Our final destination northbound is the city of Georgetown on the island of Pulau Pinang in the province of Penang. The city, the island and the province all referred to as Penang, it took a while for us to realize. The search for a nice accommodation brought us to Jack, the manager of a museum in the city who has great plans with his new guesthouse. Since there is still a lot of renovation work going on we get a room with air conditioning and breakfast in a traditional Baba-Nyonya building. The Baba-Nyonya culture stems from the Chinese who fled the Manchu rule in their own country and moved to Malaysia.
Throughout the city centre there are lots of fun wall paintings and other street art in many places. Armed with a city map, we manage to find most pieces of art. When night falls, we realize that in Georgetown we experienced the first day in Malaysia without rain, we would almost miss the cooling rain!
Jack – the small, busy, always smiling and even more talking guesthouse owner – apparently commutes back and forth between the museum and his guesthouse and regularly potential guests show up, unable to find the owner. If we take over part of the job and receive two new guests, we are treated to a delicious piece of cake. A tasty variation after weeks of noodles and rice. Jack keeps us up to date with his ins and outs by means of notes on the breakfast table, under our room door and the bottles of water left for us in the fridge, great guy!
It turns out that one is allowed to camp in the small national park on the island, so we decide to leave Jack for a night and take the bus to the entrance of the park where we managed to organize a tent after some fuss. We hike some nice trails in the park for a few hours until we reach turtle beach and find a suitable spot at the designated campsite. Eager to pitch our tent, it turns out that we have actually rented two half tents and even with the biggest improvisations we are not able to construct some waterproof housing for the night. Three Malaysian and two Russian campers come to the rescue with some canvas and ropes, because: “rain, rain, many many rain, you’re gonna swim tonight!”. After some tinkering, one of the Malaysians turns up with a rake, rakes away the leaves and branches in front of our tent and brings us the big news. “Now you can open your new bungalow!”
Located a short stroll from our campsite is a small turtle farm where we have a quick look. That same evening, a number of greenback turtle babies are set free and Nadieh can help. After the hilarious race the little critters reach the sea we enjoy a fairy tale sunset and a dinner of bread, chips and water.
Back in Georgetown we decide to head to Kota Bharu and we take a nice trip around the island with a number of local buses before we leave. After six days of Penang, we return to the mainland, on to Kota Bharu.