|Turns out being semi sleepy near the end pout of your journey is not a good idea. You may find yourself being dropped at the last stop on Penang island 25mins from where you want to be. You will be slightly comforted to know that the other local passenger who wanted to go to Butterworth is in the same position, in fact we aren't even sure the bus stopped in Butterworth! Fortunately Amir was there to save the day and drove all the way out to pick us up and then drove us home to meet his lovely family.
We spent the day exploring Penang with Amir as our pro and incredibly generous tour guide. First stop was breakfast, our first breakfast rice experience. We tried the famous dish Nasi Lemak, delicious and then headed back to the Island of Penang feeling properly stuffed. Amir showed us around some of the areas of Penang and we took a little walk on the beach (well rocks, it was high tide) before heading over to the botanical gardens.
We discovered that monkeys aren't as friendly as they look as Amir went close to one that was raiding a bin, and got hissed at! We wandered in the direction of a waterfall, didn't end up there but did find Malaysia's first dam- a highlight for every tourist :) it was nice to wander around and chat with Amir, pretty impressed with his knowledge of Malaysia and it's history, even if his lovely Malaysian accent has a large hint of brommie from his 4 year at uni in Birmingham! Tee hee :)
Next stop was the war museum, not at all what we were expecting-way cooler! It was an interactive walk through the jungle, crawling through tunnels, up ladders, out escape hatches and through the old army buildings. We found some snakes! Despite Amir telling us they were real, and the warning sign, we still thought they were fake! A short prod from Anna later and nope they were definitely alive! Perhaps let's not play with the poisonous vipers :)
Having survived those snakes we thought we d headed to the snake temple, built by a crazy (well we think so) who wanted to house the snakes of the jungle. The temple was really ornate, lots of oriental dragons and you could pay to have your photo holding a python if you felt so inclined! We decided to pass on that one but explored the little snake farm at the side of the temple. Lots of pretty gnarley snakes including a huge python just chilling out in a dog basket in a vey much open little room in the middle! We hoped he was too fat to move!
Talking about being fat we had now digested our rice breakfast and it was time to head to another one of Amir's favourite spots and try another local delicacy. This time it was Mee Sokong, a slightly spicy noodle dish, mmmm. Not only this but Amir treated us even more and bought us all ice kacaing. Looked a bit like the cendol we d had in Melaka but with a scoop of ice cream on top and some sweetcorn at the bottom too! This one actually tasted really good, who knows who came up with this odd concoction of foods but we approve! Stuffed like massive turkeys yet again we headed to fort Cornwallis where we wandered around and checked out all the massive cannons.
We took a little drive around some of the different areas of Penang and then headed over to Guerney drive. This was another great spot to try food. Still stuffed we decided to take a walk first and explored one of the malls-ahhh air conditioning, and walked all the way down and back up guerney drive. Saw a man attempting to catch prawns with a net, and the penthouse of Jackie Chan- sadly he wasnt there to invite us in for tea :) it was around dinner time now, we were still not really hungry but shared a couple of dishes between the three of us at the food stall area. According to Amir, pasambaer (think that was it) and rojok were must tries. Pasambaer is pretty much your typical Asia - lots of fried stuff! You pick your selection of fried stuff and they come all covered in a tasty sauce. Rojok was particularly curious, lots of pieces of all kinds of fruit -pretty normal even if we didn't know what they all were, but then they were covered in some kind of thin spicy sauce. Yet another slightly bizarre but actually tasty concoction of Malaysia. We even attempted to eat with chopsticks but definitely weren't as skilled as Amir.
So now really really stuffed but feeling triumphant over our first full day of Malaysian food we headed back to Amir's home. Turns out we hadn't had dinner, that was just tea and we were heading out with his family for dinner! More really tasty food, Amir's mum even bought extra so we could try Nasi ayam too and we all joked about how they had fed us enough to last us our whole 2 weeks in Thailand! :) thanks for being so kind and generous to us both, it was great to catch up with you Amir after so long.
After a tasty breakfast of the Malay-Indian style chiapatas with Amir and his dad they saw us safely on our minibus to Thailand! Bring on Asia part 3 :)