We have arrived at the island of Penang, described as 'The Pearl of the Orient', as it is steeped in history and tradition, with many churches, temples and mosques. We have berthed close to the old colonial town of Georgetown, the capital of Penang off the north west coast of Malaysia. No shuttle bus today, we were able to step straight off the ship into the heart of this World Heritage Site, passing magnificent buildings, full of colonial charm, and many clan houses including the Heritage Jewel of Penang, San Tong Khoo Kongsi clan house. It is a building rich in architecture and heritage, and was once a beacon of hope for the Khoo clansmen who made their journey from China to the promised new world of Malaya.
Continuing past several of these clan houses, temples and mosques we reached the area of Little India with its almost intoxicating sights and smells. As it was near midday now and very hot we decided to return to the ship for lunch rather than testing the local eateries.
As we had a couple of hours to spare after lunch we decided to venture into the more cosmopolitan part of Penang, to see if there were any bargains to be had.
Finally, back on board, all ready for the 'sail away party', when an announcement was made by the captain, who informed us that we would not be going to Phuket because their immigration department wanted to carry out a visual examination of everyone on board, which would have taken about six hours, an absurdity to say the least. So the decision was made to head for the island of Langkawi off the northwest coast of Malaysia and just south of the Thai island of Tarutao. The island is mountainous and is Malaysia's best known holiday destination. 'Anna and the King' (1990) was filmed here after Thailand refused permission for the film to be shot there. It seems that history is repeating itself!!
On waking this morning we were greeted by the sun shining through some light, fluffy clouds, onto a turquoise sea surrounded by lush emerald land.
We could not wait to disembark.
We throughly enjoyed ourselves, we got off the ship by tender and spent the morning swimming in the magnificently warm sea, an hours sunbathing, then into the duty free shop, and back on board.
Now off across the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka and India, and only a month left of our exciting voyage.