- By Amber
- In: Tales From The Track
- 28 Oct 2007
Down the Gurgler
I've done a little complaining about bugs in recent posts but in retrospect, leeches and mosquitoes really aren't the most worrisome bugs around. By the time we'd dragged ourselves away from the lovely Cameron Highlands to Ipoh I'd come down with a cold, a real nasty phlegmy one that had me hacking and sniffling and miserable for a week...
I'm pretty sure Doug's writing a post with more detail, but our house hunting in Ipoh was both good and bad. We confirmed that Ipoh is a great city, neat and green, surrounded by magnificent limestone hills. It has a fantastic old city chockablock with romantic architecture and has everything one could need in the way of conveniences. Not only that, but the condos and townhouses there are every bit as cheap as I had been led to believe by my research. For instance, a 3 bedroom condo 2 minutes drive from the major shopping malls but set in a quiet, incredibly beautiful area nestled in the aforementioned limestone hills with a giant swimming pool, gym, sauna, library etc. etc. sells brand new for about AUD 60,000. That's hard to beat anywhere in the world, and Malaysia's excellent foreign ownership laws make it even more desirable. I guess we just don't have the confidence to go through with it now, because after we'd seen many great examples of what was available, there was still a whole bunch of doubt floating around. We decided to get on with our travels and see how our plans for an income go before committing to anything. It must have been the right decision, because I think we both felt pretty relieved, if a bit disappointed in our lack of faith :p
So, I was just getting all excited about continuing our travels, trying to decide where we should go in Thailand and Laos, I got another evil greebie, a sort of combination stomach bug/flu. Lately I'm spending more time locked up in a hotel room feeling lousy than I am exploring Penang.
Ah Penang. I expected it would be a pretty neat city, but it has far exceeded expectations. It's vibrant, it's disgustingly romantic, cosmopolitan, cheap and delicious. It's even fairly easy to get around in – remarkably more so than most other Asian cities I've visited. Every single block in Georgetown has something jawdropping to look at, from smoking temples with every inch of their facades elaborately carved to massive colonial mansions and adorable shophouses with all their original tiles and shutters, straight out of wartime cinema. I dare you not to love Penang! I double dare you!
As soon as I can bare to venture more than 20m from the bathroom I'll be out exploring some more. Yesterday we managed to see the museum, it was small but fascinating. The selection of photographs of early settlers (I doubt many cities can boast a more diverse colony) was the highlight for me, and I enjoyed the traditional funeral and wedding exhibits. We took the tour of the Cheong Fatt Tse mansion, which is just across the road from our hotel. It's a restored Hakka millionaire's home. I found the tour painful (I hate tours, no reflection on the efforts of the guide) but it was worth it just to see the gorgeous original doors and screens, covered in bronze carvings of phoenixes, dragons etc. etc. I'm such a sucker for that stuff. I can't wait to do more wandering. There's a proper heritage trail for tourists but any random street is likely to have something gob-smacking or heart-wrenching on it, so it's easier just to follow your nose or take a cyclo (yes, Penang still has tons of these wonderful contraptions plying the streets). One thing that really surprised me is how elaborate the Chinese clan houses can be – almost as much finery as the temples!
Next week it's recovery time on Thailand's Ko Phi Phi. I start to drool just thinking about swimming and sun and fishies. Back to the voyage of discovery :)