Malaysia- complete surprise

Trip Start Sep 18, 2007
Trip End Dec 19, 2007

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Friday, November 9, 2007

We left Singapore and headed to Malaysia.  We had boughten a plane ticket the night before to go to the northern area of Malaysia to an Island called Penang.  We had talked to several travelers along the way who recommended this Island.  There is also an Island called Langawki adjacent to Penang that was recommended.  We decided to fly to Penang, spend a few days there and than take a ferry to Langawki.  Our flight was uneventful and we landed in Penang at 10pm.  We took a taxi to the city center of Georgetown.  Without researching much about this place, we were both taken by a huge surprise.  We thought Penang would be like Koh Phi Phi, tropical, beachy and filled with happy tourists.  To our surprise we found ourselves in a heavily Muslim country, few tourists, many run down shacks/hotels/restaurants and shady characters hanging out along the street.  HELP!!!!  We walked around guarded until 11pm, found a less than optimal place to sleep, ate (at least Andy did, I was too scared) and started planning our escape.  We researched into flying to Bali (too much money), going back to Thailand (explore the east coast, but again too expensive), going back to Singapore (a good thought), but eventually we decided to try to go an hour outside the city center to the beach area.  We left the next day, boarded a bus and went to Batu Ferringhi, the beach area of Penang.  It was a beautiful coast but the ocean was not for swimming (dirty and many Jelly Fish).  But the place had character and charm.  Expensive resorts on the sand, quaint coffee shops and cafes on the beach, Jack Johnson playing in the background...  We warmed up to the place and decided it was not too bad.  For the first time we both tried paragliding high above the ocean.  We got used to the Muslim presence and decided it was not too bad.  THAT was until we experienced the 5 am daily Muslim prayer blasted on the loud over head speakers built to announce any Tsunami warnings.  The prayer lasted an hour in the morning and prevented any sort of morning sleep.  So we stayed only two nights and head to the Island of Langkawi longing for a quiet place to sleep.
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