Visiting Penang, Malaysia at the beginning of May was my first solo travel abroad. Well, it’s not a full solo trip actually. Just because I departed earlier from Makassar so I arrived in Penang a day earlier than my travelmates- Gina, Cay, Fany.
It was only a day being solo. But I got tons of experiences to share during that one day solo.
Why Penang? This little town is more interesting than Kuala Lumpur, I thought. For me KL is like Jakarta, a big city full with mall and shopping centre. Hanging aroung KL will just make you drool if you crave for something but then you couldn’t afford it. Penang has attracted me since long time ago for its old town, Georgetown. And of course its reputation as the food paradise of Malaysia. So, Penang here I come….
I arrived to Penang by Air Asia flight from KL at about 10am. Penang international airport is a quiet clean airport, Not as crowded as LCCT in Kuala Lumpur. I chose to fly because it took only an hour to reach Penang, and the promo airfare was as cheap as the bus ticket.
I didn’t prepare any map or Penang travel guidance, i expected to take some brochures and map from the airport, and yes I got very informational brochures in the airport, including the map, bus route, places of interests, and penang foods.
I took a bus to Jetty (Weld Quay), a central bus terminal which means all the buses route will pass through Jetty. At that time, I decided to go to Jetty first because I wanted to explore the Georgetown by free shuttle bus before check in to my hotel. Georgetown is capital city of Penang Island and listed as the UNESCO world heritage site since 2008. It has many well preserved- old buildings since it was colonialized by British for a quite long period.
Penang is a small town which is well-prepared for a tourism destination. They build good infrastructures and utilize each and every uniqueness of their own to attract tourist curiousity.
Another facility provided for tourist and the locals is the CAT (central area transit) Free Shuttle Bus which routed around Georgetown from Jetty to Komtar, so it is very helpful especially for budget traveler like me to save some amount of transport budget 🙂 If you want to reach another destinations Rapid Penang Bus will be ready to take you.
I met some nice friendly locals during my solo, they were very very helpful to give me some infos.
I met Shankeri, an Indian-college girl in the bus to Jetty who happened to have a rehearsal show in her college. We talked alot, later I knew that she is a dancer and Hindu believer, so I suggested her to visit Jogjakarta, Indonesia for a Ramayana Ballet Show in Prambanan Temple. It must be interesting to encounter a Hindu and Indian related dancing show in Indonesia, seeing how Javanese culture was once very affected by Indian culture.
Later, I met Pakcik Shahrom, a CAT driver when I was lost looking for my hotel.
At first he was very unfriendly, he scolded me for asking him so late because we just passed by the road near my hotel (well, I didn’t know, that’s why I asked). But then, he became so nice to ask me stay in the bus because we needed to go for one more round to get to my hotel. Then we talked alot and he suggested many things about Penang. That I should be more careful for pickpockets in the bus and the roads, many places of interests, and must-try food of Penang, etc. He thought that I am still student (yeay) and from Medan, since many Medanese visit Penang. I was surprised when he asked me why many Indonesian came to Penang for medical check up, isn’t there any good ones in Indonesia. It can’t be denied that Penang is also popular for its medical services. Honestly, i don’t know exactly what to answer this issue. I just said it could be cheaper than the one in Indonesia. I was hesitate to answer that it could be Penang’s medical services are much better than the ones in Indonesia, because lots of Malaysian students come to Indonesia especially to Jogja to study medical education in Gadjah Mada University.
I also got the first experience of being stalked by a stranger.
I was walking down the road of Georgetown for sightseeing and taking pictures. Then I was lost since I don’t have a very good spacial intelligent to properly read a map 🙂 So, I’m lost and end up walking around the same streets for a few times, haha. Thanks God, I found a bus shelter. Yippie, I’m safe!
I was waiting in the shelter when suddenly a young Indian man sat next to me. He started a basic conversation like, where are you from, what are you doing, how old are you, and asked me for being friend. I assumed it was a normal conversation, so I asked him whether the CAT bus passed through this shelter or not. Then, he began to ask me taking his pictures. I said I don’t have a camera. Then he answered that he saw me taking pics with a camera.
Damn, I suddenly realized that he might have stalked me before. I was afraid, being alone in a silent road, not many people passed through, and there were only me and him in the shelter. So, I said I have to go since I’d better to walk for another bus. But he kept insisting to accompany me waiting for the bus. I ran away in panic (but I tried to stay cool), he kept chasing me. I kept running till I arrived in a post office. I was a bit confused so I just enter the post office so I could feel safe. He waited me in front of the door while speaking out something-I can’t clearly heard. Not so long, he turned back and dissapear. I waited for a few minutes, to make sure that he had gone. Ohhh gosh, it was the first time I got a stalker, in abroad. I decided to walk for another-more crowded shelter bus.
Finally I hopped on a CAT bus, but damn! This man was also in the bus! I was pretty sure that he purposely get in the CAT bus so he could chase me in the next shelter. He smirked at me but I tried to ignore him. Then he tried to sit next to me, but then I move to another empty seat in front of his seat, next to a Chinese girl. At that time I prayed this girl wouldn’t get off the bus before me. I was too afraid because he still tried to talk to me and poked me a few times. But then, I decided to walk forward to the driver so I might feel more safe. Arriving at Jetty, all passangers had to get off because the bus will stop for at least 15 minutes break. I told the driver that I was stalked by a man and he allowed me to stay in the bus. Thanks god, I didn’t see him anymore on the next bus round. I might be too much, I was reallu scared at that time because a friend of mine once told me that when she traveled to Malaysia she also saw an exhibionist showed his penis to her. And at that time I was ridiculously afraid that this stalker could do the same, so better to runaway than to see the show. haha.