Monday, February 26, 2018

Off to Penang

On Saturday we finished our packing up -- my suitcase for heading home, Dan's two suitcases and odd items to leave with a pickleball friend, a bag to leave at Smith Suites, and Dan's backpack for the trip to Penang. We got everything sorted out, deciding which household-type items Dan would want and which ones we should leave at Smith for next year. We left our old fan in the room for the cleaning people -- it is on its very last legs. We'll get a new one next year. Dan took his things, including the motorbike, to the friend's place (not all in one trip...). We ate dinner at Max on the next street over from ours. We went there once last year. We were the only customers, but the food was good.

Our flight was at 9:00 Sunday morning so we went downstairs at 6:00 with my suitcase and our backpacks. While we waited for our Uber driver to arrive, we said goodbye to the night watchman and the groundskeeper. They had our deposit to return to us ($500 in cash; we didn't want to miss getting it back!) and we turned in our room keys.

The traffic was pretty light as we headed to the airport, but we had to wait quite a long time at the corner by the Airport Plaza Mall. There must have been a marathon; we saw hundreds of runners passing on the other side of the road. I know this picture isn't very good, but it gives you an idea of the sight. I couldn't find anything online about a marathon for that day.

At the airport, I always enjoy looking at the shops (after our breakfast of tea/coffee and spinach pie). They sell a lot of dried fruit and other delicacies. It makes me sad to see this display of skin whitening products. They are popular here in Thailand, as they are in other parts of Asia.

Our flight to Kuala Lumpur was about 3 hours and uneventful. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turning in the airport and went through regular immigration (very long line) and out into the baggage claim area. We had to find our gate area and go through security all over again -- lots of walking! I think last year we went through an international transit hall that was much less complicated. But I did get to see where I will come out when I leave Penang to head for my flight home.

We found our gate with no trouble and boarded only a few minutes behind time. We taxied out toward the runway and then turned around and headed back to the gate. The air-conditioning system wasn't working properly. We were all unloaded and sat around at the gate waiting to see what would happen. Eventually they came around and gave us all a bottle of water, which helped. After a while they announced a change of gate (only two away) and we all moved. When we got loaded onto the new plane we were almost exactly three hours late. I guess it could have been much worse. We got a prepaid taxi at the airport (about $11) and got to our hotel around 8:30. Dan went out to the visa agent nearby to see what his hours were and found him still open. He got all the paperwork done and his visa will be submitted today and he'll pick it up tomorrow (Tuesday). Wednesday we move to the beach hotel for a couple of nights.

I took this picture of a tree against the darkening sky on the drive into the city. There were many high-rise apartment buildings, open-air restaurants, and lots and lots of traffic.

We stayed at the Chulia Mansion last year and loved it, so we came back. Their breakfast buffet is wonderful, with an egg station; Malaysian dishes along the wall; fruit; salad; small pastries and puddings; a corner with croissants, toast, and dumplings; and two coffee/tea machines. Oh yes and muesli and other cereals (no porridge!). 

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