Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
Day two in lovely Penang started with a splash in the pool before heading off with a driver for an adventure. We started at a beautiful Thai Buddhist temple where our children enjoyed sticking gold leaf onto a Buddha like I did in Thailand when I was 15.
Across the street is a tranquil Burmese Buddhist temple which we leisurely explored, speaking with a young Burmese man who is learning English, looking for our Chinese zodiac signs and climbing 4 floors to the top of the beautiful stupa with excellent views of the surrounding hills, city and sea. On the top level of the stupa I walked into the small temple in search of my children and found them both ‘praying’ in a traditional pose even though they have never been taught to pray or seen us do it.
Our next stop was Penang National Park to visit Teluk Duyung (Monkey Beach). We hired a boat captain and cook and had a great time dashing across the bays on a fairly calm sea to the beautiful beach that is famous for its crab macaques.
We saw plenty of crabs in the swash zone but no monkeys. While our lunch was being prepared we walked up the steep incline to the lighthouse that sits on the head land above the beach. It was a bit difficult for our kids in the hot, humid weather but they did a great job and walked the whole way including to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy the view, with only a minimal amount of complaints.
Our cook was extremely friendly and prepared for us a feast of delicious food on the barbecue and we gorged ourselves beside the beach listening to the gentle crash of waves. Afterwards our children played in the water while my husband sipped from a fresh coconut. I enjoyed watching the beautiful Arab women exploring the beach in their black abayas, the local woman in their lovely hijabs and long clothing and felt confronted by the western women in bikinis because it seemed culturally insensitive and inappropriate. I wore a lightweight long sleeve shirt with trousers and tried not to imagine how lovely it would feel to be in my bikini in the surf too. Our boat captain was very sensible and allowed the younger captains to speed past us while we enjoyed a safer and more sedate pace.
In a surprising lack of forethought we had very little cash with us so at the next destination (the butterfly park) our driver had to pay for us because they didn’t accept credit cards. It’s always a shock to travel in a largely cash based country! He must have thought we were a bunch of boobies! The butterflies were beautiful and our children were delighted especially when the butterflies landed on us. For me the highlight was the modern indoor exhibit with a short film showing, and the glass exhibits with tarantulas, scorpions, frogs snakes and many other fascinating creatures.
Throughout our time so far we have benefited from the casual kindness of strangers and we are having a great time. As we left the car the driver said that our son could stay with him and he was obviously smitten with his large blue eyes and friendly nature, as are so many people who stop and smile at him. This evening the children and I were fencing with plastic water bottles outside a shuttered shop. We were loud and when a man emerged from the gloom I assumed we had annoyed him so I apologised but he laughed and said our bottles were too small and handed us a 1.5L bottle!