Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

We went on an incredible trip to Simply Sensational Singapore. It was a lovely trip. We were however quite unprepared for the cost. The plane fare from Penang was expensive and we, ever the penny pinchers, were looking for a good way to save money. Instead of going directly
to Singapore. We elected to fly into Johor Baru. A state in Malaysia just over the border and across a narrow strait of water. Our trip into Singapore was a success! We saved tons of money and we just had a bit of inconvience at the border. We had a taxi take us straight to the hotel. Our hotel was located right on Orchard Drive just above the MRT subway system. We gorged ourselves on Burger King burgers, and visited one of the worlds best zoos. We shopped at amazing stores, like Zara, Tang's, Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, Cartier. We stocked up on books at Borders, and even made a trip into Little India. We had the chance to watch General Conference with other Singapore residents too. We went to the Mandarin Hotel and sat in the Grand Ballroom that the stake rented for that very purpose.

When the time came to go back home to Penang little did we know what was in store for us. We awoke at 6:00 am to get ready for our 9:30 flight. Keep in mind the Johor Baru airport is only about 45 minutes away. We asked the good folks at the Marriott to arrange a taxi for us to drop us at the airport. The average person would assume that since we arrived by taxi we could leave by taxi. However, our first mistake was to assume. I mean, ASSUME Malaysia would keep things as simple as Singapore did. Ha!

  1. Marriott folks kept us waiting for taxi arrangements for 30 minutes. We finally went out and caught our own.
  2. The driver was a Chinese Joe Pesci-like character who couldn't stop talking and laughing and making fun of everything Malaysian. Very irritating at 7:30 am.
  3. We got to the Checkpoint and had to walk about 1/2 a mile 8:00.
  4. Then we had to wait in line at the checkpoint. Go through the border, and try to find the correct bus to drive us to the Malaysian border checkpoint.
  5. We waited for the correct bus and lucky for us it arrived about 15 minutes after we arrived, and we still had our EZ-Link bus passes with us left over from the MRT subway.
  6. We got off the bus and walked the wrong way because we followed the sign that said "imbarcation cards this way". Next time we will ignore the info. signs and just follow the crowd. By now it is 8:30. Our plane leaves at 9:20.
  7. We found a taxi driver and followed him to his car about 100 yards away. Traffic around the checkpoint was quite heavy.
  8. He drove very fast, and we began to relax a bit realizing we just might make our plane. Then we hit a traffic jam that went on for miles and miles. Parking lot slow.
  9. We then realized that it would be a miracle if we didnt' miss our plane. We got to the airport at 9:10. They would not let us board the plane. The next plane with AirAsia wouldn't leave until the next day. Dave went to buy tickets from Malaysia Air but that flight didn't leave until 3:50. We decided to get tickets for Tiny and I to Penang, leaving at 10:30 with AirAsia and Dave would wait til 3:50 to fly to Kuala Lumpur to pick up our car that was waiting for us at the Hotel we stayed at the day before we flew into Singapore.
  10. Only AirAsia could not process our credit cards of which we tried 3 before giving up. Dave said he was ready to start swearing like Steve Martin did in the "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" when he wanted to rent a car to get home. He gave up trying AirAsia, and just went over to Malaysia Air and bought 3 tickets to KL.
  11. We made ourselves a fixture at the "Coffee Bean" we were the guests who would not leave. We plugged in our lap tops and palm pilots and sat there for 6 hours, occasionally buying things to keep them from kicking us out.
  12. We got on the plane and went uneventfully to KL and took the train in to our hotel. Got lost at the huge train station, but painfully made it back alive to the car. We had the hotel give us very detailed instructions on how to get back to the North-South Expressway.
  13. Sadly we got lost the minute we left the driveway. We ended up in downtown Kuala Lumpur at the height of rush hour. Luckily it was still daylight and it only took us an hour to navigate ourselves out of the hole we dug.
  14. We drove up to Ipoh and had terrific Nasi Kandar for dinner about 9:00 and then drove into our parking space at home about 10:45.

All and all Singapore was great fun. A beautiful big city that will be fun to return to again and again. Next time around though, I think I'll save some money and take the expensive flight directly to Singapore.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Funtastic Night Market

We took Elders Delaney and Giles to the night market in Batu Ferringhi last night. Elder Delany is going home to Australia in a week and he had not been to Penang's greatest night market. The market is situated along the street of a mile long stretch of "hotel" row about 4 miles north of where we live. The market has oodles and oodles of colorful, brashy, tacky, beautiful, noisy, cheap, counterfit and wonderful touristy treasures. You can get any cd, dvd, designer purse, imaginable. There are wonderful batiks, pewter containers, and other local goodies as well just for the bargaining. I came home with 6 new cds and the second season of Numbers. I purchased everything for under 10 dollars. Yes I am a thief. But to my own defense, there are no places to purchase dvd's let alone rent them. So we have to buy them from the bad guys. (how is that for rationalizing??) We met this cute Auntie last night. (in the photo with Dave. ) She had blue eyes like Dave, she spoke very good English and we fell in love with her. Her name is Madam Lim, and she was born and raised here on the Island of Penang. She is part of the reason Penang is the Pearl of the Orient. The rich culture and friendliness of the local people is beyond compare. The Chinese have kept their lovely traditions as is evident in the food, clothing, and celebrations here.