Disclaimer: This trip took place back in 2017, and this late post is merely a vague recollection as of 2020.
After already spending 4 months in Penang, my plan was to travel to Bali next (Indonesia).
However, a couple projects that require more steady work came up, so I decided to go back to Penang (Malaysia) and extend my apartment lease for 3 more months.
Why Penang? Not only I had good working conditions from home, but also I had a good experience with the @CAT Co-working space in George Town (Penang) where I’ve done some work previously. Moreover, I really liked Penang (people, food, delivery services, facilities, nature).
Interestingly enough (or maybe not), one of the projects is a microservice I’m building for Banca Transilvania, one of the 3 biggest banks in Romania.
Soon after I returned to Penang I met Joy on Tinder, who quickly became a close friend.
On the nights when I’d be starving & working late at the @CAT office, she would bring me pizza to feed me!
Hiking in Penang National Park
Penang National Park is about 40 minutes away from George Town, by car. This was a 4-hour hike with Joy.
The trail starts at a small Dock (Marina), goes through a dense rainforest, traverses a couple beaches and bridges, passes near an interesting lake with brackish water (ie. lake containing a layered mixture of both saltwater and freshwater), and ends at a lighthouse on top of a hill.
On return, we chose to take a boat from Monkey Beach back to the main Dock (the one at the park entry).
More information about the park is available here: https://www.wildlife.gov.my/index.php/en/public/2016-05-10-02-34-43/peta
Weekend Trip to Songkhla (Thailand)
Songkhla is a good place to find good food for cheap.
We, Joy and I, drove to the border with Thailand (3-hour drive), parked the car on Malaysian territory, walked to the border, passed immigration, walked a bit more, and then took a bus to Songkhla.
On our way back to Malaysia, at the immigration office I discovered that my 3-month Visa for Malaysia has been voided once I left the country on land and returned to Malaysia after only 2 days. I was then instructed to report immediately to the immigration office in Penang to clarify my situation. I guess walking a border as a tourist for a 2-day trip is frowned upon, and can raise red flags. Lesson learned: always take a flight and make your trip longer than 2 days!
The immigration office in Penang decided that I stayed long enough in Malaysia, and they extended my Visa for 1 month only. So I had to leave Malaysia earlier than planned.
So next — I went then to Bali (Indonesia) for 1 month, and then to Singapore for 1 week.