Blog day 106 Sat 20th August 2011
Dan didn't sleep to well last night. Kept tossing and turning thinking that fleas or something were in the bed. He went to the toilet once during the night only to be greeted by another big cockroach in the sink. This didn't help!
That morning we were up and packed and out the door in no time. We didn't want to spend any longer in this hotel than we needed to. We made our way to the lifts and stood waiting for our ride to come up from the 1st floor. The lift arrived and the doors opened, and on the lift floor smiling back at us was the top set of somebodies false teeth! Did the cockroaches eat the rest of him???
We were picked up from the lobby in a mini bus and taken to another booking office. Here more people got on the bus and our visa application for Malaysia was sorted out. We were sat at the back of the bus with no way of getting out once the bus was full. The sliding side door was closed and we still didn't have our passports back. Dan slid open his window to ask what was occurring and was immediately told by the stone faced women to 'Shut window, Shut window!' We tried to tell her that we had opened the window so that she could pass our passports to us, which she still had. This was greeted with the sharp reply of 'I know, I know I have passports, you shut window now!' Dan greeted her with the equally sharp reply of 'NO!' All this drama over opening a frigging window!
We got the passport back and the most evil look she could make, then we headed for the boarder.
Good Bye THAILAND.
The border crossing was really smooth, the minibus journey wasn't. It was like we were travelling along in a bouncy castle. When we reached Malaysia the sky was throwing it down. Our driver took this as a challenge to see just how fast he could drive in the rain. We both buried ourselves in our books.
To get to Penang we had to cross over a pretty impressive bridge. It spanned 13.5km and seemed to go on forever. We reached our hotel for the night in Georgetown, a place called the Cozy Home Inn. It should have been called The Basic Home Inn though as that was pretty much what it was. Our room consisted of two single beds and a toilet/shower room. And even though there was a no smoking sign on the door the smell of smoke almost knocked us over as we walked into the room. This was nothing that a few incense sticks wouldn't sort out. They have proved to be a great buy, along with the little laughing Buddha incense stick holder that we bought. Adds a touch of good Karma to the room.
We sorted out our laundry and got our bearings on the area, before heading out to find some food. Georgetown is said to be the food capital of Malaysia, or so we've read. The area is a World Heritage Site, populated by Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures all coexisting in Georgetown. We walked through an area that was definitely Chinatown full of Chinese restaurants and businesses, then a short walk further one we found ourselves in Little India. For a second we thought we had walked back to Gravesend. However here is a much more traditional India culture. The streets are alive with color and fantastic smells, of herbs and spices. It's a real attack on the senses. What is really nice is that although the streets are lined with stalls selling various Indian food, clothing and jewelry none of the hawkers are hassling us to come in and 'try for free', or shouting out 'you an Ozzy, MATE!', in a stupid india-australian accent. It's nice just to wander and take it all in.
We came across a movie being filmed down one of the side streets. One of the old buildings had a big flashing sign on its face making it look like a 1920s swing club. Period cars were driving up and down the street in the scene, mixed in with old fashioned rickshaws. We stood and watched for a while but our stomachs were ready to be treated. Ristoran Kapitan was the name of our selected curry house. Here they specialize in tandoori chicken and naan breads. In the corner of the restaurant are 2 tandoori ovens firing away. This really gives our noses the once over. We indulged in a tandoori chicken biryani, a tandoori chicken tikka masala, huge butter garlic naan bread and an onion roti (very thin flat bread filled with sweet onions). Let's just say it doesn't last long. The whole meal comes to RM 27.50 (£5.60).
Just as we are finishing up the heavens open, and I mean open. The rain pours down for a good hour and we sit at our table watching the drains over flowing and people trying to skip from canopy to canopy. We have no idea when it's likely to stop, so we decided to make a break back towards our hotel. Halfway back the rain lets up and we take this as an opportunity to have a little wander around the streets. The architecture all has a very colonial feel to it. Terraces of shop houses and trade houses line the streets. These are houses where the downstairs area is a restaurant, shop or workshop for a tradesman & the living area on the 1st floor over hangs the shops and restaurants that occupy the ground floors, the overhanging sections are supported by pillars. This forms a tunneled archway for people to walk along instead of a regular sidewalk.
After wandering around for a few hours we head back to the hotel to catch up on the blog which has desperately fallen behind again.
Blog Day 107 Sun 21st August 2011
Today we get up REALLY late. After pottering around in the room for a bit we head out to see what's happening in Little India. We decide as it's a nice sunny day that we should hit the street stalls to pick up our lunch. We grab a selection of Indian picky bits such as samosas and other pastry filled delights, onion Bajhis and flat bread filled with spiced meat and egg. We take a stroll out of the main town towards the esplanade where we sit on the sea wall, watching the locals fishing, and enjoy our cheap lunch. DELIGHTFUL.
After lunch we head to the nearby shopping mall where Dan has found out that there is a magic shop. Today of all days however he is shut. So we wander around for a while before stumbling across another magic stall. Dan hasn't been able to perform that much in the past couple of weeks, as magic doesn't really seem to be a big thing in Thailand. The guy on this stall, Forrest, is really welcoming and after realizing that Dan is also in to magic instantly becomes his new buddy. A few hours spent doing tricks and chatting go by before both of our tummies are grumbling again. We promise to return tomorrow and head outside.
Now having come from Thailand, where every other step somebody is asking of you want a Tuk Tuk or Taxi, to hear where they pretty much let you decide for yourself is a lovely thing. So when this guy on a trickshaw caught our eye and asked us if we wanted a ride we were only too pleased to take him up on the offer. A trickshaw is basically a bicycle with a small sofa on the front of it and the poor guy who was riding it was, for want of a better word, knocking on. We didn't quite know if he was going to make it the whole way especially with us 2 fatties on the couch. All credit to him though he got us to Little India with a big smile on his face and even took a picture of us on his sofa-bike.
Tonight its curry for dinner again and again it goes down a treat!
Blog Day 108 Mon 22nd August 2011
Today we get up and the heavens look ready to open. It spitting when we leave the hotel however we need to get our bus booked to Kuala Lumpur today. The lovely staff at our guest house let us borrow an umbrella, which really comes in handy. When it rains out here, it really rains! Drains are overflowing within minutes and cars are floating down the streets rather than driving down them. But even with regular downpours like this life just carries on and no-one stops. We make it to a booking office just before sky dumps on us. Our bus to Kuala Lumpur costs 70 Ringgits for the 2 of us, which works out to about £14. We have looked around and this is the cheapest we can find it for so we book up and head off in the downpour. We head back over to the mall again to see Forrest the magician and check out the other magic shop. The guy at the other magic shop is a bit of a tool to be honest however he does have some stuff that Dan is after. It's some super visual magic that's going to take some practicing. We get in and out as quickly as we can and head over to see Forrest. He is delighted to see us and before long Dan and him have a crowd around the stall being filmed on people's phones and everything. It's a great atmosphere and a few hours fly by. We say our goodbyes before having a look around the shops. Trish is after a pair of denim shorts which seem to be the rage out here! All the girlies are wearing them. All the girlies however don't have a rump like Trish's and it takes a few pairs before finding some that fit in the right places! The shop assistant girlie is really helpful and even compliments Trish on her behind.
For dinner tonight we are both really craving something that we haven't had in a long time………..Indian Food! So it's back to Little India to pick up another selection of little bits and pieces. This is accompanied by 2 massive garlic-butter naan breads. With dinner all bagged up we head back to the guest house to pack up our things and continue with the blog. We are so please that we decided to come to Georgetown, we were on the fence at first but the whole attitude here is completely different to Thailand, hopefully the rest of Malaysia will continue in the same vein!