing that people seem to adhear to are stop signs and stop lights. Lanes, flow of traffic, pedestrians, all of that are kind of taken at will. THere are many scooters here that zip in and around and through traffic. The locals call the scooter drivers something along the lines of "the living dead" because they are just asking to get killed.
Malaysia is a Muslim Country, and all over Penang you can hear the calls to prayer five times a day. Despite the Muslim nature of the state, Penang is a pretty good mix of Indian, Chinese, Malay, and Muslims. The chinese walk around wearing as little as possible, while the Muslim women wear the full garb. IT appears that they tolerate each others' differences fairly well. Penang is also a "resort island" so they seem to tolerate white folk pretty well (the slang for us is common in Asian culture. Something that basically translates to "white devil"). Of course, they are polite and never say that to our face. I do take forgranted English, but that's about the only thing. I don't feel very "white" but maybe this is because of the high ethnic population of the Bay Area? Who knows.
So far we've been to the local wet market, the local mall, two buddhist temples (Burmese and Thai), the botanical gardens, down town Penang (there's a China Town and India town, with a cobble road seperating the two. The "old timers" WILL NOT CROSS that road). We've been having a lot of fun here. This weekend we'll go to the east coast so I will be out of internet until we return. Should be a lot of fun.
Love to all and please enjoy the photos!