Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cedrick's Visit

I was on my way home from Georgetown and I had just gotten off the bus in Teluk Kumbar where I live when my mobile phone rang. My phone never rings since Kelly always sends me SMS so I figured it was a wrong number. It always is. It was Cedrick and he was calling to let me know that he had arrived.

The airport is 15 minutes away by car so Cedrick suggested I meet them. The next bus came within 5 minutes and 15 minutes later I was there but I still had to walk 10 minutes so it actually took me a half hour to get there. I was drenched in sweat having walked fast and it was really hot out. I also had not shaved in days so I looked like crap but I didn't care. It was great to have a friend visiting me and it was nice to meet his friend Candy too.

We hopped into a taxi and took the 45 minute ride to his hotel in Batu Feringgi. His hotel was the absolute furthest away from me as one can possibly get on the island of Penang … about 1 hour by car assuming no slow traffic. Cedrick's hotel is on the North Shore and I live near the Southern tip where tourists rarely venture. In fact, I have never seen another white person in the area where I live even though I have been here for 1.5 years! I explained to Cedrick that all tourists turn right leaving the airport and locals turn left.

We checked out their hotel room then went for a taxi tour of the North Shore and ended up at a nice Indian restaurant for dinner.

Cedrick thinks he is an Indian King.

After a nice meal we walked along the strip where I bought Season 1 of House on DVD. Score! The DVD is pirated of course. Cedrick made some comment about "his industry". He's not in favor of pirating and neither am I but I justify it this way. I can't afford it otherwise plus I can't watch TV in this house because of the great demands placed on the TV by the family so I'm forced to buy my TV shows on DVD or download from the Internet. I would like to see an end to piracy but I don't see it happening any time soon when there is such a demand.

I see ad campaigns trying to stop people from buying pirated goods but I doubt they have much affect. It's obvious to me that Malaysia allows people to sell pirated goods 99% of the time. Sure they bust people now and then and publicize it and make all news announcements that they're trying to stop it but in reality nothing is changing. It would be so easy for undercover cops to arrest these pirates. They're selling this stuff right out in the open! Obviously the police are not even trying. So I have one thing to say ... Malaysia, stop talking and start doing. Stop trying to make me feel guilty when you're the one whose not doing anything.

Anyway ... where was I ... oh yeah ... it was late and I had to work so I hopped into a taxi and went home. For kicks the taxi driver turned on his meter. We agreed upon RM 80 but when we got to my house the meter read RM 23. I gave him RM 100 since I always tip my taxi even though in Malaysia you almost never tip. RM 100 is still cheap compared to a 1 hour taxi ride in the US! I know I can't compare but I always do which makes me feel good about tipping. Even with the tip it still feels cheap for me.

I support the use of taxi meters but I don't understand why the government keeps the meters so low. The taxi drivers cannot earn a living if they use their meters. RM 23 (USD 6.50) is not enough for a 1 hour taxi ride. A 1 hour taxi ride in the US would probably cost about USD 30 or more. I never understood how my friend in Indonesia would commute back and forth to work in a taxi but now I know that taxis in some countries are very cheap. I would like to know that a taxi driver is not cheating me out of money but I don't want to see the taxi drivers getting cheated either.

By the time I got home it was nearly midnight and I was tired so I ended up not working at all that day. I had the feeling that if I met Cedrick at the airport this would happen.

We had not planned on meeting the day he arrived. We were only planning on hanging out for one day and I had quite an adventure planned. We were going to rent motorbikes in Georgetown then head out where I live where the tourist do not venture. I was going to take them to a remote beach that you can only reach by motorbike and hiking down a steep dirt hill.

After that I was going to take them up to Genting Hill for a view in the middle of the day then take them to Balik Pulau, the real Pearl of the Orient, to see the rice fields and head out to the remote beach where only the locals go. After that we were going to head back up to Genting Hill for dinner during the sunset then head to the new Queensbay Mall for a movie then back to the Hotel.

This is what actually happened … Candy felt sick that morning so we canceled our plans to rent motorbikes. They were going to take a taxi to our house. But then I thought that we don't have a car or motorbike so I went to rent a car. I just missed the bus so I had to wait an hour for the next one so I was hoping to get a taxi but this old guy on a motorbike dropped off his wife and started talking to me and gave me a ride! His name was Mohammad and he pointed to his house as we passed. He has 9 children!

Nine is a very lucky number for the Chinese. Kelly's birthday is 9/9 so it is considered a very lucky day. The date 9/9/99 was obviously a very lucky day for the Chinese.

The only time I can recall being a passenger on a motorcycle was when I hung out with my cousin but the last time that happened I was about 19 years old. I was scared! Every time we made a turn I thought we were going to crash but we made it to the car rental place without an incident. I was much taller than the man so I could look directly over his helmet. He had a spare helmet for me to wear.

I rented the car and realized that I might as well start driving toward Cedrick. If they were running late I could pick them up at their hotel otherwise we could meet in Georgetown. I gave Cedrick a call to let him know that I'm heading toward Georgetown so we agreed to meet at Star Bucks and meet we did.

We were hungry for lunch so I suggested Mexican since I wanted some non-local food and the place I knew has Americanized-Mexican food that I love.

We rented two bicycle taxis and went there but they were closed. So then we went to this hotel with a revolving restaurant but they were closed too.

We walked around some more and saw this cool mailbox left over from the British rule.

So then we went to this nice Oriental hotel but the buffet had just ended. We were not having much luck but actually we were having a good time running around Georgetown and seeing a lot of different interesting things.

I wanted to eat inside where it was air-conditioned because I was hot and sweaty but they lead us outside to the back where we had amazing view of the water and the skyline of Gurney. There was a nice breeze and we were under tents so we were shaded so I felt very comfortable. We ordered all kinds of stuff and had a great lunch. I ordered my favorite drink of lime juice which was delicious.

Cedrick clowning.

Enjoying the breeze, the view, the food and good company.

Leaping into the water after lunch!!

We hopped into a taxi and returned to the Prangin Mall where I had parked the car then we drove back to Teluk Kumbar where they met Kelly for the first time. Cedrick checked his email but then we had to hurry to catch the sunset at Bukit Genting Hill. When we got to the top, Candy felt dizzy from the ride up. It does feel like a roller coaster but that's what's great about it. The tourists love it but the locals think it's dangerous.

Kelly taking a picture of Cedrick taking a picture of Kelly.

This is the picture Kelly took of Cedrick and Candy. Notice the picture on his camera is the picture above.

We had a beautiful view of Teluk Kumbar and Balik Pulau.

Cedrick and Candy glowing from the ever color-changing sunset ... yellow, orange, purple, pink, red ... I think they are shaded somewhere between orange and violet. None of us were hungry yet so we ordered some beers but then we really weren't hungry since beer is quite filling.

After the beautiful sunset we headed down to Balik Pulau to check out the remote beach at night.

Balik Pulau at night from Genting Hill.

Unfortunately for Candy the road over the mountain pass winds around making her dizzy. The road to the beach is always very curvy but she didn't complain.

The beach was well lit by the local power company or whatever that is located behind the beach. Nobody seemed interested on walking into the darkness so we hung out in the light playing with the cats, checking out the sand crabs and the stars.

Cedrick tried taking some time lapse pics of the stars that came out pretty good. This is my favorite Constellation, Orion.

I suggested we head back to their hotel but take the back way. I was hoping we'd pass one of the dozens of Malay restaurants that line the road but I took a wrong turn and ended up on the main road which is void of such local places to eat. Oh well, nobody was really hungry yet anyway.

We headed up into the mountain pass which was very curvy … poor Candy was probably feeling a bit car sick. I stopped at a nice lookout but Cedrick was getting tired and hungry and suggested we keep going so we did. We came to the dam where I suggested he could get a nice time-lapse picture but he wanted to keep going.

There's a 24 jam (hour) Indian restaurant right before you reach the tourist area and I never pass it up and I wasn't about to start so we stopped in for a quick snack of some of my favorite Roti Canai and ice Milo to drink. That filled us up pretty good even though it wasn't much to eat but I still felt hungry so we headed off to an Italian restaurant in the heart of the North Shore. We had officially just driven around the entire island of Penang.

Our bad luck with restaurants continued since the Italian restaurant was closing up as we got there so we walked to another local place and ordered pizza.

It was quite yummy and once again I ordered Lime juice but this time Cedrick decided today was "eat like Pat day" so he followed my lead.

We took them back to the hotel and Cedrick invited us up for drinks but I was feeling tired probably from eating so much pizza. By the time we got home an hour later I felt exhausted and went right to sleep.

So the day didn't turn out as I had planned but we all seemed to have a good time anyway just making up the day as we went along. The only thing we did that I had originally planned was visit Genting Hill for sunset. Although we visited the Balik Pulau and the remote beach, you couldn't really see much at night. Seeing it during the day is a much different experience.

Cedrick and Candy had fun learning some sign language. When its fun you learn fast and remember longer but I'm sure they forgot almost everything they learned already but Kelly enjoys teaching people sign language and they seem to enjoy learning it.

I have to leave Malaysia every 3 months because I have a visitor pass so hopefully I'll have enough money to visit Cedrick in Hong Kong soon although I really want to visit all of my friends in Jakarta Indonesia too.

If this long blog entry wasn't enough you can also check out Cedrick's cross-over blog entry about the same visit!


Anonymous Candy said...

Hello Pat.

Thank you for guided us in Penang.
We had a good time!

Unfortunately I couldn't follow the chatting you and Cedrick.

And now I'm improving my English as I can.

Try to make a travel plan to visit Taiwan ?
I believe I will be better in English when you and Kelly visit me.:P

Please tell Kelly. I miss her. :D


Thu Mar 01, 09:24:00 AM 2007  

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