The morning sun intruded through the window, another tortured sleep was over. Wearily I climbed out of bed, the sheets sticking to my back and legs.
The ceiling fan spun madly, like the last chopper out of Saigon. The useless thing had made a racket all night, circling hot air around my stifling room. The heat and the noise weren’t helping my insomnia.
I left the room and trudged down the corridor, my feet dragging on the wooden floor. I reached the showers and entered without undressing. The water was warm, so I checked whether I’d accidentally used the hot tap. Nope, this was just Malaysia, with room-temperature water of 35 degrees.
Still sweating in the shower, I got out and returned to my room. In this heat I didn’t need a towel. I groaned at the thought of going outside, but I had to eat. I took a t-shirt and soaked it under a tap. In minutes it would be bone dry, but the wet fabric would provide some relief.
I fastened my room’s padlock and left the guesthouse. Outside it was just as hot, but I also had the sun to contend with. Motorbikes zipped past as I scurried down the narrow street, darting from shadow to shadow. I could feel the road’s heat through my melting shoes.
Fortunately, I could see the roti stand up ahead. A large awning covered a hot plate and a bench for making drinks. The awning also stretched over a set of tables and chairs on the road. They were full of Indian men enjoying an early lunch.
I ordered a teh tarik and roti then found a spare seat. Cars meandered past, their fumes making me cough. The sun was high now, casting hard shadows from the adjacent palm trees. I watched the cook rolling the dough, then spinning it in the air and stretching it over the hot plate. Soon the roti was on my table, along with a bowl of curry.
I sipped the teh tarik and waited for the roti to cool. Teh tarik’s a typical Malaysian tea, named for its “pulling” preparation method. It was milky and very sweet. I tore the roti into pieces and dipped it in the curry. The bread’s soft buttery texture was divine, perfectly complementing the fiery curry.
Despite sitting in the shade, I was still sweating like crazy. I’d opted for some spicy roti and hot tea, when a swimming pool of ice would’ve been smarter. But this was a typical morning in Penang. And I loved it.