Pulau Penang and Langkawi

8 06 2010

Our train arrived in Butterworth at 7am. We stumbled out and followed the signs to the ferry where for 1.60RM (about 30c) we hopped on the ferry to Penang island. From the ferry terminal we took a public bus a few stops to Chinatown where we checked into a hotel. Our first choice, Old Penang Guesthouse, was full so we booked one night at the less nice Love lane Inn and then transferred to the very atmospheric Old Penang Guesthouse the next day. While both had shared bathrooms due to building restrictions in the historic area, Old Penang had a lovely feel, air con, free breakfast, a kitchen, rennovated bathrooms, old wooden floors, a sunny eating area and friendly staff.

We had lunch at a Chinese buffet- another pay by the plate. We totally stuffed ourselves for about 11RM, or $2 each. We wandered around old buildings, the port, temples and mansions but the sun was a little warm.

We ate dinner at one of the many Indian restaurants where for 14RM we could eat our old-time favourites of aloo gobi, chana masala, nimbu pani and an interesting eggplant bahji.

The next day we took a bus to the beach, batu ferringi. 40 minutes later we, along with some other families including malaysian women in full muslim cover-up, got off to go to the beach. We were disappointed and ended up not swimming due to the rubbish on the beach. Bottles, coconut shells, lights, polystyrene – all off it was found on the beach or in the water. On top of that, every stretch of sand was privatised and owned by a hotel, making it impossible to find anywhere to sit.

We took a ferry the next day to Pulau Langkawi and hoped that the beach would be better there. Again, we shared the 3 hour ferry journey to beach resort paradise with devout muslims that didn’t look like they were able to go swimming due to their modest attire. Lacking public transport, the only way to travel from Kuah (the main port town with a giant Eagle to welcome you) to the beach resort areas is by taxi – 30 minutes later we were in Pantai Centang and at Sweet Inn, our hotel for our stay.

We were not disappointed- the beach was the best of the trip so far with NO RUBBISH! There were palm trees and not many people, although being sunburn-cautious since Nha Trang we didn’t go to the swimming in the hottest parts of the day and when we did, covered up with t-shirts and hats as we suspected that our sunscreen was past its expiry date.

We even managed to eat vegan pizza twice which was a nice western change to the asian food. We also ate Indian curries and Middle eastern felafels and malaysia sago pudding for dessert.

On the ferry back we watched a funny movie about an Aussie bogan who goes to Pattaya, Thailand and gets his passport and clothes stolen by a chic. He then ends up working a giant mortar and pestle making green mango salad, going crazy whenever he is fed chili.

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