I can see how people stay at these resorts and never actually catch a glimpse of the country they’re in. They’re a world unto themselves.
As my partner waited at the local hospital to get steroids for his eye I stayed back and explored the surreal land-within-a-country that is the resort. After breakfast from the buffet (it’s huge – cakes, doughnuts, fresh local fruit, roti, noodles, dahl and cereals spill over about five counters and onto tables in the middle of the room. Fresh eggs are being cooked to order and a rainbow of chutneys and pickles are available as garnishings.) I’m the crazy lady with a baby in one arm and a plate containing my breakfast of roti cannai and a glass of juice (which is a combination of all the varieties they have on offer-yes people stared as I filled my glass).
We’re seated by the window by the friendliest man ever, who on day three of our breakfasts has remembered our room number and wins a cheeky girn from the baby. The baby is in an exceptionally good mood this morning and as I try to bend his knees to fit them into the high chair that he’s currently standing in, he cranes his neck to grin at the couple trying to have a private conversation next to us. They’re suitably charmed and I get on with breakfast so they can return to their conversation in peace.
I’m trying to kill time and to distract myself from the worry of my partner’s eye troubles so I load up our travel bath (which for those with babies, is an unnessary and incredibly awkward item to pack if you’re staying in hotels with baths of their very own – duh) with washing and head down to the hotel laundromat. It’s tucked away behind the conference rooms, currently hosting something to do with broiled chicken, which I try not to think about too much. The baby is a champion this morning and after entertaining me for a while with some new facial expressions that he’s trying on for size he falls asleep, and stays that way for the next two hours as I watch the washing spin and wonder whether the bits on my arm and tiny bruises on my feet are in fact symptomatic of Dengue fever. You’d think, if you listened to me, that noone ever visited here without catching something, but rest assured that this is (I hope) all in my head.
It’s nice to have the opportunty to actually explore – the resort has severl pools, a water slide, a bar, two restaurants, a tiny row of shops, loungeroom/library, a an adventure centre for kids, a spice garden and a clinic. Given that everyone here speaks English, you could forget that you’d flown all the way to Penang at all. I’m hoping that everyone has at least one meal at a hawker stand and has the chance to see more of the amazing sights that Penang has on offer.
Baby and I manage to amuse ourself until lunch time, people watching from the balcony and we both (I’m sure) breathe a sigh of relief when my partner returns to our home for the week safe and sound, and with lunch! He’s actually got relatives from Malaysia who have driven down to spend a few days in Penang with us. They’re determined that I should experience everything the country has to offer, and by that I mean ‘fill me with as much food as humanely possible’. They’re incredibly sweet actually, and go out of their way to make sure that everything’s vego/no dairy and have brought us lunch and dinner in when we’ve had to stay in the hotel to looks after eyes and/or babies. Todays spread (and I do mean spread – when I say they’re determined to feed me EVERYTHING I’m not kidding), is some delicious fried cauliflower, similar to the ejje(sp) from my favourite Lebanese restaurant, some curries, and two types of naan. I eat as much as I can handle and just as I’m ready to burst I discover that there’s cake too. It’s kuih – malaysian cakes that are a cross between dense cake and jelly. There’s a blue one, a brown one, a pink one, a green one and a purple one, with a brown sugar paste to scoop up with each mouthful. Two I don’t love, but the others are delicious and I know that the person who provided them will be thrilled that I’m enjoying food that she loves.
finish our resort day with a swim in the pool and room service. If I can just manage to convince myself that every mosquito on the island is not out to get me, I may in fact get an early night before our final full day here tomorrow.