Saturday, February 28, 2015

Up the Malay Penisula

Finally, after 6 nights in Penang, it's time to ferry over to Butterworth and hop on Train No. 36 and head up the Malay Peninsula to Bangkok. However, we could not warm up to the idea of returning, for the 3rd time in 13 years, to Bangkok so we decided the night before departure to get off the train at Nakhon Pathom (60 kms west of Bangkok), and take a train directly to Kanchanaburi (90 kms further west).

Our connecting bus + ferry ride is smooth and then Train 36 pulls out on time from Butterworth Station at 2pm with expected arrival in Bangkok the next morning at 11:40 am but we will alight at Nakhon Pathom at 9:30 am.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

This is the seat configuration before they are turned into sleeping berths.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

From Butterworth to Bangkok

After a few hours we stop at the Malaysia-Thailand border where the formalities are painless; however, we sit at the border for an additional 3 hours waiting for the Thai engine to appear. The Malay loco that brought us here goes no farther.

No dining car, no problem. We use our electric kettle to boil water and it's instant noodles for dinner.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

The transformation from seats to berths.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

Sun-Ling takes the upper.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

To see how the seats are converted to berths watch this youtube video (not my video).

Morning coffee on the train. Life is good.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

Sea view. That's Nigel and wife across the aisle.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

And plenty of time to study Rough Guides info on Kanchanaburi as the train is 4 hours late; which is a nice bonus if one likes riding the train as we do.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

The Phra Pathom Chedi (Pagoda) is adjacent to the Nakhon Pathom station. Perfect timing for us as we pulled in at 2 pm and our onward train leaves at 3:03 pm.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

Sweltering in the almost 100-degree heat on the 3rd class train to Kanchanaburi.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

It's sugarcane harvest time.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

And after 30 hours on two trains we are rewarded with the tastiest vegetarian meal so far this trip and a hotel with a pool.
From Butterworth to Bangkok

Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Friday, February 27, 2015

Penang - The Town

We liked Penang alot: loads of vegetarian restos, big historic center of George Town, a few Art Deco buildings, easy day trips, and no shopping as most business were closed for the CNY holiday.

So here are some shots of Penang that did not make it into the previous posts.

We ate more than twice at Sup Hameed, a group of night food stalls near the Police Station. The roti telur, a roti canai with egg, was our favorite.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

One block to the east was this food cart with tasty potato samosas and other deep fried snacks.
Chinese New Year, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

We also ate 3 or 4 times at Lily's, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant near our first hotel where the service was super efficient and the food tasty.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

The dish on the right is the vegetarian version of a Malaysian favorite, Nasi Kandar, which features a "veggie" slice of curried beef spleen.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

We did not return to this vegetarian resto near the Kuan Yin Temple as they allowed smoking and shared their tables with a chicken joint.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

A South Indian Set Meal (r) and a North Indian Set Meal (l) at the vegetarian Restoran Sri Ananda Bahwan in Little India.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Looks of folks on rental bikes. Looked dangerous to us but there are some bike lanes and we saw no accidents nor close calls
Chinese New Year, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

See the bike lane, a guy carrying a "cooler" of rice, and a Perodua Myvi, the best selling car in Malaysia.
Chinese New Year, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

The historic center of George Town is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site. Of note to us Americans is Fort Cornwallis. Yes it's that Lord Cornwallis of Yorktown surrender fame; but to the Brits he's best known as the Governor General of India. Not to mention that George Town is named after King George III.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

The always visible KOMTAR building.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

The beautiful minaret of the Aceh Street Mosque.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

And the nearby Masjid Kapitan Keling.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

An old jetty; part tourist trap, part a window into the past.
Chinese New Year, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Chinese New Year, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Fixed up shophouses with Art Deco facades. The near one is a hotel.
Chinese New Year, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

And the historic Art Deco Wearne Brothers Ltd building, a former auto showroom.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

I liked these apartments in the old town.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Texaco lives on as CALTEX in Malaysia.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Delivering more incense sticks to Kuan Yin Temple.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Penang - Penang National Park

On Monday Feb 23, Penang was almost back to normal after the Chinese New Year holiday weekend and after getting an early start we rode bus #101 20 kms or so to the northwest of Penang Island to do some hiking at Penang National Park.

Our plan was to walk to Turtle Beach with high hopes of seeing turtles and monitor lizards.

I should interject at this point and mention that with the long holiday weekend over, we were able to move to a hotel were we had a sea view. Nice!
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

After registering at the National Park Visitor Center, we headed out on a paved path along the northern coast of the island.
Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

Soon the path became sandy with some ups and down as it paralleled an old logging track.
Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

After 1.5 hours we had cut across to the western coast at Turtle Beach, Sun-Ling's favorite kind of beach; that is, one with some natural shade.
Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

Not to mention an uncrowded jetty with a pavilion at the end.
Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

And we saw baby turtles at the Turtle Research Center.
Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

And on the way back we ran into a medium sized lizard sunning on the trail.
Penang National Park, Penang, Malaysia

And as usual had a late vegetarian lunch on returning to town.
Penang, Malaysia