Despite the drama that accompanied us to Ipoh & the fact that the Chinese New Year festivities were still in full swing (note to self….good time to avoid visiting Asia) we managed to pull ourselves together, came up with ‘Plan B’ & set out to see some of the local sights. We also couldn’t help but notice that we were a visible minority among all the Chinese tourists.
We visited Sam Poh Tong (Cavern of Triple Gems), a cluster of Chinese temples & later strolled through the old town with its many colonial buildings. Ipoh is the gateway to the Cameron Highlands & known for its great food. We enjoyed some of the local specialties such as chicken & beansprouts (chicken with boiled bean sprouts served with soy sauce), salted chicken, Char Lowe teow (spicey flat rice noodles with with shrimp or chicken shreds & spring onions & the famous Ipoh White coffee (coffee beans specially roasted with palm-oil margarine) – all very delicious & inexpensive.
Two days was enough in Ipoh so we managed to get bus tickets & we headed off to Georgetown, Penang, a 2-hour bus ride away. Well it was supposed to be only a 2-hour trip, but with language an issue we actually didn’t get off in Butterworth where we were supposed to catch the ferry & had another couple of hours added to our day (never trust a man to ask a simple question – another good story over a bottle of wine!). Georgetown is the capital of the island & state of Penang. It has many attractive pre-Second World War houses & shophouses, narrow lanes & chaotic streets, as well as 19th century churches, temples, mosques, & colonial buildings. Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage site & is absolutely beautiful – definitely a much see place! From the historic old town, to the modern shopping areas, with soaring skyscrapers on Gurney Drive to the beach area, Batu Ferringhi, it really does have something for everyone.
Our luck also changed for the better on our second day in Georgetown. We couldn’t believe it, but the bus driver went to great lengths to track us down & return Bob’s wallet. Truly a miracle – St. Anthony & Buddha were really put to the test on this one! Bob had a small receipt in his wallet from our hotel in Malacca. Omar (the bus driver) called the hotel & the hotel sent a message to Agoda.com who then sent us an email. We contacted Omar, who then drove 90-minutes from his home to deliver the wallet personally. He even drove around Ipoh the day after the wallet was lost looking for us (guess we would have been easy to spot) & tried to call us in Canada, but didn’t have the correct area code. Faith in humanity restored!!!!! We have been so fortunate to have our celestial & earthly guardian angels looking out for us. Our family, the hotel manager in Ipoh who let us use his personal phone to cancel the credit ccards, to the woman at our hotel in Georgetown who booked transportation for us using her credit card – we are truly blessed.