I remembered when I was young, I looked forward to have laksa at Padang Kota Lama every time I visit Penang. Laksa, followed by ais kacang. The ais kacang must have a scoop of ice-cream on top! Sometimes we also had some kerang (cockle) or cuttlefish with spinach. A real local delicacy. A must have. Over the years, the beachfront stalls were moved into a more organised food bazaar and to a certain extend, the charm was lost.
For instance, take laksa. The moment you reach the stalls, there will be throng of vendors coming towards you asking what you want. A quick look, you will see at east 4 laksa stalls. You will never know where your order will come from, or more importantly, will in come from the best stall on offer. It can be really intimidating if you were unfamiliar with the place. The second issue was the number of child beggars around. I was sure they were organised in syndicate. The problem was, they kept on coming and pretended that they did not know each other. After giving money to a couple of children, we soon got fed up and ignored the rest. The sad thing was, none of the vendors minded them, much to the annoyance of the visitors.
The squid and cuttlefish I had was really nice, but shame about the laksa. The ais kacang was OK.I guess if I were to go there again, I should bring one of my uncles to take me around. He should know where to order from. Dropping by just like that may not be a good idea after all. If you really wanted to sample good food, get a local fella to come along!
Suffice to say that Idlan did not enjoy the visit since as soon as he arrived, he was swamped by the vendors, and the beggars. We had to finish up fast before the boys kick up an even bigger fuss. After a quick walk along the esplanade, we headed home. The main Padang Kota was transformed into a giant football hall. There was a massive screen beaming the World Cup game live later in the evening, filled with locals. There were also a small fanfare there. Unfortunately, lingering around was a bit too much for the boys.