Tag Archives: penang

Singapore To Bangkok By Train

In 1990 I bought a second-class ticket from Singapore to Bangkok with stops in Penang and Suranthani. The old Pearl of the Orient was too clean for me. The Chinese president had ordered the city-state’s police to fine people for chewing gum or not washing their hands after using the WC. Effacing the walls with […]

BERENTI MISTAH by Peter Nolan Smith

In 1991 I bought a round-the-world ticket for $1399 from Pan Express. The owner set up a magical itinerary. “New York – LA – Hawaii – Biak – Bali – overland to Jakarta.” John recited the trip from memory, since he sold hundreds of these tickets every year. “What do you mean ‘overland to Jakarta’?” […]

Penang Gone

Sumatra was a lost world in 1990. Tigers prowled the western jungles of Indonesia largest island. Volcanoes glowed in the night. I drank Bintang beer with the ancestors of headhunters. Inside their long houses skull adorned the main beam. Cutting off heads for the Bataks was an ancient tradition, forbidden by the central government in […]

The Smell Of Durian

Many Asian foods are alien to westerners. Insects, horseshoe crab eggs, and sum tam or spicy mango salad easily come to mind as foreign to the tongues of farangs, however the most unacceptable Oriental delicacy is the ever-malodorous durian. The stench of this squishy fruit is so disagreeable to non-aficionados that durian joined hand grenades […]

PenangThai O Visa

Penang in 1991 was a step into the modern world for any traveler leaving Sumatra. Paved roads were a welcome relief after a bone-grinding bus ride from Lake Toba. The streets were lined with sailor bars. Brothels lurked down dark alleys. Slim Chinese girls strolled by in high heels and their hot pants tempted everyone’s eyes. Muslim, Hindu, Westerner. […]