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I got up early yesterday to pack and check out of my hotel so I could get to the train station for the 9:15am train to Penang. As it turns out, there either isn’t a 9:15 train, or it was full. Either way, I had to wait for the 2:19pm train, which didn’t show up until 3pm.
The train ride was boring and very uneventful. The scenery in central Malaysia is very pretty, especially going through some of the highland areas.
As a rule, I try to avoid arriving in new places after dark. You can’t see anything and you have no feel for the place. I got into the train station at about 9:30, well after sunset. When you arrive in Penang (the Butterworth station) you have to walk about 5 min to go to the ferry terminal to take a short ferry ride to George Town, the primary city in Pengang.
On the ferry, I had a bizarre sense of deja vu. Whenever I arrive some place new, I almost always go through a process of comparing it to someplace else I’ve been. From the ferry, George Town reminded me of Macau (minus the casinos) and walking around the town, I was reminded of Vigan in the Philippines. Like George Town, both of those places have strong architectural reminders of their colonial past.
While I’m still in Malaysia, this is very different from KL. I’ve seen two women here with head scarves. I’d say about half in KL had them. Most of George Town seems to be Chinese. Most of the tourists I’ve met so far are just here to get their Thailand visas renewed.
I’ll only be here another day or so before I go to Phuket. I’ll be there at least a week working on my Rescue Diver course.