I just got back from a few days in Penang, Malaysia. I had such a great time & I’m really happy I got to experience Penang as I’ve wanted to for some time. Penang Island is an island off the coast of northern mainland Malaysia. Georgetown is located on the island; it is the second largest city in Malaysia & is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Georgetown is also said to be the food capital of Malaysia. Penang is whimsical & has a fascinating creative vibe mixed with that typical island feeling.
Perhaps the most popular thing to do is to start at Armenian Street & meander around almost aimlessly, looking for the quirky street art that is scattered around Georgetown. This is exactly what some friends & I decided to do. We thought it was a great idea to head out early & look for a place to eat… maybe a great idea would have been eating something before leaving the hotel because by the time we reached Georgetown we were all really hungry.
Top priority was to find an ATM because none of us had local currency & paying by card isn’t always an option in Penang. I spot an ATM & it looked decent so I decided to use it. I inserted my bank card & typed in my pin & nothing happened. I, being the calm & rational thinker that I am, immediately started thinking of all the complications of losing my bank card abroad. The minutes ticked by & nothing happened. The panic inside me bubbled over & I hit the machine – yes, I realize that is vandalism. Anyway, the machine made a ‘grrrr’ sound & my bank card peeped just far enough out of the slot for me to pinch it & get it out. Needless to say, I was extremely hesitant to draw money at any ATM while I was there.
By the time we had all drawn money, the hunger was very real. We made a deal & said that the first place we saw that sold food would be where we were ate. The first place we saw turned out to be a street café with a strange smell & what looked like some pretty questionable hygiene standards. We all looked at each other knowing we made a deal, how hungry everyone was & the state of this café… yolo, right?
We each ordered a laksa which is a type of spicy noodle soup. While we waited for our food, some cats graced us with their presence & it was then that I recognized the strange smell which was lingering. It was cat urine. So when the food arrived, everyone was quite nervous to eat it. I went ahead & was the first one to take a mouthful. My friend asked me something & her timing was so perfect that I’ll never forget it & I almost lost the mouthful of soup in a fit of laughter. In a very heavy Bosnian accent, she asked me: “Does it taste like the food poisoning?”
I managed to leave with my bank card & without eating anything which gave me food poisoning.
Keep traveling, keep safe.