Day 12 – Penang

Today took us from one island to the other, straight across Malaysia from east to west along the Thailand border. Off to the food capital of the South Pacific: Penang. After another night of partying on Long Beach, a lot of hangovers could be spotted at the breakfast table and on the pier, waiting for our ferry to the mainland. The ferry turned up fashionably late.  At least ten of us used the ferry for a quick nap, although it wasn’t enough for most of them.

The bus was the most luxurious one so far, with nice seats and some fantastic partycore music. By now, everyone knew to take a sweater into the bus, so the fact that the air conditioner was set to arctic mode again wasn’t that much of a problem. The highway wizardry of our bus driver was another story though, and Nico needed a plastic bag. We survived without any accidents though.

Halfway through we stopped for a full on Malay lunch, with huge amounts of food waiting to be chosen by all of us. Big spicy chicken was the favourite among most of us, but the even bigger spicy vegetables where an unpleasant surprise for others, although some opted to buy two cans of the local Pringles instead…

After the long journey we finally arrived in the love lane of Penang, No really, the Red Inn on the Love lane of Penang. A very hyperactive scooter renter was awaiting us outside of the hostel, helping the busdriver navigate the road as we gathered our bags. The receptionist was almost equally happy and we continued into the Hostel with nice dark wood floors and a “no shoe” policy for the upper floor and recreational area. A quick refresh and it was off to get some food.

Dinner was at the Gala House restaurant, which meant that our western food lovers were finally able to pick something more to their taste. Fish and chips, martini chicken and chicken pesto were often heard choices, along with a well-deserved beer after the long trip. Some of us were practically drooling all over the table when there turned out to be an option for desert. Unfortunately the restaurant could only give us 14 deserts, which ended up with some of us having to settle for a milkshake or a second beer.

After dinner a few people went off in search of beer and ended up in a local food court. Damn, we should have gone here right away. Dozens of different booths with all sorts of food. Malay, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, fish, meat, vegetarian, deep fried, all prepared right on the spot and even brought straight to your table if you wanted to. Quickly we found a seat close to the stage to admire the local artists and order a tower of beer. Eventually enough beer had flown (exactly 29, as predicted by Jelle. Congratulations with your eternal fame for one day!) for Tom, Marco and Rik to take selfies with the female singers and for everyone to sing along with the songs. A few midnight snacks convinced us completely: we will definitely be back here tomorrow!

Tom van Lochem

Day 11 – The Perhentians

Perhentian Islands are not only known for their white beaches and beautiful coral, but are also party islands. In this province of Malaysia, alcohol is prohibited, except for the Perhentian Islands. Last night almost all of us had a great time at the bars of long beach.

Because of the great party, our second day at the islands started for most people with a (little) hangover. For those who managed to wake up before 10 o’clock, an extraordinary breakfast buffet was waiting. At the breakfast all nighttime stories were exchanged, leading to a lot of fun and moments of (un)recognition.

Luckily for us, today was a day off. No activities were planned and all options were open. Some booked a discovery scuba diva and saw even more beautiful corals and exotic fish. For most others, the spare day was used to chill on the beach and swim in the clear blue sea. Even the biggest headaches disappeared after laying down on the beach and going for a refreshing swim in the warm sea.

At the end of the afternoon, together with Marco and Tom, I went on a hike through the islands jungle. On top of the island’s central hill, there are two windmills and some solar panels. After that we followed the path up the hill to see the view on top.

On the beach, we found some trees with a tropical red fruit. We recognized this fruit from the TV show Expedition Robinson and decided to climb into the trees to grab it. Just after leaving the beach, the next wow moment came up, as we saw two large water monitors at just a few meters distance.

During the hike, we experienced our lack of preparation. We walked on flip flops and those slipped away on the steep path with fine grind. Also we eventually had just one working phone, but that ran out of power as we reached the energy plant at the top. The view up there was great and because we thought to have heard that a round trip over the island was possible, we continued the track at the other side. Walking downhill went even worse with our flip flops, but after 20 minutes we reached another white beach. In one hour dinner would be served and thus we had little time to enjoy the view.

The happy feeling of reaching the coast soon made place to little panic, as we could not find any path leading into the direction of our resort. As most people would call it, we were lost. On the way down we passed a path to the blue lagoon restaurant and we quickly decided to take a water taxi to return the resort from the restaurant. Not only was dinner served in an hour, it would also be dark at the same time. We reached the beach just in time as the darkness fell while hiking the last meters through the forest.

Contradictory to the other beaches, this one contained very little facilities. The only thing here, was the blue lagoon resort and we went to the reception to ask for a taxi to our resort, the Shari-la Resort. Luckily the owner was willing to start his boat for 80 Ringgit. In the waiting time before departure we saw an otter jumping around on the shore.

With only the boat trip ahead, we were wondering how stressed and angry the committee would be. At this time we were already fifteen minutes late and we were unreachable for everyone. At 19:58 the boat arrived at the pier and we could not be more relieved to finally set foot to our “home beach”.

We expected to meet some angry committee members, but because the BBQ was delayed as well, no-one missed us yet. We even had to wait another half hour before the food was served. This evening we were told to get a delicious barbecue.

The committee had chosen a selection of fish and ordered extra chicken for everyone. We all could pick one piece of fish and one piece of  nchicken, which was cooked right away in front of the group. The food tasted great, but the restaurant chef needs to take some lessons in communication. After dinner, most people went to long beach again to have another night of partying.

Thanks for reading

Peter Lathouwers