Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back to the Coast

Tuesday, October 29

We rose at dawn to catch the 8 o'clock coach to Butterworth on the west coast. Although it was outside of normal breakfast hours, the innkeeper kindly made us some toast and instant coffee. The bus was not as luxurious as our previous one, but it was comfortable enough and there were so few passengers that we could each take a window seat. We took a different route on this outbound journey, winding down forested roads with fewer signs of habitation.

Sometimes a whole valley would be covered with shadecloth and greenhouses sheltering vast quantities of vegetables.

Once we left the highlands, the roadsides soon became a clutter of shabby houses, midrise apartments and an occasional monstrous highrise.

 From time to time we passed a rice paddy, palm oil or pineapple plantation or a commercial strip.

Strange outcroppings began to appear, reminiscent of the lumpy scenery in Chinese paintings.

It was midday and stinking hot when we disembarked at the Butterworth terminus and made the short trek to the adjoining jetty. We were just in time for a sailing and enjoyed the sea breezes flowing through the open decks during the 10-minute journey, as well as the views of watercraft and the muddle of old and new that was George Town, Penang's capital city.

Leaving Butterworth
En route to Weld Quay
The pretty side of Georgetown Harbour
Once ashore we had some difficulty finding the right bus that would take us past our hotel. This involved some risky running across the four-lane road and back because we weren't sure where the right stop was.

When that was sorted out we travelled along Chulia Street which, in spite of being the main thoroughfare, was narrow and crowded with parked cars wherever there was a gap between roadside stalls and motorbikes.

Malaysia seems to have embraced the concept of green walls. I noticed another on one of the few modern buildings.

Gradually the bus became more crowded and stifling, and we were glad to finally arrive at our hotel and find our room, which was clean and spacious and had tall doors opening onto a small terrace with a view of the swimming pool.

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