Saturday, October 23, 2010

Penang 1

Written retrospectively...

Our card reader has bitten the dust so photos will have to wait.

Thursday 21-10-2010

We are in Penang. SP is asleep in the middle of the bed beside me.

Our hotel overlooks the sea, which is grey and blends in with the dull and hazy horizon. There is a view to the left of the beaches –such as they are – and the highrise hotels that line it below the green hills. I think our hotel would have been very nice about 30 years ago, or whenever it was built, but now it is quite tired and badly in need of upgrading. The hallways and lifts smell overwhelmingly floral, like someone has emptied an entire can of air freshener in each one. Our room, however, has the tropical and slightly mouldering smell that is so familiar to us. I don’t mind it; it’s better than the blossoming scent outside our door. The staff are lovely, one and all.

It’s funny to think how much I worried about transport safety before we left. How were we going to get from place to place with SP? When we arrived at the airport, we waited an age for a teksi before we were finally at the head of the line and jumped straight in. The traffic was very heavy, alternating from not moving at all to bumper to bumper at 80 kph. Then creeping creeping creeping. The driver suggested there might have been an accident and then the flashing lights slowly appeared round the corner. ‘O,’ said our driver, ‘dead on the spot’. And there was the shapeless body, covered by a white sheet, blood seeping through and bright like raspberry cordial. My heart fluttered in my throat like a trapped bird. Alive one minute then dead on the side of the road the next; abruptly a public spectacle, a traffic obstruction.

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