I never go abroad just for traveling. Usually I go to outher country for working or doing some research, just like when I went to Malaysia in the year of 2005-2009, or went to East Timor in 2004. But last day, I was going overseas just as traveler. It felt like I become a tourist, a poor one indeed. You could call me a backpacker even I thought it was not true. Yes, I only brought a 24 liters size rucksack. It contained 2 pairs of t-shirt and pant, a sweater, a sarong, a scarf and a sleepingbag. I did not want to bring more. I did not want to burden myself.
In my pocket there were 200 US dollars, 200 Malaysian ringgits, 2000 Thailand baths, and 200,000 rupiahs. I knew it was not enough for almost two months journey. I have no credit card, just an atm. But I hoped no need to withdraw funds. Well, It was wrong absolutely.
The first place I was footing is Penang Island. It seemed like I woke my memories up again. I took a rapid bus to Balik Pulau early in the morning. Balik Pulau has always a special place to me. It became the open point in my first book, ‘TKI di Malaysia, Indonesia yang Bukan Indonesia (Indonesian Migrant Worker in Malaysia, are really Indonesians?)’
In the past, I had seen many Indonesian work along the path from Georgetown to Balik Pulau. They had built bridge and road to connect both places. But today I see the smooth long steel road, strong bridge, and no workers along there. Balik Pulau has a new face. Old market is no more become a central place. There are some new markets, with modern buildings around them.
I left Balik Pulau after walking around for two hours and went to Teluk Bahang. I always visit Taman Negara if I am in Penang. I like Taman Negara so much; even the forests are not dense. It’s nice to know there is straight rapid bus from Balik Pulau to Teluk Bahang now. I wanted to see Kerachut beach from the ranger’s hut. I spent a night here, talking with the rangers and the turtle conservation’s staffs.
The next three days I spent my time with handicap people in Cheshire Home, then was doing some interviews with Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital and chinese traditional medicine woman, and going to Kek Lok Si Temple, enjoying delicious laksa in kedai front of the temple. I was dazzling by the meditation music on the temple hall. It was so calm and peaceful. So, I bought it from the monk who was guarding the hall.
Before left Penang, I relieved I pay my debt in the past. The impression had come with full awareness.
Here are the lovely taman negara pictures that I’ve taken along the journey.