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Regaining the Colonies

BKK to Malaysia


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Arriving back in Bangkok from Laos was like landing on a different planet. I'd booked a hostel in the Siam Square mall area for a change of scene and was overwhelmed by these gleaming altars to capitalism. To further immerse myself, I went to see Gravity at the IMAX in 3D. Rural homestays were not the ideal preparation for this. If you get a chance to see it on a giant screen (preferably preceded by a montage of the Thai royal family, set to stirring patriotic music, for which you have to stand) then go, it was the best hour and a half of cinema I've seen in a long time. In the evening David and Elaine took me for great street seafood and cocktails from converted combivans.

The next day it was time to take a proper train- 24 hours over the border to Butterworth in Malaysia. Having found my berth I was presented with a menu and asked to choose a set menu and a time for it to be delivered. Sure enough, at half 6, soup, cashew chicken, rice, red duck curry and pineapple appeared, all for £3.20.

After a decent sleep and a pain-free border crossing, we jumped forward an hour and arrived in Butterworth by lunch time. My new German friend Christiane and I acquired some Ringgit and spent 1.20 (24p) of it getting the ferry to Georgetown on the island of Penang. This relic of British colonialism is now a multicultural town with a reputation for great food.
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After exceptionally good tandoori chicken we headed to a bar and met a couple of other solo girls, Daphne from Holland and Claire from Worcestershire and agreed to meet the next day to explore. We hired bikes (mine was of course pink and the swishest yet) and went looking for the wrought iron 'markers' that litter the town, each illustrating a particular aspect of its history or culture, and other street art.
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We also visited the lovingly renovated Blue Mansion for a tour led by an eccentric older lady who shouted at anyone who dared to ask a question she'd already answered.
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In the evening we went to the Red Garden food hawker's court where you choose what street food gets brought to your table. Then we drank garish cocktails and danced til the early hours to terrible music.

Penang Hill is at the centre of the island and a flash funicular railway takes you to the top for impressive views. Christiane and I planned to walk back down but were advised it would take 4 hours and with the clouds darkening we decided against it. Instead we visited the Khoo clan house, a beautifully preserved Chinese hall, before street noodles for dinner.
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Next morning I took the ferry north to the tropical island of Langkawi for some beach-induced relaxation. After a lot of sitting I managed to get to the cable car to take in the views and got a lift with an Aussie to see some spectacled langurs.
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Three tranquil days later I boarded a plane for Kuala Lumpur, where an avid follower of the blog was coming to meet me...
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Posted by arianemeena 04:44 Archived in Malaysia

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Comments

Just when I think your blog can't get any more interesting,you post another classic......

Josh -have an amazing time,I know you have planned a great schedule for the next fortnight! Enjoy a well-deserved break from the cold and wind-swept North.

by jane waran

Pretty hungry after reading that x

by Aimee

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