George Town, Penang: Armenian Street and What I Bought

If you read the first George Town post, you’ll know our trip was last-minute. You’ll also find out where we stayed and what we ate. I wrote about what we did in the second post, but decided Armenian Street (and what I bought) needed its own post.

(Disclaimer: I am not a shopping advocate. I try to buy what I need, as well as chocolate and local art and books when I travel. I am including what I bought on this trip because I was impressed by the amount and high quality of the local products made in Malaysia by Malaysians.)

On our first morning in George Town, I went for a walk and stumbled upon this little street, which I didn’t know anything about, because, again, I hadn’t done any planning for this trip, which, as I’ve discovered, is the best way to be pleasantly surprised!

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George Town, Penang: Sleeping and Eating

So I now know how to plan a I-have-to-leave-the-country-in 5-days trip. My first thought: I need to go somewhere where I don’t need a visa and Worchihan can get one quickly. That meant Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos were out — Americans need visas for them all — so Malaysia it was. I had heard that George Town in Penang was a cool place so I headed straight to Agoda and then to Google Flights, which is clearly out of order (no one makes me feel more like I have to do something RIGHT NOW than Agoda). It wasn’t until we got to the airport that I looked up how we could get to George Town from the airport — and that’s all the research I did. (Old Susan may not have been friends with new Susan — I mean, come on, I did have 4 full days to plan the trip!)

So, I come to lesson 1: You can have a great time on a trip whether you research the heck out of it or not.

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Ayutthaya

If you travel to Bangkok, don’t miss Ayutthaya. The second capital of the Kingdom of Siam, Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and prospered until it was razed by the Burmese in 1767, leaving its temples and palaces in ruins. The Historic City of Ayutthaya was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. As Ayutthaya is only about an hour north of Bangkok and is easy to get to and get around, it makes for a perfect day trip. (For more about Ayutthaya, visit https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/576.)

I have been to Ayutthaya 3 times and have had a different experience each time. The first time, I went with 2 fellow foreigners. We took a (very fast) van to Ayutthaya and then rented (very old) bikes to ride around the temples. I’m pretty sure this is the hottest way to see the ruins. The second time, Worchihan and I took the (rather slow) train from Hua Lamphong with a group of Thai and Naga friends. Since we didn’t buy our tickets in advance, we got 3rd class standee tickets (can’t complain when they’re only 20 baht!), but fortunately we were able to sit all the way. On the way back to Bangkok, we ended up with 3rd class standee tickets again on a pretty full train; Worchihan and I ended up standing outside between two cars, which was a little scary. Anyways, on that trip we rented a long tuktuk (and driver) for a price a little bit cheaper than what foreigners would pay. The third time, this past Saturday, our friends Ping and Som took us, so we drove to Ayutthaya and then drove around to see the temples, which is the most comfortable way to go. Going with Thai friends in a car is the best way to go! Continue reading “Ayutthaya”