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Round the World

Malaysia

I arrived in Georgetown after a 23 hour journey. I didn’t get onto the train until 1:30 am and only got a little sleep before things got noisy at around 6am. I didn’t know this but we were nearing Hat Yai and most of the passengers were to get off here. I just saw that all the beds around me were up and converted into seats, so got up as well. Half an hour later as we departed Hat Yai the carriage was quiet and I noticed some sensible people at the other end had stayed tucked up. I live & learn. A couple of hours later we are at the Malaysian border where we get stamped out of Thailand and into Malaysia. The train is stopped here for around an hour and a half to give time for immigration and to allow the Thai loco to be swapped for a Malaysian one.

As we set off a blind guy was making his way up the carriage asking if a seat is free and I indicate the one opposite me. He is on his way to an Easter Christian gathering of the blind on Penang (the island just off Malaysia’s coast containing Georgetown). We chat for a bit and the he asks if I can do him a favour. As I will be catching the ferry from Butterworth to Georgetown, as he needs to, would I mind guiding him? It’s OK by me but I point out as it’s my first visit I may get lost. I needn’t have worried; the transport in Butterworth is really well integrated with the train, bus and ferry stations all next to each other and the routes well signposted. We parted company at the bus stops in Georgetown when we found the correct bus for him.

After a long journey I was looking forward to a bath, followed by falling asleep watching BBC World whilst drinking a beer. The Lonely Planet contained several possibilities that wouldn’t break the bank and on arriving at the first, which looked really nice, I checked in. It turned out that the bath plug wouldn’t seal so I had to run the water continuously to keep it filled, the TV only had 3 channels all in Malay and the minibar was empty and would have broken the bank to fill it. Despite the bed being really comfy I was too restless to snooze so set out to get a first look at Georgetown and posted the original message in this slot.

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