Penang, Phuket, Koh Pangan, Koh Tao, Koh Lanta.
Paya Mahang, Malaysia
So Its been around 2 weeks since I last updated my blog. The reaon for this is simply cause iv just been having way too much fun, even now I've forced myself to sit down in this boiling hot internet cafe to write this what now seems pointless piece of text that perhaps a total of 8 people may read, but f*** it, here goes.
On the 22nd of February we booked a night bus to the island of Penang (I was still travelling with Valesca at this stage). After waiting for 7 hours in a small local fish restaurant we managed to almost miss the bus, cause they decided they would leave five minutes early rather than the one to two hours late which is the norm in asia. Anyway, got on the bus and as expected they had put the aircon on minus fourty so I had to get all the warm clothes I had out of the bottom of my backpack despite the impatient little driver who reluctantly opened the storage area. So, on our way in the freezing cold bus. It had about four people beside us so I thought I'd take the back row for myself but of course two minutes later we would stop and about thirty people with kids got on the bus and had reserved seats, two of these kids were to be sat behind me "of course." The first half hour was as expected, many kicks, screams and a couple of brushes over my head as he grabbed the chair to call over to his little buddy, but after that they passed out and stayed that way. Why I've gone into such detail about a bus ride I dont know but its written now so I'll just leave it this way.
Arrived in Penang at I think 6:30am. Got a bus from some terminal somewhere, I dont know, I was completely destroyed at this stage and hadnt slept more than an hour on this 9 hour bus ride. It took us to the center, we thought, and luckily were correct. Our bus driver wasnt exactly helpful and spoke no english so he offered no help, he seemed to almost cringe when i asked him a question when all I asked was where do I get out to get to Love Lane which is the backpackers street. He ended up just nodding to everything I said so we got out of the bus and found we werent actually that far. Once we reached Love Lane we discovered that all hostels were still closed and had an abnormally late check in time which I believe was at 2pm. There was one with an open common room, if you could call it that, more like a hall with some tables and chairs. But it had internet and electricity and they let us sit there until we could check in. Had a 7-11 opposite that had hot chocolate and oddly sweet cappucino (what they call cappucino), so we were content to chill there a small while until I decided we should rent a scooter. This idea was not yet terrible until we stumbled upon a place where electric scooters were available to rent, there were dozens of normal bikes for rent all over the road but with no owner to be found from who we could rent them. At the place with the electric scooters a scrawny english man helped us, he was lying passed out on the couch as if he had just shot a good dose of meth and he looked like that too, but he was really helpful and kind and sorted the bike for us. He said it did about 100kilometres if you drove 50km/h and there were around ten charge points on the island which at the time didnt seem like few but thats because I didnt consider the size of the island. Educated in how the bike works we went off for a drive around town. I had seen on the map that the Kek Lok Si temple was reasonably nearby so we decided we could go here and possibly find something to eat nearby. Unfortunately, the battery went down a lot faster than expected and it wasnt fully charged so we needed to find a place to plug it in after exploring the temple. At first glance the complex looked very colourful, almost childishly colourful. It was immaculately clean and well maintained but I personally didnt like this, everything seemed almost fake. There were two different view points on the temple as it was located more or less in the center of a hill and these were reasonably impressive but the skyline of Penang wasnt exactly dazzling, and after 5 minutes I had seen enough of one view point. The other one, where the enormous statue stood at the top of the temple with a massive roof with beautifully sculpted pillars that told entire stories, none that I was able to grasp the meaning of but nevertheless very impressive. Once finished with the statue and its pillars we returned to the bike and rolled down the hill to the chinese market area where we were allowed to plug in the scooter while we got something to eat. After thirty minutes the bike had only gained one bar of energy but it was easily enough to get back to the hostel. Here we plugged it in and checked into our room, I passed out within a few minutes, what Valesca did I'm not sure because she was absent when I woke up if my memory doesnt mistake me. It was already getting dark when we left the hostel to get some dinner, which we decided we'd get in Little India which was just down the road from us. It turned out to be a pretty average, overpriced meal and left me with minor digestive issues for a couple of days so it wasnt a particularly fruitful endeavour. More so the streets yet again stank of sewer which was a true delight whilst eating your tourist priced curry. To me it was quite clear after this day that Penang's center was not the place for me, just like Kuala Lumpur wasnt either. However I had my ever optimistic companion by my side so we drove around a short while and found there were some small concerts or dance shows going on involving young and old which was quite a delight to watch, particularly the show with the elderly, where one very skinny man very quietly sings, surrounded by old asian ladies with fruit baskets who can just about put one foot before the other as they awkwardly sway to the music, smiling and looking like they were having the time or their lives. On that positive note I decided to call it a night and head back to the hostel.
The following day we decided to visit the snake farm halfway across the island and also the tropical fruit farm, where apparently there would be a charge point. We hadnt considered the many hills that would hinder us on our journey to these places, nor did we realise the ridiculous amount of energy these hills would consume. Ninety minutes later we managed to find the snake temple, just as it started to rain. We even found a working socket to plug in the scooter so all was well. Not that I had high hopes for the snake temple but it was quite a pathetic little temple with about four small snakes hanging in trees, barely visible. The snake garden next door provided a little bit more entertainment. I got in a cage with a massive 8 meter anaconda and watched a boa constrictor kill a mouse which was quite brutal. All around there were cages with all kinds of small snakes with their description and background informationv, which was interesting enough to read. Still having half a day left we wanted to see the tropical fruit garden, which according to our junky informant was "pretty cool." We knew no more than the approximate direction to the place and it was quite a distance away from where we were, despite this we headed north. The first hill we reached the bike could only just make it up and consumed about 2 bars of energy and we still had a huge distance to go so I made the responsible decision of just turning back and accepting that this piece of s*** green toy bike was not going to get us anywhere. That evening we went to a massive food court where foods of all nationalities were prepared, this in my experience is always best way tp spend an evening, either on a food market or an environment similar to this one. I really have nothing more to add to my story about Penang. The next day I said my goodbyes to Valesca and headed for Penang airport where I would take my flight to Phuket at 2pm. Ill continue my story tomorrow, I've gone into far too much detail so the next episode will be more the point and will trail off a little less and hopefully not take such a large chunk of my evening. Until then.. x