Penang = 23 December 2013
23.12.2013 - 23.12.2013 33 °C
We had a great flight into Penang - Justin was very happy with the plane. We arrived at the hotel, which is a boutique hotel called Noordin Mews, on the edge of Georgetown as the sun was going down. We went for a swim and then went for a walk in town. As we were leaving, the receptionist told us to be careful, and that I should watch my handbag. That threw us a little bit, because everywhere else we have travelled we have felt totally safe – even cruising through Siem Reap at 4am in total darkness.
As we started walking along the streets of old Georgetown, this feeling intensified. We saw no Malaysian women, and hardly any foreigners. But there were Malaysian men on every street corner, and the way they looked at me made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I should note that I was dressed very plainly, and my legs and arms were fully covered. They gave an intense stare that didn’t stop even if I stared back at them. Justin also felt very uneasy.
As we walked further into the centre of town, we saw the lights of the Eastern and Oriental Hotel – a classic colonial-style hotel built in the early 19th century. We wandered in and up the hallways to the fine dining restaurant called 1884. I had already seen online there was a special Christmas Eve dinner being held at 1884 and suggested to Justin that we book for the next evening.
We found a waiter and he looked at us in our scrappy clothes, and when he found out we weren’t even staying at the hotel, said there was no possible way he could give us a table, as they were fully booked.
I was very disappointed, but on the way to the bar, we ran into another waiter called Dean (who must have been head waiter), and who had overhead Justin. He said that 1884 was indeed booked out, that actual guests of the hotel (ie not peasants like us) were not even able to get a table and asked if we wanted to reserve a table for their buffet at their café. Turning on that classic Justin charm to high voltage, Justin charmed the man, saying that he wanted a special table to celebrate with his girlfriend, then tipped Dean for any help he could provide.
We headed to the bar, and about ten minutes later, Dean came to our table saying that he would sort something out – classic Eeles charm wins again. The hotel was also kind enough to drive us back to our hotel in one of their Mercedes limousines – trés fancy.