Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Road trip to Penang, 1966

In 1966, my dad decided to hire a car and drive us all the way from Johore Bahru to Sandycroft in Penang. I'm sure it must have seemed a good idea at the time but it was a very long, tiring journey. Dad's friend at KD Malaya, Poon, had said that all should be well if dad stuck to the proper roads and didn't stop as some areas were known to have bandits. Dad hired a Toyota, which I think must have been one of their first models. It had no fuel gauge so we never knew how much petrol there was in the tank. Also, the car wasn't that big so dad had his knees up around his chest for most of the trip! The journey was hot and humid on the way up. I remember seeing dead snakes on the road. At first, we thought that they were old fan belts off other cars that had travelled the same way but then we realised what they were. Mum had got us lots of games and puzzles to play but we soon got bored with them. She told us to look out for tigers, and I've no doubt that there were some. She had just said this when we turned a corner and three elephants walked across the road in front of us! With it being such a long journey, and with us not stopping much, the obvious happened and being just five years old, I was bursting to go to the toilet. We pulled over at a row of shops or shacks and mum asked if I could use their toilet. They were only too happy but as I went in, I saw that they were slaughtering chickens and there was blood everywhere. It was like something out of a horror movie! They really do run about without their heads! I was shown the toilet which was just a hole in the ground and I can't really remember if I managed to go or not with all the commotion going on! We were soon on our way again and strangely enough, it never gave me nightmares. That journey was the first time I remember getting car sick. It was a mixture of petrol fumes, dad's cigarette smoke, the cramped car and the humidity. Mum gave us some rice pudding but it just tasted like petrol to me and that was enough to make my stomach start turning! It's funny, I don't remember many buildings or much else between Johore Bahru and Penang. I bet it's a lot more built up nowadays. We got to Sandycroft safely and had a great time but we made sure we got the plane after that!

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