Day Two – an Adventure in Penang
Sunday morning – The only “free” day planned for the team. After all the hard work the team had put in, this was the day to clear mind, fill it with thoughts and experiences from the wonderful scenic and cultural offerings that Kedah and Penang had to offer.
Breakfast was the first order of the day and after the long day on Saturday, it took a while for some of the boys to emerge and reconvene at our dinner location from the night before. Nothing much to report there with the exception that the reality of being in an another country where weet bix or coco pops wasn’t always served up and noodles or fried rice was the way to start the day was possibly something that was a new experience for a couple of the boys.
As expected, everyone had slept soundly and despite a couple of small housekeeping items that needed sorting, I was very impressed with how we had settled into our new location.
After breakfast we relocated to the girls’ hotel which was a 300 metre walk over a canal.
Being Sunday, there were a few hiccups in arranging the bus that resulted in a delayed start to our adventure in Penang. Like a rock and roll show with the audience waiting, all adults peered down the road looking for the bus… During that point in time when an audience could start the slow hand clapping or feet stamping, we suddenly heard raucous laughter and excited shouting.
|The bridge and canal dividing the hotel where the girls are staying from the rooms where the boys are located|
|The hotel entrance|
|Ralph and Angela plan out the day’s activities and logistics|
Everyone looking forward to our Penang adventure
Our team had turned to the iPad and started playing Charades and it was then that I realised that regardless of how the day would unfold, we had a team and that team who have been working together for months were bonding in a new location and creating their own entertainment.
The bus arrived and if I thought that yesterday’s blue spaceship couldn’t be eclipsed, well it was. Our driver Mr Zaki was knowledgeable, adaptable and really made our day a success. His coach, like the one yesterday was a pride to behold, this one had an reddish colour scheme, was new, spotless and the air was filled with an occasional woosh of fragrance from an airfreshener.
|The hotel manager arranges a wonderful driver and bus to escort us around Penang|
|This time our fragrant airconditioned carpet was a colourful red|
This combination helped in transforming our day into a magic carpet ride to a number of historical destinations aimed at providing a cultural sampling to balance the intensity of the sport event that was to begin the next day.
On the bus, we headed back over the famous Penang Bridge that spans 13.5 km joining the island (shaped like a turtle) to the mainland of Malaysia. A second 24 km bridge has been completed and will open in January.
Our plan was to visit the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia, Kek Lok Si which began construction in 1890 and is still being improved and expanded. This temple, or rather series of temples includes a massive statue of Guan Yin, the goddess of mercy and an ornate 7 storey pagoda along with other aspects which you can read about here.
|Joe stands in front of picture of Tang Dynasty poetry carved into a boulder on the way to the top of the mountain|
|One of the many areas within the Temple checked out by Eric, Mitch and Davis|
I personally love travelling in Asia and have done so for many years. I seek out the things that might be considered different from my traditional anglo-saxon upbringing so I can learn and understand more about people and culture. I have been around long enough to realize that is not everyone’s cup of tea and although you can possibly impose that on your own child, I was acutely conscious that probably shopping and other pursuits might have rightfully been front of mind for most of our group.
|Chaquira and Noms demonstrate their skill in reading Chinese characters to Joe|
|I really wanted to visit the vegetarian restaurant on the way to the top of the Kek Lok Si Temple peak, but maybe next time. Buddhist vegetarian food is fantastic! Kieren thinks so too.|
|We even had Arabella jumping for joy|
If it was, the team didn’t show it. Warming to the experience they bounded up the side of the mountain and took in the sites which were amazing. Apart from the temple itself, the views of Penang were stunning.
Note – I have more pictures to insert… but will need to do that tonight….
After reaching the summit we headed back down to the bus where the final path resembled a Chinese version of Diagon Alley where it was easy to lose one’s way. Fortunately head count complete back on the bus, it was clear that the Goddess of Mercy was looking out for us as we were all there and ready for our next destination.
From Buddhist Temple to the historic Old Town area which is the heritage listed area of Penang including Fort Cornwallis which was our destination. Looking at the brochure describing Fort Cornwallis, the picture of one of the Cannons used by the fort stated the obvious… The Essington Cannons would have to have a photo with these ancient cannons as a “mascot” or symbol. It gave me a sense of further strengthening the bond that we were forming between the team and Malaysia.
Next to Fort Cornwallis is the “Padang” or grassed town square. For those who have been to Singapore, the layout is very similar. On the Padang was a fair which was arranged by the local motorcycle club. Unlike some of the motorcycle clubs in Australia, this was a completely family friendly affair with food, drink, bike bits and entertainment on hand. It was probably more akin to a church fete than a motorcycle gathering and certainly added to the atmosphere.
After an hour of taking in the cultural aspects and historical architecture, we all bundled back onto the bus for probably the key destination, a shopping trip to Komtar, Penang’s tallest building. At 65 storeys with a massive shopping mall inside, it was probably the icing on the cake for a great day out with a great, professional and polite group of students who are definitely ambassadors for their club, school and country.
A combined team briefing had taken place and in the rather opulent confines of Starbucks café surrounded by frappes and other coffee couture we learnt that the schedule had changed slightly and this was a favourable outcome for all teams, some of whom had tight schedules regarding return flights. There is the inclusion of a stop clock rule which I won’t even attempt to explain and this will be covered Monday morning with the team and everyone was confident that this was different but not difficult. All teams were excited and looking forward to the competition starting the next day (today)
Meeting concluded, Ralph and I set out to find Evan and Giovanna and sample some of the wonderful Roti Telur from a shop our driver had pointed out to us. Unable to track them down (we were in the middle of Penang on Sunday night) Ralph and I went to the open air restaurant and ordered lime juice drinks and two roti with chicken and fish curry. The gentleman on the table next to us struck up a conversation and informed us this place sold good quality roti, a fact we absolutely agreed with after trying our own dishes. With time against us, we bid farewell to our new friend who was a welder and painter working on a local house and headed back to the bus for the journey back to Kedah.
With shopping bags and full stomachs the team were on the bus and we headed back to our hotel in Kedah and a good night’s sleep before the day of competition dawned.
After a quick logistics catchup, we headed back to our rooms for another well-earned rest.