kuala lumpur - penang

Penang Travel Blog

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sitting in the lobby of our hostel in penang island, just off the west coast of malaysia. a lobby in a hostel? aye. i am paying less than four quid a night for this place, and it is luxurious. the pound goes a very long way out here.

only been away for a week and a half, but aberdeen and edinburgh seem like a distant memory. i started in kuala lumpur, where i spent four nights, before getting a nightbus up to kuala besut to catch the ferry up to the perhentian islands. the nightbuses here are cheap and seem to like to drape as many curtains as possible over the windows to allow them to call it a VIP bus. they are also very, very cold. i was caught off guard and found myself tearing open a plastic bag and wrapping it around my legs to retain heat. knowing that just the other side of the curtain coated window there it is hot and humid makes it all the more annoying.

i arrived in kuala besut at 5am, in time to watch the sunrise over the river. kath - an australian girl that i met in KL that i am travelling with right now - was flying in and wouldn't be at the jetty for another 5 hours. the result was me falling asleep in the middle of the town on a plank of wood. i was so tired after not sleeping on the night bus that despite the townsfolk were doing their normal noisy business of trading fish and moving large boxes, i slept through it all, with just the occasional wake up for a mouthful of water.

eventually kath made it to the port and we were able to catch the speedboat to the perenthian islands. we stayed on long beach on the small island and it was paradise... almost. from dawn until dusk it was white beaches, crystal clear water and palm trees... from dusk until dawn however, it was like living in a zoo with wildlife everywhere. there were giant (5ft) lizards,a bit like crocodiles that roamed through the path that we had to take to get to our jungle chalet, along with monkeys, black flying hairy things, golden ants and the mega scary very large spiders that make their home in the trees above. their webbing was so huge, that given a strong gust of wind, part of it would fall down, leaving it hanging from a branch, this tended to happen at night when we were walking to/from the beach bar, making for a frightening experience when we got caught up in the webbing. there is no central electricity on the islands, with generators powering everything for limited periods, so torches were essential for getting from the jungle where we stayed down to the beach.

the islands were paradise, we chartered a boat to go to some of the most remote parts and explore the seas. we snorkeled and saw the most incredible sealife with a giant turtle and some sharks being particular highlights. every colour, shape and size of fish and coral was right infront of us. having never done anything like it before it was awesome.

yesterday was a real fuckup. everyone on the island, including our irish hostel owner said we must take the 8am speedboat to the port, then get the 10am bus from a wee town a little further down the coast called jerteh. we got there at 9:15am ready to board the 9 hour bus to penang, only to discover that there are only two buses a day. one at 9am, and the other at 8pm. kath and i, along with an english couple - fiona and chris - struggled to come to terms with the realisation that we had 11 hours stuck in a shitey town with very, very little to offer. we saught refuge inside a convenience store for aircon, but that only took up half an hour or so. we eventually found an internet cafe, and we were able to check the internet for the first time in nearly a week. (wtf? michael jackson is dead?!) it is a very muslim part of the world, with a giant mosque in the middle of the town blaring out songs for most of the day - hence it was near impossible to track down a beer. our saviour was the chinese man who pointed us in the direction of a shady wee shop with no sign. we asked for alcohol and were ushered into a smoky back room where were allowed to browse the illicit goods. brown paper bags were unavailable, but it was that kind of setup. very underground. the hours that followed were spent at the bus stop playing cards and taking advantage of the very reasonably priced liquor.

the bus here to penang was very cold again, but this time i was prepared with a jumper and socks. i blagged a double seat and was in a great sleep following my sleeping pill until a cockroach crawled across my seat right beside my face. there is nowhere the buggers don't live. the rest of the journey was spent upright to avoid swallowing dodgy minibeasts.

in penang now, just the one night here, and hopefully getting the morning ferry to langkawi. plenty to tell, and lots about KL that i didn't say, but need to go.
kathski says:
Did you ever actually write a full blog??? If you did tell me where so i can read it!! You can see from mine that i lost interest once in langkawi haha
Posted on: Dec 30, 2009
chance187 says:
Write more Gordon! I'm reading your cool adventure and i'm waiting for your next journal!
Posted on: Jul 06, 2009
chance187 says:
What an adventure Gordon!Yea MJ died on Thursday in US and Friday here...sigh. Hey, you swimming with the shark??? Woww....
Posted on: Jul 06, 2009
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photo by: Aurora78