We had an uneventful trip home from Bali, slept in my own bed a couple nights, caught up on work emails and then packed for a New Year's holiday to Penang, Malaysia.
Cindy, a friend of Stephanie also from the US, joined us for a total of three lovely ladies. We arrived in Penang on Thursday, which is an island just off the northwest coast of Malaysia. We tried to book the ferry for Friday to another island better suited for snorkeling and beaches, but it was full. We took our guide books on the road to determine plan B and found a couple of local outdoor bars downtown to read and relax. We headed back to the hotel to catch our lounge singers putting on a show. They even sang one of our requests :).
Friday we went to the sister resort on the beach which had nice pools and an outdoor bar. We had some drinks, played pool, met some friends and headed to the Hard Rock for dinner. We called it an early night as we were planning to hike at the national park on NYE day. Saturday morning was nice and we took the bus to the opposite side of the island to hike. About 10 minutes after arrival, we realized that a wallet was missing. A very nice local lady offered to drive us down the road where the buses stop for a break. We were so lucky! The driver remembered us and we immediately got the wallet back. Crisis averted!! We think the driver was a little freaked out when Cindy hugged him though ;).
The hike was good and I of course lagged a little. We made it nonetheless. At the end of the hike we were rewarded with a nice white beach. There were a lot of locals there as well who are mainly Muslim, which puts a slight damper on running around in your bikini when they are covered. We wanted to be respectful and decided to sit and rest a bit. I eventually got warm enough that I wanted to try the waters, but figured I would leave on my top to be more considerate. I failed to think that through and my thin top was see-through and super clingy once wet. Luckily I had a dry top along that I changed into. Shortly after, we were on our way back. The beach was suppose to have turtles and we found out later that if we had walked all the way to the end there were about five turtles currently nesting. Doh! We missed them.
For New Year's Eve, we were conflicted on where to go but finally followed a suggestion from the hotel bellman and went to a British pub near the hotel. We met a variety of people - Finnish, Dutch, Turkish and Kiwi (New Zealander) among them. It was a fun night had by all and we stayed out a bit into 2012.
For New Year's day we figured to be low key and by the pool. Mother nature had different plans as the clouds rolled in. We decided on a movie (Sherlock Holmes - recommend) and found a bowling alley on the walk home. Later that night we headed back for three games, each of us winning once and breaking 100 at least once! We were very happy with that outcome. The only complaint was the complete disregard and lack of enforcement of the large no smoking signs posted in several areas. I do miss those no smoking laws!
Our last day was spent back at the sister resort relaxing by the pool. It was a nice way to end vacation. I saw Stephanie and Cindy off tonight and tomorrow morning I head home. It has been a good holiday season in Asia and I'm sorry to see it end.
Hope all my friends and family had a great and safe New Year celebration!