A Diamond in the Rough
Trip Start Sep 02, 2009
72Trip End Oct 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
We had another long journey ahead of us (due to arrive in to Penang at 9pm) and, like an absolute superstar, the receptionist at the resort had gotten up extra early to cook us a take away breakfast. We got in the taxi, breakfast in hand, and headed for the other side of the island to catch the ferry to Surat Thani.
The ferry took 4 hours and Dave slept most of that time. There was a little confusion when we arrived in to Surat Thani because, as usual, no one hinted at what we were supposed to do. So we waited
Thankfully, 4 hours later the bus stopped at a kind of lay-by with a ticket desk and cafe. We waited once more and soon enough we were shouted at to get on a mini bus which had just pulled up. The driver was grumpy and we didn't like him. Neither did the two (rather large) British women who he yelled at to seat on the back seat (along with a German man), which had no legroom... or any room at all, instead of in the roomy front seat (where he later let some tiny Thai girls sit). They were not happy bunnies! I felt really sorry for them, they were really squished at the back... but I was pleased that it wasn't us. The driver did try to get us to sit at the back but we just ignored him until he stopped shouting at us and started shouting at someone else.
I tried to cheer them up with talk of Christmas and travels, and it seemed to distract them for a while. They had started their trip in Beijing so we swapped China stories which was great. They said that they had found China very hard to handle, and we agreed. It was great to talk to someone who understood!
Hours and hours and hours later we arrived in Hat Yai, the Thai border town. We got off the bus and Dave ran to the Seven Eleven to buy some food: We were starving! Then, an hour later we were on another mini bus headed to Penang
Thankfully, there were some really nice people on the bus and we chatted most of the way. It made what would have been a very trying journey an enjoyable one.
We arrived in to Penang at about 11.30pm and to our absolute delight (and disbelief) the bus had dropped us off right outside our hostel! Awesome! However, when we went inside they told us that they'd given our room away. Rubbish.
We went to the hostel across the road and they seemed really lovely there so that was where we stayed. It was a bit grotty, and there were no windows, but apparently it's what everywhere is like in Penang. We headed out for a quick bit to eat and then went to bed.
The next morning we went to look for an ATM but ended up by the waterfront at Fort Cornwallis. We went in and it was great! We read about how Penang became a British colony, it was very interesting. We messed around with a gun, and in the jail cell and found some goats. When we went to the cafe for a drink we met a man who lives in Perth (originally from Cornwall) and chatted to him for ages about our trip and he gave us great advice about Perth. He even gave us his card and said he knew someone who was hiring in Perth and for us to let him know when we get there. Now we were feeling really positive about Australia
Feeling pretty great we headed out of the fort to see more of Georgetown. On first sight it looks like a very tatty place, but you soon realise that the buildings are historic and have great significance. Even the street names had explanations of the origins of their names beside them. It's a place that has really embraced it's heritage. It is also extremely multicultural. As we walked around we went through China Town, and Little India, and then places which looked like we could be in England. It was surreal. I loved it! Dave, however, felt indifferent to it all.
Each evening we went to the Little India area of town for dinner and it was amazing! We ate the most cheap, delicious curries and stocked up on masses of Indian sweets. I bought some henna and one night tattooed a ferocious cat on Dave's shoulder... it looked pretty cool.
On the last day we decided to go to Penang Hill. We got on the public bus and, in the half hour it took to get to the funicular station, we got a great tour of the city. We saw the sights that we hadn't be able to get to which was fantastic. Unfortunately, when we got there, all the tickets on the funicular had been sold out. The only other way to get to the hill was by foot, but that would mean a three hour trek in the sweltering heat. Instead, satisfied that our day hadn't been wasted as we had had a great tour on the bus, we headed beck to Georgetown.
That evening we headed to Little India for dinner again, but before we got there we came across 'Daddy's Cafe'
The food was delicious, and more up-market than we'd been used to, and it was cooked by Vernon's brother, who he proudly introduced us to after we had eaten. He also showed us pictures of where he was from, a little island called Pangkor. Vernon had a British accent which we thought was odd because he was Malaysian-Indian and Dave asked where he got it from. He explained that before he got a job he couldn't speak English. When he was 18 he got a job in a bar where all the Brits drank at. Gradually, he learned English off them... and thus acquired a British accent! He was a real character.
Malaysia had already proved itself to be a lot different from the rest of Asia as we hadn't encountered any hawkers, or hassle... it was weird to be able to walk down the street and not have someone try to pressure sell you something! Having said that, it wasn't very lively either. As we had had a very quiet Christmas we decided to be sociable for new year so we bought a ticket for Kualar Lumpur, which we thought would have more going on. We would travel down on new years eve, by bus (Malaysian buses are supposed to be luxurious), and arrive in time to head out for the count down.
Hopefully everything would go to plan!