Another Time Another Place

Trip Start Jun 15, 2004
Trip End Jun 15, 2005

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Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Tuesday 7th September 2004
What a journey!
6.15 am - Sawngethaw to Port
7.30 - Bus to Ferry
8.00 - Ferry to Mainland
9.30 - Bus to Surat Thani
12.00 - Board minivan to Hat Yai
4.00 - New minivan, to Malaysia
10.00 - Ferry to Penang
10.15 - Minivan to Georgetown
Just to help things along, in both Surat Thani, and Hat Yai, after getting on board the minivan, the driver drove around town for half an hour, then came back to the starting point to pick a few more people up!

Asked the final minivan driver for OK hotel, as it was getting late, and managed to stay in the grottiest hovel so far, by a mile. Nice big room, with wash basin in the corner, and a lovely black mould growing over pretty much everything - the carpet at one time I'm sure had some color, but black was the dominant feature now.

Seperate shower block you wouldnt send your worst enemy to, and to cap it all, karaoke bar next door, which kind of made the room shudder, but at least the singing was OK!

But, having no Malay money, no energy, just couldnt be bothered to look elsewhere - Karaoke thankfully stopped at 12.00, went to sleep, in my clothes.

Wednesday 8th September 2004
Penang, or more correctly, Georgetown (Penang is the island) has a rustic charm about it - crumbling colonial buildings, some 60's horrible buildings, and the odd modern skyscraper, all with a huge Chinese influence (as well as Indian). Women dressed in colourful burkhas, walking alongside women in western dress. Treacherous open drains (where you see more than a few rats at nightime) bely Malaysia's reputation as more advanced than the rest of SE Asia though.

Huge colonial influence as well - street names such as "Pitt", "Duke", "Buckingham" etc, as well as a Queen Victoria monument, and the strong use of English - not just for tourists (of whom there are not that many), with English mixed in with the Malay language.

I realised I have missed just wandering around a strange new city lost, just observing the real life! The color, the food, the people, the traffic.

See Fort Cornwallis, the old colonial fort, meet Trevor McDonald (or at least the guy at the gate who tells me he looks like him), and then onto Kapitan Kelling mosque, and get a free talk on Islam - wont be converting just yet though (can atheists convert?)

You can easily get alcohol here, though if you choose the wrong bar, its expensive! Overall though, so far, Malaysia not as expensive as I had thought.

Watched the England game, at 2.30am, with a guy who grew up in Gowerton, Swansea, where I used to live, and now lives in Birmingham (no, I hadnt had too much to drink and was talking to the mirror!).

Thursday 9th September 2004
Visited Penang Hill, 800 metres above the town, via two trains (which included one monkey who fancied a lift). Vaguely cooler at the summit (Malaysia on the whole is hotter than Thailand), and went across a swinging rope bridge across the jungle - a little unnerving at times.

Then having met up with Carey (last seen, Cambodia) decided to see a Bollywood movie! - Cheap special effects, bizarre plot, occassional English, and freezing cinema, and then spent less than 50p on a curry and drink - curry appears to be the national dish!

Friday 10th September 2004
Did more of my wandering around, this time on a bicycle, so got further afield (and more lost). Went through a shanty town (albeit a bit upmarket), then past loads of tower blocks - looked like a rough area and wouldnt fancy it after dark.

Very tiring though because of the heat.

Interesting news day - two dead in Kanchanburi riverside restaurant - been there, 9 dead in Jakarta - want to go there...
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