Although the first leg of our journey was not at all how I expected it, our second week in Penang, Malaysia more than made up for the craziness that was Hong Kong. For months I had been looking forward to meeting and connecting with a whole bunch of other traveling families and I was so thrilled that we were able to make it to the party in Penang to meet so many of my virtual friends in real life!
That first morning in Penang I awoke in the apartment we were sharing with The King Family and realized for the first time in our trip I wasn’t waking up with a ball of anxiety in my stomach. We all got out of bed and spent the entire morning getting to know our roommates for the week. The adults talked travel, lifestyle choices, cost of living, and personal histories while the four children made forts out of the couch cushions and became fast friends with the universal language of play.
That afternoon we piled into a taxi to the apartment complex where The Benders are currently spending a few months of their lives and enjoyed the beautiful pool and playground over snacks and drinks.
I finally got to meet The Miller Family. Jen and I have been online friends for about three years now and I have always felt strongly connected to her. I once made a comment on my personal Facebook page about how zen I feel when I hang clothes out on the line and she replied that it was a chore she too loved and that when she does it she feels connected to all the women that have come before her in history, washing their clothes and hanging them out for the suns rays. I knew way back then that we would get along just fine.
Later that evening, in a pouring monsoon rain we loaded as many people as we could into a mini van (fourteen!!!) and went for dinner at a hawkers market. The food was unbelievably cheap. Nothing we ordered was over three dollars and it was some pretty tasty food. Mike and I committed the classic newby traveler mistake of ordering way too much food and we stuffed ourselves silly.
The Hickox Family has been living on Penang for a few months now and they were great tour guides to all of the families. All of us bussed out to the National Park one day and rented three boats to take us to Turtle Beach and Monkey Beach. It was worldschooling in action when we got to see and learn about egg collection and sea turtle release and see those little tiny turtles in their protective cages awaiting the day they would be big enough to face the dangers of the ocean.
We celebrated our new friend Spencer’s fifth birthday on Monkey Beach. Spencer’s mother made fairy cake, something they make ‘down under’ consisting of bread, butter, and candy sparkles all piled up to make quite the attractive cake! We were surrounded by thieving monkeys and Spencer’s dad Neil had to arm himself with a coconut at one point to keep them from stealing our food!
The entire week I was continually inspired and awed by The Palmer Family who have been traveling to some pretty hard destinations like China and Mongolia with their five children, one of which has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheel chair. These people are the poster models for living your best life without excuses.
It was a week of fun, laughter and connections. We ate amazing food, swam in the ocean, played at an indoor playground, and hung out in pools. My children bonded immediately with all of the other children and it was a beautiful thing to watch them interact with all of these new friends from different countries. In turn Mike and I became good friends with many of the families and I feel like we have started our own little web of traveling families who we will hopefully be able to reconnect with over and over again in different places in the world.
This past week in Penang solidified for me why I write on this blog. I’m not here to monetize, I’m not here to get a huge following or sell something. I’m here to be connect with people. The connections I have made here and continue to make enrich our lives. The virtual friendships that turn into real life friendships, the people who have reached out to us with their questions and comments, and the people that read along in silence are all connected to us in some way and for that I am truly grateful.
Check out what the other travelling families had to say about our meet up:
- A King’s Life writes The Perfect Storm in Penang
- Bohemian Travelers writes Monkey Beach and More in Penang
- Travel With Bender writes Strangers Partying in Penang
- The Edventure Project writes Families on the Move Meetup: Penang Malaysia Adventure
- Malaysian Meanders writes Long Term World Travel Inspiration for Families
- Going Anyway writes Penang – same same but different