Day 118: Toogood To Be True

Today was a nice day. We got a chance to spend the day with our friends Scott and Bryony. However, we were very envious of what Bryony and Mr Toogood were getting for only £60 a night. It was basically a 5 star resort. Back in England you’d be lucky to get a travel lodge for such a small fee. Here’s how the day panned out:

• The previous night, Sarah agreed to meet me in the hall at 10am the next morning. In an attempt to be punctual, I rose from bed when the other guests in our room decided to make as much noise as possible. I had a shower, cleaned my teeth and I was ready for the day ahead. “Where’s Sarah?” I thought to myself. She was in bed. As was Anna.

• I forced the 2 of them to get up, we had a free breakfast, I moved my bags into their room (as their old roommate checked out), the 3 of us then went about finding a place for white coffee. Every country we had visited thus far had a unique hot drink, in Malaysia it was white coffee.

• Having tried some before, during a morning I stayed in bed, the girls took me to where they first tried it. Unfortunately because of the new year, the shop was closed. We decided to forget the drink, and instead caught a bus to the area of Penang Scott and Bryony were staying.

• The bus was easy enough to catch, but very hard to enjoy. It was crammed with people, combine that with the heat, and you have a lovely ride. The journey should have taken 40 minutes, but due to the festive traffic, we ended up cooking for a nice hour and a half, at a temperature of around 35•C.

• The bus pulled up outside a McDonald’s. Thinking it would be rude not to, I suggested we went inside for food. The food was a lot cheaper than back home, and they sold a meal called the “Mega Mac”. This was 4 burgers of meaty goodness, it went down a treat. We used the wifi to see where the other guys were. It turned out they were a 10 minute walk away.

• Anna, Sarah, and I set off in the scolding sun, to find a resort called “Park Royal”. It was, as promised, 10 minutes away. When we arrived I think we were dragging our jaws along the floor. Stunning doesn’t come close to describing it. Maybe it’s because we’d been staying in hostels for so long, but their accommodation topped all of ours put together.

Outside, there was a private taxi rank and a concierge. The entrance was a huge open space, which dwarfed the small reception desk at the rear. As we causally walked through the large lobby, passing the restaurant on the right hand side, we were confronted by a small sign. It read that only guests could use the pool, and any outsiders would have to purchase a day pass.

Being too cool for school, we continued on by (nobody stopped us) and found our friends sat on a couple loungers. Scott went off to get two more, then we joined them. The sun was so hot, the only way I can describe the heat is by comparing it to an oven. Imagine the feeling of warmth that washes over you when opening an oven door, and that’s what it was like, only constant. There was no escape from it. It was made even worse when we were told we weren’t allowed in the pool because it was Chinese New Year. Fortunately, the clouds gathered and hid the sun. It made it a lot more bearable to lie down then.

• The pool area of their resort was even more impressive than the inside. With tall palm trees, an inviting swimming pool, shaded grass areas, and it’s location being right on the beach, we had gone from envy to full blown jealousy. We sat around the pool reading the magazines they brought with them, until they had to go for massages.

Thinking we’d be allowed to stay there until they came back we remained seated. That was until a security guard came over, and in his best broken English, told us we had to leave. I got the gist of what he was saying, I believe because we weren’t hotel members, we had to go.

• We went back to McDonald’s for a drink, looked around the markets, then returned to their hotel to find the pampered pair.

• Because Scott and Bry were on holiday, they could afford to dine in better places than us. They suggested a beautifully decorated restaurant just up the road from their hotel. The prices were too high, WAY too high, around £7-8 a meal. Unreasonable right? I’m glad you agree. It was also their last night in Malaysia before heading to Australia. Therefor they preferred to eat somewhere upmarket. We couldn’t afford such luxuries, so ended up finding a cheaper, nice place instead. My choice as well, BBQ. We were all happy with our meals, and the entertainment supplied by a young boy dancing to the music.

• When we attempted to find Scott and Bryony afterwards, the restaurant they chose turned out to be a nightclub. The people inside told us they headed down the road, so off we went in search.

• Hooray, we bumped into the couple in the middle of the market. They came with us to a nearby minimart, before saying goodbye all over again, leaving with us happy memories and their magazines.

It was really strange to see them both again. It felt like no time had passed since we saw them last, and it doesn’t feel weird that we won’t be seeing them again for at least a couple years. Travelling certainly has its twists.

• Anna, Sarah and I then queued on the bus stop to get our lift home. All the while Sarah and I waved to our friends as they faded out of sight. No bus came to our rescue, instead, a local man in a minibus took its place. For the second time this trip we ignored our parents golden rule, and got into a vehicle with a stranger. When we asked the driver how much it would cost, he simply said, “up to you”.

A short while into the journey, a female passenger who had been conversing with the driver, turned to us and explained how he was driving back into town. He noticed we had missed the final bus, and was being a good samaritan by stopping and offering us lifts. So when he said “up to you”, we decided to pay him more than the bus would have cost us.

We noticed not all the passengers were so kind, and got off one by one without handing over any cash. With just the 3 of us remaining, we told him where our stop was, and the beautiful stranger took us there. We handed over the money upon arrival, and the man with no name drove off into the night.

• We then returned to Ryokan to conclude our night. Because of the time difference back home, and my mum working various hours, it makes for difficult Skype sessions. By the time I finished our call it was 1am, and by the time I finished the blog for you guys, it was 1:45am. I’d get all of 5 hours sleep before we had to be up for a Gangnam day! You’re welcome! 😛

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