MP3 track of the day: Wonderful Christmas Time ... a Christmas time ... a Christmas time – Paul McCartney
Weather: Hot with frequent showers in George Town
After blogging last night I went out with said German girls, two German guys, a Kiwi and Mike. One of the German guys wanted us to all try this dish called 'steamboat'. At fourteen ringgit (£3.00) it was a little more expensive than I would normally spend on my evening meal, however for the experience (and the company), I went for it. Just before going I went to the bathroom which, when I looked in the mirror, indicated that I hadn't gotten away without being sun burnt today. My face and neck were bright red, however my skin didn't feel too hot. I knew I wasn't badly burnt but, along with my running nose, I felt that this wasn't an attractive criteria for pulling women.
A steamboat is basically a large metal bowl, divided in two, with a lid. In the compartments were two soups, one spicy and one not. The whole thing is then positioned on top of a gas burner in the middle of the table. Plates of meat, fish, noodles, egg, mushrooms and spinach are distributed around the table and you put the food in the soups, wait for it to be cooked, and then eat it (Chinese fondu basically). The meal was delicious; I preferred to cook my food in the spicy soup, which when eaten, made me go even redder in the face (much to the amusement of everyone around the table, including the German girls … making girls laugh, first point done). As most of us have to be up early to travel to George Town (or more commonly known as Penang, due to the island that George Town is situated on) we all went to bed, I said farewell to Mike as he was going to the Taman Negara National Park; I'm sure I'll see him later on in my travels.
Waking up at 6:10am I got ready for my 6:50am bus journey to George Town. There were six of us to fit into this small mini-van and we were all pretty sleepy-eyed. As you can imagine not a lot was said on the mini-van as we all tried to catch up on sleep (however most of us failed due to the 's' bending roads, the van being so uncomfortable and periodic bumpy road surfaces). As everyone else was trying to sleep I was decided to look out of the window; it hit me there and then that this day last month - 11th November 2010 – I was flying into Japan. It had been a whole month since I landed in Japan and I have been talking about the country non-stop, to every traveler I meet, ever since. I still want to head back to Japan and so far, its so much better than South East Asia. I'm still not liking Malaysia, mainly due to the people, however I have been promised that it does get better in Thailand.
Once we had stopped for breakfast we all awoke a little and started chatting. Before the breakfast stop one of the German girls offered me one of her oranges to help me with my cold … it was good. At our breakfast stop I decided to get myself a bag of oranges … which are okay but not as nice (why is it when I purchase fruit it's minging, but when others do is lovely … I'll stick to biscuits).
We soon arrived in George Town on the island of Penang. The mini-van driver took me to my hostel (which happens to be the same one as the to German girls … what a coincidence. Okay, okay so I asked them where they are staying) and dropped the others at their hostels. It's a little more expensive than I would have liked; the staff are as friendly as any other Malaysians I've met and some of the additional charges are down right cheeky (5 ringgit for a locker and 5 ringgit for a top sheet … surely that counts as bedding? Lucky I have my sheet sleeping bag … Malaysians are so money grabbing it's unbelievable, not like the Japanese). As we had arrived early at our hostel we couldn't go to our rooms, therefore we put our bags behind the reception counter and went out to find something to eat.
As I had to drop my stuff behind the counter I couldn't really sort my day-bag out; I therefore forgot to take any suncream with me, or an umbrella, however I did remember my hat. We found a nice Chinese restaurant to eat in which was a little more expensive than I would have liked, still the girls were happy. I then followed the girls around town on this signed walk thing, taking in most of the sights. We got about on third of the way around the walk and, at this point, I was cursing not bringing any suncream with me as the sun was beating down and I felt pretty idiotic considering what had happened yesterday.
We sat down on the northern coastal wall of the town for a rest. Heavy white clouds were ascending on Georgetown blocking out the sun (which I was very grateful of) however these clouds soon changed their colour to a very dark grey / black. Then the rain came pouring down; At first I sheltered under one of the girls umbrellas however it wasn't really working with two. I then decided to brave the rain as we headed for a coffee shop recommended by the hostel. It was weird because it was throwing it down with rain, yet I was still hot … I didn't mind getting soaked at all.
We couldn't find the coffee shop the hostel recommend so we went to another; I had a cup of tea and we waited for the rain to stop. Once it had stopped the girls wanted to head back to the hostel for a rest while I needed to get some shampoo (as I had run out). I went to this shopping center which was huge, but most of the retail outlets were empty, which made the place very spooky indeed. I didn't hang around and so I bought some shampoo (which the advertisement said it attracted the ladies … could be useful) and then met one of the girls back at the hostel. The other girl had gone to have a snooze and so I decided to check into my dorm and sort my stuff out.
As mentioned above, I didn't really like the hostel at first as I felt it was too expensive and that they were money grabbing. However the dorm is really clean and I have my own space with a light, power port, a big size bed and a shelf to put stuff on … it wasn't that bad after all.
After lazying around for an hour or so I met up with the two girls plus three new guys (one German, one English and one American). We headed out to this food court called the 'Rose Garden'. The food court was like a large circular tent with food stalls around the edges. In the middle were numbered tables. The idea was that you choose a table number, have a look around the stalls and when you find something you like, order it and tell the chef your table number. I ordered 'crispy pork with Wong-tong noodles', which was nice; I also ordered a side plate of spring rolls … yum. The six of us sat down at table number six and took in the sights, smells and sounds of this busy eating area. On our table was an array of foods which cost little over £3 per person, it was a good experience.
Considering that the time was 8:30pm – and that we had been up since 6:00am – we decided to have a night on the town. After a quick shower we headed to the main drinking street and the others ordered three liters of Tiger Beer (which came to the table in a big tube, with a half football cup as a mount with a tap to pour the beer). It was interesting just to watch the people out and about, but the staff at the bar continually bothered us, filling up glasses trying to make us drink more so that we bought more. We left after one round.
It was around midnight we decided to find a final pub for one last drink. The 'blue diamond' was our target however, once there, it was a right dive and so we didn't stay. The best bit was that they had a live band with a drummer, a keyboard / vocals and a bloke at the front of the band … who couldn't sing … who couldn't play the guitar … but had ripped jeans, lots of fuzzy brown hair and could air-guitar a bit. It seems standards are low when trying to be apart of a Malayan band. Instead of a pub we bought drinks from the local 'Seven-Eleven' and just sat outside the hostel talking ... it was brilliant and we eventually crawled back into the hostel at 3am, much to the annoyance of the owner (which I liked as he's really grumpy).
I'm not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow (probably weather dependent) but one thing is for sure … a lie-in!