Monday, November 19, 2012

Bridge of thighs

Something like 30,000 runners competed in Sunday's international marathon, half marathon, 10K and fun run on the Penang Bridge. That's 60,000 thighs...

I had spent a night in Kuala Lumpur en route to Penang in the hope of catching up on zeds after a sleepless flight from Dublin. My thinking must have been a bit squirrelly (to borrow a Jack Reacherism) the next morning, because I opted to take a taxi the 500 km to Penang instead of my one-hour flight when the forecast thunderstorms rolled in. By the time the driver Frankie and I had agreed terms, and he'd transferred me over to his brother Chong's cab because it was Frankie's son's eighth birthday and he was taking him to KFC for a treat (well, that was the story he gave me...), the sun was poking through the clouds. It ended up being a gorgeous morning!

Caught up with the Kuching contingent for dinner: Min and Sam, Sean and Sara, Stephen and Alfred (running their first marathons), Swee and young Nick (Ivy and Keiren were sick), Laffy and Eng Hooi. By the time I got to bed it was 9.30 pm, and I had the alarm set for 11.30 pm. I got about an hour's sleep. Our early start was to accommodate walking through town (where the karaoke bars were still in full swing) to the race shuttle bus pickup spot, then getting out to the start to watch the 2 a.m. marathon kickoff. Our half started at 3.15.

It was a very long 21.1 km and very hot, even though it was still dark when I crossed the finish line around 2.5 hours after I started. It was my slowest half ever. [My official chip time was 2:16. I had forgotten that the clock had started 15 minutes earlier when the men's race began.] Min and Sam had to walk because of injuries. Amazingly, and so typically of Sam, she rescued a tiny kitten along the route and carried it inside her top for the last 4 km. It is now with one of the Penang girls who was competing and who has worked with Min's firm here in Kuching.

I got back to my digs – a very lovely heritage building in a secure compound – where for half an hour I couldn't raise anyone to open the gate. It was still dark. I was dripping with sweat. The laneway isn't lit. I was feeling a bit vulnerable and very, very annoyed. By the time someone finally heard the bell and opened the gate, I was in a bit of a lather. After my dummy spit, a shower and breakfast, I worked on an urgent job until I couldn't stay awake any longer. Had a nap and then finished the job and got it off to Polly in Hong Kong.

The gate in question... My room at Clove Hall was the one upstairs, under the gable.

Dinner at an Italian place on Weld Quay was to celebrate Min's and my Year of the Dragon birthdays: mine in October and Min's yesterday. There were about 16 of us. A nice finish to a whistle-stop visit to Penang. I didn't see anything except the bridge and the exterior of the Eastern & Oriental Hotel as I flashed past it in the cab on the way to dinner. I stayed there, in a grand waterfront room, in 1991 on my only other visit. I must try and get back to Penang again and take another look around.

Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang

A very easy flight direct to Kuching this morning. I spent the two hours working and trying to ignore the kid behind me who kept kicking my seat. Obviously, I still need to catch up on my sleep...


  1. Two questions Robyn:
    Can you translate "dummy spit" into American English?

    Why did you take a cab for a 300 mile trip? That had to cost a fortune.

  2. Dummy spit = temper tantrum
    I preferred to pay a taxi than fly through predicted thunder and lightning...!