From Diary 1
19. As usually, I waking up early, then munch breakfast for an hour. Got plenty of sun yesterday: Over arms, shoulders and foreheads are reddish, and the nose looks like a drunks! May try to keep me in the shade today. Or is the the other way; today's tour is called "Monkey Beach".
I walk 25 meters down to the beach, where a 25 foot converted fishing boat picks us. It then looks at a little deeper water, and then it comes out fresh, with 2 meters high bow waves. The engine must be of the same dimension as an average big ferry. 40 minutes of sailing along the beautiful coast and into a deserted beach.
After I been given the departure time, I head out off the track, which leads 10-100 meters inside the primeval foret. Stops to catch a couple of land hermit crabs and split a rotten tree trunk. Becomes to my great horror collected by 30 fellow tourists, with "native" guide.
They are on the way out of the same track, so I see no other way, as there are no other tracks, but to give it the whole arm, as an omniscient guide, and tell about animals and plants we pass. Thank god, no one else has a clue about the flora and fauna.
Get an eye on a bunch of monkeys. Disconnect
the others to get around the herd, so I can scare them (the monkeys)
into the arms of the others (tourists). It is filmed and
photographed so that even Burt Reynolds would be envious.
After exceedingly great efforts, and with the
use of all innate sense of place and logic, I manage to get lost.
Fight in the direction I think are right, and suddenly the sweetest
scent of sun oil and barbeque greats to me.
Grabs at me in a hurry, and then head in the opposite direction, along the coast. See a lot, gathers a lot and photographs a lot. Reach right back as the boat will depart. Sailing home, going down to the bar to have coffee and write the last postcards.
Discovers; the cash stock has dwindled worryingly. It is stated that a bank four kilometres in towards Georges Town will provide cash for a plastic card. Hire a taxi just to ascertain; banks close at 3pm in Malaysia. As the taxi driver charged me violently, I take revenge on this abominable people by taking the bus to the city. 1.30 kr.
Walks around a bit and find a "slot machine"
where you can use Visa cards as a bet. I win $ 300 in the first
draw. They need to be used, so I enter the 59-storey "City 2" that
many of the city's businesses have moved to.
Starting with a small brisk walk of 10-15
kilometres, off a small trail. It goes up and down, out and in,
above and below, in and next to, until we almost go down.
Much to Søren's delight, when we are back, we
see an adder or snake, which, however, runs off with lightning
speed. The sweat renders us in buckets, and when we pass a clearing,
the sun's rays feel like tongues of fire.
Coming back to the butterflies farm, which is
a large wire cage in which is built a very beautiful garden.
Everywhere, 25 different butterfly species swarm around. One flower,
more beautiful than the other, gives generous nectar to these
wonderful creatures, while I could really drink a Coke.
In a small house next to the wire cage, giant
beetles, centipedes, grasshoppers, bird spiders and other local
animals are displayed. Unfortunately, they have closed the
Returns to the hotel with Albert and head down to the bar to regulate caffeine levels in the blood. See to my great delight, the clouds overpower the sun, and immediately utilize it to swim for an hour. Hot water, delicious sand, but really misses the great waves of the North Sea.
Eat a portion of "fried rice" at a small
restaurant. The dish consists of: Rice, shrimp, chicken terns, peas
and a aray of other delicate little things. Back down to the sea to
watch the cheerful waves play. Hear a little about the day of the
Norwegians, and then go, as usual, early death.
Between the trees, on the green lawns, are
monkey flocks of the ubiquitous "Nilson" species. (Macaques).
Comes out after 2-3 hours and quenches thirst
with a coconut with straws for 3-4 kroner. Lets it get followed of a
couple of burgers for 5 kroner each.
Of course, there are also traders in a temple. Buy a painting by the artist himself. Looks really "sought", but that's how the sunset looks almost on Penang. Back down the mountain again, and to a "trade street" where a narrow path leads through the shops, and with an increase of 15 degrees up the mountain again. Most stalls deal with "tourist clothes", but it suits me fine, as I am running out of clean clothes. Buying shorts and 3 T-shirt for 40 kroner. Finds a booth with "devil masks" of the type C&C sold for 3-500 kroner. Here I get the price down to 65 kroner, and will have to buy 2, of unknown vintage and origin.
Once again, the cash balance is down to $ 0
and 30 kroner. Just enough money for the bus to the vending machine
Takes a couple of buses to Georges Town, to
play a little on the cash machine. Winning again.
Decides to head out to Penang Hill, the
highest point on the island. Ask around to find the right bus, but
only get different answers. So it must be a taxi driver, who will
share the winnings from the slot machine with me.
Reaching the top, where a cool breeze soothes life, and a mobile burger bar the hungry. In addition to the view, the summit also offers a parrot park, trade stalls and beautiful scenery. I photograph; an oddly shaped spider, a giant centipede, an even bigger scolopendra, butterflies and sometimes even the empty soil. Stroll around the top for three hours, then take the tram back down.
Strikes the city at the foot of the mountain,
but finds nothing new. Jumping on any bus to get to a strange place.
Or not: I get off in Georges Town, where I find a new trading area,
but without the wallet suffers badly.
Get a cup of ice coffee at a local, and then
tilt in the grass. When I wake up, it has become quite dark and 150
traders have emerged with everything from meat axes to plastic
buckets to hair elastic bands.
Get out of the market and find a taxi. The driver is incredibly talkative, but I also get to say one word or two. He speaks Malay-English and I speak Danish-English. In fact, our conversation is so interesting, that we continue after we have arrived at the hotel. Then up and get the slimy body wash, and down to the bar to drink coffee and write.
Now it's just that a (possibly good) orchestra
is infamous, and has attracted a lot of people, with their ABBA /
Cash / BonnyM copies. Preferably rush to the restaurant, where a
sadist of a waiter places me next to a 12 m2 cake buffet. Resists,
as I have already been to a German embossed patisserie earlier in
the day. Coffee $ 1, big cake 60 cents. Goodnight Penang, see you to
Walk up the mountain next to the hotel. Re-see different animals, and picks hairy lianas seeds. Go back down the mountain, before I get lost again. Crosses the road, and walks along the beach on delicious, fine white sand, and over house-large stones.
Has been a battle inside the forest, to overcome some particularly invincible stones, as I see something reminiscent of a snake, on a large flat rock at the water's edge. Taking off my shoes and sneaking out really silently in my tight-fitting clothes. See it is the tail of a 1½-2 meter long sunbathing monitor. Fortunately, I have the camera in my hand and shoot a photo at a distance of 6 meters. At the sound of the camera snapping, it disappears at lightning speed, in between the large stones. Trying to follow along on top of the stones (will have to face the bugger "face to face" in a narrow rock cave). It reaches the forest, and at unchanged speed (for it) it rises up the steep slope, with a sound that will turn a boar boar blue with envy. I let my soft heart run away with me, and it get away.
Continuing my climb / crawl / stumble / slip / fall - but far from the walk, along the coast. Next time I get out from a loop in the woods, I get out in the middle of a courtyard. Starting to walk across the courtyard with a suitably silly grin pasted on my, otherwise pretty sticky, face. It just does not seem to work on the big shepherd dogs, who are loudly persecuting me for the burning. The "locals" are easy to get in touch with!
Will at some point step into Fjällraven's shoulder strap as I jump between two rocks. Notes that the backpack can hold 15 litres of water and the Norwegian Alistir MacLean case is not waterproof. A bit of Malaj / Danish with an angler, who gets at least as frightened as the creature, but at least doesn't run off, as I topple over on his rock.
Heads to the bus stop and waits for 40 minutes for a crowded bus, where the ticket salesman just pops his head out and shouts "Sorry, next bass!". It comes after 30 minutes, and I manage to get an outside handle. Well, fresh air is healthy and the ticket pusher must very reluctantly acknowledge, I can't let go of, to pay.
Tumbling off the bus, crawling up the room,
taking a shower and reading the rest of the watered Norwegian crime.
Then I hear a little about the Norwegian escapades (he has at least
4-5 romances running), interrupted by 3 phone calls, in which he
speaks with over soft voice for a 62 year old. In addition to the
contacts he makes by buying all kinds of useless shit in stalls and
shops, he has also contacted a contact agency. However, he only uses
that to supplement, when he has half an hour left. It's a nice
contrast to the old gay I shared a room with in China.
Drive across the 10.5 (13?) kilometre bridge to the mainland, where the first we meet is a gigantic industrial district. Albert proudly announces that Penang Province is the world's second largest electronic dimmer manufacturer, surpassed only by Silicon Vally. He also gives the names of trees and buildings, shows pineapple, rubber, papaya, oil palm, and all sorts of other useful plantings.
He talks about oil import / export (sells good oil, buys cheap
sulphur-containing), and a lot of other things that sound like a
living record from "A Travel Survival Kit".
Says (smart as only I can be): It could be fun to visit the countries where the horn billed live, although you probably don't see any. Søren calmly points to the signs which, in addition to their name, indicate that they live in Malaysia. Well, yes, that's where I see them.
A large collection of birds of prey can also be seen, all kept in
large and very high aviaries, which are actually quite reasonable -
if they should be kept at all.
The birds acknowledge this by having perfect plumage, and a vivid
look. Trying to hold 2 owls, one at 5 kilos, the other at 100 grams.
Then Albert drives us to an 8 Km2 water reservoir, some way up in the highlands. Nature is magnificent, and what Søren thinks is a monkey in the scrub, develops into a crescendo, where after I, quite correctly, guess at a monitor. It is actually exciting to stand there on the ½ meter wide, which separates the totally massive primeval forest, and the 100 meters deep so, while "something big" comes rushing towards one. Especially when you know that Malay bears and tigers live in the country. For a fraction of a second it appears, a few meters from us, and then dives into the lake.
Catches a calotes, to show it off. It thanks for paying attention by biding most of my little finger of. The trip goes home, but on the way we stop to take a look at the largest "Duty Free" shop in the area. What they save in customs, they have shown to put in profit.
Noticing too late that it causes a little too much attention on the
part of the 10-12 employed 17-18 year old girls that I am only
wearing small shoes and tights.
Get home fairly whole-skinned, grinds half a litre of soda, and finds the seal-suit. Swim for an hour and then head to Miami Beach Restaurant for a quiet Christmas meal. I thought. Although I am the only customer, the waiter is almost impossible to contact. Two kids dangerously screaming around the table. Independently of each other, two European-looking gentlemen come in and have a fierce quarrel with the staff. One above the prices, the other something with a key. After a year's time, I get some unusually boring food that just gets shoved in.
Going home and place me in the empty bar. Have just been served
the coffee when two emaciated ladies arrive and ask, if they can sit
at my table. Before I reach the protest, they sit there and crackle
- in Finnish!
Calling home to say "Merry Christmas". It was a good idea. Down the hotel to see if I'm missing something by going to bed at 10pm. I don't think so: A suspiciously dark-skinned Santa is walking around saying "Ho-Ho" and a choir singing international Christmas songs, while the half-filled guests are noisy.
Going up the room and watching an American Vietnam War movie that is
interrupted periodically by commercials. A single international news
story, which is also interrupted by advertisements.