More chinatown than you can poke a stick at

Trip Start Aug 29, 2004
Trip End Sep 12, 2004

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Saturday, September 11, 2004

Imagine a hot, sticky climate. You sweat profusely as soon as you walk 25m down the road. You wish the sun would stay behind that cloud just a little longer. Now how would walking into an airconditioned room feel? Fantastic, indeed! So, after I had enjoyed a supposedly airconditioned, but boiling one hour taxi ride with three students from Brussels (it saved me 18/28 ringgits, them 5/40, which made me wonder what they were students in... not economics I hope!), I happily sought refuge from the heat in a cybercafe (before the obligatory exploring of the no less than boring town of Kota Bharu). When at night (still hot, don't make that mistake!) I boarded an airconditioned bus, I expected similar relief... I couldn't have been more wrong. Maybe I should have believed those four students at the Sri Dewi restaurant when they said I was driving with the wrong bus company, but no reasons were specified.

As impossible as it may sound, that bus ride now rates as #2 in my personal top 10 of horrific bus rides just because of its airconditioning. Although it didn't make it to #1 (I think the Luang Prabang-Vientiane/Vientiane-Hanoi combo will forever head the list), it did push death defying bus drivers in India back to a humble third place. I was forwarned to bring a jumper (and I did, matching socks with that), but nothing could have saved me from this freezing cold. I swear, there was an icicle dangling from my nose by the time we reached Penang.

The cold had a muscle in my back shoot into a cramp and it was absolutely killing me. It made me check into the rather plush (well, according to backpacker standards that is) Cathay hotel, it made me jump with joy at the discovery of hot water streaming from the bath (!!) tap (not the shower, I was still in Malaysia!), and it forced me to sleep for two hours under two blankets to come back to life (the same blankets that I threw into the furthest corner that night after another, needless to say, hot afternoon outside).

So, although the morning was wasted away in bed, the afternoon was kicked of by a noodle soup and a nice cup of local coffee at a kedai kopi, after which it was time to explore... of course. To be honest, exploring didn't go much beyond combing Georgetown's chinatown, which was lovely, with all its original shophouses definitely the nicest chinatown I've seen, visits to a couple of chinese temples, some shop visits thrown in for good measure (didn't buy anything), and I also caught a glimpse of Fort Cornwallis. At night I wandered around for a bit in a vain attempt to locate a restaurant that sounded good in LP (did I mention LP accuracy??), feeling a bit lost and lonely for the first time. I could have done with having a beer with someone, and that someone not being a lonely chinese tradesman...
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