Georgetown, Penang

originally posted 25 November 2006, 6:18am

Last night I ended up skipping the whole go out and drink thing and did the much more dorky go watch a movie at the mega-mall in KL thing. I caught the midnight showing of Casino Royale. Movies in Malaysia are so cheap: a full fare ticket is 10 RM, which is 2.5 USD. I got out the movie and walked back to the hostel around 3am and crawled in to the bunk bed I had in the dorm that night.

I woke up around 8am, took a shower and then went to the Indian resturant next door to have roti telur (which the guy behind the counter corrected my pronounciation for – ouch) for breakfast. I left the Red Palm at 10 and made my way to the bus station. The Pudu bus station is something to behold. Again, I felt like I’d stumbled in to train station by accident. I found the Transnational bus info booth and saw that my train, erm, bus was leaving from platform 9, which lead downstairs to a train-like bus arrangement.

The bus left at 1030am sharp, made one stop around 1115am to pick up some more people, did a pit stop at 200pm and arrive in Penang Island at 430pm. My guidebook showed that the bus station was within walking distance of the central part of Georgetown. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. After walking around for 20 minutes in arbirary directions, seeing nothing by freeways and homes, I found a cab who told me *this* station was 20km south on the island, near the airport. D’oh. Obviously, I then took the cab to the backpackers area to find a place to sleep.

At the recomendation of the owner from Red Palms in KL, I tried 75 Travellers Lodge first. It wasn’t bad, so I got a room there, put my stuff down, and went out to explore and find food. Walking around Georgetown is like looking at city the British abandoned and the Indians and the Chinese took over. Everywhere is Chinese stuff with pockets of Indian-ness. I walked past and in to a few Mosques, some Chinese temples, some very south-Indian looking temples. I got a late lunch/early dinner at a Muslim-Indian resturant, some roti chani with a glass of orange juice. So damned good. Total price? 2.7 ringgit. After recharging with food, I continued to walk around and got quite lost trying to find Little India (of course, in search of more food).

Eventually, about two hours later than I had anticipated I found the old fort and the old colonial settlements and wandered around there in lieu of making it to Little India. There’s a 12 hour walk happening tonight, starting at the Esplande at 8pm until 8am tomorrow morning. I’m gonna try to catch the end of it tomorrow AM. Anyway, I made it to Little India eventually, taking snaps of almost every old run down building I could see. This place is rich in heritage. It’s very much as if the place was on pause for 100 years and now people are back again. I’d best describe it as a mix between Vallidoid in the Yucatan, Tallinn in Estonia and something else. Quite a visual feast.

I had dinner number two (masla dosa, or thosa as they spell it here) for 1.2 ringgit later and by the time I was done it was dark outside so I took to the streets again taking pictures of hawker stalls, cars driving with colonial backdrops, etc. Hopefully some of the pictures turn out well.

So, in my quest to be as gluttenous as possible, I’ve at over 3 meals a day, and they have all been Indian food. Fantastic. This is probably the first holiday I’ve ever taken where I’ll have gained weight.

Tomorrow my flight to HK leaves at 3pm from Penang, so I’ve been told to leave Georgetown around 1pm. From Penang, it’s KL, from KL on to HK, and from HK on to finally Macau by tomorrow night. Should be about 12 hours or so of travelling door to door. I might try to hit the beach tomorrow morning or see some more of Georgetown. Depends when I wake up.

P.S. the computers at this internet cafe have a sticker on the monitors saying “STRICTLY NO PORNOGRAPHY VIEWING.” There are over 15 computers in this tiny internet cafe. I can’t imagine how/who would have prompted the incident to have them require that sticker.