I spent the six-hour bus ride working on my mindfulness practices. Since I started blogging about self-care at HealthyNP I need to stay much more up to date on how other people practice meditation and mindfulness. I feel so lucky that I picked a topic to share with other people that benefits me so greatly, too.
‘Ello ‘Ello, Wot ‘Ave We Got ‘Ear, Then
The “former British dominion” vibe was reinforced by my hosts: I stayed with an Australian family for the 3 nights I was in Penang. They were lovely people, and I had a smashing time with them, though I had trouble keeping up with my online presence because the Wi-Fi kept disconnecting.
Additionally, I quickly learned about the Penang bus system, since I had chosen a place to stay that was over an hour away from my friend’s house. Again, whoops.
Elise dragged me quite willingly around her favorite parts of Penang, and I especially enjoyed meandering around Fort Cornwallis.
Many Mouth-Watering Meals
More than a few cars had McDonalds and Starbucks “VIP” stickers in their windshield. I have no idea what that’s all about, but I found it vaguely fascinating (and a little scary). What does being a “VIP” mean when they won’t see it until you come around to pay anyway? Or is it a RFID tag? Do they have a RFID reader that tells them when a VIP is at the ordering microphone?
I think I’ll pass on the Miccy D’s VIP sticker.
Chew (On This) Jetty
While on the jetty, I heard the following phrase multiple times: “I’m Proud to be from Penang, but not from Malaysia.” Apparently it’s a common sentiment. Malaysia is such a patchwork quilt of people and places, and Penangites like to set themselves apart from the rest, to distance themselves from Malaysia’s rampant corruption.
Malaysia Is A Muslim Country
In Penang, though, I noticed it constantly. About 1/3 of women wore traditional Muslim clothing, with a head covering but with their entire face visible. A smaller minority wore all black with just their eyes showing.
I willingly admit that the “complete covering of everything except for eyes” thoroughly weirded me out. I felt like I couldn’t connect with them; I wondered what they were thinking, how their faces were moving, how to know what they are doing. I felt intimidated.
Until she smiled at me.
The black-clad woman was pushing an infant in a stroller. She had a toddler in tow, and was struggling to get off the bus before the driver shut the door on her, but several dozen people were jostling and getting in her way. I helped her get off the bus and waved goodbye, since I was staying on.
You know those smiles that light up the person’s entire face? Yeah, they make me feel good too, both giving and receiving. She gave me one of those, and I instantaneously connected with her as a human being, with the same needs, wants and struggles as me or anyone else.
I’m not going to lie – the extreme covering-up of women still weirds me out. I continually wonder if the particular woman likes it, or hates it. Judges it, or appreciates it. But then I realize that for them it’s just part of life.
And I see them as fellow human beings.
Urinary Hole In One
I had to go badly, but I took one look at the hole and said “No F***ing Way.”
Then I realized I might as well get it over with. I knew that at some point during my world travels I’d have to pee in a hole, and had been dreading it. I figured if I did it now, maybe I wouldn’t have to do it later; karma or something. I know it’s a stupid argument, but it got me to pee in the hole, which was what needed to happen at that moment.
Besides, I had Kleenex in my purse.
I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I said to myself “self, you can now brag to all the non-travelers that you’ve peed in a hole next to the backwoods in a rambling shack in the middle of nowhere in a 3rd world country.”
Yes, I was trying to make myself feel superior, or at least better. And I’m okay with that. At least now I know what it’s like, and I won’t fear it so much in the future. Though I will continue to do everything possible to avoid it.
No, I didn't take a picture. I was kind of busy being grossed out and hyping myself up to do it. Yes, I know I should have. Sorry.
What's Your Exit Strategy?
And then I saw it. Coldstone. COLDSTONE!
As those of you who know me are aware, which is, umm, pretty much all of you, I kind of have a thing for Coldstone. Me and Coldstone go way back, through triumphs, heartbreaks, breakthroughs, successes, failures, good times and bad. I haven’t had ice cream from Coldstone in months. In fact, I stopped eating dairy to help my allergies, to astounding effect.
But not today.
Today I am eating Coldstone.
And Life Is Good.