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Published: February 21st 2007
Eastern & Oriental Hotel
Valentine's Day lunch at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel - this was one of 7 desserts that one of the party consumed!
Yes, we are still in Georgetown....we like it!
We decided that it a refreshing change to be able to unload the contents of our rucksack for a while and not to have to constantly keep changing beds....and so we settled down to a more detailed look at the life of Georgetown.
The original plan was to head to the beach at Batu Ferringhi for a while, but after our day trip mission to give the place the once over we decided to stay put in town. The bus was so old that we didn't think we were going to get there at first anyway! There has been a lot of complaint in the newspaper everyday about the standard of the buses, but if you could overlook the air-conditioning consisting of leaving the door open they served us alright and every driver without exception was very friendly - even though half the time you had no idea where you were going, all pointed out the stops and didn't take advantage on the price. The same couldn't be said of the taxi drivers in general, who flatly refuse to put the meter on and don't seem to have entered the spirit
Rama the Rickshaw Man - he was in charge of transport arrangements on Valentine's Day
of Visit Malaysia Year 2007.
Batu Ferringhi beach was lined by some pricey resorts and a few budget places. The beach was quite nice, once you'd got over the initial hurdle of not requiring jetskis, paragliding, horse riding (...what happened to good old fashioned donkeys) and sun loungers. We'd read reports of the water being "Bognor brown", but to be fair it didn't look that bad.....it was the huge jelly fish that looked the problem!
We settled for our life and swimming pool in Georgetown and set about wandering around the remaining sights. The view from Penang Hill was fairly impressive, although even at 701 metres above sea level it wasn't significantly cooler than down in town. The colonial Brits obviously thought it was and built an array of mansions up there. The Penang Hill incline railway was worth a trip....it'll remind you of a very steep version of Kelburn in Wellington.
Valentine's Day cards were dispensed with in favour of a trip round town with our appointed rickshaw man, Rama, who would have had to pedal somewhat harder had he known John a few years ago to shift the bulk around the streets. We lunched at
Miranda dresses for the occasion
the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, formerly owned by the Sarkies Brothers who also ran Raffles in Singapore. Whilst it doesn't have the same prestige as the latter, the buffet lunch was brilliant at a shade under what two pints would cost you back home (including healthy service supplement, which we didn't quite get for a buffet!).
The remainder of our time in Penang has been spent wandering around absorbing the street life of Georgetown. John decided it was time for another haircut, but decided that he wasn't paying 8 ringgits for a non air-conditioned "salon". On the way back from Batu Ferringhi, he thought he'd spotted the answer at 5 ringgits and full aircon. However he got more than he bargained for...included in the competitive price was a neck massage, so after he got over the cut throat razor on his neck (which always makes him a bit nervous) you had a comical scene of a little Indian guy twisting his head in all directions! John seemed so pleased to have survived - he even tipped the guy!
We've walked miles (which is not the brightest idea in the heat) and probably miles more carefully avoiding the copious
We were such regulars that the waiter just gave us the usual
number of drains deep enough to drown a man. The other main obstacle to survival on the street are the mopeds. There has been a recent safety campaign designed to cut down accidents in the run up to Chinese New Year, but this doesn't seem to stop them indulging in their favourite passtime of riding down the pavement (preferably towards you). It's also quite amazing just how many of the extended family you can fit on a moped!
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