penang - Where's Byrne?


26.07.2011 – 30.07.2011 Sunny 30 °C

Had an interesting ride from KL through Ipoh into Penang. We jumped off at Ipoh to see what was there. Nothing was the answer so after getting a bus from the station to the town to find that out we got another bus back to the station where we jumped on a further bus north, we got there in the end though and sorted in The Banana Hostel with a nice double room. A big thanks to Ali, a Filipino from Mindanao who lived in Thailand but worked in Malaysia for helping us out there. Banana has taken over Penang with four sites to their name. We stayed in the one on Chulia Street and couldn’t fault it. Chulia Street runs through Chinatown and Little India and after our first dinner we had some Indian cakes from a Hawker. Strangely neither me or B like Coconut much but the Coconut cakes were easily the best. Penang is nice but I’m not sure why it’s a world heritage site. We did the three recommended walks in an evening and to be honest they weren’t great. Buildings that were falling down and poorly lit were the main theme. I did however discover an amazing Thai dish called Char Koay Teow that is available everywhere. Rice noodles with prawns, egg and various sauces chucked into a wok. It is amazing, and 4RM for a large. We got chatting to a lot of other travellers there too, backpackers are definitely more friendly outside of KL. Many of them had come from Thailand already and said it’s even cheaper than Malaysia.

On our second day we went on an eight-kilometre jungle trek. We didn’t know we were going on an eight-kilometre jungle trek until about ten minutes into it which made it all the more interesting. We had originally planned on a day at the beach about half an hour away from Banana and so had jumped on a bus. It wasn’t until we hit the end of the line that we realised a tiny stretch of sand and some toot shops selling inflatable rings and lilos that we’d passed about twenty minutes earlier was probably where we should have jumped off. End of the line was Taman Negara National Park. What do you do in a Malaysian National Park? No, I didn’t know either. As I signed us in, the guy asked us where we were going? I asked him where’s the best? He said KP. So we went off walking down a path headed for KP. We didn’t know what KP was but we were going to. An hour and 20 minutes and two pounds lighter we arrived at KP. It was a beach. And not a great one. As you can imagine the way back was even tougher having trekked there in the first place. The air was so thin and the humidity was so high it made it all the harder. There were some information plaques around saying what kind of animals lived there. Might I add that the entire way through all we saw was some lizard thing. The plaque said ‘don’t just rely on your eyes to spot animals and try to be quiet so you don’t disturb them. Try to be quiet? I was struggling to stay alive where I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my body and they’re telling me not to disturb some lizards? I’m not the fittest person but there will be people more unfit than me to attempt that trek. Wait for the deaths… They might stick some information signs up.

On the third day we stuck our passports in to get our Thai visas, courtesy of Banana (they are a one stop shop for everything) for £28 each, (including Bananas fee). We got our passports back, trouble-free the following day, and thought we’d enquire about their 2 day tour around Penang taking in all 8 or so attractions, The Snake Temple, a Butterfly Farm, an Exotic Fruit Farm, The National Park (again), a Spice Farm and a few others. Not available, the polite but abrupt Malaysian man told me. Their vans were out of action unfortunately so we just minced about walking around Little India again and taking a trip to the mall etc. Penang is a cool place to hang out, I’ve really enjoyed it and would certainly go back. It’s looking a little tired but the people are very friendly, it’s cheap and there are a few attractions to while away your time.

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