PETALING JAYA: Penangites love their tiny island. It has a rich history, mouth-watering hawker fare and, most importantly, family.
But what happens when a Penangite has to leave the familiarity and safety of Penang and head towards the bustling, intimidating and boisterous Klang Valley for work or school?
Here are six lessons every Penangite has had to learn the hard way when they made that dreaded move to the Klang Valley.
1. Tolls everywhere
One of the blessings of living in Penang is that the only toll to be paid is the one to cross the Penang Bridge from the mainland to the island. Otherwise, the little island of Penang lets its residents roam happily toll-free.
Taking a quick trip to Kuala Lumpur city centre? The shiny toll booth welcomes drivers with open arms. Living in Petaling Jaya but working in KL? Be prepared to shed tears as the ravenous toll booths swallow a chunk of your fresh-graduate’s salary.
Sure, Waze can guide drivers through the maze of toll-free roads, but who wants to be trapped in one of the Klang Valley’s infamous traffic jams that snake for kilometres? Burning precious fuel is not ideal either.
2. Hokkien Mee versus Prawn Mee
Yes, it is confusing, and Penangites, be prepared for a long debate when it comes to Hokkien Mee and Prawn Mee in KL.
Head over to the Pearl of the Orient and ask your local auntie for a bowl of Hokkien Mee and a hearty bowl of sweet, aromatic stock with a mix of yellow noodles, vermicelli, prawns, bean sprouts and a hard-boiled egg would be served.
In the Klang Valley, however, an order of Hokkien Mee would entail a sinful plate of thick, fat noodles coated in a dark sauce all fried in crunchy pork lard goodness.
In fact, KL folks refer to Penang’s Hokkien Mee as Prawn Mee much to the ire of Penangites.
Despite the decades-long debate, both dishes are equally awesome and deserve a pedestal of their own.
3. Frequent water cuts
Klang Valley folk are definitely no strangers to water cuts. Don’t be alarmed to see your colleagues rushing home to collect tub upon tub of water because water disruptions are so frequent.
So, keep your ears open for the next water disruption announcement because there’s nothing more frustrating than being denied your early morning shower.
4. Which highway to take?
For those fresh out of Penang and driving on the big, wide expressways of the Klang Valley, navigating around the city is no joke.
Even with Waze or Google Maps, there is still a high likelihood you’ll take a wrong turn and end up spending half an hour on the road trying to get back on the right track again.
Get ready to break out into a cold sweat as you frantically try to figure out which highway you’re on as the irate driver behind you flashes his headlights furiously because you’re moving way too slowly.
A colleague will definitely say, “Take AKLEH, it’s much faster.”
Wait, what’s AKLEH? Yup, even the highways here have nicknames, so start memorising like crazy, people.
The most vital thing is to always have a power bank with you because if the phone dies, Waze cannot be accessed and being stuck in the middle of the Klang Valley with no clue where you are or where to go leaves nothing but bitter memories for you to lug back home.
5. RM12 for a plate of Nasi Kandar
The Klang Valley may boast a variety of attractive cafés and upscale restaurants but, at the end of the day, there’s nothing more comforting than a plate of Penang-style Nasi Kandar, especially for supper.
At the nearest Nasi Kandar restaurant, the homesick Penangite selects a juicy-looking piece of fried chicken, stir-fried cabbage and rice. And with a smile, the cashier charges a whopping RM12, leaving the hapless Penangite stunned for life.
They weep silently into their plates, finish their meal that, ironically, will never compare to the taste of Penang Nasi Kandar and vow to never eat it again till the next trip home.
Oh, and don’t even dream of ordering squid unless it’s payday. Even then, just don’t.
6. Sky high parking fees
What is the Klang Valley without its ridiculously expensive parking rates? A day out in Bangsar over the weekend will cost RM3 just for the first hour and RM2.50 for every subsequent half hour.
But before cancelling all those exciting weekend plans and hiding under the comforter forever, one of the perks of living in the Klang Valley is its extensive public transport network, so take advantage of it and leave the car at home. Your wallet will thank you for it.