July 11, 2008

Malaysia: July 2nd - KL to George Town

Whilst the room at the Alpha Genesis was fine, the breakfast was the typical below average buffet featuring rubbery scrambled eggs, greasy sauteed potatoes, toast, weak coffee that had been heated for too long and fruit that had gone limp and warm. That together with the headache of navigating the suitcase over the poor paving on the road leading to the hotel was enough to make me want to change hotels when I would return to KL later in the trip.

There was time to kill before it was necessary to head to the airport, so I opted to spend some time writing my travel diary in Starbucks. I didn't have my wits about me enough when I ordered and ended up with a drink with a huge dollop of whipped cream on the top, which was quite sickly. In Japan, you get a comparatively tiny squirt of cream ~ obviously Malaysians like their dairy products more than the Japanese.

The bus from KL Sentral to the KLIA-LCC Terminal was held up for some fifteen minutes or so by a massive motorcade of police-escorted limousines which I took to be ambassadorial vehicles. Whoever it was, there were a lot of important people assembled in the same place.

The Air Asia flight to Penang was only 50 minutes and then it was a 30-minute or so taxi ride into George Town and the City Bayview Hotel, checking in at around 4pm. Despite being the same price it was a step up in comfort and facilities from the KL hotel. It also had a great view of the sea and part of the sumptuous colonial-era Eastern & Oriental Hotel, which was once frequented by the likes of W.Somerset Maugham and Noel Coward.

Wandering around Lebu Chuliah and neighbouring streets in the late afternoon provided the chance to take in some of the old-style Chinese shophouses, though things were very quiet today, with a lot of shops closed. It was actually my second visit to George Town, the first being some four years ago, and there is something about the run-down, slightly edgy but at the same time sleepy feel of the place that appeals to me, though I can't quite put my finger on what it is I like about it exactly.

Dinner was at a stylish Indian restaurant on Jalan Penang called Maharaj, which served curries on banana leaves.
From there it was up the road for a swift pint at the Soho Free House before turning in for the evening.

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