Backpacking with a flowery suitcase

Trip Start May 18, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Monday, June 2, 2003

I had two tasks to do when I got up this morning:

1) Get a haircut
2) Fix my suitcase handle

Jerry who helps run the cheap Chinese hotel mentioned that I might be able to get my haircut at the local barbers just down the road, but he warned me that I had to be VERY specific about how I wanted my haircut. Well I couldn't find the place so am resigned to look like a 'Beatle' for a few more days.

On the suitcase front I had success! There was a little store not far from the hotel that sold all manner of suitcases and the owner said it would only be RM15 for a standard suitcase handle repair and probably only take an hour. Well I could not face another move having to carry my heavy suitcase without being able to use the corner rollers so I quickly emptied it back at the hotel and came back to the shop (passing the Maybank ATM that was constantly guarded by a man with a shotgun).

The shopkeeper took less than five minutes to attach a screw and nut to where the previous bolt had popped out in KL and when I asked how much he wanted for his services he simply said "Free". I thanked him repeatedly and took his photo, much to his amusement. This is indicative of some people's kindness that I have encountered in this great country. I have heard stories from other travellers who have been offered lifts and free meals and all sorts of acts of kindness.

So far on my travels I have not encountered anyone else carting around a suitcase and even when asking other travellers if they have seen anyone else using one the answer has always been 'no'. I still stand by my reasons for bringing a suitcase and now that I can use the wheels again I should reap the benefits of a lighter load when walking the streets from hotel to bus station to hostel. I must admit that when I couldn't use the rollers it has been a bit of a joke for onlookers but hopefully those days are behind me.

What better way to end the day then a visit to Penang's famous Eastern and Oriental Hotel overlooking the northern coastline. As soon as you walk in this place it feels like you have stepped back in time to the days of colonial rule. The porter was dressed in British desert uniform (circa 1935) and all the staff were impeccably polite. The cool air-conditioning was a welcome relief as Elizabeth and I sat down in the restaurant for some chocolate mousse indulgence and to be waited on hand and foot. I could really get used to this sort of treatment! I would love to stay at this hotel sometime, but at RM450+ it was probably not going to be the best way to spend my money considering I want to stay in Malaysia for longer now.
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