After some contemplation I decided, that my last visit to Malaysia was not long enough and that I should give this country a second chance. So I booked a mini van to George Town/Penang. After reading that the south of Thailand is more Muslim than the rest, I was quite surprised by the wall photos on the men’s toilet at the motorway service area. However, the toilet turned out to be just a normal hole in the bottom ;-)
The same holds for the ride itself: Promising signs on the window of the van. But just a boring transport from A to B ;-)
However, I arrived safe and happy in George Town. And made two discoveries:
- It is a food heaven!
- I am back in the dormitory world!
The second point was a very pleasant surprise. After my time in South America I was so used to sleeping in dormitories that it was actually hard to adjust to sleeping in “my own” room all the time in Thailand. And I actually prefer sleeping in a dorm while traveling. There are two reasons for this. First (even if this may sound strange), one is not sleeping alone in a dorm. Even if you don’t know the other people, I like this feeling of not being alone, especially while traveling solo. Second, and more important, there seems to be different people in hostels with dorms: More open, more communicative, more fun.
Thus I ended up exploring charming George Town together with Sean already on the first day. We were lucky, ’cause it was the last Sunday of the month, thus we could visit Little Penang Street Market, a charming little market with a lot of local craft, food, and drinks. Afterward, Sean introduced me to the Indian cuisine at his favorite restaurant. And I fell in love at once. Tandori chicken, Naan, Roti, The Tarik. Mhmmm. Aside from an Espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream we had some delicious Chinese food from the many hawker stalls for dinner and some Roti for desert. Thanks Sean for this great day with interesting talks and delicious food!
George Town itself is a charming little city. A lot of historical buildings. Colorful houses. And a lot of religious buildings for all different faiths that are represented in Georg Town: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity together with Taoism, Confucianism, and Sikh. It is apparently possible that all these different faiths and cultures can live together in peace, harmony and with mutual tolerance. One can hear the call for prayer from three or four different mosques while watching a ceremony of the Hungry Ghost Festival standing next to a Hindu temple and seeing two Christian bell towers. An inspiring example for the rest of the world!
And the rest of the Penang island has a lot to offer, too. One day, I went with Sean to the Kek Lok Si Temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples in South East Asia with an impressive Pagoda of the 10,000 Buddhas. Afterward, Sean had to leave. So I went up to Penang Hill alone… well, Sean did not miss anything. It was a pleasure to meet you Sean! Thanks for the introduction to the food heaven of George Town! Enjoy Bangkok. I hope you will still be there, when I will be back.
Another day both Shannon and I rented a scooter. And explored the island. After some relaxing time in the Tropical Spice Garden we went for a hike to the Turtle Beach in the Penang National Park. Well, it was more a walk in the park than a hike. But at least, there were some baby turtles waiting at the beach to be released on their big journey. Next stop was the Butterfly Farm. Since I have visited the Butterfly house in Stockholm I am a big big fan of butterflies and could watch them for hours. Beautiful creatures in all sizes and colors.
When they finally kicked us out we scootered through the countryside of Penang. Great small roads. Nice views down the hills. And a lot of fun cruising! Whohooo! On the last kilometers it started to rain. Quite cold. And a lot of crazy traffic. However, we both survived. And I enjoyed the hot(!) rain shower of the very good Old Penang Guesthouse. Superb! Like the rest of the hostel and the staff. Thanks! We ended the day with a dinner. Good food & good talks again! What an awesome day! Thanks Shannon for all the fun & the rest! High five! And a big cheers to Australia!
The remaining days I spent with relaxing, strolling the city and visiting some of the famous historic houses like the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi or the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, some travel planning, more interesting talks with other travelers and even more good(!) food. On my last evening I went for dinner with Kelly. One more delicious Tandori Chicken with Naan. An interesting dessert from one of the hawker stalls. Very good conversations. Thanks Kelly for this very nice evening and for your contagious curiosity about this world! Safe & happy travels!
There is only one down side in meeting so many fantastic people. They have all been to different places and hearing their stories has fundamentally increased my to-visit-list…
After all these good news, I have one more: Georg is coming to Nepal on the 24th of September. How great is this?! I am really looking forward both to see him again and to four weeks of hiking the Himalaya. YEAH! (Side note: Second visit from the Sweden Mafia. You guys just rock!)
Greets from the food paradise