Once again, I started today with an early morning trip looking for Internet access. This was less successful.I had no password for the wireless near the dock and after a LONG walk through Penang I finally found a Starbucks … that didn't open until ten. I made it back to the docks and found Amanda and Jenne, my coworker at the store, just getting off the tender.We had to wait for Carrie, who had been dealing with a crisis involving the water sprinklers going off in her room and destroying her possessions.
Once we assembled all our company, we headed out into town. The first part of the day is a bit of a haze for me.It involved a LOT of saree shopping. Seriously, a lot.Amanda and Carrie each bought some, while I read Lonely Planet. Amanda admits she has a problem, and that admitting this is the first step … to buying even more sarees.
For lunch we tried to go to a noodle place that was drawing a lot of locals. It looked good at first until we saw the chicken feet (they looked like ginger root from afar) and saw how difficult it would be to order. So we just got drinks there and moved on. We got a nice Indian lunch and resumed the exploration of the city. We took Jenne and Carrie to a couple of things we had already seen, but that was okay.
Our tea appointment was approaching, so we decided not to do the walking tour we had planned. But we got to see a lot of the colonial part of town as we headed to the Eastern and Oriental Hotel (yes, that name sounds redundant to me, too.Amanda doesn't work at Western and Occidental College). We stopped at a chocolate store on the way and got some nice samples. We also tried some durian chocolate. Malaysians swear by durian … they say it smells bad but tastes delicious. Dear lord are they wrong. It smells like garbage and tastes just as bad, even when covered in chocolate. Poor, deluded peninsula.
The E&O is very nice, quite similar to Raffles, of course -- opened by the same family. Tea was straightforward and delicious. No surprises except for some long this chocolate "horns" coming out of one of the desserts. We were joined by a student who was on her own because her friends who were supposed to join her flaked.
After tea we strolled back to the docks, taking in the Colonial sights. Passed a waterfront park where a guy was selling bubble blowers -- we had no desire to buy, but the bubbles added nice ambience. We also saw a monument erected for Victoria's diamond jubilee. Two horses were up on the wall of the fort nearby.
Again, Amanda needed to be on the dock by six. So once she was there, Jenne and I caught a cab to that same Starbucks from that morning. Net access was slow there, not much better than the ship, so I couldn't achieve much. After an hour, we cabbed back and rejoined the ship.
Malaysia definitely gets filed under the "pleasant surprise" category of this trip, along with San Juan. I don't know if I'll have occasion to return, but any time I do will be great, I'm sure.