Well, I made it to Penang and I love it here. It’s not exactly what I expected (much more urban), but it is interesting all the same. Such a melding of cultures and religions are evident and Malaysia is known for providing an environment that is tolerant. At the behest of my good friend, Joan, (we’re meeting in India) I added Penang and the Eastern and Oriental Hotel (the E&O as it is affectionately called here) to my itinerary. I’m glad I did.
After my fiasco with the train yesterday, I’ve decided not to take the train on into Bangkok. It’s an even longer ride and all I could get was a second class sleeper. Since this hotel is so drop-dead gorgeous, I’ve decided to stay here in Penang and extra day and then fly to Bangkok (please see earlier post about adjusting you goals whenever necessary). The E&O is an elegant old hotel that takes service very, very seriously. When I arrived and walked up to the desk, a butler showed me to a place to sit and gave me a cold face cloth and something cold to drink. I sat there composing myself while the desk staff checked me in and the butler brought me my key.
The room is HUGE, has an ocean view with a patio, and after about 30 seconds to look around, another butler brought me a plate of fresh fruit. I just know I’m going to like this! It also has one of the best breakfast spreads I’ve ever seen that caters to southeast Asians, Japanese, Indians, and westerners alike.
Georgetown (the city on Penang Island) is bustling, and you take your life into your own hands every time you cross the street. There’s a huge Indian section, huge Arab section, Chinese, etc. Like I said, it’s a real melting pot. I did most of the sights, but what I really like to do is to just walk around, occasionally consulting the map, and just stumble on things. I like the surprises. If I feel like eating, I eat. If I feel like a cup of coffee, I stop.