Sunday, 1 November 2015

Chanzie's Backpack iPod Adventures #1 - Loving Penang

Hello Awesome People of the World

I know I have been extremely quiet but life has been busy. Teaching just consumes you sometimes and I was working on the October Camp for my school which was 7 days a week for almost an entire month! Other than going through some life changes, I wasn't actually sure what to share and what to write.  

Then another adventure appeared in my life and I felt like I had something to share again!!! I think most of the teachers here don't enjoy the trip to Penang for a visa run and the border crossing can be a bit stressful but I decided that Penang is fun and I meet the most interesting people which just makes it awesome and what you wish you will receive. 

The time came for another trip to Penang for a new visa. To say the few weeks before this was stressful for me is an understatement but that's how you learn right? So my visa expired on the 20th October but I was supposed to leave Thailand on the 19th. We only handed in the application for my work permit in the 19th and it takes 3 days to process. Hence, I went into overstay in Thailand. What stressed me out the most about this is the question: Will this be a mark in my travel record and name for the rest of my life? I truly hope this won't be held against me in the future for my future travels.

(Just want to mention that an Indonesia haze pulled in at this point and I ventured out to buy a mask. I never thought I'd be at a point where I'd want a mask but I could totally feel my chest closing up and a bit of a headache from it! Rather safe than sorry.)

I picked up my work permit on the morning of the 22nd. They only granted me a 6 month permit due to RSA being on some watch list or something *sigh*. Anyway my HR dude took me to Hat Yai where I caught a minivan to Penang. I was travelling on my own for the first time in a long time and not too a specific person either. This felt like true winging it!! Plus, I was totally Wifi dependent when you cross the Sadoa Thai/Malaysian border. I understand the saying 'I love you more than Wifi' now... 

When I got to the border I was fined 1500 baht for being in overstay. The lady who was 'fining' me was not so friendly at all but I just nodded and paid. Then her boss walked in and had the hugest smile - for some reason he took a liking to me, whether it be my green eyes or blond hair, I was happy to see a friendly face and smiled back. Once again I thank my parents for my features that work for me, as they say if you got it and it works for you, use it!

4 hours later, I arrived in Penang.

Another point before we get to the visa deets... I was not in Penang for even 20 minutes and a local started talking to me and gave me his telephone number saying I must come eat a burger at his stall somewhere in Penang... Ha ha he wanted me to go with him like right then!! Eish... I politely declined and detangled myself from that situation. I was a bit freaked out that he might have been following me, because first he walked into the first shop I went into and complimented me on my skin...??? Then I saw him in the second shop I went into for water and then again he pulled up on his motorcycle while I was walking to find the hotel I wanted to book into before heading to do my visa stuff. After he left I wasn't sure if he turned around to head back my way so I quickly ducked into the hotel!!

I dropped off my bag and headed straight to Banana Inn, the visa place I used last time, thinking get my visa papers in asap but to my slight panic they told me they cannot process my visa for me as one of my documents was not an original!! Eish!!! Lucky the lady was so nice, she told me that if I went straight to the Thai consulate and did the application myself, there should be no problems. Eeek!!! She would help me get a taxi there the next morning.

Well I hoped for the best otherwise someone from my school was going to have to bring me this very important document, because I am unable yo get back into Thailand without a visa!! All my stuff is there. Worst case I guess I could have just bought a flight back to RSA and figure out my life from there. But keeping positive thoughts here that all would be okay and the process would be smooth and easy.

So off I went back to my hostel which I enjoyed staying at - The Red Inn. Only 25 Ringett a night (isn't that such a cool currency name!!! Ringett I love it). After settling in I took a shower and then headed out to find some food. Originally I went to this Briyani restaurant but they were a bit pricey so I found a nice little road stall and bought some noodle type dish - it was very good. There were actually no tables available so I asked if I could sit with the only two western type looking people. They were pretty cool and polite. A Brit and an Italian - making new friends. So we headed to The Reggae bar for a drink. Much to my delight it was ladies night and I could have free drinks until 9 pm. *savings score*.

I love Penang. 

You are basically guaranteed to meet awesome interesting people. Travellers unite ha ha ha. By 9 pm we had a variety of nationalities at our table including: (OK all my good stories clearly start with...) A German, Swiss, Brit, Italian, Czech, Mexican, Malaysian and of course me a South African. Can you believe I was giving a few of them a crash course in basic Thai phrases!! I was so proud ha ha ha

Fun times!! Eish... I even got my heart broken by the Mexican... So we were talking about how I love Spanish and want to learn it plus that I love Mexican Food - when he informed me that... wait for it.... Nachos... my all beloved favourite Mexican dish... Was in fact not Mexican at all!!! Wait What... heart shattered and dreams broken *sigh* not cool dude. Anyway he made up for it by teaching me a few Spanish words. Did you know burrito means little donkey... bwahahaha laugh of the evening for me for sure!

We all chilled and chatted until about 11 pm, connected on Facebook and whatsapp before I headed home for some much needed sleep. I woke at about 7 am but snoozed until about 7:45am. Got ready, had two slices of toast before heading down to Banana Inn. I decided to try a mango smoothie type drink too - only in Asia man... a straw and a bag. It was yummy though! So next, off I went to the Thai consulate. 

I love the randomness of life. So there was a very kind Malaysian dude that helped me fill out all the forms, all went smoothly and I started randomly talking to an American who was also applying for a 3 month visa and happens to be a diving instructor! We caught a cab back to Chulia street and grabbed a bite to eat at this coffee shop that serve the most delicious salmon and cream cheese bagel ever!!! Only after an hour did we realise we didn't know each others name. Lol, I said our visas will expire round the same time so maybe will see him in 3 months. He joked and said we will probably be penang buddies ha ha ha. So add another nationality to the list!

Anyway I made my way back to my hostel and needed to decide if I was going to KL to try watch the MotoGP or chill in Penang until Monday. I figured you know what... its not every weekend there is a GP close by and worst case its an adventure to KL if I cannot get a ticket. I can explore Penang next time. Plus 2 friends from Songkhla were in KL for the MotoGP. Why not I ask?? Plus I know at least one friend (Buzz) who would kill for this opportunity... so doing it for me and doing it for him!!! He is a Rossi fan and my new Mexican friend is a Marquez fan...  So will see.

So I hopped on a bus and took another detour in this adventure!!

... To Be Continued ...