Ten days ago we called a wrap on a couple assignments in Turkey, flew from Istanbul to Singapore, crashed for seven hours at Changi, then got on a plane home to Penang. The next day we drove to George Town, met with our contractor at Ah Tong Tailor and gave a thumbs up to tile that he'd sourced for the backsplash behind our stove. Then we hopped in the car, drove back to the house in the suburbs that we've been renting for the last two years and began packing like mad.
On Thursday morning the tile was laid. After twenty months of renovations the house was finished. That evening and into the night our contractor and his crew cleared the last of their tools and equipment out and cleaned up our shop house. On Friday morning we began moving in. Since the last bits of furniture and boxes were carried through our new home's double front doors on Saturday night we've been unpacking boxes, troubleshooting new-home problems, dealing with internet, phone and TV cable installers, acclimatizing three dogs to new and very urban surroundings and trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to meet deadlines.
Yet amidst the frenzy we've found time to revel in living here in George Town, finally, three and a half years after we found our house. We've walked to Chow Rasta market in the morning to shop and to Tek Sen in the evening to dine. We've picked out watermelons at the fruit wholesaler on Carnavon Street. We've met neighbors and this morning even toured the gorgeous double shophouse, used as a commercial establishment, of one. We've renewed acquaintances with vendors and market sellers that we saw too infrequently when we were out in the 'burbs and driving into the city was a pain. Dave has even nipped across the street to the always impeccably dressed and coiffed Indian barber's shop for a trim.
We've been eating around too, for a serendipitously timed George Town food assignment. What a great excuse to periodically pull ourselves away from our desks and walk away from half-emptied boxes it's been. And what a lovely change to travel by foot rather than car or airplane to do our reporting.
Our last work stop, late this morning, was China House for a scoop of the fabulous gula Melaka (coconut palm sugar) ice cream at Kopi C cafe. It's a long-time favorite for Dave and I both. I'm a gula Melaka obsessive from way, way back, and in the last year this ice cream has morphed from very good to ecstatically delicious, probably because of more (and/or better) palm sugar in the custard and the generous chunks of soft gula, with its distinctive slightly salty-sour caramel-coffee notes, that now stud every scoop.
If you're visiting Penang it's a definite Don't Miss. And to think that now that we're at home in George Town, it's only 4 blocks away.
Gula Melaka ice cream, RM 8 per scoop at China House, 183B Victoria Street, George Town Penang. 04/263-7299