Ipoh and George Town, Penang
Sunday 19th February
5 o'clock wake up call!! They're setting up a Malaysian style car boot sale just outside our window with much early morning banter and as our new room is only on the second floor we hear everything loud & clear. After breakfast, we stroll outside to see what's on offer.
Monday 20th February
More sites on the way to the Blue Mansion:
The Blue Mansion Heritage Home of Cheong Fatt Tze:
Then on to Penang Botanical Gardens:
Tuesday 21st Feb
Decided to take the Hop on Hop off bus which covers the main areas of interest in George Town. There are two routes; one takes in the coastal area to the North and the second centres on the Heritage area in the Old Town. Getting out of the busy city seemed the best option and Penang National Park our destination. We chose the more challenging trail heading south from the suspension bridge towards Pantai Kerachut or Turtle Beach (a green turtle nesting ground). It took about 1 hour 30 minutes to walk the sometimes steep path to the beach.
We arrived feeling like two boiled lobsters only to find that the beach was very shelved and almost impossible to paddle and cool down. No sign of turtles.
Then we faced the return journey. Covered 12 Km today!
Street Market food then back to the Museum.
Wednesday 22nd Feb
After a lazy morning, take an Uber to the ferry terminal to catch a speed boat to Langkawi. Again, not a pleasant experience; cold, cramped seating down in the hold with high windows blocked with a film of opaque plastic sheeting and an Indian film on a 'loop' for two & a half hours. I don't know why Malaysian ferries have to be like this! Stumble out into the hot sunshine and take a taxi to Ocean Lodge which is to the south west of Langkawi, a half hour ride a way.
It was a fun day out
Didi drove us to the German Restaurant in the evening because it had started to rain. It was full of ex-pats and very popular. Food was tasty and a change from rice and noodles and was accompanied by a rather spectacular thunder storm. It continued as we walked back but thankfully the rain was short-lived. Arranged to hire a car for the day tomorrow.
Friday 24th Feb
After breakfast, we walked around the corner to pick up the car. Handed over 60 Myr (£10.84) and we were handed the keys to a rather beat up car, no questions asked and no driving license required. Thankfully the A/C worked but the steering was incredibly stiff. The two German girls were setting out for the beach so we offered them a lift. There is only one road around the Island and we didn't mind which way we went.
Dropped them off at a very touristy area, parked and had a look around. I bought a batik 'Pareo', a type of sarong, for 39Myr (£7) in case we found a quiet beach later.
A short drive on to the Geopark - where we discovered that the only way to see the place was by boat; quite expensive at 250Myr (£45). However, it was a good trip, stopping off at a fish farm first,
Through the mangrove forests. Our driver told us that when the Tsunami hit this area the roots of the mangroves kept the destruction to a minimum.
We left the river, entered the Andaman Sea and sailed around the coastal 'mouth' for a short while before returning to the river.
Wild life photography is not my strong point so the sighting of sea eagles, although numerous and amazing, was not adequately captured here. They are beautiful birds and I may cheat and import a better picture from Google!
After that, we stopped at the bat caves. It was a case of walking through one cave through the mangroves again and back through another cave. Bats in their thousands hung from roof as we shone our torches upward (must have been very annoying for the bats!
Interesting 'bending' stalactites!
After that adventure, we found a quiet beach
And a few hundred yards away was a restaurant called 'Scarborough Fish & Chips'. Didi had told us about the place; it had been set up by a Brit but was now owned and run by Malaysians.
It was surprisingly good and a great ending to the day.
Saturday 25th Feb
Leaving Langkawi today.
First, we had to leave back the hired car. Making sure we had left enough petrol (half full) we handed back the car, and without even a glance at the car to see if we'd damaged it, the chap just took the keys and turned back to what he was doing - no hassle, no questions. We told him that every time we had turned a corner we had our feet washed in cold water, but he just shrugged and smiled. So, a two minute walk back to Didi's, an hour or so to wait till we called for a taxi before we faced the delights of a Malayan ferry ride back to Penang.
Back to the Museum (and yet another upgrade!)