Day 119

Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Thursday, January 11, 2007

I got straight to sleep on my night train and only woke when the attendant opened my privacy curtain and announced to me at 8am that we were in Hat Yai. I didn't need to get off or anything but he wanted to turn the beds into chairs again and have us all sitting.
After Hat Yai we arrived at the border around 11am and I must say it was all made very easy to do the border formalities. One room of the train station had the Thai officials and another room had the Malaysian officials. My arrival card for Malaysia reminded me that drug trafficking carries a mandatory death penalty which was nice and I got my visa and was in! You get a 90 day visa on arrival which is more generous than the Thais and their 30 day visa.
Malaysia is my 13th country on the trip and my 19th country ever. It's a great ethnic mix of Indian and Chinese and Malaysians that all seem to speak English pretty well (a throwback from the colonial days). My train arrived in Butterworth at about 2pm and I hopped across to Penang Island on the efficient ferry service. Penang island is shaped like a skinned squirrel that's been stretched out and nailed to a board.(I was told by a local) and when I saw the map I had to admit he was spot on. My ferry landed in Georgetown (the squirrel's right foot) and I wondered around looking for a guest house. I found some hideous hostels in Little India and Chinatown before finding the main pack packer and guest house area. After checking in I headed straight back to Little India to get some food. The Indian restaurants I'd eaten at along the way have been hit and miss but there were so many Indians walking around I knew I'd be ok here. I sat at a table in Kalliman's and had a madras strength dish with a roti bread. Very good.
I picked up a brand new Malaysia Lonely Planet which has only just been published (Jan 2007 - great!). When reading guide books I always note the publish date as prices and, well everything varies wildly between the date of printing and the date that you arrive in town. With this one being printed so recently there's a good chance that about half of it might be accurate!
I think I will spend a good chunk of time in Malaysia. I've been corresponding with a shipping agent about a boat to Australia and the boat I want leaves in 10 days and again in 40 days. I don't want to rush around any more so I'll take the latter option.
I had a walk up and down the main bar street and bumped into a guy who had been on my train and my ferry over. I hadn't spoken to him them but we had a chat in the street and went and found a bar. Eight beers later and Nick ,a 19 year old fisherman from Alaska, and we were having a good time in a Soho bar - there goes my beer-free week again!
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