Penang: Home is where the heart is

Penang – a small island off the north west coast of west Malaysia. Most famous for it’s hawker food and shoe designer Jimmy Choo. It is my place of birth, my parents place of birth and the place where the majority of my extended family reside. My grandmother’s ailing health and the anniversary of my grandfather’s passing drew me back home this time. And although I have lived in Melbourne for nearly 26 of my 28 years, I have been caught plenty of times confusing my friends with my use of the word ‘home’. I’ve always just dismissed it as my general looseness with the English language or perhaps my understanding of the limits of language, but I’ve never really delved deep into the notion of home. But now, as I sit here in my mother’s family home, seems like a fitting moment in time.

The Merrium-Webster dictionary defines home as ‘a place where something normally or naturally lives or is located’. Upon reflection and contemplation I have never felt a huge amount of attachment to any place. When I use the phrase ‘I want to go home’, what I mean is that I want to get out of the place where I am into a place of comfort. So homesickness is a feeling unfamiliar to me. I’ve heard people describe it as a nostalgic feeling towards familiar things such as family, friends and pets and in some cases I’ve seen it result in depression and anxiety. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss some things about Melbourne – my rabbits, friends, food and fresh air. There are some things I miss about Penang . But I look at these things with a sense of fondness rather than it eliciting any ill feelings or longing.

I guess for me, home is where the heart is. As cliche as it sounds, it is a feeling of comfort rather than a destination. Though I believe my most anxious years have passed the practice of Yoga has helped me feel at home within myself. It has helped me let go of some physical attachments and at the risk of sounding like a fluffy Yogini, I really feel like I am a child of the universe. I can feel at home in a place, with a person, on my yoga mat – anywhere. But since I’m not just anywhere, here are my must do’s of Penang:

  1. Eat: Laksa, Hokkien Mee, Curry Mee, Char Koey Teow, Mamak, Wonton Mee and Song River Chicken Wings. And off the side of the street is the best… Just don’t watch how they cook it.
  2. Drink: G Hotel bar on Gurney Drive.
  3. Shop: Paragon and Gurney Plaza – next to each other on Gurney Drive.
  4. Stay: Eastern & Oriental Hotel in George Town
  5. Do: Go on a walk through the beautiful colonial shop houses in town and view the street art.

See where else I have been and where else I end up by following my blog.