I sit here on our final night in Penang in the lobby of our hotel, enjoying the funky musician playing and singing classics, and wish to reflect on our days in Penang.
After a gruelling journey consisting of two 7hr flights and then a quick little one, we arrived at our first destination: Penang, Malaysia.
It’s the 24th July, and 8am.
We faff about in the airport, arguing about where we pick up our luggage from – not that it wasn’t obvious (*rolls eyes at the impatient, stressed-out-already members of the family*) – and then make our way to meet our driver. He holds a ‘Mr Andrew Mather’ sign and greets us all with a firm, lively handshake and a big grin. Allowing us a toilet stop, before diving into our minibus to the hotel, our driver can only be described as a speed demon. He nips in and out of lanes with precision yet at a pace no man would dare on home soil.
The highway is madness. Chaos; accidents-waiting-to-happen; motorbikes, bikes and mopeds appearing round the side of every car and corner imaginable.
He gives us a whistle-stop tour of George Town, Penang’s capital, with no chance of hopping off for a closer look. We see exquisite mosques, stunning churches; and magnificent temples of rainbow colours.
My first thought is: this country is mad. Superbly beautiful, but mad.
After the speedy ride, we are greeted with a luxurious, charm-oozing view of our hotel: Shangri-La’s Golden Sands Resort, on the other side of the island. As we de-mounted the transfer, the hotel concierge boys attended to our luggage and we waited to be shown our room.
And what luxury when we opened the door to our 336 room. Ruth and I gasped, mostly at the view: a view of the whole resort complex below, and a view of the sea, complete with the rolling waves crashing onto the shore. To this day, the sound of them every day is incredible and is as if you’re being called out to swim in the depths.
More to come…