Sunday, January 17, 2010

10th January 2010 - 17th January 2010 - Singapore & Malaysia


Well we’ve only been gone a week now, but it appears that I’ve already acquired myself my own hostel in Penang and am waiting for my first guest to arrive, so no better time to rekindle the blog for phase 2 of Simon and Sheenas gallivanting trip around the world!

You may be slightly confused by the first paragraph… don’t worry Mum I haven’t bought a guesthouse and I don’t plan to settle down here in Malaysia. I am only looking after the place here whilst K.D the hostel owner has to unfortunately attend his sisters funeral a few towns away.. The poor guy is so exhausted with stress and sadness that he has entrusted his business with his willing guests whilst he is with his family. Sheena and I have actually only just come back from our day out and have taken over whilst another English bloke goes and gets a well deserved feed at the local food court.

Speaking of food… you must excuse us if this “travel” blog rapidly converts into a food blog… especially whilst here in Penang (my newly crowned food capital of the world!). I could list everything we’ve eaten but I’ll be here all night. However I should firstly at least mention what we have done prior to our stay here in on the island.

Having arrived in Singapore we realised that there is really nothing to do.. So we went and found some food… (I did warn you)… On this tiny well organised paradise for the obsessive compulsive we scoffed down many a dish including the vastly overpriced and overrated Chilli Crab (it was nice just not worth the effort). Besides food we have also discovered another gem that Singapore has to offer and that’s New Asia Bar at the top of the Swissotel Hotel. This place was heaven for me… great music not played too loud… excellent cocktails… an amazing panoramic view of the city from 40+ storeys up… but best of all was the fact that the bar oozed a class not to be found in any venue in Sydney. Superb!

Chilli Crab... a messy ordeal

So on to Kuala Lumpur. Our very spacious and comfy bus took us into KL which greets you with the magnificent and elegant Petronas Towers. Those who know me, know that I like to rank things in terms of their bigness and bestness… and the Petronas Towers are in the top 5 tallest buildings in the world and are the tallest twin towers! However, it’s not these facts which make the structures impressive or the fact that I know the man who was the chief engineer in designing the buildings that makes me write about them. It’s just that not too often something built in this day and age will make an impression in years to come, yet these graceful structures will. So from our one night stay in KL I can really only talk about a couple of concrete buildings, but I guess KL doesn’t have too much to offer and we didn’t stay for long at all… Oh and you must go to Old China Café around the corner from Petaling St (the tourist market) for the best iced tea in Malaysia and a flavoursome Laksa or mouth watering Rendang. Superb!

The Petronas Towers

They don't look like it, but these are iced teas
and iced coffees from Old China Cafe in KL

Finally we get to where I am sitting now in Penang. Once again our even more spacious and even more comfy bus took us to our destination. We found this lovely hostel run by a couple who are more than willing to bend over backwards for you, and in doing so, the guests are willing to help them out in times such as these. Talking to other guests here, it appears that their opinions of Penang are fairly negative. This is mainly due to the excessive construction of multi storey hotels that litter the coastline. Mum, I expect that the island has changed a lot since your visit years ago. This is not to say that Penang is not a great place, one just has to visit for the right reasons. If you want a beautiful tropical beach and lush rainforest; don’t come to Penang. Come to Penang if you want to see an amazingly integrated society that resides in a historical colonial town (George Town) which is fantastically preserved. It’s not so much the sights which make this town interesting, but more so the character of George Town itself and the interaction between the Muslim Malays, the Buddhist Chinese, and the Hindu Indians.

The Local Fauna

Colonial George Town

So of course with the array of cultures present on the island, the food here is outstanding. I would firstly like to acknowledge Nimita for pointing us in the direction of the food blog, those guys know what they’re talking about and our tummys thank them and you. So we’ve devoured fish curries, oysters, fried radish cakes, iced coffees, tamarind prawns, and of course bacon candy, plus so much more. Superb!

Crunchy Tamarind Prawns

Sheena doing what she does best... eating..
in this case specifically the refreshing Chendul

The Fried Radish Cake Man

So now we’re off to Langkawi to take relax on the beach, drink cheap beer (which Sheena now likes) and generally take stock of things and think about how lucky we are to be on this trip.

It’s at this point I’d like to pay my respects to Nick Delaney who at only 15 tragically passed away in the Blue Mountains earlier this week. I remember when Nick was born and remember seeing him grow up... and although I haven’t seen him for many years now, you could tell as a 6 year old that he was a good kid. Nicks older brother Chris who was with him at the time was my best friend in primary school and the early years of high school so I am very glad he his safe and well after such an ordeal, however I feel so sad for him and his family… no one should have to lose a family member so young. RIP Nick Delaney.

Sorry to end on such a sad note, however that’s just life I guess. Keep safe all.. We will :)

Simon & Sheena.

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