On the buses...or maybe not!

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Flag of Malaysia  , Pinang,
Friday, January 21, 2011

Yes at last we visit our first island in Malaysia – Penang. A fairly straight forward bus ride with no dramas we arrived at our hostel at 11am.  We decided that part of visiting Penang was to sort out our Thailand visa and because we thought this would take 3 days we headed straight to The Embassy.  The manager of the hostel told us that it closes at 12 and as it was Friday we may have to wait till Monday to apply next, so he booked us a taxi and off we went.  Really easy taxi dropped us off and we were told to go back between 3.30 and 4pm to collect our passports/visa.  We left feeling happy that it was so straight forward then headed in the direction the taxi driver told us to catch number 101 bus. There had been a festival on the night before so it was really difficult to find a bus stop, then we thought Oh is there a bus stop, or do we just stand still? A guy was staring at me and chatting in Indian to his friends so I thought I'll just go over and ask him as he seems to think it’s acceptable to stare I’ll give him a better look in return for the answer I need.  Sorted we were at the right spot.  We waited and waited until we just couldn’t wait any more, eventually we walked further down the road to the mail road and waited for the 101 there....nothing.  It felt like being at the bingo waiting for the last number, it just didn’t arrive, no duvet set for me! We just decided to jump on the next one to arrive, it didn’t take us back to Georgetown centre but it took us to a bus terminal half way so we jumped off there.  It took us that long to get a bus we decided to stay in that area and grab a bite to eat.  Ready to collect our passports we jumped on the 101 back to the embassy but when we got off the bus we couldn’t remember our way back to the embassy, eventually we got there with 5 minutes to spare, it was like 'On The Buses’, or in our case Not On The Buses!

Anyhooow as we were only staying in Georgetown two nights we did all our sightseeing the following day, we walked all over this busy town killing 1 hour in Penang Museum (20p), we ate the best vegetable samosas in Little India and in China Town we visited Khoo Kangsi Chinese Temple. The Khoo family lived here many years ago , as we walked in a little old man (Lim)  walked over to us and started showing around pointing out a 200year old door and that Tony Blair visited him there many years ago.  He was great he took our photographs then asked if he could have a picture taken with us, he then asked if we would post him the photo and handed me a piece of paper with his address on it.  It was tempting to ask if he was on facebook but I think we all know the answer to that one!  Our town tour ended in B@92 Bar where we sat with a well rewarding beer as we chatted to a local couple whilst their children showed us how to do wheelies.

I liked Georgetown even though day one was a nightmare catching a bus.  It has a real cultural mix of Chinese, Malayans and Indians and all the food is mixed up so you get a little taste of everything in the food.  The hawker stalls on the street sell great local food for such little money it’s great to try all the tasty titbits on offer.  It was a bit crazy as in Malaysia there are hardly any pavements at the side of the streets so we ended up walking in the road, and when we did get on a small sidewalk there would be a scooter zooming past you. After a few weeks it does get a bit annoying having to dodge traffic all the time and jaywalk when trying to cross a main road,  they need Kevin Keegan out here to show them the green Cross Code or maybe cycling proficiency for all bikes.  But hey if everything was like England this would be no fun!
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