The Rest Of The Peninsular

Penang or ‘The Pearl of the Orient’ served as a major trading hub between the East and the West. Its capital Georgetown doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, with a mishmash of Hindu/Chinese temples, British Churches and Arabian Mosques. Today Penang is a major hub for the young gap year travellers heading off into Thailand to party hard and get robbed. On our first night in Penang, we were approached by a lost young chap who was obviously tripping something rotten and looking a little worse for wear. We attempted to help him pull himself together for a moment but this was all in vain, he just kept blurting out singular words such as ‘Army, port, butterworth’. Unless this lad had eaten a full packet of Rowntrees Randoms, I suspect he’d been listening to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds…

Sri Mahamariamman temple in Penang’s ‘Little India’

Driving a motorbike on the highways of Penang wasn’t as fun as driving on deserted coastal roads elsewhere, but served its purpose and got us to the snake temple. The temple was built in circa 1850 in memory of Buddhist monk Chor Soo Kong, a spiritual healer who was believed to have given shelter to the snakes in the jungles. Snakes started appearing at the temple shortly after its completion and the burning incense inside is said to render the vipers harmless. The doped up vipers can be found literally hanging around on most of the murals, picture frames and shrines inside the temple…


Melaka was founded by Hindu prince Paremeswara from Sumatra in the 14th century. Since then it was involved in a massive game of pass the parcel and has been in the hands of the Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and British. The splendid town is mainly crowded with domestic tourists, but it was a nice to spend a few days trying out the amazing food. Pak Putra Pakistani restaurant, cook their meat in the tandoor oven on the street and served up the best meals I’d had in Malaysia, albeit with typical Asian service…


From the Tandoor

The first time I came to Singapore I was impressed with its organisation and cleanliness, I thought it was like the city from Demolition man! Fast forward six years and the city seems to have lost its futuristic charm, shame.
The Raffles hotel is the oldest lodgings in the city, the old school courtyards resemble that of a English country garden. I’m surprised they let me in sporting a filthy pair of tea stained shorts and the t-shirt I bought from a porter at Dumeguete pier, but they did. The bar inside is where the world famous Singapore Sling was created by Hainanese bartender, and for £16 only, you can try one all to yourself!


We took a long walk through the city, through yet another Little India, into yet another Sri Mahamariamman temple and eventually back to marina bay for some token skyline photos. The Helix Bridge next Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands resort is considered an engineering masterpiece and was designed to represent a DNA double helix.

A Hindu wearing traditional ceromonial clothes inside the temple

Marina Bay – The Helix, Marina Sands and the Science Museum

Not only was our day in Singapore Good Friday, it was also my birthday! So we decided to celebrate it by going to the world’s largest aquarium on Sentosa island, bad idea. On this day, it was more like the world’s largest queue, with a giant fish bowl attached. First you had to queue for a ticket, then get in another queue to enter the building, then queue again to get into the aquarium, it took a total of two hours to get in but the waiting time had doubled by mid afternoon, ridiculous! It seems queuing is one of the only British traditions that is yet to die out in Singapore. Inside the aquarium can be described as a riot of exited children. We spent less than an hour in the crèche, I mean aquarium, as I thought my head might explode. I thought the aquarium was ok, but not a touch on scuba diving and being up close to the marine life. So another valuable lesson learned from visiting a major tourist attraction on a public holiday, don’t do it…





Believe it of not it was this man’s 28th birthday when he joined the queue

There was one thing that put a smile on my little birthday face though, after seeing a record amount of Manchester United shirts on the Malay peninsular, it was nice to see at least one person had the right idea!


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