What a quick day today will be to write about. If you’re expecting to read about fun activities stop reading now. The highlight of today was a 3 hour boat ride, that just about sums it up.
• The day began at 9:30am. I was the gent who allowed the girls to use the bathroom first. We then went about checking out and going for breakfast.
• We went to “The White Coffee Company”, a place that sold good food and had wifi. During that time, Sarah arranged with Bryony a time to meet later on in Penang.
• Sorry, I should say, our friends from home, Scott and Bryony, were also in Malaysia. They were on a 4 week holiday that would see them heading to Australia next. So, there was a small window of opportunity to see them before they flew away.
• After breakfast we said goodbye to Rosalie, she was staying in Langkawi one more day, before also flying off to Australia. Saddened by saying goodbye to another friend, we returned to the motel to grab our bags.
• We found a taxi outside, and a fun 40 minute ride later we arrived at a very busy port.
• We allowed Sarah to dart from the taxi and sort out our ferry tickets, while Anna and I paid the fare. Sadly, when we found Sarah at the counter, she told us the bad news. The 2:15pm ferry was sold out. In a way we were fortunate to get the 5:15pm one. However, it meant we had 4 hours to burn. There’s not too much you can get up to at a port though!
• The three of us spent that time at a Starbucks. We used their terrible Internet for various purpose. Sarah used it to research Malaysia and Borneo. Anna used it for social networking purposes. I used it to bring you the latest of my ramblings on Facebook. I don’t know if that’s a gift or a burden for you all though.
• With half an hour to spare, we ran over to KFC, had bizarre tasting chicken, then boarded our busy ferry. Yay, there were 3 seats together, however, in the distance I could hear an American guy talking about life and perspectives. He certainly liked the sound of his own voice. “Ahhh that’s better”, my iPod came in handy by drowning out the modern day philosopher.
• It was around 8pm, and dark outside by the time we arrived in Penang. Unsure if we were going to have enough time to visit Scott and Bee-Ry, we found a taxi to take us to our pre booked hostel.
• The new place was great, the internet worked properly (for the time in Malaysia), the bathroom area was nice (initially), the beds were comfy. We really couldn’t complain. To be honest, the beds couldn’t be any worse than our last place. Every night we had to endure a constant prodding from it’s busted springs.
The girls and I were separated as there wasn’t enough room for all of us to share one room. It worked out for the best as we all made new friends. There was a Canadian guy called Mike in my room, and another Canadian, called Christine in the girls room. Mike and I found the 3 girls in the hallway drinking vodka and kick-a-poo. This was a carbonated drink that could be purchased at any 7 Eleven. Granted, Christine only bought it for it’s quirky name, but they enjoyed it’s taste. Sarah then arranged to meet Bryony and Scott in half an hours time. We brought the others with us as we headed out the door to find the loveable couple.
• Because of it being Chinese New Year many places weren’t open for business. Including that of The Red Garden. We agreed to meet our friends there, that way we could grab a bite to eat before the night’s festivities. 10 minutes later, a taxi pulled up, and out stepped our long lost British buddies.
They both looked healthy and well. The same probably couldn’t be said for us. After all, the backpacker diet/lifestyle leaves something to be desired. Sarah immediately ran into Bryony’s arms, to give her a welcoming hug. I played it cool and gave it a few minutes, before giving Scott a man hug. I think he was expecting me to run like Sarah did, poor sod.
• We headed back toward our hostel, as there was a temple nearby holding a lion dance to kick off the Chinese New Year. We stayed to watch the 15 minute show. It was very loud. With drums and gongs providing the soundtrack. The men in the elongated suits were excellent as they danced to the beat. The grand finale of the show were two long strips of fire crackers. Which sounded like thousands of guns firing at once.
• With our ears feeling like they were set to bleed, we walked the streets in an attempt to locate the Town Hall. The reason being, at midnight there was to be a firework show. We had 45 minutes in which time to find it! Eeeek.
• We were off to a bad start. We walked the wrong way. A good 20 minute walk out of the way. After Sarah asked a local which way to go, the man kindly put us back on track. He told us it was a straight 10 minute walk back in the direction we had come. “Right you are then, come on guys, it’s this way. We may now only have 14 minutes to get there, but it’s still enough. Sarah, stop thinking so pessimistically, the man said we had 10 minutes!”
• We followed the man’s directions, staying true all the way. It was funny whenever we had to cross roads. Weaving in and out of traffic had become second nature to Sarah and I, however, Scott and Bryony were still in English mode. Nervously standing on the pavement’s edge, like two children awaiting their parents hands to hold. Eventually we located the Town Hall, and outside were hundreds of people awaiting the firework show.
• As soon as the clock struck midnight, all hell broke loose. The sky came alive with explosion after explosion. Millions of different colours lit up the night sky. I had never in my life seen a firework show quite like it. The best it got back home was during bonfire night at the local cricket pitch. Even then it was only a few rockets, and that was only if it wasn’t raining. There were so many fireworks in succession that all around us was completely visible. It was so bright that you could easily mistake it for day time. The grand finale of this show came in the form of around 30 fireworks exploding within 3 seconds of each other. When the smoke had cleared, everyone cheered, then our group proceeded to have a late tea.
• Again, I’m not a fan of the restaurants Sarah suggests in Malaysia. This is because the places we seem to go mostly sell Indian food. You have to be in the mood for that I find, unless of course you’re Indian, in which case you’re kind of stuck with it. Regardless of my disliking of the food, I ordered the chicken tikka. Another annoying point I’d like to make, the meal sizes are ridiculous. I am used to getting a side order with my meals, such as fries or vegetables. Not here, when I ordered the chicken tikka, that’s what I got, literally. “Yum yum, 5 tiny pieces of red chicken on my plate, that ought to feel me up!” Fortunately I wasn’t that hungry anyway, so it didn’t matter. After paying for the feast, we decided to show Scott and Bryony what hostel living was like.
• We took them to our previous place of accommodation in Penang, The Reggae Mansion. We sat outside, chatting, drinking, enjoying the music, until around 3am. We then helped them to get a taxi back to theirs, then Sarah and I returned to the table with everyone else. During which time, a table of drunken Asian men let off a Chinese firecracker. Unaware, it initially scared the bejesus out of us. Soon after that, the rest of us returned to our hostel.
• The weirdest thing happened as we walked the corridor to our room. A rather strange man came out of his room and asked if he could borrow some of our water. Wether he was drunk, or sleep walking I don’t know, but I allowed him a sip of mine. I believe his intentions were to take a paracetamol tablet, however, instead of sipping the water, he grabbed the bottle and threw it back. The end result: the water went all over his face, down his top, and all over the floor. He then tried to put the tablet in his mouth, but the remaining water forced it out and it landed on the floor, where it remained until the following day.
After the peculiar person returned to his room, we went about the night time routines. Cleaning teeth and the such. Now, earlier on I said our hostel was nice “initially”, that soon changed very quickly. When we finished cleaning our teeth, the usual pre bed water release had to occur. There were three toilets to choose from, unfortunately, when we opened the door to trap number 3, we bared witness to vomit all over the place. This lead me to believe the weird guy from earlier on was probably drunk, and this was his modern day art piece.
Later on in the night I had to use the bathroom once more, again I was victim to another horrid sight. I don’t know what it is about people and public toilets, but surely it’s common courtesy to flush after yourself. That’s all I’ll say on the subject. I then returned to my bed and fell asleep instantly, hoping and praying I didn’t have nightmares of what I had just seen!