10 January 2011

My Eventful Post-Marathon Days in Penang

[I was doing this entry when I suddenly couldn't post in anymore pictures. The pop-up notified that I've used up all of the 1GB free space that was allocated for this blog - hence I had to pay if I wanted extra space. I chose blogspot because it was free so there is no way I'm gonna pay for an extra space now. Luckily solution came in the form of flickr.com's photobucket. I'm still very much in the learning process but I've come to find out that it actually works well]

Oh well, my 3rd day in Penang was of course to run at 3am in the morning, get drenched in the stormy rain when I was in the middle of Penang Bridge and risked some of my most precious belongings which I stupidly brought along without the thinnest layer of protection and finished the marathon in a not-so-bad timing of 2 hours and 55 minutes.
Returning to the hostel after the marathon, I submerged myself entirely in a deep baby-like sleep for a good 3 hours. *This was when I 'donated' my empty wallet to some stupid thief.
Waking up when my stomach was growling for food, I forced myself off to the street to get something to eat. George Town can excite you pretty much in the same way that it disappoints you. I was dragging my feet around only to find out that most of the restaurants were close.
They really have these ‘odd hours’ for food.
But then, George Town seemed so deserted on  a Sunday.
Luckily I spotted a tepi jalan stall that seemed to enjoy more visitors due to lack of competition from other stalls.
Again at an unbelievable price of RM2.50, It took me less than 10 minutes to finish this. My body seemed to be desperately in need of a quick replenishment after using up a considerable amount of energy during the marathon.
I was soooooooooo ready to get back to my sleep when I got a phone call from my mom asking if I DID go to church. ERkkkkkk! Ohh, and it was actually a follow-up call after I promised I wouldn’t miss going to church even when I was in Penang. You see, I've been trying not to promise anything to mom unless I'm very very sure I can get it done. She would always call back! Erkkkk again. :-D
Call me a mama boy but I did take all the effort to go for the evening mass at this church which was only a few blocks away from the hostel anyway. It wouldn’t feel good if I didn’t (Could hear my mom says 'good boy' with a cynical nod and smile).  
But then, St. Francis Xavier’s of George Town is actually listed in the Penang attractions so I didn't go there for nothing (other than my spiritual reasons of course har har har):-P. It appeared to be the simplest of building design from the outside.
And there wasn’t really much to wow about on the inside.
BUT – I was so fascinated by the way they ‘wove’ the ceiling! I’ve been to so many churches but I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.
I’ve seen woven floors – many times – but not woven ceilings. It puts some crafty look on the church. It was something to remember the church for.
OH wait, there was something else. Have you ever attended a mass in which the priest would stop the commentator in the middle of a sentence just to re-phrase it? The priest did that a few times when I was at the mass. Whoaaa! It’s not easy to be a commentator at St. Francis Xavier’s church in George Town. The priest would correct you in front of all the church-goers! o.O

I returned to the hostel to molest self-massage myself with this.
I don't know what it is called in English but based on the label it's called 'Jerangau Merah' in Malay. My mom first introduced it to me when she did her magical touches on my aching legs right after I returned home as a half-OKU from climbing the ever-mighty Mount Kinabalu. I woke up the next morning so ready to do another climb, probably up the Mount Trus Madi. LOL!
Put this restaurant in the store of your head. It’s called what it is called there and is located in Jalan Kampung Malabar.
I waited for almost an hour just to get a seat and waiting for this to be served HOPING that it’d be worth the wait.
It was a tastiness in a nastiness (intestines etc.). LOL! I mean, seriously, it was delicious in a way that I couldn’t even explain. 1 hour of waiting just to get as a seat- it tells enough.
I was there long enough to see how the macha was so ready to eat the aunty alive but immediately shutting up when the aunty gave her some money.

You see, we call it the power of $$$$. Money is all they needed to shut the hell up. *sounds familiar? 
With a full stomach, there was something that I PHYSICALLY needed for before retreating back to my hostel – pampering myself. Oh well, you could spend one whole day self-massaging yourself without spending a single penny away but it wouldn’t be the same if someone else DID it for you. It’s like playing with yourself – you’ll get tired and bored of it before long. He. After all, massage parlors wouldn’t get a single client other than those with amputated hands if people DON’T get tired of self-massaging themselves right?
I returned to the hostel only to find out (that) my key to the room was missing – together with the one for safety box. I wasn’t really worried until the receptionist told me that they didn’t have a spare key for the safety locker, and that they might have to break the locker up, and that I might have to pay for all the expenses, and that it might cost me quite a considerable amount of money!
Hell. It reminded me of my days in Paris when I checked into a hostel and was asked to pay for a returnable deposit – quite expensive if converted into RMs – and casually gave me a very forgettable plain-white receipt without mentioning at all that I should keep it.

When I couldn’t find it upon checking out, he refused to give my deposit back. I was so sure that they had a record of who did pay the deposit and who didn’t but it was a trap they set for unsuspecting people like me. I mean, com’on. There gotta be a record of some kind right?
Being so desperately in need of a decent night sleep, I let myself be worried by it later. Half an hour past midnight, the receptionist came knocking at the door, in his hand were the keys. Apparently I left it at the massage parlor and the owner was so kind to ask his boy to send it over to the hostel. Halleluiah! My money was safe. LOL!
Next time you go to Asiatika Venture, say thanks to them for me. :-)
As if my sleep-deprived nights weren’t over yet, I was awakened at 4 in the morning by noises of somebody packing up in the dark. Apparently my one-night roommate from Hong Kong was rummaging blindly through his stuff, probably because he was worried turning the lights on would disturb the others sleeping.
It was such a pitiful sight looking at him fumbling all over with a minimal light like that so I pretended to be awakened (oh well, I was awakened anyway) and exited for the toilet and switched the light on when I returned to my bed. He appeared to be startled at first but smiling in appreciation later. I told him how it was absolutely OK to turn the lights on even when the others were asleep and that they should have had checked in at a hotel instead of a hostel if they couldn’t take the simplest rule understanding of sharing a room like that.
Mountbatten Hostel, Sydney
Then back to Paris again, I remember how I returned to the hostel at about midnight and switched on the light at the room only to be admonished by a croaky noise saying “Why did you switch on the light?”. I shot back by saying “Why shouldn’t I? Do you expect me to unpack my stuff in the dark?”. She checked out the next morning. Hah! There you go – DIVA!
Aloha Hostel, Paris
I mean, com’on. You’re staying at a hostel so take it as it is. You share the room with one of a few other people so you shouldn’t expect them to slug a torch-light around while travelling just for the sake of people like you.

Besides, wouldn’t it be more disturbing if you let them dig their things out in the dark? For sure they’d tend to make more noises by bumping into things, touching what they shouldn’t touch especially stuffs like plastic bags which are noise-friendly, and FOR SURE AGAIN their minimal vision in the dark would probably make them do their things a hundred times slower then when they do it in the bright.
They need the light to do their things and get them over with the fastest possible.

The only thing that is probably OK to do in the dark is sex and that isn’t even allowed in most hostels! LOL!
After saying goodbye to him, I returned to my sleep with an intensified need for a decent sleep. Erkkkk.
I woke up late the next morning to find out that the Hong Kongese’s bed had already been taken over by a young lady from Melbourne who seemed to have a banana by her pillow all the time. A banana! o.O
After a quick shower, I was out on the street of George Town again, going places based solely on this map that I had in my hand.

But first, I needed something to eat.
The kueh teow was good but the crab that I added in as an afterthought was gross. The minced pork that was creatively stuffed in it smelled as if it was left out in the open to be the swarmed with flies the whole night.

The smell was funny I almost puked even before the taste really got to me. Andrew Zimmern’s famous quote ‘If it looks good, eat it’ isn’t necessarily right then.
Hastily gurgling the coffee in my mouth to wash the terrible smell away, I walked over to my very first destination of the day – The Penang State Museum.
Oh well, it was nice in there. Just like most other museums in the country, photography is prohibited so I’ve got nothing much to show to you. I remember how I spent much of my time looking at photographs of George Town in the past.

Some of them were taken so long time ago that they were still in black and white. Penang State Museum that I found out was more like a cultural museum that depicts mostly on the evolution of ethnic diversity in Penang right from the beginning of time until how it is now today.
OHH, and I gotta warn you never to put the Penang Museum in your Friday itinerary or you’ll be in for a disappointment.
I wished I could stay at the museum longer but I had to catch up with somebody before she flew out of Penang later in the afternoon. But then I was in no rush not to ride on my favorite vehicle – my pair of legs. As the saying goes, enjoy what you’ve got while you’ve still got it and that was exactly what I was doing.
And I was so glad I did. Otherwise I would have missed seeing this.
Looking heavily French, the Church of The Assumption looked so beautiful with its twin towers on the front fa├žade. It looked more like the miniature version of Westminster Abbey in London or probably the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
I gotta tell you that walking is the best way of exploring George Town. There are just so many things to see along the way – things that you might tend to miss out on if you took a bus or a cab or anything mobile.

George Town is totally different from most other towns in Malaysia whose pride lies mostly on the number of high-rise and heavily-steeled and futuristic buildings that you see here and there nowadays. 
Kuala Lumpur @ KL
NOPE. George Town doesn’t need those. Tourists don’t come to Malaysia for those multiple-storey buildings or the ever-growing number of shopping malls in this country. Believe me, they’ve got more of those back in their own countries.
The dazzling Orchard Road, Singapore
They’d rather come for something like this.
Or this.
Or even this! (Seen pictures of this abandoned building posted on a number of blogs before).  

Penangites seemed to have some funny choices for names. When I first saw this, I imagined a mosque built up right in the middle of a road.
And say…… aaaaaaaaaaaaaha! Why did the name of the street catch my attention almost instantly when I saw it? YUppppsy. I was expecting a transfer in my job anytime soon. :-)*confirmed now anyway. Yayyy!
Oh well, fast forward, I was actually walking towards the Tune Hotel to meet up with a blogger friend – Miss Audrey. Sharing the same passion for travelling, I’ve been an avid follower of her blog for quite awhile now and I was expecting an awkward shy-shy cat on our very first meeting BUT NO. Blogsphere doesn’t lie. We clicked almost instantly when we met up as if we have known each other for such a long time. IT’s amazing how a friendship can actually develop in the blogshpere world.
My only regret was that we didn’t get to take any picture together when I actually had my camera with me. What a shame but of course, I am going to see her again soon to return something that belongs to her which is, of course still safely in my possession. Hehe.  
So, that was just about it on my very second and third day in George Town. I went to the have dinner right here with Francisca, the lady from Melbourne. Yupp, the one with a banana. Hehe.*out of respect, I wouldn't post in any pic of her. 

We talked about a lot of things and she told me how she quitted her job as a waitress (just like that!) and embarked on a self-discovery journey (Eat.Pray.Love?) that had brought her to most parts of Europe and Middle East and India and now South East Asia.

She told me about a spiritual trekking that she did in Italy – a trekking that required her to walk for more than 80KM away! 80KM!!!! “Something in me just changed forever..” she described with one hand on her chest.
You see, just when I thought I’ve travelled much more than most people did, meeting people like Francisca made me realize how I haven’t actually travelled anywhere yet. Believe me, those are the kind of motivation that you’d pick up along the way of your travel trip. The more you travel, the more inspired you are to travel more.

Follow me as I go BEYOND the old town of George Town - those familiar names such as....
Batu Ferringhi!!!!! Wohooooo! All in my next post. ;-)


aud said...

Haha! :D

Yupp, blogosphere made it feel like I've known you from way back! It was great to finally meet up.

Next catch up you'll be in the Big City already; plenty of opportunities to cover the nooks and corners of WestMsia.

JIPP said...

Ya Audrey. Glad to have had met you in Penang. I was having a good time even though it was brief. Yeah, just ping me when you come down to KL. :-)


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