30.01.2012 - 06.02.2012
Leaving behind Thailand from Samui involved a bus to the port, a ferry, then a coach journey to a pick up point before finally gettin on the bus that would take us to George Town in our next country of interest Malaysia. All three bus drivers were ex rally drivers, crazy speed freaks, but nothing new, arguably they are all like it. I think i was just about ready to leave Thailand by now i was excited and hoping Malaysia would be noticeably different. We were greeted once on the boarder to some really bad rain and layers of cloud. I hadn't really seen a sky that had reminded of the sky's you see in the U.K.
Once we arrived in George Town on the island of Penang on the west coast of Malaysia it was noticeable the influence of many varying cultures that have left their mark on the town with it's colonial houses and winding little streets. After dropping off our bags at our nice hostel we were pointed in the direction of the food quarter. Once arriving we walked into a covered area with as many as twenty small canteens selling a variety of different Asian tucker. Everybody sits in the middle of the food stands in the square where entertainment in the form of karaoke is being performed (Throughout Asia they love a spot of karaoke).
(an example of the hawker food stands)
The next day we went for a wonder to get our bearings and explore the town by the day. We went to the George Town museum and learnt about how the different cultures that live in the town came to be situated there as well as the the colonialism that took place by the Dutch and English, lending a look to many of the buildings.
(St. George's Church)
We also had a brief wonder round fort Cornwallis a British fort left over from Malaysia's colonial past. Something intriguing about the different people living in George Town, Malaysia being a Muslim country. Round one corner and be confronted by a Chinese temple, a few doors down a large gleaming White mosque and a few paces round the block and you will see either an old or space age modern church. A cake mix of cultures treading on each others toes but creating a delicious blend of sensory experiences. That evening the hostel were celebrating the Chinese new year, there were games of killer pool, which had some bizarre rules from what I was used to but we embraced them. There was also a traditional Chinese lion dance with people beating drums and cymbals as the guys in the costumes weaved in and out of the crowd bobbing to the beat. Strangely all day due to someone reading the list of the evenings activities wrong we had though that it was going to be a line dance! Nobody took the blame for this faux pas, I expect I looked bizarre sitting there in my leather chaps, waistcoat, Stetson and cowboy boots! We met a group of Swedish lads and the evening promptly descended into chaos once hitting the town. I can recall a scene in which I ordered a Fillet O' Fish from MacDonald's at about four in the morning to an uproar of laughter, due to me ranting about 'who in their right mind' would eat one. You had to be there... so did I really to understand exactly what happened either, it made for a funny story.
Need i say more than the next day was spent relaxing and contemplating our actions.
Feeling fresh and revitalised the following day we took the 101 bus to it's last stop, the national park. Once there you have to sign in and you can trek along the coastline, it was a really fun walk, made more interesting by doing it in flip-flops, essential trekking wear! We saw massive monitor lizards sunbathing on the beach, butterflies, monkeys and other insects. We eventually made it to what was called Monkey Beach, although ironically seeing few monkeys. We got a boat taxi back from that beach, dropped at a jetty where we had started out, once on our way home we remembered we hadn't signed out, hopefully there aren't search parties still looking for us, oblivious to the international news headlines we have made 'ENGLISH TRAVELLERS STILL MISSING, PRESUMED DEAD, MOSTLY LIKLY CONSUMED BY MONITOR LIZARDS!'
(the picture doesn't do it justice, plus this wasn't the largest one anyway!)
(how good is that camouflage?)
The next day we decide to go up Penang Hill, as we had been informed of the excellent panoramic views that were attainable up there. We had to get on a little train ride up the side of the hill, and it was worth going for the views, from up there too, we noticed a massive temple and once down the hill we walked to have a look, it is Buddhist and called Kek Lok Si. While at the impressive temple, because of the chinese new year, people were hanging up prayer ribbons. Their definition being in English too, I picked two and hung them up, hopefully someone's watching my back this year!
Throughout George Town there are large iron pictures up against the walls of the buildings explaining the history of the town which is a world heritage site.
(this one is for the girls, Jimmy Choo's first apprenticeship as a shoe maker!)
The following day we headed off to tue Cameron highlands, me salivating at the prospect of a cream tea, or so I had heard. See I can almost be civilised!