Sunday, July 23, 2006

Going Up North

Due to some work commitment, I had to make a trip up north. After consulting other colleagues, we agreed to stay in Seberang Jaya, Pulau Pinang. Seberang Jaya is on the mainland. We also decided to car-pool. The other colleagues are a pregnant lady and a friend who don’t know how to use manual transmission (or what American call shift stick). That leaves me as the designated driver for our business trip.

Day 1 (17th July 2006)

We left KL around 7.30 am. After around thirty minutes blazing through the usual morning rush, we reached Sungai Buluh R&R (Rest & Restaurant). I ate the food that I had packed earlier that morning. We continued our drive soon after. With only one or two toilet-stops, we reached our hotel around 12pm. About three and a half hour drive. It was quite amazing feat, since we mostly drove within the speed limit.

We checked into our rooms. While unpacking, we were surprised by the news we saw on the television. There would be a press conference regarding Siti Nurhaliza’s upcoming wedding. She’s one of the top single (as in not married) singer in Malaysia. Since our work would start at 2pm, we decided to wait for the announcement. We only wanted to know who is her future groom. We were partially disappointed when her father announce that it is Datuk K. Not because we have any feeling for Siti. Disappointed because she have become like other typical famous artists who married older VIPs. After that, we left for our appointment.

That night, we went to Pulau Pinang – The Pearl of The Orient. We took the ferry. It was my first time driving a car onto the ferry. I’ve been on a ferry to Penang a couple of years back. It was on the same day the old bus station was burned down. But it was on foot. Very much like a backpacker. Back then it only cost a few cents. The fare for a car is RM7.70. Plus point in taking the ferry: I got to enjoy the scenic view.

We reached the island half an hour later. With the guide from our mutual friend via the phone, we reached Padang Kota Lama. Along the way we passed some old buildings and if I’m not mistaken, Port Swattenham. We had our dinner at the food court in Padang Kota Lama. The food seller there were very persuasive and competitive. They ‘swarmed’ you like bees recommending this and that. They would not leave until you place your order. The food were good and cheap by KL standard.

We left Penang at 10.15pm on the ferry.

Day 2 (or rather night 2)

Daytime was occupied with work.

On the second night, we went to Penang Island via the bridge. Tol for the bridge is RM7.00. It is the longest bridge in South East Asia. It was the first time I drove on it. Somehow it felt very narrow. Except for the middle section of the bridge where it was three-lane, the rest of the bridge is two-lane. Not too long ago, the government wanted to widen the bridge to cope with the growing traffic volume. There was a report in local daily saying that the government could not proceed because the bridge’s blueprint was missing. How could such important document went missing? I have no recollection of any report of it being found again.

A friend of ours took us to a place called Teluk Tempoyak for seafood. The place was very secluded. I don’t think any first timer could find the place on their own. The drive took us through industrial area somewhere in Bayan Baru. Then we came to some sort of housing area before ascending through a narrow and winding road. At some stretch, only one car could pass through. But the long drive was well worth it. The place was right by the sea. The food was splendid. Locals would call it ‘ikan bakar’ (grilled fished cooked in spicy sauce)

Day 3 (Night 3)

I was feeling a bit under the weather. Could be due to the weather. Could also be due to the spicy food that I’ve been eating for the pass few days. We went to eat at a hawker stall nearby. I had fried ‘kuey tiaw kerang’ (flat-rice-noodle fried with cockles). The food was okay, not as great as the previous day – perhaps because I was not feeling well.

Day 4 (20th July 2006)

We headed to KL around 3.00pm after. Unlike the drive up north, the drive down south seemed to go forever. Possibly because of the numerous lane-closure. They (PLUS) are upgrading the highway. We reached KL around 9.00pm.

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