Merry Christmans Everyone
25.12.2012 - 25.12.2012 32 °C
As it it is Christmas day we decided to spend a bit more money than usual and do something fun. We woke up and santa had been! We both bought secret presents worth 5 Ringitt (£1) but it turns out we bought each other the same thing. haha. We bought each other a pair of chop sticks (maybe because it was the only thing we could find within budget). After our usual breakfast of toast and porridge and our usual application of factor 50 we were out early (for us) at 10am, and went to enquire about renting amotorbike, from the many rental places on the main backpacker stretch here in George Town.
We rented a automatic scooter that cost us £7. We also needed to put £30 deposit down,which is RM150, we don't carry this much cash so we didnt have it. The guy at the scooter rental let Liam go off on the scooter to the ATM to get the deposit. The man tried to describe where the nearest ATM was, but the directions were useless, mainly because when he said left his arm went right and vice versa. Having never rode a motorbike or scooter before Liam was glad to get a little practice in before Chelsea hopped on the back. As he thought, he could not find the ATM the man had hopelessly described so he went to a bank a little further a field. The man looked worried and fired questions at Chelsea...'has he ever ridden a scooter'....'he does have a licence doent he'.... 'he will be able to handle it wont he'. Once Liam was used to the accelaration of the scooter it was easy enough to ride, the only problem really being the traffic throughout George Town.
Once the deposit was paid we set off, our plan was to circum navigate the island and see the rest that we had not seen. It seemed like a really fun idea to rent the bike but until we were used to it, it was totally terrifying. First hurdle was fuel, the scooter had none in it and we had no idea where the nearest petrol station was having not seen one for the whole time here. We asked directions of another man who had the same issue as the first with is left and right. We assumed that is gesture was correct and he just used the wrong word. We managed to find the petrol station and then came to our second hurdle. Where is the petrol cap? After searching Liam spotted a key hole on the side of the scooter that opened the seat, there it was. It was not the saftest petrol tank we have seen, the cap was directly attached to the tank so you put the fuel nossle into the tank and stop adding fuel just before it over filled and covered the entire bike. On the plus side fuel over here is ridiculously cheap, the full tank costing RM7, about £1.40. Admittedly it is a very small tank but still.
So we set off. We knew our way out of George Town and along the north coast road because the bus we have been catching follows the same route. Getting used the bike we got out of town and onto the coastal road which was much more fun as there were less cars. For our Christmas dinner we decided to have a picnic on the beach somewhere, whilst out we spotted a Tesco so we zipped in and bought what we needed. Tesco is very different to England, it is more like a wholesalers here, with large quantities of rice and loads of fruit and veg.
From there we carried on along the coastal road past the resorts and beaches of Batu Ferringi where we spent the day on the beach and towards the north west corner of the island where we visited the national park. We remembered that at the beginning of the national park is the beach with pinic tables so we headed there to eat our picinic. It was very nice, we found a secluded spot about 4 feet from the sea, looking out at a jetty and the coast of the national park. We spent some time there, eating our picnic and relaxing before going back to the bike. There were these tiny crabs that kept coming out of little holes on the beach that Liam was scared of. In our Christmas picnic we had a loaf of bread, some meat, some cheese slices, some crisps, some chocolate fingers and a bun. It wasn't a turkey roast but we really enjoyed it
We then followed the road down the west coast of the island, where it goes more inland, we passed a large lake and dam and then started to climb up into the hills. We passed a tropical fruit farm and lots of shanty huts selling different foods. Near the top we pulled over to admire the view which was all the way back down to the sea. The same road led all the way to the south coast, occasionally going up and down another hill. We passed a few working villages, but we are guessing that not many tourists come to this part of the island as there were no cafes or shops, just the odd restuarant. At one point we pulled over to stretch our legs and check the map and a very nice man in a car pulled over to offer us directions and show us where we were on our map. We have found that there are some really nice people in Malaysia and whenever we have been lost or needed help people have always been really friendly and helpful.
We drove all the way along the south coast and back up the east coast towards George Town again. We decided to call for a drink before taking the bike back so we went into a area called Queensbay. It is an area with a large mall with a few top end hotels just south of George Town, we havn't heard of it before but saw it sign posted. Everything was overpriced so we just settled for a couple of bottles of water and sat on a veranda of a cafe cooling off.
We took the bike back after that, just followed the coast road north into George Town, it was fairly straight forward apart from a 5 lane highway that we had to navigate, but luckily there are that many people on bikes that they have their own lane. We gave the bike back along with two very sweaty helmets and went back to the guesthouse to cool off and get a shower.
For our christmas evening meal we headed out to the curry place we visited yesterday, Chelsea said she had been too ill to truely appreciate it yesterday and as she was feeling better today would like to go back. We didn't have the exact same thing because they do different things day to day it would seem, but we shared a spicy curried chicken, curried potaotes, rice and a couple of chipati's.
Back at the guesthouse we sat outside for a Christmas drink before coming in and skyping the family. We were very happy to see everyone and wish them a Merry Christmas. We leave Penang tomorrow and head to Langkawi on a ferry that departs at 8:30am. We have really enjoyed Penang, and George Town, one of the best places we have visited so far. We are looking forward to Langkawi and a (hopefully) relaxing week and maybe a beach party to bring in the new year.