Bangkok – Penang

I’m still sick, but I need to get moving because I have to make sure that I make my flight home from Kuala Lumpur in a few days. So, rather than doing the smart thing and booking a cheap flight to KL, I buy another train ticket. This time for a 24 hour train journey to Penang, Malaysia. Up until this point I’ve only ever seen Malaysia from the inside of the airport in KL and after embracing the familiar for a couple of nights, I’m ready for a change of scenery.

These long rail journeys force me to open my Finance textbook and get up to date with Uni. I’m jealous of the couple opposite me who were smart enough to bring a pizza on board as I stare at my packet of yam flavoured biscuits. By the time I arrive in Butterworth, I’m so glad to be getting off this train. I board the ferry to Penang and immediately fall in love with the quaint architecture. I have no planned accommodation plans and the data network is sloooow. I convince a friend in Australia to suggest some hotels and settle for a simple place in the centre of town. I make friends easily and smile at the different accents I keep hearing. I chat with a Dutchman over a cigarette as he tells me of the life he left behind in The Netherlands. I share stories with an Australian lady in the laundromat as we wait for our clothes to dry. I chat with the local guy selling beer at the hawker centre… rookie mistake.

The next day I walk the streets of Penang, visit a cat cafe, purchase a collection of strange beauty products and eat some great food. In the evening I head back to the hawker centre and am approached by the local guy from the night before. We get chatting again but this time I feel uneasy about his friendship. As I’m walking back to my hotel, I realise I’m being followed. Despite his marriage proposal and declaration of his financial situation, income and expenses, I decline and seek the comfort of my room and lock the door.

One of the things that I forget about as I’m sitting in my office chair, wishing away the hours of corporate life, I genuinely forget how lucky I am to be born a white woman of no religion in a 1st world country. This guy seems nice enough, he’s hard working and diligently sends a portion of his income back home to make sure that his mother wants for nothing. He longs for a life that is better than what he has, he serves holiday makers daily who waste more money on an evening meal than he earns for the night. I don’t blame him for wanting an out, but it would be nice if he atleast asked me what my name was.

It’s rare that I feel preyed upon, and as I look back on this moment I’m conflicted as to how to describe it. No danger came of it, but I didn’t appreciate his advances.

The next day, I board a bus to Kuala Lumpur. I’m looking forward to see the Petronas Towers, but I’m already feeling nostalgic because I know that this is the last stop before I fly back to the Pacific.

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