Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pulau Penang

Up early for the 8am bus to Butterworth, the jumping off point for the island of Penang. The bus actually goes ovee the bridge to the island, but that would put us at the bus station, 40 minutes stinky bus ride away from the city of Georgetown. So instead we hopped off at Butterworth and took the 20 minute ferry ride. We'd made the smart move of prebooking our accomodation this time, as apparently Georgetown can get quite busy. We'd done a little bit of searching on the Internet and found Noble Hotel, which the reviewer said was cheap and clean. He wasn't kidding with cheap: a double room (in our terms) with shower (but no toilet) was RM19, or about 3 pounds Sterling. Not bad.

Georgetown is more like I had imagined South East Asian towns to be. Grimy, chaotic, tumbledown but full of life. The town centre is reasonably small and so walkable, but crossing the roads can be a bit of a nightmare. There are literally thousands of mopeds buzzing round the streets, weaving in and out of the traffic and blatantly ignoring traffic signals. At one point a guy was stopped by a light and mounted the pavement to turn the corner instead. Quite a lot of people seem to think the pavements for mopeds, and I even saw one nutter riding against the flow of traffic on the road. It's mental, but I quite enjoyed it.

Gemma wasn't so stressed as she hadn't been bitten since the journey to Cameron Highlands. Walking round town we managed to find a shop that sold mosquito nets and she bought possibly the worlds largest. There was absolutely nothing to affix it to in our room, so we had to make do with burning mosquito coils. I fear that this may be the case in many places to come. I bought some sandals and a pair of sunglasses to replace the pair I'd lost in South Africa -these cost about a pound and showed their sturdiness by breaking two days later. I think I best invest in a more sturdy pair.

In Georgetown we just went for walks, I managed to take one or two photos shooting from the hip -I haven't really been taking too many up until that point for some reason. We tried to go to the museum but it was shut. On the way someone shouted at us for not going into a Chinese temple. We found the Soho Free House a British style pub. When we went in in the afternoon it had all the atmosphere of one of those old men pubs where pensioners go to die. I couldn't really enjoy my beer thinking how a pint cost the same amount as a nights accomodation.

No comments: