mercoledì 2 gennaio 2013

Sixth Day, Relaxing in Penang (with 16k run)

Finally a relaxing day.

I wanted to run this morning, hadn't done it for 2 days. Then I realised that I hadn't slept for 3 days.

For the first time in five days I stood up at 8. Still, Penang wakes up later than me. Shops start opening at 9. Some of them at 10.

I bought the ticket to Bangkok, and tried to book a guided tour of the historical center and of the island.

The local tourist office is headed by a chubby nice but volitional Malay woman.

"Why should you book a guided tour, can't you walk on your own?" "Well, I don't want to get lost, and I'd like to learn something" "Impossible to get lost, here's the information you need" and she handed me a brochure.

"What about the tour of the island? Do you know anyone organising a guided tour with motorbikes?" "Can you ride a motorbike? Then you don't need any guide. It's very simple!"

So I rented Sam, a 125 scooter with gears. Tomorrow I'm riding for 72k alone along the island. Because that's what she wants. Seriously, it was a mix of Man Pride and fear.

Together with Sam came a helmet. Because, as the guy of the shop said, "helmets are USEFUL in Penang".

The morning went over with some lazy walking and eating.

In the afternoon I organized a couple of things to do in Thailand and checked for accommodation in Sukhotai and Chiang Mai.

Late afternoon I decided to run.

Tomorrow I'm riding all day, starting at 6. I can't stay 4 days without running. I would miss so much of this vacation.

So I went for an easy 10k up to see some temples and to see the botanic gardens.

When I got to botanic gardens the temptation was too strong. Ok, let's have an easy run here.

They're not like in Singapore. Jungle still prevails on what men have planted. It is actually difficult to distinguish botanic garden from jungle. There are also monkeys, a lot. And signs that warn about risks of tropical diseases. Definitely not like in Singapore.

While running, I saw an old Indian man starting to climb some hidden stairs. Where do they go? I thought. And followed the man on his path.

After a few minutes of running, the stairs became steeper, and it was impossible to see the end. The jungle surrounded them. Sometime trees were eating portions of the steps.

I reached the top exhausted, and met some Chinese guys. I asked where we were. They looked surprised and stood still. "Are we in Penang hill?" (the high peak which overcomes Georgetown). They finally replied "yes, but we are half way to the top".

Half way. Not too bad.

They were optimistic. After another kilometer, a couple told me that the top was 4k far away.

My GPS marked 9k. I was discouraged, but they added that a pick up was going to carry back everyone to botanic gardens in half an hour. Half an hour to reach the top. I can do it.

I couldn't. Signs indicated a 30% slope. And the view on the way was so fantastic, I needed to take pictures. Good excuses, isn't it?

Anyway, after 3k of running and walking I took the pick up to the botanic gardens and ran back to the hostel.

A lot of food to close the day. And quickly to bed. Tomorrow's going to be a long day on the road.

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