Selamat pagi! Or, in English, good morning – at least for us it is, anyway. We’re sure you’re all having dinner right now, or watching the latest episode of… whatever is on American T.V. at the moment (we have no clue – on the rare occasion that we have a T.V., it’s usually exclusively Asian soap operas). Regardless, we thought we’d (FINALLY) get around to posting the video and blog of our time in Penang Island, Malaysia – especially now that over a week has passed since we left the place.
We’ve been “roughing it” recently – sleeping in our tent to save some money. Restless nights being swarmed by 5 foot long lizards that, at first glance, appear to be Komodo Dragons. Waking up before dawn because of the very loud prayer coming from the mosque down the way. But before you start feeling sorry for us, we are camped right on the ocean and have access to showers, toilets (a.k.a. holes in the ground) and a full open-air kitchen. So yeah, life is pretty good. We just learned that many motels here allow campers to set up their tents just outside the property for a minimal fee. Unfortunately though, the wifi is lacking, so here we are at a Starbucks trying to upload all of this information for you.
We spent 9 glorious days in Penang and, while we of course had a great time, we made the mistake of booking a hotel on the mainland – a VERY far distance from the jetty (the jetty is where you catch the ferry to the island – costs 1.20 ringgit a piece round trip, the equivalent of 27 cents U.S.D.). Being on such a tight budget, we didn’t have the money to take a taxi every day, so we invested in a “tourist bus pass”. Actually a great idea even if your hotel is on the island since they have bus routes going to all the various destinations. Unfortunately though, their regulations (or lack thereof) made it so that we were often crammed into the bus from back to front – and by crammed I mean some people were practically in the driver’s lap! Not exactly a comfortable ride.
Nevertheless, we were so excited to see this place we’d heard so much about and even more excited to finally see an ocean! However, we may have hyped up the beach idea a little too much because we quickly learned Penang is NOT an island for swimming. And if you take the ferry from the mainland to the island (especially on a particularly rainy day) you see why. The water is CRAWLING with jellyfish! And while these jellyfish in particular (mostly Stinging Nettles with a few Cassiopeas) won’t kill you – it’s hard to enjoy a swim when you’re constantly getting zapped. So, sadly, we avoided going too deep into the water even when we found a beautiful, and virtually secluded beach on our National Park hike (which you’ll see near the end of the video). Still, that was probably our favorite day on the island! So nice to be somewhere that isn’t crowded by tourists!
As far as the city itself, it’s very interesting! We tried to walk most places and subsequently saw a lot of very cool street art and some beautiful temples!
Walking does have it’s disadvantages, too – like getting caught in a rainstorm with no coat or poncho. Do you know how hard it is to walk in cheaply made, wet sandals?? Weather is definitely something to watch out for in Penang. One second you have a sunny, almost blistering-hot day and the next there’s a giant black cloud overhead raining down on you like something from “The Day After Tomorrow”.
But anyway, overall, Penang Island is lovely! In our opinion, not quite as lovely as our CURRENT location (I’ll try not to give any more spoilers), but a lot of fun! Sadly, it is an extremely popular tourist spot so most activities are grossly overpriced, but there are so many free things to do you can pretty much avoid overspending on tours and museums. And sometimes we have to remind ourselves, “Uh, hello. We’re in Malaysia!”, so even if we spend a whole day doing nothing we’re still having a way better time than all of you frozen icicle people! Ha! Just kidding. But seriously. Enjoy the video – hope it warms you up! 🙂