Whenever I look forward to something you can guarantee it won't live up to it, or at least that was the case with the shower this morning. I got up all ready to have a nice shower upstairs, only to find that there was no water pressure. I had to use the freezing cold shower downstairs, which, like the Hong Kong shower, was basically a shower head hanging over a toilet. I managed to get clean somehow, and after putting dressings on my now weeping, gross, sunburn blisters I was off to Georgetown.
I got the bus for 2.70MYR, still less than 50p, and settled down for the forty-five minute journey into town. I didn't realise we'd arrived until the bus driver and his toothless friend up front kept repeating 'Georgetown, Georgetown' until I got off the bus. Needless to say I didn't have my bearings and struggled to find where I was on the map for at least half an hour. I walked around the streets and tried to spot some other tourists to follow, which I fortunately did, a white man in socks and sandals, but as with the sat nav I didn't quite trust his directions and went wandering off on my own. I shouldn't have done that, as even the policemen I questioned couldn't tell me which way to go after a while. Great.
I spotted a familiar street name and made my way towards what I hoped would be something stated on my little map, but I ended up amongst what could only be described as a street rally! Masses of people, police cars and vans, and cameras flooded the street as I tried to cross. I spotted some cars going slowly down the main road and assumed it was a famous person, so obliviously crossed over as they were going so slowly. As lots of Chinese people were taking pictures I assumed it was a wedding, even though the cars were black. After further walking and ignoring the commotion whilst focusing on my map I finally made it to a temple I recognised. I excitedly took some pictures and wondered why I was suddenly sweating even more than previous, before realising I was standing next to some sort of eternal flame inside an oven.
Enthused by my newfound direction I continued to follow the map through a decidedly male part of town all the way to what I thought was the clocktower of Penang, only to find it was a random clocktower attached to the customs building. It still looked pretty cool, and I followed the new road along the water to the actual clocktower, which was apparently built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It wasn't that fancy considering it was the Diamond Jubilee!
More walking, this time intercepted by a many times refrozen ice-cream, led me past the town hall and a swish hotel before reaching the beach, where a few plastic bags lined coast as children played.
I then discovered the free city centre bus that would have been more useful two hours previous, but a good find nonetheless. I took a couple of free rides round the town to get an idea of where to go next, and to cool down with its air-conditioning, before an elderly Chinese man sat next to me. He asked if I'd seen the commotion of before, and explained it was due to the funeral of Penang's ninety-one year old Chief Minister! I suddenly felt quite guilty for using the slow cars as an excuse to cross the road for the purpose of my monument-finding mission.
I got off the bus at the mall in the end, deciding I couldn't quite face more sweating just to see a statue and possibly an old fire station. The mall was on about five floors, and had so many electrical stores! I looked for novelty souvenirs, but couldn't even find a bottle opener, mainly because none of the shop attendants had a clue what I was on about. I did see one of the foldaway hats I'd bought at the Butterfly Farm yesterday, but it was nearly half the price I'd paid, so I stopped looking after that!
A couple of frozen drinks later and I was still wandering around yet another mall across the street, a mall that only had about a third of its outlets open as well as a huge demonstration on nerf balls. By 4.30pm I was all air-conditioned out and decided to make a trip somewhere, only it wasn't to a temple or statue, but to TESCO! I couldn't believe Penang had a TESCO, and so boarded the thirty minute bus to go and see it, and of course to take a picture for Mark! I made it all the way there and like a saddo got excited to text Mark and say 'I'm in TESCO... in Penang!'. Like I said, sad. It was pretty much like every other TESCO, except that lots of things were in Malay, as expected, and there were street stalls outside it. The only annoying thing about the trip was that when I bought some Milo I didn't have my clubcard with me to get the points back!
The rain that had started when I boarded the bus was pelting it down as I waited for the bus back to town, but my white canvas pumps were still in tact as I ran towards the bus. I had to change buses when in town and board another for the final ride back to the hostel, which meant more walking in the rain, but I was just glad not to be out walking along the road, as there didn't seem to be any drainage system in place. As in Kota Kinabalu, you'd have to wade down the streets.
Walking from one bus to another in the rain made sitting in the air-conditioned bus for another forty-five minutes a chilly affair, and I was grateful for a woman and her two young daughters sitting next to me to keep the bus a little warmer!
It continued to pour during the whole bus ride back, so I darted straight to the Seven-Eleven for an umbrella when we stopped. It was only a short walk up the hill, but I figured I could do without the two pounds it cost me, and I didn't fancy getting wet again!
Back to the hostel for noodles and bread - a feast not enjoyed since Cape Town, but enjoyed it was!