I took the overnight flight to Singapore and arrived around 6am. Only realised then that sun doesn't rise in Singapore until around 7. Felt really bad that Elvin had to wake up and drive to the airport in the dark to pick me up. Later met Jessica, and went for lunch with Mun Tong at Wee Nam Kee chicken rice place. Was a pity that it was the only time Mun Tong and I could meet, missed each other in Malaysia.
After lunch Jessica took me to Little India shopping and having tea. It's my second time there, and I found out only later that Liping has only been there once, in JC. Jessica lived in India for one year and was telling me about the movies, pop culture, fashion, beauty tips and all in India. Actually Jessica reminded me a lot of Yu-ting, so much that later when I thought of Jessica, it's actually Yu-ting's image popping up in my head.
Joined Aiesec alumni's chilli crab dinner (I liked black pepper crab better) and went on to New Asia Bar at Swissotel. The place was much wilder than when I last visited. Was a bit annoyed by all the dress code and queuing – more stressful than going for a job interview.
We drove around peninsular Malaysia, getting in the country thru the 2nd Link on Sunday where I could get the stupid visa. After some confused turns we stopped at Mersing for dinner, which was also my first meal in Malaysia. Mersing is a small fishing town. We were all wondering what we'd be doing if we were born and lived in a town like that. Same thing we did when we were at Melaka later, a bustling tourist destination. Well, I really don't know. I can see myself enjoying life in Mersing, but I guess I'd have got bored there and wanted to leave, especially if I watched TV lots. But if I were from Melaka I guess there'd be great emptiness down beneath the busy touristy scenes.
We arrived at Kuantan after 10 hours of driving and checked in to Hyatt. Spent the next day doing nothing much, enjoy the sun and reading. Liping got pretty burnt on her back. We went for food at the street stalls, and thought it was Ramadan already. Started to know about Malaysian food and snacks. (yes, there's this classic laksa joke...)
We woke up at around 5.30 in the morning to drive across the peninsula within the day to Penang. We had to drive thru the opposition state Kelantan, and I was warned about dressing. I ended up wrapping myself in jacket and jeans and sneakers and I was perspiring in the car! It took us 12 hours to finally reach Penang, but the scenery along East-West Highway was worth it. We checked in a senior community-like resort by the Batu Ferringhi beach, and Elvin passed out in bed right away. Later we had dinner at street stall, or actually food from back of pick-up trucks parked at roadside. Asam laksa was good. Then we walked to a place called Carnation, where there're food stalls surrounding outdoor seating. There was a stage on the side and there were singers singing Hokkein, Mandarin and English songs. Local Chinese men were having drinks, meeting people and all that. Very interesting. There were also posters saying which singer will be performing there on which day, a bit like 红包场 in Taiwan.
Next day we did a bit of sightseeing, visiting a Thai temple, a Burmese temple, and Kek Lok Si Kuan Yin temple at Penang Hill. I think I liked the Burmese temple the best. I'd like to know more about Hinayana Buddhism too. The Kuan Yin temple was surrounded and penetrated by shops. They've built an inclined lift. They're raising fund to build a pavilion to encase the bronze Kuan Yin statue on top of the hill, and to add one thousand smaller bronze statues around it. Seriously, I think the pavilion will look like a birdcage. The rendering only shows 4 pillars but according to the description the plan is to have 16. And I don't see how this project would benefit anyone materially or spiritually... So that was it.