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Krabi - Penang 14 December

Landing and parking fees in Krabi were a reasonable US$45.  We also paid a customs and immigration fee of US$4. All went smoothly at this squeaky clean airport and it was not long before we were on our way to Penang.  To start with we flew between cloud layers.  Then, as to be expected during the monsoon season of the eastern Peninsula, there was a build-up of cumulus clouds to our left. 

At Hat Yai, the narrowest part of Thailand just north of the border to Malaysia, we requested a 20 degree heading deviation to the right to avoid some cumulus nimbus clouds.  This was immediately granted and actually made a short cut. This was actually the first time since we left Geneva that we requested a deviation due to weather! After a flight of one hour 40 minutes we landed in Penang.  It was very hot and steamy as we stepped out of the plane.

Penang airport is about 20 kilometres from Georgetown.  We took a taxi to the Cathay Hotel, recommended in the guide book as being one of the better preserved grand old hotels.  The entrance was certainly quite impressive in Art Deco style.  The interior seemed to have been stripped of most of its former glory, but they hadn't managed to remove the marble floors and staircases.  The decoration of the bedrooms was quite Spartan (the loo seat in ours was broken) but they were huge and had beautiful high ceilings.  Hungry, we dumped our bags there and headed off in search of a restaurant.  We enjoyed an excellent meal in a nearby air conditioned Chinese restaurant.

After that we returned to the hotel, intending to do some administration before making an excursion to Penang Hill, reached by a Swiss-made funicular.  Flemming had to file a flight plan and we wanted to update the web site.   Somehow it all took several hours so, to our great disappointment, we had to forgo Penang Hill. 

We met Ray for a drink at the grand Eastern and Oriental Hotel, built by the same architect as the famous Raffles in Singapore.  Unlike the Cathay Hotel, this one had recently been renovated.  Its beautiful palm-fringed gardens looked directly onto the waterfront.  I would have liked to drink our aperitif there but drinks were only served in the bar where there was a notice saying that it was forbidden to take food and beverages out into the garden. Strange! 

Later we went for a stroll along Gurney Drive which, according to the guide book, had a lot of lively seafood restaurants, some with live  music.  But it all looked a bit run down and the "live" music was rather "dead".  Our general impression of Penang was that they preferred to build new high rises instead of preserving the old parts of the city.  However, we didn't have time to visit everything so we might be doing the place an injustice.

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Cruising at 11'000 ft, CB's ahead near Hat Yai

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On final for runway 04 in Penang

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The old and the new in Penang

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Charming but slightly decaying old Cathay Hotel

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The reception area in Cathay Hotel

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