We first went to Penang in 2001 and spent four months in Batu Ferringhi beach. I just had my older three boys then who were about 14, 12, and 6. My mom also joined us for over a month. We had a condo near to the beach and days were spent pottering around butterfly or fruit farms, the beach, George Town to the mall and old houses and historic cemeteries, and of course the night market and food stalls. I didn’t cook once as food was so good and cheap. We spent most evenings at one of our favorite beach places eating grilled local catch and drinking “frosties” (the 6 year old’s term for a frozen mug of beer).

Batu Ferringhi Beach

We also visited a famous local artist as I realized that I’d bought some UNICEF postcards that featured one of his amazing batiks. The gallery is right in the middle of Batu Ferringhi and filled with Chuah Thean Teng’s work plus that of his two sons and one grandson. When we were there in 2001, we spent a couple of hours talking to the very elderly Mr Teng and mom and one of his sons were deep in conversation about art, tai chi, world affairs and more. It was a really neat experience and I got buy some prints (the actual batiks were huge and very, very expensive) and have the artist sign them. I had them professionally framed later and they have been in my homes since.

House in Florida with three of the pictures framed

So it was really fun to visit the gallery again a couple of days ago and to meet the two brothers are still painting and running the studio. The oldest (the one mom connected with so well) is 80 now and his father has passed away. Their work is carrying on and his son is also an artist. We spent a couple of hours chatting and learning all about his early training in Malaysia and then in London. He shared stories of how art reflected politics and philosophy as well as comments on the styles. He also showed us many canvases.

It was really neat to be able to take photos of some of the pieces I had prints of and to revisit the place.  I don’t know how long it will be there honestly but I hope the grandson will somehow keep it going.