Getting from Koh Phangan (Thailand) to Penang (Malaysia) was a pain in the ass: I had to take a slow ferry, a golden minivan and two flights.
Oh yeah, a golden minivan which was a big WTF moment: after disembarking the ferry, people going to the airport were boarded into an Orthodox church on wheels, with random design elements covered in gold, ceiling with mosaic decorations, because why not, whilst a brand new Justin Bieber song was smoothing the atmosphere in the background. Such a sweet ride.
After 3 hours on one of the slowest ferry I’ve ever seen, 1 hour trip with the cool golden T minivan, a 3 hours flight to Kuala Lumpur, followed by a 3 hours layover, and then an 1 hour flight to Penang, what seemed a trip around the world was finally over. This was definitely the most exhausting trip so far. So tired, man..
If on Phangan island the only transport options were walking, or walking and hoping to meet songthaew, or riding with a moto-taxi and hope for the best, in Penang I was suddenly overwhelmed with the multitude of choices, some of which were literally throwing themselves at you (ie. pushing cab drivers, transfer service flyers flying around like confetti, etc).
So I spent the next 2 hours in the airport trying to decide how should I get to my place in the suburbs of Georgetown: should I get a taxi? An Uber? A GrabCar? Maybe a bus? Or the subway? Do they even have a subway? Nope, they don’t, but I looked for one for 30 minutes. So tired, man..
After cleverly weighting my choices, I finally decided and took the first damn random cab I found, which resulted in a pretty expensive cab ride, but I didn’t cared anymore.
What was left of that night I slept in a “hotel”, in a box.
Okay, it wasn’t literally a box, but without lifting my head off the pillow and with very little effort, I could touch the toilet bowl with my toe. Or I could’ve easily watched the news on the TV while taking a poo while answering the door to the food delivery guy. Which I did not!
Accommodation in Penang
The next morning I met with the real estate agent with whom I was in contact for a couple of weeks and she showed me the apartment I’m currently living in. It was love at first sight. Or maybe it was the appropriate distance between the toilet bowl and the bed. Also the apartment is pretty decent:
- it has a kitchen with basic stuff like: a microwave which, once turned on, doesn’t turn off unless you remember to unplug it; an electric oven which worked pretty nicely for 4 weeks after which it made a dying Malay sound and passed away; and other functional or semi-functional appliances;
- there’s a large bathroom with a shower and a bath tube;
- a living room with a table serving as a working desk;
- a bedroom which has a secret door through the closet, leading to the bathroom!
- and, to my surprise, there’s another bedroom of which I was not informed about in advance.
However, the distant sea view compensates a bit for all the broken shit around. Also there’s a pub downstairs with a nice terrace, and there’s a pool, a gym, a barbershop and a mini-market, which is pretty cool because…well, I’ll be staying here for 3 months!
Chinese New Year
For 21 days starting with 28 January 2017, Penang has celebrated the Chinese / Lunar New Year, celebrated especially by Chinese people, and there are a lot of them around here. And Chinese people love their fireworks, so for more than 2 weeks I thought I was going to have a heart attack on a daily basis.
Malaysia is a Muslim country, so 4 times a day (or more) you can hear the daily prayers being publicly broadcast on speakers installed around the town. However, there are plenty of other religions being practiced around (Buddhism, Islam , Christianity, Hinduism, etc) and they all seem to get along just fine.
Here as well people are very polite. Most of the Malay people I’ve met speak English to some degree, degree which ranges from what sounded to me like a perfect English to something called Manglish :)).
The weather is pretty hot all day long (30 °C and above) and it’s mostly sunny. I quickly learned that even the slightest sudden movement will make you sweat like a pig. So I take things easy. Very easy.
The internet is pretty stable, but as a foreigner, you don’t have any options when it comes to unlimited internet connection for your PC. The best bet is to find a place that already has a good internet connection.
Initially I tried a data SIM card from Digi for about 50 RM 11.5 GB / month, but I shortly gave it up because you cannot top up online due to a bug in their mobile app (bugs in the payment section, can’t pay).
So now I’m using U Mobile, 50 RM for 12 GB / month + 2 GB for videos (YouTube) + unlimited data for music apps like Spotify (mobile or PC). And you can also top up online.
As a side-note, if you see in airports a thing called Webe promoting their “anytime, anywhere with never-ending data” plan for only 78 RM (without any contract!), take note that they do not allow you to share that mobile internet connection with your computer! It’s for your mobile only. If you really want to tether your PC and make use of that unlimited internet, you’ll can however use an “add-on” and pay extra 7 RM for each hour of tethering! Which is plain dumb.
Also, this Webe thing is a postpaid plan, and they will also ask for about 400 RM in advance deposit for foreigners.
Okay, well, I’ve surpassed my daily quota of writing non-coding shit down, so.. dance time! Cheers!