Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
17Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Hotel Hong Ping
So braving my first ever flight alone, ( I never thought I'd see the day!) I took the 45 minute trip across the water from Sumatra to Malaysia and the little island of Penang. Wow! What a breath of fresh air, literally. Compared to Medan, Penang is paradise, clean air, uncrowded roads, nice architecture,Tesco! What a difference 45 minutes make. I admit, had I come here from the UK seeking adventure and culture I'd have been disappointed, but being a resident of Medan gives this place a whole new twist
particularly in George Town, feel nice and homely.
Shortly after arriving and checking into my (basic, but clean) hotel, I head out to explore my surroundings and (to my joy) manage to hunt down Little India just in time for lunch. Being still somewhat wary of food I opt for a vegetarian Indian restaurant and ask the waiter for advice. His recommendation, Garlic naan and Butter Chicken (substitute) arrives minutes later and I inhale the lot, best curry in ages! I chat to a couple of girls on the table next to me, here from England on holiday and consider tailing them for the rest of the day, but decided to brave and stick to my own plans...I've got my eye on Batu Ferringhi beach!
I head back to the hotel to change (it's hot here!) and somehow manage to pass out for 3 hours! Must be the early start, or all the stresses of adjusting to a new country and a new job, or the 45 minutes of pure terror earlier that day, whatever the reason I decide to be lenient on myself and not get too annoyed that I missed 3 hours of exploration time! I head off to the beach I'd spotted on a tourist map I'd picked up in the hotel foyer. Taxi's are not cheap here, it costs me $12 to get there, but my taxi driver is a nice guy with lots to say, so I get a mini tour thrown in for free. At the beach I head to a bar and opt for the cheapest
drink on the menu (Tiger Beer) and settle down to watch the sunset and the paragliding. Almost finished and ready to leave when another arrives at my table courtesy of the paragliding instructor just next door on the beach
Around 7pm the night markets at Batu Ferringhi open up, tourist heaven, and I enjoy wandering around, having no clue how much anything really is since I've not figured out the currency, and chatting to the vendors. All in all a fun day!
Sunday morning I'm up early and in need of company, I don't function well as a lone wanderer, one day is plenty for me! And so since it's the first day of advent (it's nearly Christmas yey!) I head to a church based in Hotel Hydro near Batu Ferringhi that I hear is popular with foreigners in the hope of making some friends. I walk into conference hall of around 200 people, nearly all expats...and consider walking out again, I was expecting 10 or 20! But no, I'm being brave this weekend so I stay and it pays off, I meet some nice people and afterwards we go out for lunch, curry again! Happy days.
I kindly get an offer of a lift back to my hotel (it's nearly time to get back on that plane again!) and on the way I mention that my eye has been causing me problems (I've been seeing floaty things for a few days now). I explain my symptoms to the lady and she thinks I should get it checked out, it sounds serious, and so I'm dropped of at a very smart looking Seven Day Adventist hospital (the only one open on a Sunday). Inside they are getting ready to close, this weekend is a Muslim holiday and Malaysia has a long weekend and so I travel from counter to counter in the hope of being seen by a doctor
In the doctors office I get various tests, eye drops and puffs of air in my eyes, before the bright light diagnoses a hole in my retina (well that can't be good!). The treatment is by lazer, which I'm told only hurts as much as an ant bite (I've just been to the jungle, I've seen Indonesian ants!) and won't cause any damage...unless I move during the procedure (!?). Still I go ahead with it, I don't like the sound of the consequences if I don't, and leave the hospital one hour before my flight is due to leave, blind in one eye and hoping for a miracle!
Being blind in one eye doesn't help when I get to the airport, but I manage to make it onto the plane to face my biggest challenge yet: I've got the scariest seat on the plane, the very last row! That's the bumpy spot, the seat where you can see the whole length of the plane go up and down. Luckily I'm still blind, so I grin and bear it and make it to Medan safe and sound and only a little rattled.
My adventure over, I feel proud of myself, I've packed a lot into two days and I've come out the other side feeling a little bit braver. What's next? I'm ready!