Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sweet Home, Georgetown

Chinese Temple detail
We slept in late this morning, and Re let me stay in bed while she walked out to Yasmeen (another excellent Indian restaurant nearby) and returned with roti telur (egg roti), some curry, and coffee. Roti from Yasmeen is our usual breakfast in George Town, and it was as good as I remember. After breakfast, we cracked open the books, maps, and laptop to work on plans for the next several days. We made the stupid ride to Malaysia specifically to see the Formula 1 race this coming weekend outside of Kuala Lumpur. The race itself is actually at the track near the Kuala Lumpur airport, which is 30 plus miles from the city, so we wanted to find a hotel closer to the track than that. After looking over all our resources, we had a few ideas, but decided to go to lunch instead. 

Banana leaf lunch
Another one of our favorite Indian restaurants (especially for lunch) in George Town, is Sri Ananda Bahwan, which is a short walk from the guesthouse. At lunch they serve delicious and inexpensive banana leaf thalis, and that's what we had today. They put a section of banana leaf on the table, a big scoop of rice in the middle, then three scoops of different vegetarian dishes, add a couple of crispy papadams, a dal, and a sambhar, mix it all together with your right hand, and throw in the general direction of your mouth. They do provide silverware for the timid, but if you're gonna eat banana leaf, you really have to do it with your hand. With our banana leaf we had limau ice to drink, which is a sweet and salty drink made with calamansi limes. For dessert, we each had a piece of our favorite Bombay sweet, soan papdi. The total bill came to a hair over 5 USD, and it was delicious. Since the afternoon had gotten very warm, and there were a few sprinkles of rain, we decided to head back to the room to work on some ride reports. 

Later in the afternoon, we walked out to the movie theater at Prangin Mall to see “John Carter.” Another great thing about Malaysia, is that since English is widely spoken, they get many first run English language movies, and the theaters here are everything they are in the US- cold A/C, stadium seating, THX surround sound, but at a third of the price. I know this movie has been pretty much, universally panned, but we both enjoyed it (it was good summer blockbuster adventure fluff). After the movie, we hit the grocery store for a pineapple and some cat food. There are many street kitties in George Town, and we like to stop and give them a snack occasionally. 

Wonton mee in an alley off Chulia
By the time we made it back to Lebuh Chulia, all the evening hawker stalls were open for business, so we stopped for some wonton mee at our favorite. The setup of the hawker stalls here is kind of funny, in that they line the roadside, but down a small alley, a drink vendor sets up tables and chairs each night. You order your food from the hawker stall, and then your drinks from the drink vendor, and sit at his tables, where your food is delivered. For drinks, we each had a glass of tangerine juice with sour plum, and soon our wonton mee was delivered. Wonton mee is a noodle dish that is served with sliced pork, pork-filled soft wontons, and fried wontons, deep-fried fatback, water spinach, and pickled peppers in a dark soy sauce. We each ordered the large bowl,and it was delicious. Walking back toward the room, we picked up some apom (crispy coconut crepes) and a big bottle of Diet Coke. Back at the room, Re decided that since our pants were now so clean, that she needed to give our jackets the same treatment.

The next day, we repeated our roti and coffee breakfast, followed by more research on where to stay for the race weekend. After searching for information on the nearby city of Nilai, we booked a room at the Nilai Budget Hotel for four nights. We both have reservations about making reservations, especially for a place we've never been and a hotel with sub-par reviews. But we needed a room, and since cheap ones, with wifi, near the track are hard to come by, we booked on Agoda. 

Yes, we eat all the time.  Pork and rice at Sky Hotel
Once that task was done, we went to the Sky Hotel for lunch. The Sky does one thing- pork (well, they also cook ducks, but they may as well only make pork, since it's better than cake). It's always packed to the gills, so Colin grabbed a table and got us lime juice with sour plum, while I waited to order a plate of bbq and roast pork with rice, greens, and soup. It was no surprise how delicious everything tasted. The pork was tender, perfectly cooked, with a crisp edge, the soup was pork broth with tender meat and sliced lotus bulbs in it, mmmmm. Better than candy. We spent the afternoon wandering around town, doing some errands, and some writing. 

Tandoori chicken and naan at Kapitan
When dinnertime rolled around, we walked to Kapitan, on the edge of Little India, for tandoori chicken and naan. As soon as we stepped in, one of the waiters actually recognized us! We haven't been here in two years, and he remembered us. Clearly, we have eaten there many times, as our usual waiter from two years ago recognized us as soon as we sat down. He doesn't speak a tremendous amount of English, but he was either trying to say that I had lost weight, or that I was huge. I'm not sure which, but it was nice to be back in a place where people know your face. As usual, our meal was excellent; the chicken moist and spicy, the naan chewy, the dhal perfect. We followed it with coffee and a roti tisu for dessert. The tisu roti is a very thin piece of dough that is cooked on a hot griddle, and before it sets, it is pulled or rolled into a tent-like shape and then drizzled with sweetened, condensed milk. It's a dramatic looking dessert, and apparently, a pain in the ass to make, since every time we ordered it, our waiter would get a little smile, and a few minutes later, you can hear him chiding and laughing at the roti cook. 

Hindu temple in Little India, Georgetown
After dinner, we walked through Little India, admiring the colorful scenery in the beautiful light of the sunset, stopping to even take a few photos on the way.

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