I took the bus four stops in the town direction to the surgery where I was shown immediately into the dentist’s chair. And I was out and fixed in twenty minutes! I had imagined injections, several visits and long consultations about treatment and cost. But a slim young woman of few words sat me down, opened my mouth and set to work. No discussion, no waffle.
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She and her two assistants belted into me like mechanics doing a tyre change at a pit stop in a car race. There was just drilling and pasting and, most of all, there was no pain. My tooth looked great, better than before, a perfect match for the one on the other side and it cost a mere thirty six dollars.
I spent ten days exploring Georgetown. There were many places to eat and the food was very good, super cheap and available everywhere despite it being Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. In Chinatown once I passed a tiny two-storeyed shop house, only a few feet wide, with a balcony upstairs. A large sign on it said, The Great Wall Waving Parlour’, which I think may have meant that it was a hairdressing establishment. But my warped sense of humour immediately had a vision of people paying their two ringgit and being allowed to climb the stairs to stand on the small balcony overlooking the street and do a QEII royal wave act.
The first time I took the bus back from the town I missed my stop and ended up at Batu Ferringhi beach again. But the ride there was exceedingly pretty, with lots of coves and cliffs and little beaches and bays to see. Buses were a good way to meet local people. At bus stops they always smiled and said hello and chatted if they could, unlike most Europeans I came across, who generally studiously avoided looking at strangers.
The national museum was interesting. Being fond of old cars, I especially liked their vintage Rolls Royce, despite the thirty-five bullet holes in its chassis. In 1951 communist guerrillas assassinated Sir Henry Gurney, the British high commissioner, in this car. Beside it was a Scammel Hornet, a peculiar-looking large three-wheeled truck that had once been used as a work horse all over the island.
Afer a while I began to understand the writing on signs and a little of what people said so I started using my rusty Indonesian. It came in handy in Lorong Kulit, the thieves market, where it helped with bargaining and at least made it look like I had some local knowledge.
In the evenings when it was cooler I liked to walk along the beach. Wreckage from the 2004 tsunami still remained in front of the Chinese Swimming Club. A pair of big iron gates, still padlocked but twisted at an awkward angle, lay rusting on the sand, along with a huge tree tipped sideways but still in a massive concrete pot. It was hard to imagine water could do that.