Life in Penang.

Monday, May 02, 2016
Georgetown, Pinang, Malaysia
I'm pretty much at the point now of not even rembering how many days we've been in Penang for. I know the jungle and working at the eco resort seems like a long time ago now. In reality I think it's only about 10 days when I check my calendar. Most of the time days and dates don't mean a lot when traveling. If it wasn't for the fact I follow football I wouldn't have a clue on the days of the week as it really doesn't matter anymore. Once the season is over in a few weeks time that will be it, at best I will know what month we are in. It's a nice feeling though. Your only real concern is keeping an eye out every now and then to make sure your visa isn't about to run out. I've just finished reading a true story called "The Backpacker" which at times brilliantly highlights this mindset that I speak of. At times taking it to the extreme, but when your on the road for months at a time parts of this book is easily relatable.

So back to Penang . As you know we had secrued some work with Alison and Narele at Chinahouse. Another one of Narele's ventures that is used to fund the animal shelter in Langkawi. In return we have been lucky enough to be given a place to stay and two meals a day. The work has been hard. Not hard in the physical sense or that it's mentaly draining or anything but due to the constant heat that is currently gripping Malaysia and Penang. It really is unbearable at times. Up in the mid 30's most days, and my phone app tells me each day that the 'Realfeel' is closer to 50 degress. Now I've spent quite some time in Asia over the past few years but nothing compares to this level of intensity. The place we are staying at is another of Narele's properties that we have been cleaning up and doing some painting in etc that will be used to house staff management at some point. It's a nice enough place and we are most grateful of the generosity shown however it does not have aircon and getting a good nights sleep is now something I no longer remember the feeling of . I wake several times a night, usually laying on drenched sheets. Not just damp, I mean soaked through to the point you can wring them out. We are taking in around 5-6 litres of water a day plus other drinks on top of that just to try and stay hydrated and even then the fact that my wee is the colour of Dale Winton's tan is testament to the fact I should be drinking more. So it's been tiring work given the climate. That said we have done a great job in tidying the place up. Putting in a lot of hours each day before then heading round to Chinahouse and Narele's nearby shop '179 House' to walk some of the dogs that Narele has given a home here.

The dogs here are some real little characters as well. A lot more easy going than the dogs in Langkawi and at the same time I can tell a few of them haven't had the best of times in the past and they have taken a good few days to warm to us and be comfortable in our presence. We have walked those that are able to go out each day which in Penang can be a fun experience . The Muslim population are generaly not too keen on dogs so you draw some interesting looks of utter fear from certain members of the local community. The Chinese and Indian locals however are the complete opposite and will give you an admirable nod of aknowledgement as you walk past their shop fronts. We now walk past quite often without the dogs and a few locals will ask where they are. It really is an interesting mix here to say the least. We were out for a few drinks last Saturday to catch the Sunderland match with another English couple we bumped into. We sat and hammered the Thai Rum again at the small Chinese alcoholics shop after the game until the early hours and then popped round the corner for some Tandoori Roti on the way home and were promptly told to hide our take away drinks under the table out of sight. It's an interesting yet confusing mix at times that can catch you out at any moment.

The work with the dogs has been fun but also confusing at times. Jim the local lad who works at Chinahouse is the main person here who helps look after them and he does a great job . However at times when we speak it's really hard to understand his English (my Malay is far worse so I'm not complaining) and I'm not sure if we have been doing as much as we could or the right things. He is also like a few of the Malay's I have met in the past where he is a very good talker but perhaps not the best listener so the times we have asked questions around what else we can do to help I think it has fallen on deaf ears. Still the dogs have certainly had more walks and attention and love than they usually get and we are always greated by happy noises and wagging tails every day we spend time with them now. It will be hard to leave them as you can tell they are really enjoying this new change in lifestyle of half an hours outdoor freedom a day. Once we leave they will not get out as often and it saddens me when I think of this. I will miss them and the happy sight of wagging tails when we walk into 179 house to take them out.

We haven't really done much else while in Penang . The main reason we do the voluntary work and Workaway opportunities is to help save money along the way to sustain our travels as well as to help others out. If we were constantly out and about outside of working hours spending money it would defeat the object really. Also there isn't much more to do around Georgetown that we haven't done already. I've managed to find a few more new bits of street art dotted about and we have spent some spare time parking up in a nearby cafe that has the best aircon in the universe. It's the only place in town where I go in and feel like a normal human being again. It's also given us somewhere to sit with half decent WiFi to plot our next move. It's certainly time to move on from Penang now, I think we have had enough of working in this kind of heat especially after only taking a few days off inbetween the Eco Resort and here so it's time for something new. We got very excited the other night at the prospect of the Phillipenes, a country we haven't visited so far but when we looked further into the cost of flights including our baggage it will have to wait until later in the trip . Instead we are going to head for a couple of weeks relaxing and snorkeling on Koh Lipe in Thailand before heading back into Malaysia and back to Langkawi to help out at the animal shelter there. That should help slow the spending again and hopefully get our budget in order a bit more to then see if the Phillipenes is possible or not. I mentioned very early on in my blog that we are trying to do this adventure on an absolute shoestring budget of only £20 a day between us that also has to include our travel between places, visas etc The other small things that you forget about also add up such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc so it's certainly proving a challenge to get through this trip but I'm sure we will find a way. We always do some how and at times it makes the satisfaction of the adventure all the more rewarding. It's all about the experience and how you get through it and the people you meet along the way, not the 24/7 partying holiday that many believe traveling to be.

Strangely enough I also have another opportunity that has come my way thanks to a guy named Michael who runs a gallery next door with his wife Barbara. We got chatting and it turns out he runs the football coaching academy in Penang. He's an ex pro who played for Southampton many years ago but his career was cut short at the age of just 24 due to a bad injury. He's asked if I would like a position coaching at his academy and although it doesn't fit in with our immediate plans it's another opportunity to keep in mind for the future. Our adventure continues to Thailand tomorrow with a 10 hour trip starting at 5am so best go and get packed up and a decent nights sleep.

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