We hadn't booked as we should have been there by 6pm, more than enough time to get to the Oriental where we've stayed before. When we got there, they were chock-a-block full, but the manager gave us a few alternatives to try in the same price range and let us leave the bags whilst we checked them out - 10 out of 10 for helpfulness, and we'll definitely give them our business again next time we're in Penang. Experience has proved time and again that you REALLY need to look at the room before committing yourself unless you're going to be arriving after about 10.30pm. And pull back the sheets so you know they're clean. And test the hot water and internet access. The staff won't object if they have nothing to worry about. We had a fairly good week in Penang, except for a minor incident which we're not even going to talk about. Nuff said. We also discovered possibly the best Indian restaurant in the country – even giving my favorite, The Simla Curry Leaf in Seremban a run for it's money. Don't know the name, but you can't miss it. It's on Penang Road (the backpacker end) and is directly across the road from a very low class seemingly by the-hour hotel / knocking shop type place called the Towne Inn. The Indian restaurant is not seedy at all and has the most fantastic food. Not just the cheap prices; high quality and great service. The only thing is I can say about the surrounds is that it's a bit of a difficult area to be in late at night or in the early hours of the morning. Don't say you haven't been warned. our flight then were almost 2 hours late meaning we got into Penang city close to midnight. We hadn't booked as we should have been there by 6pm, more than enough time to get to the Oriental where we've stayed before. When we got there, they were chock-a-block full, but the manager gave us a few alternatives to try in the same price range and let us leave the bags whilst we checked them out - 10 out of 10 for helpfulness.
We ended up in the Mingood where we met some interesting people and had a relatively uneventful 8 days before heading north.
Motorcycle hire was only RM30 per day which was a bit of a relief after Malacca. On Pangkor Island last year we paid RM20, but in Malacca the going price was $75 which was totally outrageous. Perhaps there's more moneyed tourists than backpacker in Malacca than Penang; I can't think of any other reason. When we visited Malacca the first time, I think 8 or 9 years ago motorcycle hire was unheard of, even by tourist information offices. Lots of other stuff in Malacca was a fair bit more expensive too, due in part to the moneyed tourists, and the large number expats, although I think things will be changing shortly. Many are making their way home after losing their jobs, or being relocated to the company's main operation in Europe rather than being based as an expat there. As such, nobody is buying apartments and condo's that are only a few weeks off finishing constructions are reported as being as not even half sold - and that's just in the big cities; there should be cheap rentals bargains galore for people like us.