Hitting my 5th.

Penang Travel Blog

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Woke up at 3.45am from the knocking on my door. Jumping up in a daze, still full of food and drink and manically tired, i struggled to get changed and lug my bags to the hotel's lobby. When i managed to, i sunk into the chair and waited for the minivan, pushing the remaining food into my mouth and washing it down with beery juice. The ride was fast, flying over speed bumps and taking advantage of the empty early morning roads. I arrived at the airport. I love airports. The feeling in them is just awesome. Check-in was insanely quick, especially for an international flight (although it is only to Malaysia). I walked to my gate, passing through security, down empty escalators and silent halls. I milked the free internet and then hopped on the plane at 7.00am. The plane pulled out and took off. I bought a bottle of water which was 40b and read the label. It had come from a mountain spring in France. France, what's the bloody point. It's just water, you don't have to fly it out to flipping Thailand, you have your own damn water! All that energy, all those food (or drink) miles. In addition i heard a guy talk of how he had to get the socks he liked posted from England because the ones here just aren't "that nice". Cor. Too tired to do anything i dozed into a satisfying sleep before waking up during descent. The air pressure changes really hurt my ears but moments later we landed on the island. Out I went, collecting my bag and having to exchange the Australian dollars i had on me as the ATM's wouldn't allow me to withdraw any cash. Bloody bank. No worries though. Caught the bus which cost 50p and took 40minutes to reach central George Town. I had met an English couple who had been traveling around SE Asia for 8months and had gone to and from Penang 5 times, so i followed them. Got a dormitory room at their spot for 9r(1.80), showered and grabbed my stuff and i was off. The town itself didn't impress me much. There are many architectural pieces which are impressive (mainly to those who are into that kinda stuff) and old. So this is one of the reasons the town has become an UNESCO heritage site. They cool thing about this place is the people. There is such diversity. Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Malays, Indonesian, Siamese, Burmese and Europeans. A massive culture pot. It is great that they co-exist in such harmony and peace. It is a very interesting place and refreshing after having been in Indochina where the mix is no where near as great. The midday heat was sweltering and i cooled my dry throat with an iced tea before walking to the local bus stop and sitting inbetween the locals waiting for my bus. I bought some boiled chick peas from a street vendor which were a cheap and tasty snack. The bus service is very good and soon i was at my destination: Penang Hill. You take this train of sorts up the hill, which is incredibly slow but saved me walking in the heat (and i was knackered anyway). It was packed with both travelers and locals, the latter taking up the majority. A child in-front of me bawled his eyes out for no apparent reason and annoyingly the parents gave him the attention he seeked. The top of the hill gave good scenic views of the town and surrounding sea and beaches. Enjoyable but nothing spectacular. I pottered about, taking in the views before heading back down where i had a pretty but married arab women constantly glancing at me, not doing very well to be subtle about it. An American was talking about Obama and the war with an Iranian couple who were doing their best to fake interest. I was dozing off into micro-sleeps as the train inched its way to the back to the base of the hill. I took the bus back, accidentally missing my stop which ended up fine as i got to see more of the Town, finally stopping at the pier where all passengers had to disembark. I hopped on another back to the correct spot while a storm brewed in the horizon. For some reason i was very funny to a bunch of local school boys about 17-18years old whose laughter exposed shiny white teeth against dark Asian skin. I went for a wonder through a small market and then stopped at a vendor where i bought a double hotdog with cheese and chilli sauce for 60p. The win whipped up and then the skies erupted and heavy rain hit the streets for a full two hours, rooting me to the spot. I utilized the internet cafe next to me and booked a bus ticket to the Cameron Highlands. The rain lessened, so i hopped over to the 7/11 and bought a packet of Oreos (which i have a new obsession with) and a can of Lychee juice. I haven't eaten any local dishes yet but seriously since my bad stomach i have stuck to the processed supermarket stuff which i trust, although just for a wee bit. Tomorrow i'll change. I promise. I headed back and sat outside on the balcony, legs swinging over the walls edge. I lit up my cigar and blew smoke in the dark as I watched the sky repeatedly light up from silent lightening and the night planes blink across the black sky. Far off lights in the distance seemed to float in the cloud, the unseen dark mountains merging with the night. This was pretty cool. After my cigar i felt slightly light headed but no worries, i had my Oreos and Lychee juice which i happily munched and gulped while nature beautifully performed for me. Good stuff again. I walked past an Indian chap who asked me for a light, which i had so happily gave him. He then insisted i smoke with him and gave me a cigarette, i couldn't be bothered and didn't feel like declining so i shared a smoke with him (although not inhaling cos i don't like to). He was very interested in me and my life and asked many questions. He had recently been to Koh Tao Island in Thailand and when i said i had too he became very excited. He wanted to look at my pictures, so i showed him my camera which he spent 20minutes flicking through. He didn't want me to leave, telling me to sit down, take my flip-flops off and have another cigarette but i refused on the latter. He had a sister in New Zealand and one in India, when i said i was going to New Zealand he became very excited again. In fact pretty much everything i said got him excited. He would look at a picture on my camera, show it to me (as if i hadn't already seen it) and say "Nice, huh?", "very beautiful, yes?". He would point at each person in each picture and ask if they were my friend and was very happy when i replied with a yes. He called me "my brother" and when i finally parted he gave me a big hug and kissed me on both cheeks. I figure that's just how they do it. Was strange but funny. He also made sure i take a picture of us two to show people and gave me his email address to send it to. Weird. You just won't come across that kind of experience in England. You try that in England and you get something very different. Just enforces to me the differences in cultures and ways of life.
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photo by: Aurora78