Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In Penang, 14 years later

The first time I went to Penang was in 1996. I stayed for just one night and one day as I had met an international student from here at my university who was home for the summer doing an internship with Hewlett Packard, so she invited me to come visit her after I found out I would be going to Malaysia that summer for my cousin's wedding. I didn't really get to see much in that day, although I did manage to try lots of local food and take in a bit of sun at the beach, and I remember getting followed by this weirdo in the mall while I was waiting for my cousin to pick me up. I walked all over the mall and even tried to lose him by hiding out in a department store for a while, but still he found me when I went back up the escalator, so I decided it wasn't any use, and I sat down on a bench to wait for my cousin. He sat down right next to me and just stared at me, but never said a word. When my cousin finally appeared, he simply got up and left.

This time around, it's a little different. I'm here for work, so I don't really have a chance to do much here, but for those of you who follow my blogs and/or my life at all, you know that I can always have adventures even when I don't try.

Today, it was one of my taxi drivers. First of all, he wasn't sure where the place was that I was going, and then after he found out, he didn't stop talking almost the whole time, telling me about his girlfriends in Indonesia and Vancouver, how he's keeping an apartment for his nephew so he can inherit it but how he thinks his nephew won't want it once he becomes and engineer and will want to buy a nicer place of his own...and he was driving fairly erratically, especially by Malaysian standards. Not to say that traffic isn't somewhat crazy here, but not nearly to the extent of Indonesia, and India doesn't even compare. But he kept looking at papers and getting distracted, and people kept honking at him as he wouldn't notice green lights and just sat there or switched lanes/directions at the last moment and cut people off. It was kind of funny, but at the same time, I was a little concerned as I wasn't sure if he was just normally erratic or if he was on something. He gave me his number so I could call him when I was done, but I was somewhat apprehensive, so I decided just to have the school I was at call another taxi for me, and it was a much better ride. In fact, I may have even recruited the driver's daughter! You just never know sometimes!

I just discovered that my hotel is really close to the 3rd largest leaning Buddha statue in the world, about a 1 minute drive according to Google maps, so I should be able to walk there pretty quickly. I have some free time tomorrow, so I can't wait to do a bit of walking. You don't get to walk too much in Jakarta, so it will feel nice to get some blood circulating again. I feel like I'm turning into a lumpy zombie! And not only is safety less of a concern here, but so is language. Everyone speaks English, more so than in Indonesia, so I don't feel as concerned in going out alone to do anything from going to a convenience store to going walking around to taking taxis alone. It's nice to have a bit of freedom again :o)

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