Myles Harrington

A Change of Scenery But No Change of Pace

In Malaysia on July 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm

It was a great flight to Malaysia, only about a quarter full, so for once I had four hours of luxury travel, spreading myself over three seats. Claire was there to meet me as arranged and we headed in to Georgetown, Penang to start the celebrations of two months travel together. By pure co-incidence the Georgetown Festival was in full swing that afternoon so we joined in the festivities.

Georgetown's Dragons

Claire told me the tales of her previous night. She was snogged by a sixty-something Indian fortune-teller, so it was only natural we would head to the same bar. He was there again and we had a few discussions about Indian culture but no kisses. That night our companions were mainly four Malaysian lads in their forties. we were introduced to them by the fifty-something whisky drinking bar maid. One of them was the superintendent of the Penang Police, Anti-corruption division, called Mohammed; one was a ex-popstar who was famous in Malaysia in the eighties. They were both cousins and the other two were just general friends of theirs with no distinctive or interesting jobs.

We kicked off the evening as Brits do, by drinking the cheapest gin we could find in our windowless hotel room. We then proceeded to the bar, Coco’s Traveller’s Inn and had a few Skols. It felt good to not be drinking Kingfisher. After a few bottles we were invited to a club by the Malaysian foursome where they had a single malt Glenfiddich waiting for us. It set them back £100. This was their third litre bottle between them and the anti-corruption police officer was still driving his fast and the furious style motor around town equipped with siren and megaphone. The former popstar used it to full extent shouting at his friend “get back in the fucking car” to the whole of Georgetown at 3am. The siren came in handy too. We drove and had Indian food, which just like the whisky, was on the boys, or more likely Penang police expenses. We had severe headaches the next day.

To take it easy we got the bus to the Buddhist snake temple, a major tourist attraction that has recently been refurbished. It is pretty much just a normal Buddhist temple with a nice garden pavilion out the back and a few smalls trees inside with doped up snakes hanging on the branches. Something to do though I suppose. Unfortunately one of the most famous tourist attractions of Penang was shut down last year. The old train up to Penang Hill, so we just had to do with the remnants of the festival and a few black and white Malay films in the park.

The sleepy snakes of Penang's temple

We were planning on heading straight to Indonesia from Penang using the ferry to Medan in Northern Sumatra. But like the Penang Hill train, this has ceased to run. We’d only missed it by a month. That meant we’d have to head on down to the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (KL). I’d been to KL just three years ago and enjoyed it but I knew it was an expensive place to be with my budget and the endless shopping malls might cause a problem.

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