• Hannah

Stranded in Penang- part 3

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

At approximately 10 pm local time on 31 January, we landed in Kuala Lumpur. A warm, comforting tropical breeze swept past us as we stepped off the the plane. We Gathered our suitcases, this time a satisfyingly streamlined affair, unlike our previous flight over to Europe which resulted in a lost suitcase somewhere between Paris and Copenhagen, (think Paris airport may have had something to do with it, but SAS airways were brilliant and delivered it to the door in rural Sweden 24 hours later), and we then headed for arrivals where we eagerly awaited Mike, (my Mike), Gideon and Mike (Malaysian Mike). And what a happy, relieved, grateful to God, pollution mask- muffled reunion it was!


After broken, jet-lagged sleep in the apartment Mike had found for us, the Mikes joined the nearby Parkrun and then we all met for yummy breakfast of 'roti canai', (flat bread and dahl). A quick swim the the wind-ruffled outdoor olympic size swimming pool cooled us off before we made our journey south towards Penang. On the richter scale of uncomfortable journies this was quite close to the acute claustrophobia, pins and needles, cramp, low oxygen, stale air, creased face epicentre because we were 3 adults, 2 children, 4 suitcases and 6 hand luggage bags. Those of us in the back tried various distraction techniques from the concern that we would never be able to completely re-straighten out our limbs as a result of the journey by requesting that frozen soundtrack songs be played at full volume, (Emily), requesting that Queen and the Greatest Showman songs be played at full volume, (Gideon), asking for aircon to blast out at full pelt (Gideon and Emily), jumping out to stretch at any given opportunity, including drive-through cueing for Starbucks, (me), and playing various riveting games such as : who would be first to spot, for example; 5 blue cars, (all of us).


The journey took about 6 hours in total. There are 3 ways to drive to Penang from the mainland; either over one of the 2 bridges or by ferry. Penang bridge 1 is 8.4 km, (opened 1985) and Penang bridge 2 is 24 km, (opened 2014) and is the longest in Southeast Asia, so there must be another champion in the world of bridges but I'm not sure where it be. We took the 2nd bridge over seemingly untroubled Indian Ocean waters, one wonders whether the rainy season in April would deem the Simon and Garfunkel lyrics more applicable.


Our first apartment in Penang had not a bad view, (see below) and was a central base from which we ignored jet lag and threw ourselves into the cultural melting pot of historic George town Chinese new year celebrations and a week later; Indian Thaipusam festivities...