HONG KONG

This is late. Like so, so late. I may have mentioned it briefly, but my family and I were in Hong Kong in August. It was hot. We were sweating almost everywhere we went. It’s kind of unfortunate, but if you ask any one of us about the trip, that’s probably the first thing we’ll tell you about it haha. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy it there; I don’t know about the others but I loved Hong Kong. I really liked the efficiency, how clean it was, how modern it was, while at the same time flaunting its more rough (?) character.

Anyway. We filmed (if you can even call it that) a lot of bits and pieces while we were there and my sister Julia edited it into a video a while back and here it is! I feel like some parts are so silly and some things might not make sense to you because we provide little context (we’re not ~vloggers~ lol) but I hope you like it anyway!

 

My Reading List | Summer 2016

P1300783

Okay, with a leap of faith, I will risk turning into a listicle blogger with this post… but here goes nothing. I really made it a point to read this holiday because I used to be such an avid reader as a child all the way through sekolah menengah but then college and iPhones happened, and before long I realised I just wasn’t reading anymore. I always had a to-read list, and I even read a book or two throughout college (apart from assigned texts!) but I felt like I had lost that mojo, so to speak and I really wanted it back. And if you know me, you’d know that if I really want something I will go get it. So this summer, I did. All in all, I’ve read 9 books so far which isn’t amazing but I’m happy with it (in comparison, I only read 4 last summer*).

Anyway, here are my 9 books in the order I read them:

Originals, by Adam Grant

P1300793

Adam Grant is one of the highest rated professors at Penn. I’ve had the privilege of attending his talks before and it’s not hard to see why—he’s very engaging. That trait of his also comes through in his writing, I think, because I found the book quite hard to put down. Much like Malcolm Gladwell, he writes for the lay man so the book was really easy to read through. That’s saying a lot because reading non-fiction can be quite boring for me.

Originals is about creativity and non-conformity. He talks about how being atypical can be an advantage and also how anyone has what it takes to be creative. I really recommend it because it’s a great book which employs psychological findings to make up well-written essays. Plus, I personally felt quite inspired by it because Originals convinced me that creativity is accessible and not exclusive to inherently talented individuals.

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

P1300792

This is probably one of my favourite books of all time. Americanah is written so beautifully. Maybe I just don’t read enough, but I’ve never read a story that sounds so much like it’s an elaborate poem until I read this one. I wrote about Americanah just after I read it a couple of months ago, and this was the author’s description of the book which I included in that post:

Americanah is about a young woman, Ifemelu, who leaves Nigeria when she’s a teenager, comes to the U.S., spends 13 years and then goes back to Nigeria. And in those 13 years, many things happen. And it’s also about Obinze, who’s her childhood love, who leaves Nigeria to go to the U.K. and who then returns to Nigeria. So for me, it’s a novel about leaving home as much as it is about going back home, and really about what “home” means, and if you can go back home.” (Source: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

If you’ve ever lived away from home or felt like a foreigner, I think there’s so much of this book you can relate to!

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely

P1300790

Ok, I’m gonna be totally honest and say this one was a bit of a pain to go through. It was an insightful book, no doubt, but at that point in time, I had just recently read Originals and… well, Dan Ariely’s writing kind of pales in comparison to Adam Grant’s. It took me quite a while to get through this book, but I did it eventually so it wasn’t that bad. And to be even more honest, part of the reason I found it difficult to read could have even been the fact that the font was so small! So I’m just saying, if you want to read a popular psychology book, this might not be where you want to start.

Anyway, Predictably Irrational is interesting because it challenges a lot of the assumptions of rationality commonly hold. For example, I learned that we tend to overreact to things that are free, that sometimes being paid to do something takes the joy out of it and that we arbitrarily overvalue the things we own just because we own them. Ariely uses psychological experiments and findings to demonstrate these propositions and as a psychology major, it was both cool and boring to read about just because they were really interesting findings but I had already been reading a lot about these kinds of things in class. So make of my review what you will.

P1300796

#Girlboss, by Sophia Amoruso

This is another book I also have written about a while ago. Sophia Amoruso is a classic rags to riches kind of story and while that’s certainly not representative of everyone’s journey, her can-do spirit is very contagious and I loved that. She espouses the relatively-cliché mantra, which is: experiment, find something you love to do and work very very very hard at it. I’ve heard it so many times before, but I loved it anyway because she talks a lot about how she was a misfit, how she was under-qualified, how she felt like a fraud, but also how she worked her way through that. And she became successful because of the internet and eBay, things we all have access to. It just really made me feel like the digital age has opened up so much more space for people to be successful with so much less.

Some takeaways I remember are: the ability to persist through something you hate at least for a while and to learn something from that is a skill; your possessions are just “emblems” of hard work which transcends the objects themselves; you need both an idea and the ability/willingness to execute it; take care of the littlest things you do and treat them as “promises to your own future” and have unshakeable confidence. K now go get the book.

Bossypants, by Tina Fey

I’m not really a huge fan of Tina Fey (I’ve never watched 30 Rock or Saturday Night Live), but I do love women who have successful creative careers and can write about it well. I’ve read Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, Mindy Kaling’s two books and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and loved them all, so I thought, why not try this one as well. It’s safe to say that I think Bossypants is the funniest one of all the books in this category, by far. Tina Fey had me laughing alone in restaurants and trains and kept me company many mornings on the commutes to work. It’s not as beautifully written as Lena Dunham’s book and it’s not as inspiring as Sophia Amoruso’s, but it is hilarious.

Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami

P1300791

About 3 years ago, I read Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami and I’ve been meaning to read another ever since. I finally did this summer when I bought Norwegian Wood. Obviously, I don’t remember much of Kafka on the Shore at this point, but I remember liking that one more. I think Murakami is probably better at the fantastical and mystical. Norwegian Wood was, in contrast to a lot of his other work, more true to real life. Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, I just wasn’t in love with it. If anything, I liked how the tone of the book was true to the main character, Toru Watanabe’s, loneliness; it seemed like everything around him was moving so quickly and he wasn’t… he wasn’t really doing anything, and it was like the supporting characters had a lot more agency over him and he was just going through the motions. Or at least that’s how I felt (what do I know?).

Lullabies, by Lang Leav

P1300794

In an Instagram post recently, I wrote about how I really wanted to love Lang Leav’s poems. I have seen some of her stuff here and there on Tumblr and etc. so I was really curious, but I was ultimately let down when I realised that her poetry was adorned by this romanticisation of heartbreak and loss. I think that’s a totally valid thing to feel, and I can understand where that comes from but it was hard to read through all of that and feel what she felt. Which could be a good thing for her, because it’s, at least, impressive that how she feels is made so clear through her words.

Yasmin How You Know?, compiled by friends and family of Yasmin Ahmad

P1300789

I loved this book. I really did. I’ve been meaning to read it for years now, since my friend Jian Wei recommended it over social media. The book is a compilation of “Yasminisms” as recollected by her friends, family and coworkers. It is made of stories, speeches, quotes, pictures, poems and lots of insight and laughter. She was clearly unique, and yet I related to her quirkiness—like her, with my close friends and family, I also speak in tongues and say weird things. The book reveals how she truly believed her work was just a medium and that all her inspiration came from God. She was humble, giving, bold and just really funny. The book is printed in a “yet to be finished” form. The grey thingy is just a sleeve that encapsulated a very bare book, and I loved that the publishers did it as an homage to her life which ended too soon.

If you’re Malaysian, I strongly recommend this book because it has such a Malaysian spirit and tone to it which I find difficult to put my finger on, but it’s what will keep me returning to this book for a piece of home when I’m away.

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

P1300784

After seeing this book everywhere in shops and online, I decided to get it last week. Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the famous Eat, Pray, Love but this time, she’s written more of a “self-help” book.

Big Magic is all about overcoming the fear to work with your inspiration and to live creatively. I think a lot of times people get inspired to do things or create things, but we’re paralysed by worries that it won’t work out as well as we want to or we won’t get recognised/paid for it, etc. Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing in Big Magic is like the friend who sits you down and dismantles each and every one of those fears, one at a time, steadily and gently.

In it, Gilbert talks about how she kept her day job because she never expected her creative work to support her financially because it might “burden” her. She also talked about how creative work is as much about discipline as it is about inspiration because inspiration (which she in this book refers to as a magical entity—hence, the title) favours people who are committed to it. As a person who is considering dabbling into the ~creative life~ so to speak, I found this very encouraging and assuring. The things you want to make don’t have to be earth-shaking and groundbreaking, they don’t need to change people’s lives and they don’t even need to be perfect; you just have to keep doing your best at the things you enjoy making.

P1300786

And that marks the end of my list!!! Gosh, that was long, it took me 1.5 hours to write this haha. I hope I did at least a decent job at describing the books. I definitely do them no justice at all. I’m like sat here on my bedroom floor flipping through these books trying to remember what they’re all about because some of these I read almost 3 months ago, lol.

My reading list is still pretty long though! In the next few months (hopefully by the end of the semester, if that’s possible) I want to read The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. All three of these books were recommended to me over and over again so I can’t wait to read them and I’m hoping the semester (which, as of now, is already looking hectic) permits me to.


*Last summer, I read Give and Take by Adam Grant, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, Quiet by Susan Cain and 1984 by George Orwell. I wanted to blog about it but I was like “I’m not gonna create a blog just to write about these 4 books” haha.

Shopping, Ice Cream & A Trip to the Museum | Summer 2016

Hello! I hope you’re well as you’re reading this. I’m quite sore from a recent run and I’m falling asleep in bed as I type this (even though it’s only 10.09 pm over here) but I really just wanna talk about what a fun day I had on Sunday. 🙂 Honestly, if you knew me and you saw the way Sunday panned out, you’d know quite instantly that I was the one who planned it all.

My day started out with a good lie-in, much to my mum’s annoyance, of course hehe. But by about brunch time, we were in Bangsar because my sister Aida wanted to check out dUCk scarves at Fashion Valet and I wanted to get a pair of shoes. I got a cute pair of Nelissa Hilman sandals and I love em! They are pretty comfortable. I only wish they had half sizes because I couldn’t quite fit either a 36 or a 37 for the pair with the crossover straps but I mean, I’m not complaining, the one I got still looks and feels really good!

IMG_6908.jpg

My new sandals.

Since we were in the area, I just had to lure my mum and sister to Inside Scoop. Aida had never even been before so we just had to go. I was hoping to get their salted caramel or teh tarik but they had neither. I got mango lassi instead, and I think I like that one most! Ada jugak hikmah kan bila the flavours I wanted takde haha. Aida got Horlicks though, and I’m definitely getting that one next time.

IMG_6793.jpg

It was pretty amusing to be walking around Bangsar that day because it was the first weekend Pokemon Go was released in Malaysia, so everyone was like, walking around cautiously with power banks in tow. My mum wasn’t amused at all, though! She’s a pokehater, hahaha. I’m somewhere in between. I’m definitely not going out of my way to do anything pokemon related, but I’d open it every now and then. Currently, I’m on level 5 lol. I think I have like 15 pokemons? I don’t know, I was never really a fan of the show… but I do think the game is really cool.

IMG_6807.jpg

After Bangsar, we went to KL to go to BNM’s Muzium dan Galeri Seni at Sasana Kijang. I love driving through KL… I can’t explain it. I just feel so at home, so amazed. I feel like the city is mine.

I’ve been meaning to visit this gallery since last year. I passed by it all the time when I interned there last year and had heard a lot about it. My sister and dad even went there and they said it was good so I was curious. And it was good! I mean, sure, it wasn’t overwhelmingly spectacular but I had just been to Singapore the weekend before and so I was particularly itching to look for local artwork and galleries in KL. I knew there isn’t much so I wasn’t expecting MoMA level exhibitions, but given that, I was impressed. It’s such a step up compared to the museums right smack in the middle of Melaka—our much-boasted-about historical city—which are like, pathetic at best.

IMG_6810.jpg

I love the design and feel of the building itself!

IMG_6834.jpg

The museum had a few different sections. There was the collection of 59 selected paintings on the top floor in conjunction with the upcoming celebration of 59 years of Malaysian independence. There was a section dedicated to banknotes; from the history of paper money to the intricate designs on a single ringgit note. I loved the exhibition about older forms of currency, like money in the shape of ayam and buaya, money in the time of the British rule, and all of that stuff that we learned in sejarah. It was pretty cool and very well presented too. There was also an economics exhibit, which taught me that in Malay, GDP is translated into Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar!

IMG_6812.jpg

IMG_6826

IMG_6818.jpg

IMG_6830.jpg

IMG_6823.jpg

IMG_6821.jpg

IMG_6842.jpg

IMG_6860.jpg

The gallery with all the old forms of money in the different states in Malaysia.


IMG_6854.jpg

Imagine stuffing that into your pocket.

IMG_6855.jpg

IMG_6857.jpg

IMG_6876

This is where I learned that GDP is KDNK.


IMG_6880

It was really cool to see this, because I learned quite a bit about Import-Substitution in Poli Sci throughout junior year and obviously I was not born yet when it happened so I thought it was cool to see these headlines.


IMG_6840

Queen Elizabeth’s many faces on banknotes.

IMG_6882

IMG_6881

I must end by saying I strongly encourage a visit to this museum. I think museum-going culture is really lacking in Malaysia and that all starts with us, right? I personally have always loved going to museums from when I was a child but all that enthusiasm died down as I realised there wasn’t really much of that to do here in KL. My family and I, we have so much fun going to museums when we’re in DC or London and I wish people could have as much fun doing that here too. I want to demand better museums in Malaysia, but I think that requires that I support the ones that are here and are good.

Anyway, that was probably one of my most favourite days all summer so far. I hope you enjoyed reading about it I guess?!

July Favourites | Summer 2016

I’ve never done one of these before but my friend Nadia does it consistently and I’ve always wanted to try it! This month—or I guess last month—for the first time, I feel like I have a good amount of things to make a list. So here’s a bunch of my favourite things in July 🙂

My “regression” playlist

I know it’s kind of an odd playlist name, but I thought it was funny. Sometimes, I fancy a little throwback because I want to imagine being 12 again to remind myself of easier times. My playlist has like 300 songs on it and I never ever get through it. I just put it on shuffle, and every few songs or so I would gasp at how nostalgic it makes me. The best part is blasting it and going all out with my lipsyncing routine. Man, it feels so good to prance around singing “here I goooooo so dishonestlyyyyy, leave a noooote for you my onlyyy oneeeee” in that infamous song by Yellowcard.

I picked out some of my utmost favs from that playlist and compiled it here, if you wanna check it out!

StartUp Podcast


If you follow my 100 Happy Days posts, I mentioned a week ago or so that I’ve just gotten into podcasts. I can’t remember what I was checking out by I chanced upon Millennials, produced by Megan Tan and I raved about it here. In several episodes, Megan referenced StartUp by Alex Blumberg. It’s a podcast about what goes in the process of starting a start up. The first season follows their own podcast network company, Gimlet Media. They acknowledge how ~meta~ it is to produce a show about building the company which produces the show but I mean, it works.

I think I really like it because I hear about new companies being founded and I’m like, how does anyone even do that? Do they just wake up one day with an idea and then just *snap* set up a company? Where do they get the money to do it? How do they even know what to do? Well, this podcast attempts to uncover these processes and I’d say they do it really well. Like Millennials, the podcast is so well produced; the script is well written, the storyline structured and organised in a way that makes the story effective and easy to follow, their ads are sophisticated and the host is charismatic. I truly love it. Go listen to it here if you’re curious, I (quite obviously) highly recommend it.

Straits Food Company

So, there’s this corner restaurant in Bangsar I was introduced to this past month and guys, it’s so good. Their laksa was pure bliss, I swear. I also had pai tee there, plus my usual teh ais. They did not disappoint. My friend Victor brought me here a few weeks ago and I will be forever indebted to him for this.

Singapore

Awk selfie at an MRT station!!!

I don’t know if this counts as a favourite but I love Singapore, you guys. I love how clean and organised it is—I swear to god it just gives me such a thrill. For a country as hot as Malaysia, it sure is walkable. Sha and I completely ruined our feet with how much walking we did, haha. We stayed with our friend, Hui Jie, who is just the most amazing host! We also got to catch up with Ken and Jamie while we were there and it’s always good to see this bunch 🙂 I really can’t wait to go back!

 

My favourite Economist | Summer 2016

I have a friend named Jian Wei. I call him J-Dubs for fun sometimes. I’m not sure if he knows. What he does know though, is that he totally is the inspiration behind my blog. One morning last summer, we had breakfast together—actually, he had breakfast but I was fasting so I just watched him eat—and as is the way of long conversations, one thing lead to another and at one point he said “you’re good at writing, you should write.” I insisted he had no reason to think that, but he pushed right back. I think we were in the midst of talking about ~systems to keep ourselves accountable to the goals we set~, during which he told me not to overcomplicate things. Just “write once a week,” he said plainly. He made it sound so simple. So after shoving a lot of my doubts aside, I started blogging when I got back to Penn a few weeks later, and writing once a week even became part of my blog title.

I met him a couple of Fridays ago for dinner and it was the first time I saw him since last August. Dinner started with him accidentally asking me “so what do you weigh?” instead of “so what do you want to eat?” and us bursting into laughter. Just after we finished dinner, I sheepishly said “hey, so you know… I blog now… so I’m always like… taking pictures… so…” and just proceeded to take a picture of him. He just smiled and humorously asked “how’s my hair?”

I had known by that point that I wanted to write about him but I don’t know how to begin to do that here, or how to even articulate why I feel compelled to write about this friend of mine, but I suppose I’ll start with this: Jian Wei and I aren’t particularly close but he is the kind of friend who makes me reach for my notebook as we talk because he is always unconsciously spewing straight up wisdom.

The best part is he doesn’t bombard into conversations seeking to give advice, even though he knows (or I think he knows?) I want/need advice. He isn’t self-righteously wise; he just talks to me and tells me stories about himself, his job, his friends, his college experience just like any friend would, and then somehow I get what I need to know.

Jian Wei is an economist through and through. It is quite evident even through casual conversation. I told him I don’t really know what I want to do after graduation because my interests are all over the place. He assured me you can still make a line of best fit through a scatter plot. We talked about how chemistry in relationships doesn’t always mean compatibility. He said there is a difference between high growth and sustainable growth. I find it really funny that he keeps using these econ terms but I also find it heart-warming (if that’s the right word?) because I love how there is just about no discrepancy within him.

His casual vocabulary reveals he’s an economist but I think his commitment to his work lies in an underlying dedication to public service (apart from just a sheer drive for achievement). He has explicitly told me that he always knew public service was for him, but even if he didn’t say that, I would know. I mean, I’ve never worked with him but I don’t have to have worked with him to know that. The thing is, some of my ultimate favourite things about Ang Jian Wei are that he sends me articles he thinks I would appreciate, he checks in on me every now and then to see how I’m doing and he would put on headphones to talk to a friend in distress even if he’s in the middle of a busy day at work. I can even sense it from the things he shares on Facebook; he always posts those like educational or inspirational articles which I always learn something from and he has even shared the way he plans his goals and resolutions on Facebook. No doubt, he doesn’t do all of these things because he’s all like “I want to be of service to people!” but that’s just who he is, you know? To me, Jian Wei has this obvious but unassuming inclination to help by sharing, whether it’s his time, energy, knowledge or experience. And whether he realises it or not, that’s (what I consider) a life of service.

He and I met at an idyllic beach resort in Langkawi. But not in the way you might think. I met him because my dad used to do training for fresh graduates and I just happened to decide to tag along on that trip while he was running the program. So you could say it is a relatively unlikely friendship—Jian Wei and I could so easily have never known each other. That’s just all the more reason I feel so lucky to call him a friend; he reminds me that I want my life and my entire being to be of service to others.

I guess maybe that’s why I felt like I wanted to write about him. I’m really glad he inspired me to create this blog a year ago so that I could.

Dear Past Self | USAPPS

Dear past self,

At this point, you are petrified but so eager to learn. If what I remember about you is correct, you’re excited to soak up knowledge and run with it, but you’re also just scared that you don’t have what it takes. Well, I have to say that I’m you, three years later, and I’m still incompetent in Excel, still unsure about how to give a good presentation, still unsure of how the stock market works and still clueless about Plato. I’m sorry. But here’s what you will get from Penn…

It will hit you straight away that everyone around you is smart and driven. During orientation, all freshmen will be asked to write about an assigned reading and some people around you will raise their hands and ask for more paper. You will end up awkwardly making stuff up in your best efforts to make up a modest paragraph. That will be the first of many times you feel you fall short. I don’t want to scare you but there will be more. Professors and TAs will ask questions in class and your classmates’ hands will dart up confidently, even though you feel like you didn’t even understand the question. Some people will take six classes and you will be hustling with your four. Trust me though, you will steadily learn that sure, everyone around you is insanely brilliant, hardworking and even accomplished, but each and every one of you took a different road to get there. I know that you’re scared you won’t measure up, but you don’t always have to. You will learn that your starting line is your own and your experiences are incomparable.

The truth is, your finish line might be days, months or years behind someone else’s starting line and so college will be a hustle on most days. You will be assigned six-paged essays and people will tell you, “that’s totally fine” and that you “can definitely do it” and you will stare back, mouth agape in disbelief and confusion. You will be expected to turn in MATLAB codes for classes despite having never used the program before. You will spend days writing your first cover letter and resume. You will sit in bed at night and worry that what is expected of you is always leaps and bounds ahead of what you can do. You will worry that you are an impostor. But somehow, either through copious amounts of caffeine or sheer divine intervention (though, most likely both) you will hand in the paper, the code, the cover letter. You will make it through semester after semester, exhausted but unscathed. There will be so many oh-shit-what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into situations, and you will learn that you somehow always make your way out of them. You will learn that you always learn to find a way.

Because you have the capacity to learn, you will slowly start taking risks. You don’t have to do everything—6 classes, 5 clubs, go to the gym and fall asleep by midnight—perfectly right away, but eventually you will raise your hand in class and eventually you will manage a board of 7 people, eventually you will raise thousands of dollars for events and charities. If it seems far away from where you are now, well, good. Because you will learn to take pleasure in having a long way to go.

You won’t do it all alone, though. You will inevitably worry your way through the chaos and hurry of New Student Orientation. People will exchange phone numbers with each other and with you absent-mindedly, and people will haphazardly add each other on Facebook for a while… but that will all slow down and if you keep going out there, keep saying “hi, I’m Dayana” then by the end of all that chaos you will find yourself with friendships more rewarding than you’ve ever known. This is a college cliché—as cliché as lying down on green grass doing work on a Macbook—but luckily for you it will be true. It will be difficult to make friends initially, and you will compare it to making friends in school where you were all chucked into the same classroom and so friendships were always more effortless and convenient… but you will learn that your best relationships are ahead of you and they involve ordering pizza at 2 a.m., making snow angels on a snow day, eating burgers on the rooftop of Fresh Grocer, having a shoulder to cry on when you get your first C and feeling endlessly supported and inspired and grateful.

Yeah I guess it kinda sucks that I still have no idea what “VLOOKUP” is on Excel but you can Google that when you have to use it. The things you will learn are skills beyond what a textbook can teach you. The things you will learn are a lifetime’s endeavour. You’re learning how to learn. I know you’re eager to learn things you can use at work, things you can put on your resume, and I also know you’re scared. I’m here to say that your thirst for knowledge, your capacity for information will never be fulfilled and you will find at every corner that there will always be more you could have learned. But you will be better at feeling scared, you will feel more comfortable with not knowing everything and you will be more equipped to figure things out as you go.

I’m so excited for you.

Sincerely,
Future Dayana


13230242_862070290586176_481666052274727064_n.png

This post was originally posted on the USAPPS blog. I wrote this post for USAPPS, an organisation run by Malaysians studying in the United States, which aims to provide help to other Malaysian students applying to U.S. colleges.

I attended USAPPS myself when I was applying and learned about writing my Common App essay, applying for financial aid and most importantly, got to speak to Malaysian students from all the colleges I wanted to go to. Their 2-day workshop is coming this weekend, you can register for it on their website usapps.org or their Facebook page.

A bird pooped on my head in Penang | Summer 2016

I spent all of last weekend in one of my favourite Malaysian states. I suppose that’s not saying much, since there are only 14 but it’s one of my favourites nevertheless. We only spent 2 nights there, but I had so much fun on that trip. Penang just has so much character, you know? And food. Of course.

I arrived in Penang in the evening. My parents and sisters had gone earlier because I had work that day, so they picked me up in our rented car. We straight headed to eat kuey teow, one of my favourite foods ever in the whole wide world. I mean, just see one of my Facebook cover photos. It was raining so we didn’t actually get to go to Gurney for kuey teow, muah chee and pai tee like we usually would. But this kuey teow place was pretty good! I don’t remember what it’s called but it’s supposedly famous. If you want to know, ask my mum haha.

IMG_1393.JPG

IMG_5969.JPG

IMG_5966.JPG

We didn’t do much else that night, I think we just went back to the hotel after dinner because it was raining. But the hotel we stayed at was beautiful. I mean, it wasn’t extravagant. And I don’t even know if you’d call it a hotel per se. It’s called Muntri Mews and there are only 9 rooms in the entire place. It’s made to look like a traditional house and it’s done up really well. I really loved it because it was small, intimate and has so much charm. Service was also really good and I just can’t like a place if it doesn’t have good customer service.

IMG_6297.JPG

IMG_1355.JPG

IMG_1351.JPG

IMG_1349.JPG

IMG_1350.JPG

On Saturday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. I had scrambled salmon and eggs with toast and apart from kuey teow, those are also two of my great loves. Spoiler: I will have the exact same thing for breakfast the next day.

IMG_6301.JPG

After breakfast, we headed out on foot to trek around Georgetown. Armed with umbrellas, sunglasses and foldable fans, we did that typical touristy mural tour. We didn’t find that many, but it was nice to see the shops and different lanes, areas and buildings along the way.

IMG_1391.JPG

IMG_1400.JPG

IMG_1410.JPG

IMG_1437.JPG

IMG_6112.JPG

IMG_1432.JPG

IMG_1442.JPG

IMG_1472.JPG

IMG_1561.JPG

IMG_1406.JPG

Saturday was also the day I got pooped on by a bird for the first time in my life. It REALLY HURT. We were walking around, and my dad was right behind me holding his umbrella. Suddenly I feel a hit on my head and I thought my dad had accidentally hit me with an umbrella but when I turn around with my “WHAT?!” face, he goes “oh no…..” and then my sisters gasp and say “oh no…” and then it hit me. I’ve just been shat on. My sister Aida quickly gets a bunch of wet wipes from my mum’s bag (good thing mothers always carry around such big bags full of random things, isn’t it?) and starts wiping. Everyone knows that if there is feces around, you better get rid of it before I see it or else I will start gagging and puking. Anyway, it is a good thing I pakai tudung because I just went into a shop to buy another one and then carried on as usual.

We had nasi padang for lunch at Transfer Road that day. Apparently my parents and sisters love it, and so do lots of other people because it was packed. I’m not the biggest fan, but it was good.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel to wipe some of that sweat off of our backs and chill for an hour or so before we drove out on those uphill winding roads to Batu Ferringhi. We used to stay at Ferringhi whenever we were in Penang so it was really nostalgic to drive past Parkroyal and Hard Rock Hotel. We saw the beach from the car as we were driving up and that’s the closest I got to a body of water the entire trip. Have I ever mentioned I’m kind of a city girl? Because I am.

Anyway, we visited this batik factory in the area. It wasn’t much, I guess. It could be a lot better, but it was still cool to see how people hand-made the batik designs. It reminds me of kelas seni in school. I think we did batik both in sekolah rendah and sekolah menengah.

IMG_1475.JPG

IMG_1476.JPG

Then, we stopped by at the Teluk Bahang fishing village. It was really exciting to see this area, specifically the jetty and the pasar nelayan. Last year at my internship, I spent almost 2 months reading about the fishing industry in Malaysia, the types of fish, the supply chain, the nets, the boats, the fishing licenses… gosh, it sounds odd to recall the fact that I was so immersed in reading about all of it, but I was. I really wanted to visit one while I was working but I never got to, so seeing a fishing village and the infrastructures I read about last year in real life was really cool. It’s kinda like seeing the movie of a book you’ve read (???) but different. Almost.

IMG_1483.JPG

IMG_1488.JPG

IMG_1516.JPG

IMG_6304.JPG

We had time to kill between visiting the fishing village and dinner. So what do we do while waiting to eat? We ate. We stopped by Hard Rock Cafe for some snacks and chilled there for a while before driving back down to Georgetown. Later that night, we had dinner at Woodlands, which is this vegetarian Indian restaurant. It was so good! I had paneer briyani and some palak paneer. If you don’t know, paneer is cheese and I love cheese. Yes, go ahead, add that to the already-long list of food I love. Indian food is just so good. We walked around Little India a bit but it rained again that night so we didn’t do or see much.

IMG_6284.JPG

The next morning, after breakfast, we left pretty early to go to Penang Hill, or Bukit Bendera. I have no idea why it’s called two different things in English and Malay?! But anyway, it was my first time there because the last time we tried to go, it was closed. I mean, there isn’t much to do there other than take the tram ride up the hill and then take pictures with the view, I guess. But I love going to lookout points! It was a little cloudy so I couldn’t really see much of the Penang bridges, but the view was still amazing and the weather up there was pretty chilly too. We walked around for a bit. There was like a garden kind of thing, and lots of people cycling and hiking. My dad said he wants to come back here to hike up. Everyone else just laughed. After about maybe half an hour or so, we took the tram ride back down and went back to the hotel to pack. 😦

IMG_1534.JPG

IMG_6322.JPG

IMG_6331.JPG

IMG_6342.JPG

IMG_6338.JPG

We didn’t really have a plan for lunch on Sunday, so we kinda drove around a little. So many shops were closed on Sunday, or at least opened only in the evening around 4. Where do people eat on Sundays?! We ended up eating at this roadside hawker place. I got another plate of kuey teow because, well, kuey teow. After lunch, we went to this Peranakan Mansion. I really love visiting heritage sites like these. The last time we came to Penang, we visited the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion and I actually have a picture I took there hanging above my desk in Philly.

IMG_1565.JPG

IMG_6375.JPG

IMG_1588.JPG

IMG_1594.JPG

IMG_1593.JPG

IMG_6428.JPG

Anyway, the place was really cool! If I recall correctly, this traditional Baba Nyonya house was built in 1884 and later restored. Admission came with a complimentary tour. Our tour guide was actually a Thai guy, and he was really friendly and informative. We learned quite a bit about the house and Peranakan culture, like what clothes they would wear for what occasion and why certain furniture in the house were arranged in a particular way or designs in a specific way.

IMG_6429.JPG

IMG_1591.JPG

The house also adjoins this chinese temple. There was a life-size bronze statue of the first owner of the house there! The first owner of the house was Chung Keng Kooi, who, according to the poster in the temple, was born in 1821 and came from the Zengcheng district in China. He reportedly had 4 wives and 16 children. They were a rich family; so rich that they were one of the first few families in Penang to own a car. Their Rolls Royce had a license plate number  P 4.

IMG_6394.JPG

IMG_6395.JPG

We spent quite a bit of time looking at their clothing and jewellery gallery. It’s so interesting how much you can learn about culture through looking at clothing. We learned what kind of dresses girls would wear at home, what they would wear on Cap Goh Mei, what the families would wear for (the 3 years of) a mourning period.

IMG_6418.JPG

IMG_6412.JPG

IMG_6420.JPG

IMG_6424.JPG

IMG_6419.JPG

The house was really beautiful. I don’t know about my family, but I really enjoyed learning about local cultures and histories. I wish more museums in Malaysia were done up nicely like that, with good tour guides who can tell wonderfully informative stories.

After visiting the mansion, I pestered my family to go to Restoran Kapitan because I really wanted to try this thing called ayam milani. It sounds Italian, doesn’t it? I have no idea what it’s made of, honestly. Maybe some kari, some butter, some… cheese?! I don’t know and quite frankly, I don’t care!!! It was amazing. It was bahagian peha though, so I didn’t eat it. I eat chicken breast, strictly sebab tak reti makan benda lain. But I had the naan that came with the chicken and the sauce and it was the best thing I had on that trip. I still dream about it. If you’re in Penang, definitely go try it! Thanks to my friend Izura for recommending it to me. 🙂

FullSizeRender 2.jpg

We still had some time to kill before going to the airport so I suggested we go on a drive to see the new Penang bridge. I… kinda regretted it. Because it was so long! We literally just crossed the bridge only to come right back, haha. One thing is for sure: I’m glad we flew instead of driving up to Penang. Because even that half an hour or so we spent on the bridge was boring. We didn’t even have any road trip snacks! Hehe.

IMG_1600.JPG

FullSizeRender.jpg

By about 6-ish (?) we were already at the airport. We had McDonalds for dinner that day. I had a McChicken because they didn’t have a Big ‘n Tasty. At first, we thought it was just a Penang thing. But little did we know, it was foreshadowing a grave discovery.

We got home at maybe 10.30pm and I was exhausted! I only had my (severely worn out) Cole Haan shoes with me, so my feet were not doing so great. But I had such a good night’s sleep on Sunday night because of how tired I was. I mentioned this the other day, but there are few things that feel as good as crawling into bed after a long day. Getting myself to work on Monday was a task alright. But I’m glad I got to go on a short holiday with my family and I’m really looking forward to my next 2 short trips. 😀


All high quality pictures were taken by my sister Julia. Check out her VSCO and follow her artsy fartsy Instagram. She’s the coolest among the anak-anak Mustak probs. (And if you’re wondering, Aida’s the smartest and I’m the princessiest)