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Published: February 3rd 2007
The minibus service to Penang was uneventful, with the possible exception of the driver who was smuggling something across the border. Nothing like being used as part of the drug trade, or whatever it actually was. It went something like this. Right before the border crossing, liaison with women in car. Right after the border crossing, liaison with women in car, load a few crates of dogs into minibus, arrange something under the floor of the crates. Drive past checkpoints (being waived through because we were 'tourists', pull into a rest stop about halfway between the border and Penang, and the dogs and whatever was under the towels they had in the crates get picked up by guy in black Toyota pickup. An Irish guy in the back seat kept a careful eye on the bags, so we hoped that nothing would be planted on our personal belongings. I think that I will buy a bag cover for future use. I nice little reminder of the gravity of the situation was all the signage at the border crossing reminding travelers that drug smuggling was punished by the death penalty in Malaysia. Great! Just as long as we all say it was
the driver, we should be fine. Anyway, at the rest stop, I saw that another traveler had a guidebook for Malaysia with a different cover than the one I had remembered. I took a peak, and it had just been published. First thing I did in Penang was pick one up. Published just two weeks before, my hot off the press guidebook had all kinds of new additions, and maps of cities that my condensed 10 country SE Asia book didn't. Since it is brand new, I knew I could put it on eBay as soon as I got back to the states, and get most of my money back. I shared a room with a Brit from Liverpool for the night. The 'Swiss Hotel' was a cheap room in town @ 21 Ringett, but it was dropped by Lonely Planet as a recommended place (no mention in the 2007 book) and it was not hard to see why. The manager's demeanor was just short of barking. Were it not for our 1st choice being closed, we would not have stayed there. Georgetown had a nice Island feel to it, with a colonial old town and a decent walkway along
the sea. If my schedule had allowed, I would have taken some time to relax on the beach and check out some cool sights, but I was ready to head over to Kuala Lampur in the morning. James and I caught a movie at a local watering hole, then we parted ways. He was just in town to get a 2 month Thai visa. The bus to KL was amazing, see pic. Tells all. Compared to some other bus rides, this was a steal at about $7 for 5 hours. The agent showed me a picture of the bus and the interior, and I told her "no, I just want a normal bus." She was like, "this is the normal bus, the VIP bus has more leg room." Sweet: this country was growing on me really fast.
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