We caught the train to Penang last night at 7.45 as planned. We didn’t book our tickets until yesterday and couldn’t get all our seats together but we’re not far from each other and it isn’t a problem.
The fellas that shared our compartment have been working as security at the Thaipusam festival and we had a good chat with them before eventually settling off to sleep. I slept quite well and woke up around 7am. The train was, by this point an hour late but this is good as we have to catch the ferry across to Penang Island and it doesn’t run overnight.
We catch the ferry which takes about 15 minutes to reach Penang. We have read that the Penang taxi drivers flatly refuse to use their meters and don’t argue when we are told it will cost 10 ringitt to get to our hostel.
Eventually we arrive at 75 Travellers Lodge. What a dump! I just asked Simon what it was called and he said Shithole Central. When the kids lay on the bed they told me one pillow smells of cheese and the other smells of pet shop. The rooms are tiny, the ceiling is bare hardboard and the walls are filthy. Added to this the communal toilets are next door and the whole place stinks of urine. Usually after an overnight train we crash out but I can’t face staying in here for any length of time and we decide to go out for a walk instead.
We don’t get very far before we reach a fairly lively looking bar and decide to stop for a drink. It’s only early but the beer looks good and our one drink stretches into 8 or so. There is live music later and Ali and the guitarist get chatting. Ali plays a few songs and the fella asks him to play with him tonight. The afternoon has flown by and we go back to shithole central for a kip. We set the alarm for 8pm and head back to The Blue Diamond for some Mexican food.
Ali plays a few songs and goes down really well. Everyone wants to talk to him and tell him he’s going to be a rich rockstar one day and one fella asks Simon if his son was born with shades on as he’s so cool! But he’s really tired as its now nearly midnight and we head off back to the hostel. We have decided we are going to move tomorrow as neither of us can face any longer than a night here. The final straw for Simon is when we get back and a group of lads are watching the football. He asks them about the rugby (England are playing Scotland in a 6 nations game) and gets blank looks in return. Definitely got to move on!