Now what?

Our 30-day Indonesian visa is about to expire and we have no further plans. If you’ve been following along for any length of time you know this is nothing new for the Escapees. We’re terrible at planning ahead.

We don’t want to return to our campervan in Northern Ireland until it warms up a bit, and the mechanic we’ve lined up can’t schedule us until the end of April so there’s no rush to be back.

The one thing we meant to do while in Asia is get our eyes examined and order new glasses. Also, I lost a filling while we were in Sumatra, so we need an optometrist and a dentist. We had a return flight to Kuala Lumpur but the longer I looked online for convenient eye and dental clinics in KL, the more I wished we were going to Penang instead. Penang is smaller, easier to navigate and because we’ve spent so much time there, familiar. Jack agreed so we decided to abandon our return flight to KL and fly instead to Penang.

We took the 8:30 ferry back to the mainland, then a shared taxi for our final trauma-inducing Sumatra road trip. Yes, I got queasy. I’m better now.

It took awhile, as Asian travel often does, but we got to Georgetown the next day and checked in to a familiar convenient hotel right in the middle of our favorite neighborhood. We got down to business immediately, eating at our favorite joints.

We’re spoiled for choice on optometrists and I eschewed the big eye clinics and Family Vision Centers and picked instead a one man shop nearby. Dr. Beh was UK trained, has a great personality, and gave us all the time we needed for full eye exams and refractions. We both ordered two new pairs of glasses, for reading and distance.

It’s funny how quickly we settle into life in Penang, wandering the alleyways looking for street art we haven’t seen before, shopping, eating bagels and pastries, but mostly avoiding thinking about what to do next.

Early one evening we heard drumming out in the street and raced downstairs to find a long parade celebrating the end of Chinese New Year. To be honest, I hadn’t realized it goes on until the next full moon. We were in Christian Northern Sumatra for the actual Lunar New Year and there was no celebration, so we were happy to be here in Chinatown for this exuberant parade.

As the sun set and the moon rose we retired to the rooftop bar to enjoy the rest of the parade and the fireworks afterwards.

The days went by and we still hadn’t decided where to go next. I got my tooth filled and we had a long anticipated meetup with Mark and Sarah of Field Trip, cruiser friends we met more than a decade ago when we first started sailing.

Jack and I finally exercised a little self discipline, put our heads together and whittled down the list of potential destinations. It’s clear that wherever we go, we first have to fly back to Kuala Lumpur.

We kicked the can down the road and booked the flight.

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