bike came back but Keith wasn't on it. Well, I was ushered on to the motorbike. We didn't even have a chance to tie our aeroplane down. I was taken to one gentlemen's house, a radio mechanic and given a cup of coffee after all the warnings about not eating the native food or drink.
Next I was taken to a hotel where I met up with Keith again. It was something called a hotel anyway, a fairly primitive place but it was our first introduction to Asian facilities. This is a hole in the corner and a tub with water in it. We were more or less just left inside with about fifty people outside the hotel. I must admit, our hotel room had a door at both ends but they were always open. It seemed to be just a general thoroughfare for all the people going through into the courtyard. We remembered that our aeroplane hadn't been tied down and we didn’t have out bags. Rather than spend the next two hours trying to explain that we wanted to get back to the airport, we decided to walk back instead. It would have been about fifteen kilometres. At the aerodrome, we tied the plane down, grabbed out bags and headed back into town. All this was to the amusement of the villagers all along the track. But once again, everyone was hospitable, or I think they were. The final comment comes from Keith Buttrey, “They didn’t speak much English so we just smiled at them and they smiled back. This way we seemed to get along very well with them.”
Penang — The journey West:
Tape 3. Hasn't been sent, as I did say we are going to hold this over until we get to the next country, which is Thailand, before we post it. Today's paper carries a picture of VH-MUJ. Underneath headlines, "Lei Girls Amaze Aussie Airman." Penang, Saturday. Two Australians were enjoying themselves dancing with two lovely local girls at a posh hotel last night, when somebody whispered to them that the girls were men. "We can well imagine this sort of thing in Kings Cross, Sydney, but not in Penang said John Wynn, 27 and Keith Buttery 26, with a laugh." They give quite a write up about what we were supposed to have said.
What have they got here. "Picture shows the City of Bendigo at Byron Labass Aerodrome, a Gazette photograph. The aircraft is named City of Bendigo. When they left Bendigo, north of Melbourne, the Bendigo Advertiser a daily newspaper brought out a supplement to commemorate the event."
The story was a little misconstrued, however we will send a copy of this particular paper back. We are endeavouring to get hold of a Chinese paper. Which also had a write up on us yesterday. But unfortunately I can't read Chinese and no one seems to know what we are after. However we will see if we can get a copy and of course, the Straits Times which had a write up in yesterdays paper. I believe the Straits Paper is running another story tomorrow with photographs. So we will get a copy and send it back.
This morning we were picked up by the Lions Club of Penang, at nine o'clock, by Mr. Toh. We went to the Lions club annual cooking session, a luncheon treat to the inmates of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home in Batulanchang Lane.
It was quite an interesting morning, we didn't do much cooking. We were taken around by the Mother Superior and shown the house. There are over 300 inmates in the spotlessly clean institution. We were talking to elderly people well over 90, in fact one old English chap, 95 I think he was. Most of the inmates are English, Indian and Chinese. The Malaysians will not stay there.
A lot of the information we have about the state of affairs in Burma, is all of considerable interest to us. We have verification it is not any better than what we described yesterday and there is every possibility of big troubles in the near future.
In Penang, we went out for lunch with the Penang Lions Club members. They gave us a terrific meal at a seaside area with sandy beaches. It had been raining heavily on and off during the day. It is raining heavily at the moment. The Chinese food was tremendous. Not one food on the table did Keith or I find unpalatable in any way.
The Lions Club drove us around the island and the President took quite a few photographs including colour negative films that I will be sending back to you Peter. There is one photograph of the three of us on top of a dam, one of their main water supplies overlooking the city of Georgetown on the island of Penang. The name of the president of the club is Gohengkee. He has initials after his name LLD. He is a Barrister and the President of the Penang Lions Club of which there are two on the Island of Penang.
Doctor Gohengkee drove us around showing us quite a bit of the town while he explained its features. He is picking us up tonight at eight o'clock with the promise of giving us a really good dinner. So what they have in store for us tonight, I would hate to think after the lunch we had today. However we will be leaving tomorrow but we are still in the same hotel. We were going to move this morning but Mr. Toh from the Lions Club persuaded us to stay.
At dinner, we ate in the traditional manner, with chopsticks, which Keith did substitute in the end. After trying to use them for quite some time he was handed a fork and a spoon. Large dishes of abalone, frogs, pork, chicken, soup, Chinese bread and innumerable dishes were served before us and we were certainly looked after by our hosts. To top it all off we had stimulating conversation during the meal in a private dining room in a local hotel. By the way, it is astounding how many hotels there are in Penang. Of course this indicates that Penang has relied heavily on tourism in the past.
Now as I said yesterday, the government's imposing severe tax penalties on Penang, reducing it's status as a free port and it is going to lose a great number of tourists who would come when it was a free port. Additionally none of the G.I.'s from Vietnam come here for their R and R leave, mainly because of the curfew between two and four in the morning. It has been imposed as a preventative measure because there have never been any racial problems on the island of Penang we are told.
Hi Peter, here it is Monday night, 6:30 p.m. We are at a place called Songkla in Thailand. Staying at a hotel, I have only just found out is called the Coke D hotel. This isn't much good because the name isn't written on the outside of the building. We were awakened at Penang this morning at eight o'clock by a Barney Jones. He was with R.A.A.F at Point Cook and used to fly with Clinton O'Hane in Bendigo.
You may recall the Piper Colt that got into all that trouble at Essendon that time? Well he is one of the chaps from there. He is on his honeymoon and is now with the RAAF Malaysia. He brought his wife around this morning and we went for a drive around the town again. The Lions club picked us up at ten o'clock and we went through the Snake Temple on the way to the aerodrome. We had quite a good meal at Penang Aerodrome. Changed all our Malaysian money into American money - $6.
We left at 1.00 p.m. local time. Weather extremely poor. We flight planned for 1000 feet and at times were down as low as 700 feet with the ground at 699 feet. Cloud was very low with rain all the way. For some reason I don't know what happened, before we knew it we were in Thailand. As I contacted Songkla control, I looked down and there is an aerodrome below us. Nothing on the map except for Songkla Aerodrome and we are heading straight towards it.
They asked me for my position. I said, "Well I am three miles south of the aerodrome." They told us we were cleared for runway 31. I Queried them, "Well the runway is not 31, it is some other runway." Ended up it was another big new aerodrome they have just built. Not even on the maps yet. Sealed runways, the lot.
However, we eventually arrived at Songkla, I think within a minute of our ET. The fuel man tried to diddle us by saying that the aircraft took 52 litres of fuel. With a little bit of gentle persuasion and threatening, he soon changed it back to 27 litres.
We have spent the afternoon wandering around Songkla. By the way they look at us they don't get many Europeans. They all speak to us and are friendly. It is a fishing village, in fact we have been wandering down around the wharves and seen some interesting sights. Many interesting fish but the smell of fish is foul. Nothing is written in English anywhere. Now we have yet to go out and try to get some dinner.
Well, it is just after midnight on the 3th Actually it is now the 4th. Whatever day it is, I know the date but not the day. We are in the Strand Hotel in Rangoon and what a bloody place it is too. Had not heard a great deal about Burma before we arrived, but we certainly have since arriving. Our flight from Bangkok today, wasn't too bad. Four hours flying time, at one stage at 8,000 feet hanging from our prop like a helicopter. Lot of cloud and thunderstorm activity. High mountains meant we had to keep going up. Bit of an experience coming in. They told us that under no circumstances was any aircraft permitted to over fly the city.
"Affirmative," we told him. "We will approach from the east on the 270 radial." This alleviated any problems of over-flying the city accidentally. Called ten miles out when I sighted the strip. They said, "Report on downwind leg for 21." Well we were heading 27 at the time, which meant I had to head down parallel to the strip to join down wind. Came across the end of the strip, heading down wind. I suppose I got more than a quarter of a mile down the end of the strip. "Victor Uniform Juliette, you are heading towards the city. Turn