The Penang Diaries – Ringgits

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Penang, fighting off the urges to sleep. My bed looks invitingly comfortable and warm, but doing so would be counter-productive to trying to adjust for a full twelve hours of jetlag. I’m here in Penang for business for a couple of weeks, and there’s nothing like a bit of travel to get the old blog juices flowing…

I’ve gotten pretty proficient at dividing by 3.2, which is the conversion rate from the multicolored Malaysian Ringgit to Canadian dollars. Wandering through the brand-named stores at the multi-storied Gurney Plaza mall and doing this 3.2 division repeatedly, I arrive repeatedly at what I’d expect the price to be in Canada. (Just can’t escape the law of one price.)

Head where the locals head, and food is cheap. An exploision of hawker stands takes over an area just west of the Gurney Plaza. Dinner: char koay teow, a fried vermicelli noodle with cockles (some sort of local shellfish), pig fat, and duck egg: RM 4.80.

Canada has the worst mobile phone service in the world. It took all of 5 minutes and RM 8.50 to obtain a mobile SIM card to have a local Penang phone cell number. And RM 5.00 of credit for local calls (billed at RM 0.36 a minute). Let’s see you do that, Rogers.

It’s rainy season. Which means freak thunderstorms. Like, torrential rain thunderstorms, the your-umbrella-and-raingear-is-useless type. I learned this the hard way, but was luckily saved by a teksi (taxi) ride back to the hotel. Cost: RM 4.20.

You just can’t beat the prices in Penang. Now I’m out to look for koay teow th’ng¬†and other tasty treats.

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