Batu Ferringhi

We set our alarm today and woke up feeling quite bright and breezy. There were a few drunken characters around last night when we came back from dinner asking if they could jam with Ali but we insisted he was too tired and all headed off to bed.

Georgetown is described as a real Chinatown and everywhere we go you can hear the clattering of tools, smell a mixture of spices and drains and see old people either playing cards or Maarjong. It is a lively, smelly, rat infested place with crumbled down buildings that look as if they are about to collapse.

We wander up the road for breakfast and when we get back sit down to do some schoolwork. Wherever we have been our attempts at educating the kids have been noted and taken very seriously. It seems education is more valued here in South East Asia than in the UK. We do over an hour of literacy where they rewrite the endings to the books they have been reading. I realise Maisie needs to concentrate on spellings when she writes” igsotick” (Exotic)

Despite the hotels run down appearance I really like it here, everyone knows our names and are so kind and can’t do enough for us. They all seem to laugh and joke around a lot and it is endearing and funny watching Uncle Lake cuddling a chicken like it’s his best friend. I feel like everyone around us is slightly mad but really lovely with it!

We catch the bus to The Toy Museum, really it should have been called The Action Figure Museum and although it was hardly educational the kids loved it and we spent an hour or so wandering around reminiscing over Barbie, Batman, Snoopy, Garfield, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pokemon, The Fantastic Four and Biker Mice from Mars to name a few!

We catch another bus to Batu Ferringhi, this is the main tourist area of Penang Island and where most of the large hotels are based. We make our way to the beach and crash out at a beach shack. Although the beach isn’t very wide it’s quite pretty with white sand and a few palm trees and will certainly be a decent enough place to spend the afternoon topping up my tan. We all hungry by now and order some food. Like an idiot I ask for Tom Yam soup. Simon ate loads of it when we holidayed in Thailand but it is an extremely hot and spicy concoction of chilli, lemongrass, green leafy vegetables and seafood and although I do eat it my mouth is on fire afterwards and takes about an hour to recover.

We have a bit of a swim which is very relaxing and I read my book, a novel by James Patterson, it is a bit of a trashy read but I have been swapping books along the way and so far have only had to buy one book. We also swapped our old Lonely Planet Thailand for a 2005 edition which is more up to date following the tsunami.

Its 11.30 now and I’ve given up and come to bed. We went out for Chinese food and found an excellent restaurant. We were fairly conservative with our order and had some tasty beef and prawn dishes but should have left it at that instead of ordering some local puddings. The hot peanut soup was ok but the Chinese pancake was a horrible crispy, greasy thing that we felt obliged to eat despite being stuffed.

When we came back Ali played his guitar, with Uncle Lake and one of his mad friends. The bar was really busy and I was really proud as he played confidently and jammed along to some Malay songs. Two Dutch guys came along and shook his hand which made his night and although I’m used to people praising his guitar playing and singing it was really cool to see him doing his thing so well.