April 3, 2016, Krabi - Penang
We carry our luggage down to the lobby and have a very bland breakfast - not worth the money we pay for it. Two of our group members look very pale this morning - one has diarrhea and the other vomited half the night! A real happy, healthy bunch we are!
The drive to Penang starts at 8:30am. We settle into our minivan (with air conditioning!)for the long haul - 9 hours. The surroundings are not particularly exciting to look at, but the towns we drive through give a nice street-view of life: shops, markets, some rougher industrial areas and some residential streets. We have a mid-morning break and then have lunch 15 minutes before the border with Malaysia. We both shared a plate of fried rice and it tasted very good - not too spicy but with lots of taste.
Back in the van! At the border we leave our van behind and walk over to the Departure window of Thailand. This is all outside. Once we get the okay that we can leave (by showing our passport and handing in our departure slip), we walk a hundred metres over to the Arrival window of Malaysia. No luggage check necessary. Our passports get checked and stamped and we carry our bags to our next van with a new driver!
Four more hours before we reach Penang which is an island reachable by a long bridge. We hear much more English spoken here than in Thailand. Our new tour leader Ant explains that English is taught in schools as an official language along side the national Malay language. It has been a very long day driving with being bounced up and down in our seats off and on.
We arrive at our "Red Rock" hotel in Penang at 6pm, take a much needed shower and rest for a while. At 7:30pm we meet to go and eat something. Our two sick members are wise and go to bed. Ant brings us to a nearby "Food Court" - again in the open air, just covered by a roof.
It is a large square with at last 50 vendors cooking up a storm in their "booths". The booths are mostly on the outside with tables and chairs on the inside. We choose our food from one of the booths, order it and point to where we are sitting. They somehow remember where we are and deliver our food to our table where we pay for it. There is a large choice of different dishes at different booths: fish, chicken, pork, rice, noodles, soup, satah, etc. etc.
A woman comes by for our order of drinks and appears to be somewhat patiently bored with these foreigners who don't know exactly what they want! It is a very noisy place with some very interesting cooking "demonstrations". The food is very good: fried rice with satah and fresh squeezed apple juice!
After dinner we walk by a fruit stand and Eke buys some delicious looking oranges (from Egypt) and some plums. She has missed a variety of fruit in Thailand where pineapple and watermelon were the main fruits served. Another booth right beside it was selling different kinds of hot and cold tea. Eke bought some Chrysanthemum cold tea to go - which means that it is poured into a plastic baggie, tied at the top and a straw stuck into it. Cheaper than a Tim Horton's cup!
When we stand still we still feel wobbly like rocking back and forth sitting in the van. Sleep comes fairly quickly after this long day.