A Merry Christmas in Malaysia

Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country so when we planned our month long stay here over Christmas, we weren’t expecting it to feel very ‘Christmassy’. There’s definitely no snow but we were pleasantly surprised by the trees, ornaments and lights hanging absolutely everywhere. It seems that on the island of Penang everyone embraces and celebrates Christmas regardless of their religion.

Our place is very basic but has everything we could possibly need for our stay here – including heaps of kids toys and books. It’s a travelling parents’ paradise! You can check it out here. We even found a Christmas tree in the storage room complete with lights and ornaments. Our kitchen is packed with every type of cooking device you could imagine from an electric wok to a waffle maker, and was perfectly equipped for Christmas baking.

The only downside to our place is the colony of pigeons making their home in our attic. Every morning when they arrive back to their nest at the crack of dawn at least three fly straight into our bedroom window (missing the hole entering the attic just above) and scaring the living daylights out of me. I’ve recently became very well read in pest management and am on a mission to find a giant plastic owl and lay cheese cloth stuffed with spices.

We do have some other nicer wildlife in the vicinity though because our home backs onto a beautiful hill with dense virgin rainforest. There is one bird that seems capable of imitating any noise and we have heard it copy a laugh, car alarm and even the cries of our little Nu!

Our neighbourhood has a very nice feel to it and seems to be home to a large Chinese community judging by the lanterns hanging everywhere and the preparations for Chinese New Year. There are a few funny characters – like the man that walks his dog from his car and our neighbour who works out on his balcony and listens exclusively to Miley Cirus hits at an extreme volume.

Every night we see the same scene of the night market shop keepers pushing their carts down to the main street – an activity which seems quite tiresome and strange as the night market happens everyday of the week. We like to spend our evenings near the beach where we can watch the sunset and the endless parasailing operation, which we have decided is probably the largest source of income for this town. There are never less than 10 sails up and we get an adrenaline rush every time one lands because you never really know where they will land or how it will turn out. After watching for several days I can say with a great deal of certainty that we will not be parasailing – although we were told by several people that we could take Nu up with us (CRAZY!).

Around 6:00 pm the town begins to wake up and the food stalls begin cooking up a storm. The food is amazing here and cheap as chips! Our favourite spot is called Long Beach and is sort of like a free-style food court where you can choose from more than 10 different cuisines. You can seriously eat like a king for 5 dollars (and so far our stomachs have survived the challenge). We ate here for Christmas eve but opted for something a little classier on Christmas day at the Shangri-la.

Nu was very impressed by the Christmas clown who crafted him an amazing balloon motorcycle and was only slightly terrified of the Santa Claus. He was on his best behaviour and distracted by the pile of little cars he had received in the morning, and ate a tons of lamb, turkey, stuffing and crème brûlée.

During the holidays it can sometimes be hard to be away from friends and family and it’s a time of year when even the most eager travelers yearn for home. While we wish we could have shared the holidays with our nearest and dearest, we did our best to make it a special Christmas for our little nomadic family.