Monday, July 14, 2014

Funicular and henna

Still hanging out at the Island of Penang (Malaysia). Another attraction that we wanted to experience, and would be a first for us, was the funicular tram rail ride to the top of Penang's highest point at 830 metres above sea level. Funicular: "an inclined plane or a cliff railway". At 6 km from town centre, we caught the 204 City Bus with the locals and got off at the tram gate.

The journey to the top of the Penang hill (okay, "mountain" for Penang's sake) in the old original tram took about half an hour but the new tram cars take only 10 minutes. There was also a stop mid-way to check out the views from there.

Old original tram

Arriving at the top, it was noticeably cooler, around 21°C, which was a break from the city heat that we left below. The vistas from the summit were good, but would have been fantastic if it hadn't been for the haze. We have not yet determined for sure why there is so much haze in these areas.

At the top were temples, eating areas, nature trails, and typical tourist stuff. There was a fence of lovers' locks where padlocks with couples' names were attached, locked in perpetuity.

Locked in love

On the ride down, we got a seat in front for better viewing.

Headin' down

Early the next day, we arrived at the agency which would get our Thailand Tourist Visa from the Thai Embassy here. Doing it here would net us a 60-day Visa opposed to only 30 days for Visa Upon Arrival. We filled out the forms, took some passport photos, and handed in our passports for processing. "Come back at 4:00 pm and you will have your Visa."

So to kill the day, we rented a motor-scooter for more "to sees". Many places are closed up in the mornings and some because of Ramadan but the State Museum was open and it provided good insight into the multi-cultural history with many artifacts of everyday life of generations past.

Elaborate wedding bed

Riding around to see what else we could find, we saw the Chocolate Museum which after going through was more a retail outlet. However as chocolate lovers, we did buy a variety pack and had, what else? Iced coffee!

Then I decided to get some Henna art (an Indian custom) done on my hand. The henna dye or paint comes from the henna shrub/tree leaves. The design is made with an intricate thin bead of dye applied to give a temporary tattoo. It is especially a custom for brides to have elaborate designs applied on hands, arms, and feet for their wedding. But I wanted something a bit simpler. I asked if she could include a sea turtle on mine, you know, like our boat name!

Lost in translation, the artist was slightly unsure so Jordan drew a quick sketch of a sea turtle. She gave a nod (actually a typical Indian head wiggle) of understanding and proceeded to do a nice job.

Henna handiwork

I was told to wait for it to dry for 10 minutes before washing off the excess dye. By then it had even started to lift and peel off. Once washed, my hand was stained with the reddish brown colour and it should last for 1 to 2 weeks. At a cost of 5 Malaysian Ringgits (less than 2 dollars!), it was a real deal.

1 week later

By 17:00, our passports were returned with the pre-approved 60-day Thai Tourist Visa. With nothing keeping us from leaving, we weighed anchor the next morning and with the tide in our favour, we left the thin diesel filmed bay waters and headed north to the island of Langkawi (Malaysia).

1 comment:

Deonir Marcos said...

Hello my friends,

Not sure if you will remember me. I'm young brasilian motorcicle he found them in Ecuador. I travel with greem KLR 650.

I am following your journey!

Your trip is a dream for me!

Went to see if they were already close to his trip to Brazil.

Good journey my friends!

Deonir Marcos Bartnik