Going to Penang Island (apart from going to USM campus for work) is a chore. A really big chore. You are likely to get stuck in traffic everywhere you go, even close to midnight! But sometimes you have to make an exception. Last night was one. We went to Hydro at Batu Ferringhi for a cousin's daughter's wedding. We decided to go mainly to catch up with relatives, some whom we had not met for ages. Dinner was supposed to be 7 pm (sharp, says the invitation card). My nephew said 7 pm means 8 pm, if you are lucky. But the card says 7 pm sharp, I protested. Yah, Penang people is like that. Guaranteed.
We started from Air Tawar about 5 pm. What, 2 hours to get to Batu Ferringhi? Nah, we wanted to visit the twins first in Air Itam. We had gone shopping for some cute baby clothes during lunch. I vetoed the baby drinking bottle when I checked and found it was made of polycarbonate. Going to Air Itam was pretty smooth. Then we left Air Itam about 6.30 pm, making good time as I followed closely behind my nephew as he zipped through some by-pass to avoid the traffic at Gottlieb Road and the Tanjung Tokong Road. We got to the hotel carpark by 7 pm ... and what do you know. Still lots of empty carparking bays. Not a good sign. Everyone else must be late. And we were right. When the dinner was just about to start, my nephew held up his iPhone with a cute picture of daughter No. 1 (he's the one with the new twins). I looked at him. What? Right on time he said. Oh, its 7.59 pm. Damn, he's good at this. Must have been attending lots of dinners lately.
Dinner was, ah, generally speaking, not up to expectation. My wife had asked me whether the food there was any good since I stayed there for a few nights a few weeks ago. I said, not bad. I take it back. The Chinese dinner sucks. Even Jillian who eats a modest meal wanted to go get a burger at McD, so we said OK, along the way at the drive-thru near Free School. Poor girl, it's hard being daddy's daughter.
One of the dishes is advertised on the menu as "steam chicken in glass paper", something like that. When it came, I looked it and said, that's a plastic sheet. I tore out a piece to confirm. Yes, it's plastic. So I refused to eat. About 10 minutes later my sis-in-law asked Jillian why she was not eating. My daughter said "to support my daddy" - he's protesting against the use of the plastic in the chicken. That sort of gave my SIL a mild shock. She didn't think it was plastic. She would have avoided eating if she had known. Oh, my wife. She abstained too. It's hard being my wife too.
I did a google this morning and found this chatter about Por Lay Chua (or glass paper). What's interesting is that people generally know that plastic is bad for your health but they choose to differentiate between plastics which are bad and those which are considered safe for cooking. Hey, I am sure the Emperor won't have liked his Emperor Chicken cooked in plastic.
So, that's it? That's my beef about the horrendous traffic in Penang Island? Hey, I haven't got home yet, ok?
We left the hotel about 10.45 pm. It was pretty smooth until we hit Gottlieb Road and traffic seemed to be hardly moving even though we could see the traffic light was green up ahead. So we took a sideroad, ending up at the back of One-Stop Complex. No right turn, so turned left, saw the queue for the U-turn, decided to go straight ahead, ending up right in front of Gurney Plaza. Queued and then quite a smooth drive until we got near the Citibank. Saw the almost standstill traffic, speculated there must be some function the Esplanade. So turned into Larut Rd (I think), intending to go through Perak Road to get to the Bridge. Ah, long queue all the way. At the Dato Keramat junction, got on the wrong lane so did an "illegal" lane switch. Got to Perak Rd, missed the turning to get to Jelutong Road. Did a U-turn. Got to Jelutong Rd, should be plain sailing from now. Wrong! When we got the flyover at Green Lane (Jln Mesjid Negeri), there was a big jam. Police car lights flashing. Most be an accident. We were already near midnight. Some joker must have been drunk. Saw a Pinang tree severed into two. A lamp post bent. Inched our way along. "Don't look, keep moving", says my wife. Ah looked we did. Not a pretty sight. As usual, lots of busybodies with cars and motorbikes all parked everywhere looking for some cheap thrill.
Got to the Bridge at about midnight. Even knowing all the roads "at the back of our hands" took us a looong time. Oh, well, we got to see alot of places we have not seen to in a long time. It's going to be a long while before we go to Penang Island again for dinner. Not at the Batu Ferringhi beach, that's for sure.
p.s. Jillian didn't get her burger.