Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
297Trip End Dec 15, 2011
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Today is Diwali, the hindu big festival and so there are 3 days of public holiday, where everything is closed, yes 3!! Why don't we get 3 days of shuttage for Xmas I ask you! Bah! We are near Little India and perhaps we will find some interesting celebrations happening later on, who knows.
Meanwhile we're on the bus going to Kek Lok Si Temple, the biggest temple in Asia apparently then Penang Hill for an island wide view
14:12 We ended up not going up Penang hill, but instead, as we were slogging our way up the hill (the way the cars go, we had completely missed the short stairway for pedestrians to take a more direct route - unsurprising as there was absolutely no signs saying this little alley was the way up) a lady turned up on a scooter who saw us walk past her house, saying that there was a stairway for when we left. She also offered to take me and Scott up to see a dam with a great view. We agreed and she went back to get her car before collecting us and taking us up the steep hill all the way to the top where the dam is, and what a view over Georgetown!
She dropped us off at the highest area of the temple, next to an enormous statue of Buddha under a concrete gazebo, which sort of reminded me of something like the Greek gods would all be positioned under in Athens in old times. There was still a great view over the city and the usual colourful buildings with yellow tiled roofs and the Chinese zodiac animals carved in grey stone in the garden area outside.
We took a short funicular lift down to the next levels and saw more brightly coloured temples, filled with images and statues of Buddha, everywhere we looked was photogenic and we spent about an hour looking around this magical place
We found the steps down to the place the bus dropped us off, a long winding maze that led us past at least 15 beggars (none of whom looked at all shabby) and was basically lined with touristy stalls all selling fridge magnets, Angry Birds T shirts and cuddly toys (if you don't know what Angry Birds is, it's a global hit of a game that started out on iPhones and is now something of a large brand, certainly over here- look it up), and all manner of typical tourist tat.
At last having reached the bottom, purses intact we boarded the bus back to town. It was after 2pm already!
16:32 Once in town, we got off near the clock tower and walked around the area past the city hall, the old fort, a navy base, past the clock tower and down some streets. The Colonial buildings around here are all 2 stories high with round topped windows and wooden shutters which makes them look very elegant rather than some of the new buildings I've seen which are totally characterless. We stopped for lunch in a place that was a bit of a chain, but had delicious bit of lunch (3pm!) to refuel before setting off walking again through the streets. We actually walked the whole of the old quarter it seemed and returned to the hostel around 6ish for a rest.
Whilst there I got chatting with a friend from home who told me her friend who was working in Hanoi, who I met months earlier had now moved to Penang, so a quick Facebook/skype addition had me arranging to meet Anna once again and she literally only lives around the corner
We went down to meet her and her boyfriend and had some dinner in a large food court called Red Garden accompanied by some live music, it was a bright and lively place with very tasty food for practically nothing, and filled with tourists and locals alike. We caught up, drank a huge beer and I had some BBQ chicken with noodles and shared some chicken satay, we were stuffed by the time we went to bed around 11. The boat tickets for the morning were booked, we were packed and ready and off to bed, where I ended up chatting on skype with my mum in England, sister in Johannesburg (south africa) and me in Malaysia. We are a spread out family, soon to be more spread out it seems as my sister might be moving to America for a while with her hubby...nothing is for sure yet though.
Best: a random meeting with a kind stranger - some people in this world really are genuinely very nice, this restores my faith in people a little bit
Worst: well it did rain that evening
Beautiful: views from the hills and around Kek Lok Si Temple.