Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Georgetown, Again. Then on to Trang.

One cannot stay in Georgetown for one night. Since we didn't actually have to be anywhere, we stayed in G-town for two more days. For our typical breakfast in Georgetown, I walked around the corner to Yasmeen for roti and coffee. My new boyfriend, Mohammad, the roti man, was so very happy to see me return, that he gave me a big hug and kissed me on both cheeks. He asked where I had been and said that he cried each morning when I didn't appear. I told him we'd be here for another couple of days anyway, which seemed to make him happy, and I would see him again in the morning. Colin laughed when I told him about Mohammad over our roti and coffee.  

After breakfast, we headed out to a motorcycle shop to find new spark plugs and a spare front tube. We stopped in at the Star Lodge on our way back to see if they had a room available, and sure enough, they did, so we carried our gear back down the block to our home away from home. After changing rooms, Re decided she wanted to try a sponge she bought in Nilai that appeared to be a type of “magic eraser” sponge. While the metal cleans up pretty well on our bikes, the white plastic leg shields and side covers are stained, and no amount of scrubbing with a rag seems to make any difference. After wiping the plastic off with a wet rag, Re went over the white bits with the new sponge. I am a true believer. If someone needs a testimonial for the “Super Sunday Sponge,” I will happily provide one. With just a little water and even less elbow grease, the sponge is a wonder on stained plastic and paint. It removed virtually every scuff and scrape on the leg shields, from around the ignition, the side covers, it even took off most of the sunburnt adhesive from the shipping label that was stuck to my headlight surround. My bike is much purtier now!

The rest of the day and most of the next, we spent doing errands and some planning for our time in Thailand, figuring out which of the islands have vehicle ferries. Oh, and eating. On our way to dinner the next evening, Colin noticed a familiar pair of Royal Enfields parked on Lebuh Chulia. We crossed the street, and sitting in the bar area of their guesthouse were Will and Toby! When we found them, they were chatting with a German couple who have just completed their one year motorcycle and scooter journey from Germany to Malaysia. We didn't get their names since they had to leave shortly after we arrived, but he rode a 650 Honda of some sort, and she rode a 300cc step-through scooter of some sort. Tomorrow morning, they take their bikes to the port to send them by ship back to Europe. It was too bad that we didn't get to talk to them more, because it sounds like they had quite an adventure as well. Will and Toby had just arrived in Georgetown that afternoon after spending two days at Batu Ferringhi with friends from Australia. 

They both remarked on how great the food was, saying they'd enjoyed lunch... and a second lunch. The one thing they hadn't found yet was a place for dim sum. Strangely enough, we knew just the place, and since we were on our way there, they joined us, along with two young European women they'd just met, who were also looking for someplace good for dinner. Celine was from France, had been traveling for several months already, and was very quiet. XXXXXX, was a very friendly and engaging Belgian woman. I have no earthly idea what her name was. Each of us asked numerous times, and what she said sounded like, Hyuurngh. Colin described it as sounding like something moaned during sex. I'm sure it had at least one umlaut somewhere in it. The six of us traipsed down to the dim sum place, which was jumping busy. We gathered enough stools for everyone, ordered a pot of tea, and since the restaurant was too full for the dim sum carts to come to us, Colin and Toby went to the carts and picked out a bunch of goodies to try. Everything was delicious, as usual, and we all ate until we were full. With about five pots of tea and flaky, custardy, egg tarts for everyone for dessert, dinner for all six of us came to 50 ringgit even (16 USD). 

Since the night was still young, and the conversations were still flowing, Colin and I led the way to the “corner bar.” We did forewarn them about the rodent and scroungy dog sideshows and the all-around interesting ambiance of the place before we got there. We had told Will and Toby about the corner bar before they invited the girls along to dinner, but we weren't really sure that they would want to go. We decided to leave it up to them, so I described it as best I could, including the rats occasionally scurrying along the sidewalks. I think they were lured by the promise of cheap beer and didn't really believe us about the rats, so they opted to come along. We found a table and some chairs and spent the rest of the night talking about travel and many other subjects. One of us finally noticed that it was 1:00 am, and since we are supposed to be riding 200 miles and crossing into Thailand tomorrow, Re and I decided to call it a night. It was a great evening. Hopefully tomorrow morning isn't too ugly. 
Actually, the next morning wasn't at all ugly. We got up, I walked to Yasmeen to get breakfast and say farewell to Mohammad (he took it well. I told him we would be back in several weeks, and he shook my hand goodbye. I'm glad he didn't cry). We got cleaned up, loaded the bikes, and were on the ferry to the mainland by 10:00am. The ride to the border was fast and uneventful, and the actual border crossing was quick and easy as well (I think we finally have the process nailed down pretty solidly). Once across the border, we stopped at McDonald's for lunch in air-conditioned comfort, before continuing for the city of Trang. The ride was easy, the roads were smooth, and the weather was warm. 

We arrived in Trang in the early evening and found our way into the city center and to the Koh Teng Hotel, aka the 5 Star Backpacker Hotel. The pickings amongst cheap lodgings are slim in Trang, and we stayed at the 5 Star Backpacker for one night when we passed through Trang on our last trip to Thailand. It was shabby, dingy, and cheap then, and we figured we could live with it for one night. When we stayed last time, we got a room with one bed. Not a double, just one, single bed. And one towel. I asked if we could have a second towel, and the man said, “No. One bed, one towel.” End of story. Ohhhkaaay... . Fully prepared to share a towel again, I inquired about the rates and checked out a couple of the rooms. What a surprise- it's not shabby or dingy anymore. They've painted the halls, the rooms, and have new linens. It is bright and cheerful now. We splurged on a room with two beds (so we'd each get our own pillow and towel), and after we set our crap down in the room, we rounded the corner to the night market for dinner. Replete with the diverse wonders of many night markets, we walked back and forth between the stands trying to narrow our choices. After deciding on some fried chicken pieces, grilled pork skewers, sticky rice, some variety salads, and tea, we sat on a planter next to the street and settled in to chow down. Since we weren't stuffed quite to the gills, we maneuvered back through the stands to find something sweet, choosing a very thick, fresh pancake filled with coconut jam and fresh, shredded coconut. Heavenly.

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