What to do on a rainy day
Our second day in Penang and we woke up to pouring rain. What to do, other than consume vast quantities of roti? Through a blur of cocktails the previous evening, I recalled that the barman had recommended a trip to Penang Hill for a view over the city; followed by a trip to a nearby temple with the best laksa in town available nearby.
It was either that or sit in the hotel feeling miserable; so we hopped on a bus and headed out to the hill. There are two ways of getting to the top. Walk for several hours, or take the recently opened funicular railway. We chose the latter and were soon sitting in the gloom waiting for the ride up the hill.
The ride is very long and is punctuated by a stop half way up the hill for service workers to alight. There was a clear announcement for us to stay on the train; something that she who must be obeyed completely ignored and was first, and last, to rush out on to the platform. She does this impetuous “there is something happening, not sure what it is, but I must join in” thing on a regular basis. I assumed it was just her; but when she got back in the carriage, another passenger asked if she was Thai and confirmed that this was a very Thai thing to do. As he was also Thai, I accepted his view on his culture.
Got to the top and it was pissing down. I can imagine that the view would be spectacular on a sunny day; but on that morning it was just soggy.
Walked around for a while, staring at the non-view, and then headed back down the hill, followed by a half hour walk to Kek Lok Si temple which did itself no favours by being rained upon, or by being approached up a narrow staircase crammed with stalls.
We tramped around the site in the increasingly wet conditions before giving up and going back into town to discover that the famous laksa stall was shut. Never mind, we had some very passable laksa at another stall, manned by only the second pretty woman I had seen that day. Of course she turned out to be Thai.
Standing at the bus stop, waiting for the bus back into town, I was lectured to by an old gent who told me in great detail how things had gone down the toilet in Malaysia since the British left. Big problems with arrogant, corrupt politicians apparently. I didn’t like to point out that the British are currently struggling with a very similar problem.
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