Weird, Wacky, Wonderful Day in Penang

Weird, Wacky, Wonderful Day in Penang

Today is a perfect example of how weird, wacky, wonderful and exhausting my days often are, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Do you think the local art might mock colonialists?

It’s Saturday. I slept in, then spent most of the day deeply absorbed in my new pet project (uniting bellydancers around the world to raise money for Syrian refugees). By late afternoon, I remembered that I had rescheduled last night’s street food tour for tonight and needed to figure out how to get to the meeting point.

Google Maps said my destination was an hour away on foot. I figured I’d start walking and pick up a taxi when I got into the city, which is only 20 minutes away on foot.

The Weird

So I walked and walked. Here’s what most of the streets look like where I was walking. I’ve rented a bike for the month but I cannot figure out how to ride it safely!


While I walked, I has this dialogue in my head.

Inner Parent (I like to call her Mum): So, Lauren. You worked until 3am on that new project. This can’t continue.
Inner Child: I know, I know.
Inner Mum: You are already committed to more creative and charity work than you can keep up with, and none of it is making any money. Why would you launch yet another major project?
Inner Child: Because…it gives…meaning…to my existence?
Inner Mum: (rolling eyes) Welllllll, that’s just great then. We’ll have a meaningful existence in a cardboard box. Who do you think is going to pay the bills while you’re doing all this?
Inner Child: (looking hopeful and adoring) I was hoping YOU would!

Is that normal? Or have I been alone too long?

I’d been walking half an hour and still hadn’t seen a cab. Maybe I could walk the rest of the way? I stepped it up.

When I peeked at my GPS again, I saw that the road had veered north and I was headed in the wrong direction. I still hadn’t seen a cab — and it was starting to rain. I threw my scarf over my head and made a course correction. That’s when it dawned on me that I had rescheduled the food tour for NEXT weekend — not tonight.

I took this shot in Kuala Lumpur, walking in a different rain, but it seems appropriate here.

Well, damn. I’d been walking for 45 minutes at that point. I was in a part of the city that I haven’t seen yet. Might as well explore! I pulled out my TripAdvisor app and asked it for nearby attractions What’s good, TripAdvisor?

It said I wasn’t far from something called Nagore Square and promised me great street art. Game on! You have to be flexible when you travel.

The Wonderful

I’ll let Nagore Square and its  street art speak for itself. Words would only detract.

The Wacky

I was now an hour’s walk from home, and getting worried about making my way back after dark in a downpour. But I wanted to eat in this new neighborhood, where there are real, indoor restaurants!  My neighborhood only has street stalls. I had passed a place called Naughty Nuri’s just a block before Nagore Square and I had to try it. It seems to be a chain out of Bali. Touristy, but fun.

Pigs are the theme at Naughy Nuri’s.

I ordered the Bali-style nasi goreng (fried rice) and a lychee martini. If you order a Lychee Martini at Naughty Nuri’s, this happens:

The martini was yummy. I kind of wanted a second one, but didn’t want to go through the hoopla again.

When you dine out alone, you are often seated at the bar.

Soon the food arrived, and it was gorgeous. I stuck my fork in the fried rice and pulled out an entire baby octopus! It was kind of bouncy, like a cat toy. I was not expecting that.

Tip: Octopi should not lurk in one’s rice and jump out at one. It’s unseemly.

One of several baby octopi tucked into my rice like Crackerjack prizes. Yummy, but disconcerting.

The exhaustion

After dinner, I started walking home again. That’s when my phone battery died and I lost my GPS. No worries, I thought. I know my way home from the tallest building in the city. I’ll use it as a beacon. My feet were hurting though, and a familiar twinge came into my hip. I wasn’t sure I had another 45 minutes of walking left in me.

I was grateful when I finally encountered a taxi. I jumped in happily but then realized that my address is stored in my dead cell phone. I gave him the name of the main road nearest me, Jalan Sungai Pinang, and the nearest landmark, the Sungai Food Court, which is about a mile from my house.

I don’t know where that cab took me. He took roads I’ve never seen and drove forever. I started thinking he’d misunderstood me, and wondered where we would wind up. I also wondered how much it was going to cost, since he hadn’t turned on the meter. (Usually I negotiate with cabs before I get in if there’s no meter). I was too tired to care. I was so happy to be sitting down, in a dry place with a hint of air conditioning. We could drive around for hours and it could cost $50 and that would be great.

We did, in fact, end up at the food court though. “Just a little further up this road” I pointed straight ahead.

“Food court.” he said.

“Yes, my home is  a kilometer or two further. That way.”

“Food court.” he said, pulling over.

Fine. I paid him (about $3) and had to walk another mile or so. It hurt. I made it home, though. I’m aching, and my feet have that familiar “been beaten with a board” feeling, but it was a fun night.

I wouldn’t trade my weird, wacky, exhausting life for anything, but sometimes I’m just happy to lie down and put my feet up!

Published by Lauren

I'm a nomadic freelance writer, out enjoying the world!


  • Jane Hill

    September 6, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Your blog is like a travelogue, Lauren. I didn’t even know for sure where Penang was–wasn’t even sure where Malaysia was!–so looked it all up and found it very interesting, indeed! I am always surprised how “modern” these countries are and I thank you for helping to educate me about them. The pictures are so wonderful and the videos–loved the one about the martini and wondered what I’d have done with the baby octopi in the rice….I like calamari, but…….you are so brave!
    I have done no foreign travel and probably won’t, altho’ I have traveled the U. S. extensively and have been on a cruise. I now live in Florida. Love it here and don’t want to leave much! So your adventures are very much appreciated and read with interest (and some envy, I must admit–you are brave!) and I look forward to reading more of your adventures soon! Thank you!

  • M

    September 6, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Wonderful entry. Seeing where you are or might be going next… Would love to see a new entry, on your budget, for ongoing yearly travel. I am guessing you go to countries, that are most affordable. Any up to date info., after your 2+ years of travel, would be greatly appreciated, such as, even an up to date specific, on how much you carry these days, from one place to the next and how that has changed, since first starting out, as well as the challenges of budgeting, from one country to the next. All the best, on your side of the world!!!

  • Kristy

    September 6, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Loved hearing our laugh at the end of the martini dance!!! You definitely like a weird, wacky and wonderful life. Glad you made it home safely!!

  • Lauren

    September 7, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Wasn’t that the silliest damn thing? I was seriously afraid to order another one!

    Now I have a phone app for getting taxis. As long as I don’t let my battery run out again, I can conjure them up any time I want.

  • Lauren

    September 7, 2015 at 5:47 am

    Thank you so much. I’ve been working on the budget one, but the numbers are such a mess since I was home part of the time and such. maybe I’ll just pull numbers since March and get it done. I’ve also been talking to some other nomads and I’m going to post an article on all our budgets on my new site at (I’m posting all the travel advice stuff there and leaving this site as more my personal blog). How my gear has changed is also an EXCELLENT idea, I’ll get on that! Thanks.

  • Lauren

    September 7, 2015 at 5:49 am

    Thank you so much. Your message came in last night as I fell into bed exhausted, and it really flipped my mood. It means everything to me to know that people are reading and enjoying and maybe inspired or learning from what I’m doing. So much love to you! (and you’ve probably seen more of the US than I have, I need to get around there more!)