As you already know we're in Penang at the moment, we're staying in a little guesthouse/cafe/restraunt thing in the centre of Georgetown (north east of Penang). The weather's been lovely the last couple of days and we've been trekking everywhere! The food here's pretty cool too, we went to a night market this evening and experienced a few random thai/malaysian dishes which was pretty fun. It's quite bizzare, you walk into this courtyard full of food wagons crookedly standing around the perimeter and a bunch of tables and chairs in the centre. You literally walk up and point to whatever looks good! They had a bit of cheesy music entertainment too.
The journey down well.... lets just say it's a relief to be in Penang! We left Phi Phi island at 9 in the morning by boat, meaning we had to wake up at 7 to be packed up and at the reception, have food and get a taxi boat to the pier for 9. We hardly slept during the night because of the sounds of the forest behind us, god knows what was in there and it sounded like the people next door were having trouble with some snakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so, well, urr we were kinda got through the night with one eye open and one ear close to the wooden wall clasping our pillows and anything we had to hand to shoo them away!! Anyway we didnt see a snake so we were probably just being paranoid... Anyway we woke to hear what we thought was a blitz on koh Phi Phi but it turned out that it was just another monsoon.... great! I dont know if you looked at the viking resort but to get to it it's pretty much a half mile trek through a muddy, foresty, jungly sort of thing with the most uneven and steep levels. It was hard enough to walk when it was dry without our rucksacks on! How we got to reception without two broken ankles, half a rucksack and a muddy bum we'll never know..... Anyway we hopped (stumbled) onto the ferry back to krabi and then manage to wangle a cheap ticket to Hat Yai (a transport hub between malaysia and thailand).
The term “you get what you pay for” has never been so true... we were herded onto some 10 year old mini van with “air conditioning” well a whole in the roof with bits falling down into your eyes (slight exaggeration but just to emphasize how baaaad this van was). When you talk to a thai person, never take his word for it. Make sure to ask him 3 times and you'll get three different stories.... When you point this out they'll just lie and tell you a fourth story... haha. We got into this van and stopped 5-6 times on the way with Colin McRae in the driving seat. We got there in 4 hours.... our deal was a direct journey in three hours.... but thats thailand all over.
Hat Yai was a dive, we got off at a travel agency where some aggressive thais begun to hassle us and ask “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” “where you go”, “where you go” (yes at least that many times!) until we ended up at a place called “luck tours” where in hindsight we thought the U and N had fallen off the sign.... Unlucky tours...... anyway somehow after saying at least 3 dozen times “we will never get on a bus or a van again” we ended up in a mini van heading to the border. Hat Yai was a very poor place with little hygiene standards and a horrible scent lingering around the city so we gathered the sooner we get to Penang the better!
We got through the border fine and were then on our way to Penang. We got to Penang at around 9pm and were dropped on a street where our trusty book recommended a nice little guest house called “Stardust”..... an original thai name.... We dumped our bags and headed for FOOD! (didnt you notice we hadnt mentioned the F word??? We hadnt eaten much since breakfast, yes mum I know I'm sorry we'll prepare better next time!!! Anyway we ended up in the closest place to the hostel that made anything edible which turned out to be a very friendly reggae reggae bar with some good tunes on! We both had sweet and sour chicken and two bottles of crisp, cold, refreshing and VERY well deserved beers! We headed to bed for a nice lie-in!
We got up sometime about noon and walked out to the sunny street and headed for anywhere, no map, no clue and no worries! We found a traveller's map and ended up in another weird place it looked like someone had placed a giant tin tent in the middle of the grass just short of the sea front which must have covered the majority of a full size football pitch. Both sides were lined with grotty food stalls and the centre was packed full of local malayans. We decided to just get a drink here.. and headed to the front for a typical walk... seems to be all we're doing this holiday! We came back to the cafe in the hostel for food and then headed for the botanical gardens.
Not that either of us have a particular interest in plants or anything like that really it sounded good and they had furry little monkeys! So we hopped on the number 10 bus and headed for the botanical gardens. As soon as you walk in there's monkeys EVERYWHERE, on the electricity poles and cables, on the benches, the roads and the grass. We've got some great pictures feed some hungry little fellow some BBQ chicken flavoured crisps! As cute as they were they're pretty aggressive little things so we had to stand a distance from some of them. A big difference between Malaysia and Britain is that back home there would be giant signs, PA systems and park wardens roaming round warning people of the monkeys, in Malaysia it's common sense, if a monkey growls at you back off because he doesnt want to play!
We got a bus half way to gurney plaza, a massive 6 story and 2 basement shopping mall, Abbie was happy, Emyr was not.... haha We then headed back to the guesthouse after waiting 20 minutes in the wrong bus stop, apparently you don't get on in the same place you get off in Malaysia...
We got home, showered and headed back out for some grub. We stumbled on the night market (as we mentioned above) and had some quality malayan/thai food.
We're now in bed, shattered and ready to fall asleep so we can fit in a standard BIG day tomorrow! Our choices for tomorrow are either 1) Go to Snake Temple and see some well... snakes, roaming around a temple we think 2) Tropical Fruit Farm – to taste over 240 different types of tropical fruit or 3) Chill out in Batu Feringgi – a nice little beach further west along the coast with a nice little night market. Or maybe we'll just do all 3 knowing us.
Hope you appreciate the hours of brain-boggling writing we've gone through to bring you this at the end of yet another jam-packed day!
Watch this space for the next chapter of our journey.
Lots of Love
Abbie Chivers (editor) and Emyr Thomas (author)
Everything we've written about is in good humour and slightly (ONLY slightly) exaggerated despite how negative we've written it. We're having a wonderful time and are looking forward to each day!!
Mosquito Bite count as of day 7: Abbie – 24, Emyr – 16