“With the curry singing in our mouths and doubtless by morning, stinging in our shorts…”

funicular

In June and July of 2001 Kerry and I backpacked through Europe. We kept a diary. Here’s the first entry.

June 2- We’re Off (Kerry)

A surprising number of people at the airport to see us off- Mum and Dad times two, Jill and Barry, Bobby and Kay. I couldn’t believe how smoothly things had gone all morning and how calm I was. Tres chilled!

A short flight to Melbourne- we checked out the duty free prices and bought some fab mags for the flight. Back on board- next stop KL! A long, but OK flight! Great food- both impressed with the chocolate cake, giant twin ice cream, small top deck chocolate, carrot cake and a couple glasses of red. I think there were some vegies and salads and stuff thrown in there somewhere!

Watched a few movies: Chocolat- A, Miss Congeniality- C, Head Over Heels- Z (not worth googling- editor). About ten hours later we touched down in KL. The airport is big: Asia’s second biggest behind Honkers, and things were a little tense for a while there, but we asked a lot of questions and finally found where to go.

The flight to Penang was much shorter, but it was very late and had been a long day and we couldn’t wait to get there. Then was the half-hour mini bus ride to our motel- up and down some steep, winding roads in the rain and home time was after 1 in the morning- very tired and emotional at this stage! (Me too! – editor)

Finally, we get to our room- disappointment as it has twin beds so Michael had to go back to reception, but we had to take it. They would put us in a new room in the morn.

So finally- after twenty hours on the got we dropped off into a well-earned coma.

June 3- Michael

Surprisingly, we were not pronounced dead and began our first real day with breakfast. Turkey bacon is interesting. Do local criminals, when stung by a police raid cry, “Run for it, it’s the turkeys!”

Penang Hill and the funicular railway was our main achievement. Paying 40 RM for the taxi ride our first tourist transaction- and first rip off. Shortly after, whilst in the queue a lively storm soaked us. Two hours later we were on the train. It’s such a steep ascent that it appears as if you are crawling out of a tunnel or hole.

The views were amazing. Georgetown and its scattered towers, the blue hills, Butterworth in the distance and the striking Penang Bridge. From our elevated position it appeared shorter than its 13.5 kilometre length.

The summit is a mix of mosque, hawkers’ stalls and fountains. Bags of fresh fruit such as guava with sour-sour- a surprising highlight- were also on offer. During the descent monkeys’ faces peered at us and a drunken local entertained us as he bemoaned his melting ice-cream.

Curries and rice at the Boatman were reasonably priced- 57 RM and tasty. A couple of female Aussie diners amused us with their earnest conversation about Corey and Dazza and why they couldn’t commit. Home is never far away.

With the curry singing in our mouths and doubtless by morning, stinging in our shorts, we set off for the markets. Buying needs the right attitude. Be stand-offish, know that the goods have a (very) limited life, and walk away as required.

Moopy (Kerry) haggled well over a couple shirts. I bought a shirt and shorts. Whilst in a stall the humidity grew and swelled. The groaning skies then opened. Carparks and footpaths swam.

It’s funny how rain can affect you in different ways. The faintest rain at the cricket can really disappoint (See The Oval; final Ashes Test, 2005- editor), but a torrent cannot worry once you are soaked, and can be fun!

Slept well in our king-size bed.

giant-twins

 

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