We finally moved on from Pangkor Island, heading to Penang Island, 200km further north. Considering that’s only 120 miles, its not quite believable that it took almost 7 hours! We started at 9am, taking one of the island’s shockingly pink taxis to the jetty (4 miles, £1.20), then across to the mainland on a catamaran (8 miles, 80p), then breakfast while we waited for the bus to Butterworth. The bus was a zippy three hours (103 miles, £1.50), then we had a wait while I booked our sleeper train tickets for next week to Bangkok. Then onto the Penang ferry (4 miles, 8p).
Finally, once we were in Georgetown (the main town on Penang Island), we took a trishaw to our hotel (1 mile, 80p). In most other places in Malaysia, trishaws are used only to do tours for tourists, but in Penang they are used by locals and tourists alike for short city hops. Although they are more expensive than taxis, because we need two, it was an experience not to be missed. The traffic in Penang has changed beyond all recognition, and is a total nightmare, and from the bonnet-high perspective of a trishaw, you soon spot the tendency to jump red traffic lights, weave around and generally drive like a lunatic! Taking a trishaw also involves an ethical decision, as its driven by human power, and we’re in a pretty hot country.
The girls, however, decided that it was no more inhumane than pushing a buggy or a wheelchair, and you have a bike to help you do it! But it is clearly hard work, and although as tourists we pay more for the same ride as locals, sights like the photo here still make you stop and think. Its one of the trishaw men, who was having his early evening nap on the road, holding onto his trishaw so it couldn’t be stolen. And meanwhile, the rest of the world carries out around him, ignoring the everyday scene.