Rain, trains and more Western meals.

Trip Start Jun 16, 2006
Trip End Nov 11, 2006

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Friday, September 15, 2006

Our first task of the day was to find a new place to stay - the one working toilet had finally given up and we were woken up by bells and horns again. Luckily we chanced upon I 2 Inn, a lovely guesthouse above a hairdressers with super helpful staff. Once checked in we took the monorail down to the train station to buy our tickets to Butterworth. From the station we followed the guidebook's walking tour around KL's stunning colonial district and grubby Chinatown. The rain started as we made our way back to the guesthouse for a rest an didn't let up all evening, we watched the lightning out of the window for a while before venturing out in search of food. We eventually settled into a restaurant to sample some traditional Malaysian 'Baba Nyonya' food. Nathan had Mee Mamak (peanutty-curry noodles with unannounced tofu) and I had Otak Otak (fish grilled in a banana leaf). They were both gross.

After another lazy start we headed over to the bus stop in Chinatown, admiring terrapins and trinkets in the central market along the way. We hopped on the bus to Batu Caves and after a long trip we bailed out, already stunned by the steps and statue at the entrance. We made our way up the 272 steps, keeping a watchful eye on the cunning macaque monkeys who were stealing people's water bottles. The caves were dripping wet after the previous night's downpour and we had a good look at the various hindu shrines. It was a little tatty and we agreed the caves were probably better left alone. After the bus back and a rest we wandered over to the flipping-enormous Berjaya Times Square mall (10 stories with Imax and a rollercoaster in the top!) but the shops were pretty uninspiring. It was back to the Western food for dinner - gourmet pie / burger and cakes.

The next morning our first port of call was yet another mall to buy me some new shoes - my sandals reek and make a mess of my feet. I scored a black pair of crocs (you might have seen them, funny-looking colourful rubber shoes) for a bargain price. Another downpour made it too wet to visit the Lake Gardens as planned so we spent the afternoon as mall rats before heading to the train station for the next leg of our journey. We briefly hung out in the first class lounge before boarding our train. Our sleeper cabin was super exciting and we we regressed to childhood, eating our first-class cupcakes and playing Uno as the train headed into the night.

Worse night's sleep ever. We didn't have an alarm clock so both woke up every hour to check we weren't accidentally in Thailand! We managed to crawl of the train at 6am in Butterworth though and headed for the ferry terminal. The crossing was short and as the sun began to rise we wandered through Chinatown in search of a place to stay. The first guesthouse we reached had a stunning view from the shuttered window over a river of local effluence so we picked out a hotel at the top end of our budget, checked in and went back to sleep. The world revolves around Malls here so after the morning's shut-eye we wandered over to the mighty Komtar in search of tourist info and an elusive free heritage bus. The evil capitalist plan triumphed however and we both came away with more t-shirts and no information. At least it eased the laundry situation and made me more Muslim friendly. We also got an alarm clock, hurrah! We went to the other end of town in search of info but got there too late. We headed back to the tobacco-reeking hotel, passing a few of the town's top sights - a crumbly bunch of old fort walls, flaking old Chinese mansion and a pretty temple. It was pub grub for dinner as we stepped into a bit of a Wetherspoon's portal, very disorientating!

Ignored new alarm clock and had a lie in the next day. Finally found the tourist info office and waited until mid-day for it to open and direct us to the correct place for Cameron Highlands bus tickets. After ticket-buying we headed to the bakery and then jumped on a super-slow local bus to Penang Hill and its furnicular railway station. We took the train up for some cooler air and spotted more monkeys and a huge iguana basking on a branch. There wasn't much to do so we had a wander down a side street, admiring a decidedly British cottage (complete with walled veg / flower garden). We saw some fabulous butterflies and I spied a squeaky brown thing that definitely wasn't a rat. We crammed back on the train with a school party and took the bus back to town. At the mall we bought jungle supplies - torch, talc and antiseptic, before having pizza and searching out some net access.
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