28 March to 01 April 2010
Arriving in Georgetown, Penang’s capital, on first impressions I think both Mark and I felt it wasn’t the place we both remember from previous separate visits many moons ago. But once we’d settled in and done a bit of exploring we found its charm again. I guess like everywhere else; a place grows and the outer edges become character-less but delve deeply and the heart is still there. Georgetown has a historical centre with lots of colonial style buildings as well as traditional shop houses. It’s also got an interesting cultural mix with a China Town and a Little India sitting side by side – one minute you feel like you’re walking through a Chinese town and five minutes later you could be in India. Only a much, much quieter, cleaner and calmer version of India. In fact, Malaysia has such a diversity of cultures that, honestly, sometimes it’s easy to forget which country you’re in!
For us, one of best things about Malaysia and this diversity means that it’s by far the best country in Asia, outside of the Subcontinent, for Indian food. Actually I would go so far as saying it’s the best country in the world outside of the Subcontinent and the UK to grab a curry. Other places in South East Asia just can’t knock up a good curry so we got our fix in Malaysia – starting with a breakfast of either dosa – a large, thin pancake-like thing served with various dhals, coconut and chilli chutneys to dip it in or (and slightly more traditional to Malaysia) roti canai which is a bit like a really flaky paratha only ten times better. The dough is spun a bit like a pizza base really thinly and then folded to make the layers before being cooked a flat griddle with lots of gee (clarified butter). Yep, probably not the world’s most healthiest breakfast but when in Rome and all that…. That’s also served with dahl.
So we spent a pleasant couple of days exploring the streets of Penang and trying to detox our livers following several months in Siem Reap. Due to the relatively high cost of alcohol in Malaysia, this we thought would be simple. Until, that was, that during one of our strolls, we stumbled upon what we subsequently learnt was the cheapest bar in Penang! I think we must have some kind of inbuilt homing device. It was barely more than a hole in the wall with most of the tables on the street of the back alley we found it down. An old Chinese guy who was drinking his beer called us over and we sat and had a chat with him. The rest, as they say, is history. The next table housed a bunch of Indian guys who started chatting, then a Japanese couple who had been living there for 15 years arrived followed by more locals and expats. Then the mother of all thunder storms arrived and we were stuck. The rest, as they say, is blurry.
From Penang we took the ferry to Langkawi for the start of some long-anticipated beach time. We found a decent bungalow on the beach – well more of wooden shed really but more than adequate for us and right on the beach …… Not much more to add really on five days of sunning ourselves during the day and watching the sun set with a cold beer in the evening. The beach there is lovely though – very wide with really fine, white sand – check out the pics and I’ll shut up!
Pantai Cenang Langkawi
Pantai Cenang Langkawi