Penang was our last stop and for me, epitomized what I loved about Malaysia; the melting pot of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian cultures giving way to a massive variety of deliciously spicy food choices. Yes, I am single minded. Finally that craving to eat curry for breakfast could be satisfied. 

Beyond eating, we were able to spend our time in Penang getting our Thai Visa organised (you can only get 15 days on the border, so we opted to get it in advance), being the first gualos to play tennis at the Chinese Recreational Club, snoozing on the resort lined beaches of Batu Ferrengi and witnessing a territorial 20 man brawl between the east side and west side Water Sport Hire gangs. Especially amusing watching 4 grown men jump on a jetski and cruise off into the distance James Bond style when the Fuzz rocked up.

Let this be a warning.                                                                  Joe gets a ‘Malaysian Mod Cut’

 We drove BOB all around the island, and I managed to twist Joe’s arm to go to a butterfly farm (he loved it) something we’ve been meaning to do throughout Malaysia – as Butterfly farms seem to be at every major tourist attraction (what do you farm butterflies for??). We sampled to local Laksa (a very fishy siam delight) and then found our own little beach at the bottom of the island to snooze off the previous nights hangover.

Our new German Friends came and joined us, and we strolled around ‘colonial’ Georgetown before prepping for the 2nd border crossing into Thailand.

Penny’s walking tour of ‘Colonial’ Architecture                                       Hanging with the Germans at the Eastern Oriental Hotel

Getting out of Malaysia was super easy – with passports stamped, I sent Joe off to get the Carnet stamped and didn’t even have to get out of the car! On the Thai side, immediately things were a bit more confusing and chaotic. After some manic signalling from about 50 men in uniforms we discovered we actually had to park BOB in a huge parking lot and then walk through the border, going from office to office dodging the elbows of local pros to get the Carnet stamped and signed, then to get insurance (thankfully much more straightforward than Malaysia where we spent days driving around trying to get 3rd party). Then back to the parking lot to drive straight out into Thailand. We could have had 16 Romanian prostitutes in the back and no one would have even asked. Wonders never cease.

On a hot tip from previous overlanders, Katrin and Tilo, we gunned it straight to the Garmin Shop in Trang, where the extremely helpful Mr Pattana helped us out with maps for Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and best of all CHINA! He also threw in the World Mapsource which should help us when we’re circling the donkey paths in Kazakhstan in search of yurts. After the obligatory photos with BOB, Pattana then gave us about 5kg worth of Rambutan (delicious lychee like fruit) and waved us on our merry way – and for once we actually knew where we were going. I estimate we have had 90% less arguments since going to see Mr Pattana! Thank you!!