May 8, 2010

red shirt, yellow shirt

if you travel overland into Thailand they will only provide you with a valid 15 day entry. if you fly into Bangkok they give you a 30 day entry. since i'm going in overland i pay for a 60 day visa which they only issue from the consulate in Penang. go figure. wandering around Georgetown i hit the historic sites. this crossroad of colonialism, Chinese and Malay culture is the picture i had of Malaysia in my head. i turn the corner and amidst the chaos is a little french bakery! bless them because i really was missing bread. most of the fresh bread here is naan which is delicious but different.

as i was handing over my passport for the daily visa run an Australian guy runs up to the desk to cancel his bus ticket to Thailand. his intelligence sources in the Red Shirt movement are advising the thai army is mobilizing for a large scale military action to be taken against them that night. it's quite the topic as this is a big stopover for travelers going into Thailand. of course, nothing the Australian says turns out to be accurate.

determined to find some Assam Laski [fish based soup with noodles and vegetables] i ask Paul from the Old Penang and he gives me very specific instructions which i follow. i stood on the outside looking in for a few minutes. knowing this was my last night here - I have my visa and ticket to Langkawi already - i'm trying to get up the guts to go in. there isn't another white skin in the joint. i step inside and an old woman, probably 85 to 90, asks a bunch of stuff and i respond "assam laksi". she smiles and says how many bowls. jackpot! it was some good stuff.

feeling cocky because i've successfully navigated my way to find the assam laski i swagger back to the Old Penang Guesthouse. there are tons of shops along the way and since i'm headed back to the islands i decide to pick up a sarong. the woman asks for $6US and i know i'm getting ripped off when i pay $4US but i can't bring myself to bargain her down from there.

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