Friday, 22 August 2008

Penang new phone. Glue sniffing whores.

Phones in Penang

Two years ago I was about to sail from Shanghai in China to Osaka in Japan. One year ago I was enjoying life in Bali Indonesia. Today I've travelled from the Cameron Highlands to Penang in North West Malaysia. I was here in Jan 2007 so, again, it's like a walk down memory lane. I been checking out phones and I've managed to find a new Sony Erickson for 1050RM (£160).  It has a 3.2Mpix camera and Wifi. I'm thinking hard about this. I haven't spent this much money in one go since I left home - it feels scary!

I've just had a coffee with a Malay guy I met in Tanah Rata. His name is Man Man and he's crazy in ways I can't really explain on here. He helped me find the deal on the phone and we're going to hang out tomorrow. He's mental man!

Yesterday was freezing in the Cameron Highlands. It rained, torrentially, all day and the temperature dipped to 15deg. I was thinking: 'I can get grey skies, rain and cold weather at home so why am I enduring it here?' Consequently, I came back to the lowlands today. I'm thinking of going to Teluk Bahang next week which is a quieter village further along the coast of Penang Island.

I'm in a dorm with 20 bunk beds in it. However, rather bizarrely, I'm the only person in it. People pay top dollar for huge suites like this and I'm getting it for 10RM (£1.50). It even has a balcony!

I'm missing Norwegian Geir and his Filipina girlfriend Rose. They might come here on Thursday or Friday. Perhaps I can get some photos on here again once I part with some cash. It's hard spending £160 when you're frugal. However, I want to brighten up this blog and a picture paints a thousand words.

I wish I'd taken more photos of the amazing things I've seen. For instance, two days ago in Tanah Rata was an incredibly colourful Indian Hindu procession down the street. The drums were deafening and the Indian women looked spectacular in colourful outfits with baskets of fruit balanced on their heads. Unfortunately, these images are lodged only in my brain.

Future plans? The plan is there is no plan.

Well done NUFC with a draw away to Man U!


I'm still in Penang. I've spent the last two days....wait for! This has involved trawling through mega-malls, searching for an elusive mobile phone bargain. Hanging around malls is not really my scene but I've enjoyed the last two days.

I spent my first night in Penang in the Indian-run Golden Plaza Hostel. It was absolutely filthy. It did nothing for the 'Hygienic Indian' image. I was eaten alive by mozzies despite sleeping fully clothed. I slept terribly and moved to the Chinese-run Travellers 75 Hostel. The dorms are clean and 2RM cheaper. I decided to buy a mosquito net and since I started using it I've not been bitten at all. I should've bought one of these two years ago. Hindsight? - a wonderful thing.

New phone

I finally managed to buy one of these Nokia E65 phones. I picked up a second hand one for 540RM (40RM for a USB cable to upload photos). 540RM = £85 which is OK considering they retail at £249 in the UK. Last night I was in bed surfing the web (for free) via the Hostel's Wifi service - mint.

First pic from the new phone. This is the small temple next door to the hostel. That bicycle contraption unnerves me. I know it's the bloke's income source but it feels like a form of modern slavery to me. I just can't seem to bring myself to pay someone to cycle me around when I have two perfectly capable legs. Similarly, I can't have people carrying my luggage - it makes me feel very awkward. When I'm older maybe I'll indulge.

Second photo is Hans the miserable German. I sit with him and eat masala tosa from the local Indian food place. He's trying to sell two apartments in the South of Penang but his lawyer is giving him headaches.

I sit and listen to his problems thinking how I'd never get involved in any business deals in Asia. I tell him 'You might see big profits but I see only big risks!' He counters with 'Aaah but you have to speculate to accumulate'. I suppose it all depends on one's attitude to risk.

I'm planning to get more photos on here in the future. I'll have my mobile/camera in my pocket at all times. I regret having so few photos on here.


Can someone tell me how to win friends and influence people? Or how to notch up my charisma? Since I'm single and increasingly lonely I'm starting to long for the company of a woman again. I decided to take action in Penang and vowed to approach anyone I fancy without letting my shyness impede me. I've achieved a success rate of 0% so far. I've asked two women for coffee and been bombed out both times.

I need to refine my technique I think. When I was in the Royal Navy a success rate of 1/10 was considered OK. I think I'm probably too clumsy due to lack of practice. I probably give off desparation vibes too! Nevermind, something will turn up. For the record, one of the ladies cleans the hostel, she's 34 from Indonesia. The other one sold me this phone, she's Chinese-Malaysian, 19 and probably too young anyway.


As I wondered around the central area of Penang last night I was exposed to the seedier side of life. I was asked by three ladyboys if I wanted a 50RM (£8) massage. The idea of sex with a man/woman in a flea pit room didn't appeal. One of them had a massive set of boobs any woman would be proud of. She said they were from a combination of implants and hormone treatment. Urgh, I moved on.

Next a one-eyed Indian lady enquired "Do you wanna go boom boom?" I was too busy looking for a parrot on her shoulder to consider her question.

The final and most memorable attempt at solicitation was from a Malay/Indian woman who looked about 18. She called to me in between taking huge breaths from a bag of glue - my kinda girl! I headed back to my dorm worried about the state of humanity.

Since I have two new possessions, namely a mosquito net and a cell phone, I've been thinking about the things I've lost since I left home. Here is a list of the main things:

£40 - Shanghai scam

£160 - Bangkok ATM anomaly

£35 - money stolen from wallet in Burma (suspected two dodgy Israelis)

£80 - money stolen in the Philippines.

£10 - sunglasses, goggles and camera in Malaysia.

That is £325 I've lost (not including the stolen bicycle in Taiwan and the mobile phone I lost in Manila). The hardest to take is the money in the Philippines. This was from a guy I considered my best friend - Don an ex-RN Officer. However, I've learnt some lessons here, the most valuable being not to lend money to anyone again.

I'm off to meet Geir and Rose at the ferry.

Au Revoir


  1. Hi Stephen,
    Great blog - nice to see some pictures! I'm sorry about your ex-buddy Don. But you know what? 80 gbp won't kill you, but Don will have to live with himself and his conscience. Stealing from a friend is inexcusable. What comes around goes around and he'll get it exponentially. I can see how it makes you lose faith in humanity though...
    Enjoy Penang!
    PS Cathay Hotel used to be the place to be to get a dirty massage. You know they filmed "Beyond Rangoon" there? (and did you notice Patricia Arquette's boobs in that movie? Badaboom!)

  2. Hello Stephen,
    2 Weeks since your last journal entry. Hope you're alright mate.


Please be nice.