The Big Adventure: Pigs ears in Penang

As the first leg of our trip came to an end we hopped on another death minibus and made our way across the border to Malaysia. First stop: Penang.

12 hours later, 2 immigration points, 3 minibus changes and a thunderstorm later we were dumped in the middle of Chulia Street i.e. backpackers home. Lost, sweaty and exhausted, we made our rounds of the locals in a quest for directions to our hostel: New Rope Walk Inn.

This is another of those moments where the less said the better. It was dirty, dank and dodgy. But it was a bed with a roof, so if you are desperate it will do for a night or two.

Penang is an island off the northern coast of mainland Malaysia. Connected by a 13.5km bridge (one of the largest in the world) it is one of busiest hubs in the country, known for it’s fantastic street food & shopping.

Talking of street food, I would like to point out that what you think you are eating, is often not. For example: Chicken breast was in actual fact Pigs ears. I am a fussy eater to say the least, so my first taste of Malaysian cuisine was not a favourable one.

Another thing that struck me was how much quickly the landscape changes once you cross the border. One side was a chaotic high street with KFC and street sellers; the other flat motorway, luscious greenery and rain. RAIN. We hadn’t seen proper rain since we arrived 4 weeks earlier. Oh the rain. Yes, I know it’s odd to be lamenting the rain but it just felt so homely and familiar!

This didn’t last long. It rained every day. Humid, sticky and unpredictable. We were soon fed up.

We stayed in Georgetown – the capital – an hours walk away was Guerny Drive: a strip of high-end hotels, shops and harbours. A far cry from the grimy streets of New Rope Walk.

Penang is busting with colonial history – a British colony until 1957 everywhere you looked were museums, colonial architecture and British-isms. The island clings to this history. For example, over the centre of town streets are named based on the activities that took place there. New Rope Walk was taken from the women who sat weaving ropes for the ships along the road. Love Lane, on the classier end of the spectrum, was named after the brothels.

Courtesy of worlddailyphotos.com
Courtesy of Penang-traveltips.com

And of course, back to food. Fellow nomads raved about Malaysian Cuisine. The internet told us that hawker stalls would sample some of the the best food we would ever find. After the first hawker ear-incident we discovered the holy grail of Malaysia: Roti.

Malaysia is wholly multicultural. A giant amalgamation of Indian, Chinese and British culture, districts are a common theme in the Malaysian cities. We found ourselves right at home in Little India. Roti – a soft, light bread to be dipped, twisted and relished at every moment. I miss Roti.

The Curries…before leaving I wasn’t big on spices. I could only handle a korma – and that was only a recent introduction to my taste buds. I have been known to go to the curry house and order egg and chips. But the Malaysian curries were filled to the seams with flavours and spices of every imaginable kind. Piled high with rice, chicken, naan, roti and sauces, with sides of poppadum’s, salad, omelettes and an icy coke – all for a grand £1.50.

We met some fantastic people while we were in Penang. There was an old man called Ben who started serenading us at lunchtime with a few Beatles tunes. We also had a pretty amazing burger. Greasy, sloppy, cheesy and moorish - from a stall decorated by Manchester United posters.

One of the highlights however, was the Penang Botanical Gardens. A 'short' bus ride away which in fact took around 2 hours we wandered around a beautiful green garden blooming with bright flowers and playful butterflies. We also took an afternoon to trek the National Park. Now while I say 'trek' you may laugh, as it was only around 3 hours there and back. But it was a hard one - clambering up hundreds and hundreds of steps, balancing on wooden planks and searching for baby hatching turtles on a deserted beach. Fantastic and agonising at the same time.

Penang has a lot to offer: from snake temples to hilltop sunsets, it really is a beautiful island. Had we found better accommodation I would have loved to stay longer - maybe one day I will return! We missed out on a fair bit because of time/money but when I think back we crammed a lot into those three days. 

Until next time… 

Chewing on a Haribo Egg

And the monkey says 'Hello'
Playing in the botanical gardens


The Cows wanted in on the action

Playing in the fields, climbing the trees - it's all in a summers day.

Look at that 'fro - Cow's got style.

Shirt: Miss Selfridge; Skirt: HM; Tank: HM; Shoes: HM; Hat: Topshop; Sunglasses: RayBan; Bag: Zara


In The Bag: L'Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Primer

Now I’ve been wanting to review this product for a long while, but haven’t actually got around to it.

It was one of those moments: Airport Duty Free. Nothing specific in mind. An accident you could call it. Foreign money to burn. Searching within a budget. What is this? It looks interesting. It sounds interesting. It was.

If you are like me with uneven, clogged up and bumpy skin this is quite literally a summer miracle. It’s almost like a moisturiser, except not. All I do is rub a bit onto my skin and voilĂ ! Radiant, dewy glow. It rubs on incredibly well – note that I say rubs on rather than in. It isn’t actually a moisturiser, but smoothes over all of those nasties and leaves you looking rather fresh.

Since that fateful day of wandering around Bangkok airport our relationship has steadily evolved into a lifelong commitment.


All in the Details

When the full outfit photos fail, go for the details.

Hat: Topshop (here); Necklace: Bali; Bag: (here) Sunglasses: Rayban (Here)

So tell me: How can I get my outfit photos to WORK?!


#OOTD: Polka Dots and Loafers

Jacket: Topshop, Dress: Topshop, Belt: Urban Outfitters, Bag: Zara, Sunglasses: Rayban, Jewellery: Vintage, Shoes: New Look


Bucket List #5: Chanel Rouge Allure Noir

Yes: makeup can feature here too. I need something vaguely attainable surely! The days when I can tick off a Bucket List desirable will be far far away if I leave it to the clothes!

Chanel Rouge Allure Noir: I've always struggled to wear light lipsticks. It's go bright or go home for me. Bright being strong. And dark. Deep, rich and dark. So the next addition should so obviously be: Chanel Rouge Allure Rouge Noir: classy, seductive, luxurious.


The Mascara Experiment: Elizabeth Arden Double Density Maximum Volume Mascara in Black

I am forever trying to find the perfect mascara. But they always clump, fall flat, or fail to intensify my wilting lashes. I have tried them all. And amazingly, some of the best have also been the cheapest. But none have captured my eyes into a long term commitment so far. So next on my trial list is this Elizabeth Arden black mascara. 
I’ve got to say that this one comes close to the top of my list. The brush is thick with enough bristles to separate the lashes and lengthen them without too much effort. The immediate effect is actually very impressive. But give it a couple of hours and they just seem to fall away back into sadness.
And there’s nothing worse than sad lashes.
I do love this mascara – I am a massive advocate of Elizabeth Arden products because although they are expensive, they certainly reflect the quality.
I do love this mascara. It does everything I wanted – volume, density, length and separation. But long-lasting?

My search goes on...


Lime-onade Freshness

Since embarking on this restrictive, demotivating elimination diet I found myself stuck with only one possible drink: Water. 8 weeks of water. 
The other option was to make my own fruit juices - how much more fun was that!

Since the sun has got his hat on this week and I found myself desperately craving some sweetness I decided to make a citrusy blend with water and honey to satisfy my needs .

To make around 1 litre of tasty goodness you need 2 lemons and 2 limes. 

Zest the limes with a zester - only the rind not the white bits. These taste kind of funky and wont go down well. When the fruits have been zested, take the curly stuff and put it in a mug with around 100ml of boiling water.
Add a tablespoon of honey (you can add more to taste later if you wish!)
Leave to soak in together for 10 minutes before draining the juices away from the fruit. 
Fizz up just under a litre of water - you can do this either with a sodastream or shop bought fizzy water depending on what you have at your fingertips! Once all fizzed together add the honey/lemon/lime blend to the water and shake together (gently!!!)! This will fizz it up but you need to ensure it is integrated or it simply doesn't work!

Cool in the fridge and add a sprig of mint (or a shot of Vodka) to create the perfect summer cocktail sans-sugar sans-junk!


Koh Lanta: Mangroves and Smiles Galore

From Phuket we mooched on down to Koh Lanta on another Death Minibus with a price from heaven. Around 500 baht for two people (around £10):  a 5-hour minibus and two ferries to get from Phuket bus terminal to Koh Lanta. In town we had been quoted 700Bpp at the cheapest – see what happens when you wing it with only a guidebook and some friendly Thai advice? 

Glorious Koh Lanta. You were so perfect. How had we not heard of you before Phuket? How had I skimmed over your introduction in my trusty Rough Guide? A haven for people like us with a budget, backpack, and a passion for paradise.

A two-pronged island, Koh Lanta is technically a province within the Krabi province. Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai (one bigger one smaller, as we saw in Koh Phangan) are two islands connected by a ferry.

Backpackers Feet Memories - a tower of old flip flops left by backpackers

We found out hotel on our favourite ever website, Agoda. After wallowing in a pit of our own misery (Phuket) we decided to book something nice for the first 2 nights and go somewhere cheaper after that. We stayed 13.

Nice and expensive equalled roughly £11 a night. (This was high-season remember) So £5.50 each. Hardly pushing the boat out, but we felt tremendous budgeters guilt come night 10. Resulting in a couple of picnics and a few less lunches. It wasn’t anything flash, but to have somewhere with a comfortable bed, real blanket, fridge for beer and a flushing toilet: damn happy.

The Lanta Queen Resort was a small family run complex across the road just behind the beach. We were nestled at the southern end of Ao Phra Ae Beach, otherwise known as Long Beach. It was about a 10 minute walk through side alleys to find out way to what must have been one of the most beautiful beaches I have, or will ever, be on in my whole life (I’ve seen some stunners, believe me).

Koh Lanta is a very quiet little island. The food is more expensive than in other Thai destinations but predictable, and therefore acceptable, for an island. There are wild nights should you go looking for them – on Phra Ae there was Monkey Bar with live music every night, and up in the main town of Saladan a night market thrives off tourists with bars and clubs hidden down little back alleys. Another place we came across was the mind-altering Mong Bar – little wooden plaques were plastered all around the island: ‘Take you to the moooon’ they promised. We preferred to stay on earth.

We did however hire a motorbike (scooter thing) to explore the island for the day, stopping off to admire the views across cliffs, have lunch in a hilltop shack overlooking the ocean, and tease our thrill sensors with the steep unstable roads. It was incredible. Even with a near-death experience (The Boy accidentally speeding across the road as we climbed onto the bike, head first into traffic) we survived. Just about. While we were reassessing out heart rates the Salesman on the other side of the road was chuckling. Funny man.

I wanted to do it again.

Sadly some of our photos were lost somewhere – my favourites as well! I have no idea where, but they don’t appear to be on my laptop! I shall keep on searching and update when I can!