Friday, June 1, 2012

A man without a wife is like a guitar without strings!

Penang—my favorite of the three-in-a-row ports, Singapore, KL, and Penang. And our tour guide was much better! The title of this chapter is his quote. He had a few other colorful sayings that he sprinkled around during the day. Lots of history, too. Such as, Penang really is named Pulau Pinang or Island of the Betel Nut.

The city is delightful, many older, colonial buildings which are well preserved as well. The plan was to see, among other things, the Reclining Buddha. But reality intervened and the captain needed to leave on a high tide so our time was cut short and a passenger got lost in one of the temples and that cost us another 20 minutes. So, no reclining Buddha, no Fort Cornwallis, and no photo op at Batu Ferringhi, “one of Asia’s most beautiful beaches.”  We did get to see the Penang Butterfly Farm (which probably supplies some of the butterfly larvae for the Tucson Botanical Garden’s annual butterfly exhibit of world butterflies). Flat Stanley loved the butterflies and the scorpions (much larger than our scorpions, but they still fluoresce

Penang is such a wonderful city! We did tour the largest Buddhist temple in SE Asia, the Temple of Paradise, a highlight! Also VERY good exercise as we had to climb over 200 steps (have I mentioned it was 90°F/90% humidity?). I couldn’t count the number of Buddhas nor could I count the number of vendors and beggars lining the walkway/steps up to the temple. I think it’s something I’ll just have to get used to as we get deeper into the Indian sub-continent and the middle east. My friends at the Desert Museum will cringe at the photos of the turtles and their “habitat.”

Another highlight was the batik “factory” that I really hesitate to call a factory—but that’s the name. It is certainly not a factory in the sense that Henry Ford used the word. Every piece of fabric is hand-painted with the wax that stops the dyes from spreading and the dyes themselves. What beautiful works of art they are! Randy bought a shirt and I bought a short caftan-like garment. I would have liked more time to look around but that’s the tradeoff for having a guide to show you around.

As I wrote this, I was sitting in the internet cafĂ© on board the Sun because the wireless internet connection in our cabin is very dicey; one minute I’m connected (but only two bars), the next its disconnected me. At least here I have five bars. Not that that helps the connection speed! It took me two hours (!) yesterday morning to upload the text and pictures for Singapore. It was a bit faster—no, a LOT faster in the afternoon (no idea why): it only took me about two minutes to upload two pictures; in the morning it took 20 minutes to upload ONE!

Yesterday was the first day at sea where it has been somewhat rough. The Captain has closed the upper deck #15 and the starboard side on all the decks because of the high winds. We are rocking and rolling a bit—and the pools are sloshing out the ends!—and a few people are feeling a bit queasy (not us!) but I’m pretty sure it could get a whole lot rougher. I hope we don’t find out!

The funny looking guy on the right is Omi. No idea why.

This is how they have the larvae until they hatch

Flat Stanley and Omi
A red-tailed green rat snake

Malaysian scorpions under a black light

The scorpions using my camera's flash
This scorpion is about 3 inches long. I could have reached in and touched it but decided I didn't want to receive the Darwin award.

Malaysian millipedes
Painting the details on a batik panel

Painting the background on a batik panel

Outlining the design to be painted with a wax pen

Stamping a wax design on a panel to be dyed later; the match must be perfect
Turtles at the temple waiting to be fed

The turtle "habitat"
A gilded buddha

Another buddha
The Laughing Buddha, rather a macabre buddha, I think

There were hundreds of these, each with a swastika on its chest

Part of the temple

Water lilies at the temple (I can't resist flowers!)

Part of an old colonial house, the Pinang Peranaken Mansion

Owners of the Pinang Peranaken Mansion
How'd you like to have to haul this camera around on vacation?
Flat Stanley admiring the doors

Guarding the house
Flat Stanley trying to decide if he'd buy the book about the house

The marriage bed, circa 1930
Not as good as Anchor Steam, but pretty good
Our last view of Penang Cruise Terminal. Four sea days to Mumbai


  1. Looks and sounds wonderful. If I could post on specific photos I'd say:
    1) If Omi is on the right, is that Dad's hand on the left?

    2) Ken's going to appreciate the butterfly exhibits.

    3) REALLY? You can TOUCH the scorpions?!? OMG! Darwin indeed!

    4) "Habitat" ahem. yeah....

    5) ...especially flowers with BUGS! :-D

  2. Beautiful butterflies. If you really needed company you could have taken Flat Toni & Bob!! Thanks for the trip!!!