And Now, Some Nature

Brandy had been in Penang for a couple of days at this point, and she still hadn’t seen much nature.  It’s just so hot here, and with a newborn baby in tow, it’s hard to get out of the A/C. Still, we wanted her to get to experience some of Penang’s nature along with all the food and culture we’d been able to show her so far.

One day, Brandy and I accompanied Simon on a trip to the Botanic Garden.  Simon was able to give Brandy a clear description of proper monkey protocol: don’t carry food or the monkeys will steal it!  But in addition to monkeys, we saw some other really cool wildlife.  And Simon was the first to spot much of it: he was the first to see the salamanders on the path to the lily pond, probably because he was at a better angle to peer into the underbrush.  And while Brandy and I were staring at the mostly empty lily pond, Simon called out that he saw a beautiful red bird.  At the time, Brandy and I both agreed it must be some sort of bee eater.  But having done a little investigating (erm, “googling”) I now think it was a crimson sunbird. Brandy, what do you think?

 

Somebody else’s picture of a crimson sunbird. Photo credit: Ariefrahman, s.r.arief@facebook.com
 
In addition, we saw TWO monitor lizards–one climbing a tree and one warming itself in a sunny patch of grass.  I’ve long considered Komodo dragons to be one of the most terrifying animals on earth.  These guys are relatively close cousins to Komodos, and seeing how well that big lizard climbed a tree reinforced my fear.

He’s a bit camoflaged, but there’s a monitor lizard in this tree. You see it yet? He’s close to a meter long.

On another morning, Joel and Brandy took a hike at Taman Negara, Penang’s National Park.  Simon stayed with our babysitter, Thiva, and Penelope and I had doctor’s appointments.  It sounds like it was a hot, humid climb but they were rewarded with some more wildlife sightings.  The highlight was probably the mudskippers.  Joel and I saw mudskippers once in Zhuhai, but I think the ones here in Penang were a little more actively skipping mud, as mudskippers are wont to do.  

   
 

   
    
   
When they were done hiking, Penelope and I took an Uber to Batu Ferringi to meet the hikers and we all had lunch together at a little place called the Living Room.  I picked out this place particularly for its beef rendang, which is a Malaysian specialty.  It’s slow-cooked beef, flavored with coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic.  Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?  Yes, and it tastes even better.  Best of all, those are all ingredients that are easy to acquire in the U.S.  I envision perfecting a crockpot version of this recipe when we get home.  

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