It wouldn’t be right to leave Thailand without another ridiculously long journey. Seen as we were on an island we needed a boat first, we found a ferry with beds on, the perfect way to save on accommodation and travel at the same time! Definitely not the perfect way to get a good night’s sleep though. The inside of the boat had been gutted and there were mats laid out on each side, just wide enough to fit your body on but not wide enough for you to forget that you were sharing a bed with 100 other people. It was a long night!
After literally getting 0 hours sleep we docked up at 5am in Surathani, it was chaos there with a mix of genuine bus companies and scammers competing for your business. We were bundled into an overfilled tuktuk and dropped off and picked up again twice before they got us to the right place. Then another hour long wait before being loaded into a mini van for the journey down south. Five hours down to the border, another hour long wait, a trip through customs and another 5 hour bus journey later we arrived in Penang! Of course it decided to chuck it down just as we crossed the bridge, leaving us to search for our hostel in the rain and the dark. If that wasn’t bad enough no one had heard of our hostel and it was super well hidden, honestly look for the V hostel sign in the picture. After walking up and down the street hundreds of times we finally found it and checked in, a whole 24 hours since we left the last hotel!
We stayed in Georgetown on the island of Penang, which was actually a really cool place. Malaysia is a Muslim country but it has a real mix of different cultures, Malaysian, Indian, Chinese and Thai all fuse together. We were in little India which mean Indian street food everywhere, so good we ate it for every meal! We had kormas, biryanis, butter chicken and so much naan bread. Anything you can order off an Indian menu could be found on our street, good for the wallet but not for the waist line!
Georgetown is quite a funky little place, the buildings are very retro European and there’s street art round every corner. We hired some bikes and explored the old town, it’s got a nice feel to it with busy streets and buskers. But we quickly got bored of waiting behind endless Chinese tour groups posing for pictures before we take one. We toured around most of the street art before deciding to venture further out of town.
Seen as we had the bikes and a friend from the bus the previous day we thought we’d explore the outskirts of Georgetown. Turns out it actually isn’t a town at all, the busy main roads take you straight to mall and skyscraper city. There were also some really cool buildings (including the world’s poshest KFC) that we cycled past that looked so out of place compared to our previous experiences in Asia.
We planned to head to the Botanical gardens as even though the outskirts of the island are filled with skyscrapers and roads the middle of the island is beautiful green forest. Although we managed to cycle 300km over 5 days in Bangkok and not have a single accident it only took Rob 25 minutes in Georgetown before he fell off! It was quite a spectacular stack as well, the contents of his little front basket spilled out over the road, he managed to get his hands down but his hands were holding his phone at the same time, not a happy ending for that iPhone. Oh and he snapped his flip flop. There was blood but no tears so after a hobble into the mall he was cleaned up and ready to carry on. Still only wearing one flip flop he soldiered on, we managed maybe another 10 minutes of cycling before he managed to explode his back tyre, definitely not his day. Now he had one flip flop, one tyre and we were well out of town. We took an ice cream break to re-evaluate. They say bad luck comes in threes so Annabelle took care of that and spilt her cup of ice cream all over Rob’s pants, poor Rod. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking the bikes back to town, I’m sure the gardens would have been lovely but today was not our day!