Malaysia, Penang, 14-02-2009, night time.
It's already dark though still stifling hot when I get off at the Butterworth's bus terminal walking with stiff legs and a weary body from sitting in an uncomfortable local bus all day, a local Malaysian bus built for the avarage Malasian person whose frame is quite a few inches shorter than mine, whose legs not reaching anywhere near the lenght mine have. Clammed tightly under my metal seat al day my legs have a hard time becoming unbuckeled. My *ss feels like the metal of the seat has quite literally been imprinted on it!!!
A short but typical heavy Asian downpour earlier during the day has made the dusty streets a muddy and slippery affair where my progress is slowed down even more by the constant approach of trishaw riders offering to bring me to the ferry for Georgetown asking me absurd prices for the short distance to the ferry port. People screaming from across the dimly lit street offering me accomodation at even more staggering prices. What do they expect me to do here in this industrial little city when just across the channel on the island of Penang Georgetown is a
I actually remember Penang very well. After my thirty days in that stinking rathole the Thai police had the nerves to call a police holding cell I got evicted from the Thai Kingdom as all Farang prisoners do after dutifully doing their time in jail - you're allowed back into King Bhumipol's Holy Buddhist State though!!!
The Dutch embassy in all their wisdom bought me a ticket to Penang using my own money and expecting me a first class ticket while I was waiting inside the immigration building for five days, a big huge room where the chinese inmates were armed with wooden clubs to keep order and you had to pay 100 Baht for a thin matrass on the floor against the wall, no 100 Baht and you would sleep in the middle of the room on the stone floor in two nice rows.
There were several of these rooms each containing about a 150 ex-inmates all waiting for their transport out of Thailand, the nationalities ranging from Europeans to Africans and other Asians.
The Chinese were the majority, mostly because their return to China would mean facing the firing squat which in
China is still quite common for heavy criminals. So these guys played magic with their passport happy enough to sit it out at the Thai immigration building out at Wireless Road in Bangkok accidentedly close to the Dutch embassy on the same road, instead of returning back home to a certain death by the Chinese police bullet.
So that is how I first got to Penang at the age of 25 years - a full 22 years ago now - by first class ticket aboard a Thai Airways carrier sipping Mekhong Wiskey and eating Kaviar with Danish crackers for lunch. I have been back several times over the years having come to love this compact multi-cultured island city with its Chinese majority.
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