On Friday morning (3 a.m. to be precise), I packed a tiny suitcase, pillows, a blanket, my mum and sleepy baby sister into my car and drove all the way to Penang for the GTLF 2013. For 2 days, we drank good coffee (mum, actually. Danielle had hot chocolate and I had Naturalis green tea), stayed holed up in our little room by the beach and read, bought stacks of books, and attended the events at Sekeping Victoria and China House. I had amazing fun as did Danielle. We listened to poetry + readings, heard from world-renowned writers and Danielle got her book signed by Tash Aw. I particularly enjoyed the sessions by Tash Aw, Annelies Verbeke and Christine Otten. Very inspiring and so much to bring home.

On Saturday night, I had the privilege of being driven around to the best local spots for street food and to hang out with the most interesting company — I always feel so blessed to find “my” kind of people, people who do not need alcohol or a dark space with deafening music to enjoy Saturday night. After stuffing myself silly, I ended up in a quaint little art-filled place (which had a disco ball!!) drinking honeyed green tea and laughing the night away, discussing art and life. I miss Penang already and I’m making plans to go right back the soonest I can (after I finish all my work).

If you’re ever in Penang, a place you MUST visit is China House. I had many meals there with Danielle and my mum. The ambiance is beautiful — just like Sekeping Victoria (Sek San is a genius .. I adore the Tempinis Gallery and the Sekeping spaces) and the food, even more memorable. I especially enjoyed the banana bread with cream and their series of home-made ice-cream, particularly the gula melaka flavour with chunks of palm sugar in it. You can always tell when fresh ingredients and no short cuts are taken in cooking and at China House, the wait for the food is definitely worth it. For coffee lovers, Michelle suggests Mugshot Cafe and I’d suggest Gusto, both on Chulia Street. Wes messaged me on Friday saying “You’re in Penang! Stop eating hipster food!” after I posted pictures of Mugshot’s delicious bagels. The local street food I had here were o-chien, spicy hokkien noodles, ais kacang, nasi kandar, fried koay teow, chee cheong fun and sweet+sour chicken rice. Not bad at all for a 3-day trip!

Definitely looking forward to GTLF 2014. My book will be out by then too šŸ™‚