Let me preface this by saying that yes, I am quite spoilt. I have driven in cars all of my life, gotten an education, and had food in my belly (at all times) but nothing had prepared me for the fear I felt today.
Today, we rode on a scooter.
With Bastien and Audrey, we hired two scooters (automatic motorbikes) – with the males driving. I wanted to drive too but the Scooter Man, a chap named, Happy Ken (a very, very, happy chappy) just yelled, ‘No ladies, no ladies’ when I challenged him and asked him why I couldn’t drive it. Blah. (Later in a grassy car park near the beach, Bastien and Lionel taught Audrey and I how to ride – I nearly hit a tree and nearly zoomed onto a main road). 25 RM and you can find his scooters outside Reggae Bar/Hostel, and you can find him outside Banana Inn or Red Inn apparently – he found us this time.
We headed towards the National Park on Penang, (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang) and the Spice Garden that we had heard so much about (No. 1 ranking ‘Thing to do’ in Penang), and after a few shaky starts we managed to get onto the road. I yelled in Lionel’s ear, above the whipping wind, that I loved him, we’ve had a good few years, and if we died on the roads that day, it was worth it, and sorry for all of our previous, meaningless fights! I was seriously terrified. Mostly, because I had never ridden a scooter/motorbike/any motorised two wheeler, and also largely to the part that Lionel had never ridden one before either.
But we made it; took some pictures along the way, met some older bogany Australians outside the Spice Garden and paid our entrance fee (15 RM for unguided, and 25 RM for a guided tour). It was nice, nothing too special and I can understand why the guided tour would’ve been worth it as we just went around sniffing everything we could find, not really knowing any of the spice/herbs’ proprieties or uses.
After chewing on some clove (we read it alleviates tooth pain and my bottom right tooth has been aching…) we headed opposite the Garden to get some food. It had rained on and off at this point and we thanked our lucky stars that it had stopped raining after lunch. We then headed to Taman Negara Pulau Pining, and went on a hike for about an hour and a half. Free entrance, but you can hike to several beaches (1.5 hrs each way) and then pay for a boat ride back. Being the cheapos we are, we walked in a loop, a very jungly loop, and sweated our lunches off.
Also wasn’t too keen on the beaches, as there were signs saying ‘inappropriate swimwear was not allowed’ and it showed a picture of a one-piece bathing suit. I had my bikini on under my clothes so I reckon I would’ve been shot if I dared to show some skin there; didn’t want to take the chance!
After the hike we decided to go around in the other direction to get back to GeorgeTown – this was going to take us longer but would be more scenic so despite it being almost 4.30pm we took that route. Silly idea. It was scenic alright, but the route was incredibly winding and I was so damn scared at every turn. Every time a car came too close, I thought we were going to crash, every time we took a corner, I thought we were going to crash, every time we slowed down or went faster or maintained speed, I thought we were going to crash. Life was not so good for me at this point. I was pretty scared… And then it started pouring. Pissing down with rain. Now I knew we were going to die.
But we persevered, and attempted to make our way back to the hostel, after I swore a billion times and nearly cried after nearly being thrown off the scooter. We were all completely drenched, the sky was getting darker, and we were super lost.
After getting back to the hostel, I swore off motorized vehicles forever, headed to a hot shower, and was still shaking from being so tense all day. Never again!
So tomorrow, it looks like we’re hiring those scooters again.