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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Penang: I Just Don't Feel Like Leaving

The plan (stop laughing!) was to spend a few weeks in Penang, maybe a month, and then move on to Lake Toba on Sumatra. But the first week was a waste, because I reacted to the heat by retaining water. In the day I blew up like a balloon, in the night I got up both frequently and often, then collapsed in exhaustion early in the morning.

I'm still a bit overwhelmed by the heat. Yesterday I had to file my income tax, and by the time I finished the forms, walked to the post office, got the package mailed, and got back to my room I was soaked to the skin and felt smelly and awful. I showered, and took a three hour nap, followed by another shower, before heading out again. The clothes I had worn for six whole hours were relegated to the laundry. When I got back that night, I needed another shower and added more items to the laundry bag.

I have my routine. Fruit salad with yogurt and muesli at the Malibu Cafe, then some work on my pictures and my writing. A murtabak or chicken rice (said as one word,"chickenrice") for lunch, sometimes back to the cafe, sometimes a shower and a nap, and once in a while, a walk. After another shower, I often have dinner at the cafe. I like the toasted sandwiches on really good whole grain bread. Back to 75 Travelers Lodge, and a chat with Trevor or Carol or whoever else is around. A shower, and bed.

The only days when I take only two showers (cold ones, mind you) are those I spend at a mall, usually in Starbucks, using their free wifi, paying their outrageous prices for drinks (more expensive than in St. Pete), and basking in the joys of air-conditioning. I don't want to spend too much time in air-conditioned bliss, however, because then I'll lose all my hard-won acclimatization.

In spite of being covered in a thin skin of sweat within two minutes of stepping out of the shower, I like it here. It's always been my favorite SE Asian city, and I think it still is. If western style apartments weren't so expensive, and the used book stores were better and cheaper, I could move here.

As it is, I guess I'll be staying a while. Today is Wednesday, and I found myself thinking, earlier in the day, that maybe next Wednesday I'll see some movies. Wednesday is bargain day. So I guess I'm not ready to leave.

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