Penang town scene (complete with blue skies,
low buildings and a narrow road laden with
private vehicles -- in other words, one that's
a far cry from that of Hong Kong's in so many ways!
Greetings still from Penang! As some of this blog's regular readers have already surmised, the primary reason why I've returned to my home state for a short visit is to see for myself how my mother's doing. Thus far, I have to say -- touch wood but so far, so good. In fact, my mother appears to be doing better than I dared to have hoped: not only eating well and but also fit enough to do such as go on short walks (up to four short circuits around the neighborhood as of yesterday) each evening.
One activity that she rues still being unable to do though is to drive a car. Unlike Hong Kong, private cars are what you really need to get around town in a part of the world with a much vaunted highway system but whose public transportation is neither considered reliable nor "prestigious" enough for most people to want to make use of. (I've taken to trying to count the numbers of taxis and buses I pass by whenever I travel around town but many a time, I don't spot even a single taxi or bus on a car ride from one place to another!)
The truth of the matter, though, is that whenever I return to Penang these days, I actually spend the bulk of my time back within the confines of my family home -- almost only venturing out to do such as go foraging for good food (and, to be fair, also to book stores -- as for all of it often seeming like a kampung (Malay for village) relative to Hong Kong, it actually does have a wider range of English language books on sale than "Asia's World City").
One way of looking at it is that it goes to reason that I'm a homebody in my home state. Another less cheery way to view the way things are, however, is that what with my having spent more years outside of than in Penang, there often can feel as though there's not much left for me here besides family. On a more positive note, accentuated no doubt by my parents' presence here, Penang is a place where I can go home to "chill", de-stress and relax for a bit before returning to the hustling, bustling, fast-paced Hong Kong -- whose pulsating energy usually invigorates but also can, admittedly, occasionally drive one to exhaustion!