Penang, Malaysia
Just before we got into Penang, Malaysia, we had to stop in Singapore to get some more fuel. We heard that we got about 15,000 gallons of the foul-smelling stuff.
The refueling ship rubbed against us and made some ugly black marks on the side of our ship. You can't really see them here very well, so the arrow points to the marks. Anyone know a good attorney?
Just as we pulled into Penang, we saw Penang Hill accompanied by some friendly low-hanging clouds. I didn't realize just how familiar I would become with that Hill (see below).
One of the first things we did upon our arrival: eat! We walked through Georgetown and found this sign. What we had vaguely resembled a Thai dish, one of my very favorite foods on the planet, and this sign might indicate how it is spelled. Larry, yours tastes better!
Thanks to the relentless ticking of the clock, which threatened my usual promptness (note: sarcasm intended), we needed some help getting back. We took a "trishaw," a 3-wheeled bike with a seat in the front. This was similar to the cyclo in Vietnam, but this one did not dip in the front.
Twenty of us paid for, but only ten showed up for a hike up Penang Hill. The climb was 830 meters up (about 2,500 feet) and totalled 3.5 km (a couple of miles) from Moon Gate to the peak. Here is most of the group, led by theater professor Steve Breese. Alas, my family decided to go on a service visit to St. Joseph's orphanage and only Dennis went on the hot, sweaty, great hike.
Halfway up the hill, we stopped for a well-earned rest. A monkey family greeted us, with the paternal figure in a very nearby tree showing us that we couldn't mess around with them. Our role was obviously to leave behind some food on the tables at the rest stop. We, as good citizens, obeyed the signs and didn't fulfill that role. Move the mouse over the picture or this link and see what the monkey did to show his superiority.
At the top of Penang Hill, there was a very colorful temple, in addition to great vistas.
One great vista afforded a view of our ship! Here I am pointing to it--it's the white smudge directly under my finger (and spans to where my thumb is "pointing" too).
Another of our excursions led us to a Welcome Reception and Shadow Puppet performance at Universiti Sains Malaysia. These shadow puppets actually were in color and not mere shadows of themselves (pun intended)!
We were invited "backstage" to see how it was done.
We were treated to some great Malaysian delights at the welcome reception. Here's Lauren with her college buddies along with a few of the Malaysian students and our own Professor Theo Kariotis (2nd from left), a Semester at Sea professor of economics who always jokes that he "knows everything." Hmmm...or is he really joking? He always seems to know the answer!
After dinner, we learned a delightful Malaysian dance and then we were treated to a self-defense kata by Professor Latiff Zainal of University Sains Malaysia.
After all of the excitement, hard work, and fast pace of the ship's work schedule, we took a one-day "vacation" at a 5-star resort in Malaysia. It was the most elegant hotel we've ever stayed in, except that there were some problems of varnish or glue fumes that gave me nightmares, woke me up, and kept me awake from 4:30 until 7:00 AM. Lauren enjoyed the water slide at the pool.
Then there were the workers spraying paint on some dolphin statues right above one closed-off half of a single pool with swimmers in the second half. I guess the great bargain ($70 for a night) had some shortcomings--I'm not sure there are laws that cover toxins in hotels! The beaches are very polluted, so the child's pool was most heavily used by us. At least the child's pool was not involved in e-coli, fumes, or spray paint!
On the way back from "vacation," we visited a butterfly farm. Just as we arrived, some monsoon rains thundered against the clear plastic "roof." Christy enjoyed having the butterflies on her hands but could not coax any of them onto her nose (especially for her Pittsburgh buddy Jessi). In the next frame of the video, this monochromatic butterfly begins flapping its wings as it escaped into the air.
The butterfly farm had a show that featured insects and snakes. Here are Lauren and Elizabeth enjoying their petting of the baby python snake.
Lauren enjoyed the slow moving, and very cute gecko that seemed to enjoy walking on her arm.
Christy also seemed enchanted with the creature, just as the creature seemed to like Christy.

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Photos copyright 1999, Dennis F. Galletta