Penang was the first south east asian city I’ve visited. Unfortunately my arrival in early October coincided with the yearly jungle burnings in Malaysia and Indonesia. As the government of Indonesia attempts to create a cartel on palm oil, for months each year forested areas are burned to clear land for production. Unfortunately this results in an unhealthy, even toxic, cloud of pollution that sweeps across neighboring areas — including Penang. I didn’t see the sun for the entirety of the month I was there and many of the days the air quality index was “unhealthy” – smoggy, cloudy and disincentivizing outdoor activity. Luckily Uber is super inexpensive (and the currency, the ringgit is very weak to the US dollar) – so getting around was a snap, and everything else so inexpensive that weathering the toxic haze was at least economical.
Penang is known as a foodie destination and is proud of its street food. I found the food generally terrific though the street food hit or miss. I ended up eating three entrees whenever I ate anywhere as the portions were modest and so were the prices. I found a wonderful Chinese restaurant around the corner from some coffee shops (affording a nice work space) which I ate ate regularly.
This was a work-heavy month owing to the toxic smog and effortless food accessibility (a nice change from many of the places I’ve visited so far — food is always easy to find and eat!) — my daily routine involved avoiding spending much time outside, going to the gym, working and eating.