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Malaysia and Cambodia


This is about my upcoming trip to Malaysia and Cambodia. The first part is pre-trip - information about flights, itineraries, accommodation and all the things that you need to do to plan an overseas holiday. This is my first trip to Asia and I hope it may help others. Comments are very welcome and anyone who has travelled to Malaysia and/or Cambodia, please feel free to comment and offer any advice or tips that you think would be helpful. As of today ( 28th February) , in exactly 11 days (minus 30 minutes) I will be in Kuala Lumpur.

I had the most amazing time and hope you enjoy reading about my trip. Each post is numbered and I'm doing them in order from start to finish - a little like a diary.



89. Afternoon Tea at The Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Georgetown, Penang

The last stop of the tour was English afternoon tea at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Having afternoon tea there was something I had planned to do - it was on my "to do" list. There were two trishaw tours offered by Discovery Overland, the shorter tour which ran for two and a half hours and the longer one which went for four hours and included English afternoon tea. So of course I chose the longer one.

Above: The Eastern & Oriental
The Eastern & Oriental Hotel along Farquhar Street, George Town, is one of the most elegant hotels in the Orient. Often called the E & O, it was the first of a chain of hotels founded by the four Armenian brothers, Martin, Tigran, Aviet and Arshak Sarkies, collectively known as the Sarkies brothers.

Above: Trishaw at the E & O Hotel
After arriving at the hotel, I asked my driver if I could take his photo. This is where he pulled up.

Above: The Foyer
My guide took me throught the hotel and we walked through this lovely foyer which is built in a circle. The sofas are in a deep red fabric with turned legs.

Above: Reception area
To the right of the foyer is the reception area. Note the reflection of the lights on the flooring - the cleaners must work very hard to keep it so shiny. It's just the kind of floor suitable for sliding along in yoru socks - something we used to do as children after mum polished the lino floors.

History of the E & O
The idea to set up the hotel business came about in 1885 when the Sarkies brothers met the Khaw family in Bangkok, and were encouraged by them to set up a hotel in Penang. The Khaws built two separate hotels which the Sarkies managed. These were the Eastern Hotel, completed in 1884, and the Oriental Hotel, in 1885. It became immediately apparent that these two hotels should be combined, and hence the Eastern & Oriental Hotel was formed. In addition, the Sarkies also managed the Crag Hotel on Penang Hill.

The merger of these two hotels created one of the finest hotel establishments in the region. It boasted of having the world's longest sea-front lawn, which is 842 feet in length. Famous personalities who arrived at the E&O (many of whom also turned up at the Raffles Hotel) included Noel Coward, Douglas Fairbanks, Hermann Hesse, Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham.
Above: Founders of the E & O Hotel
The Sarkies brothers - Martin, Tigran, Aviet and Arshak who came from Isfahan in Persia, were the foremost hoteliers of the Orient and dominated the industry for almost fifty years. Clockwise from top: Arshak, Tigran and Aviet Sarkies.

Above: Sitting Room
The sitting area leading to the 1855 restaurant. As we walked through the sitting room and came to the restaurant where I could see three ladies at a round table having afternoon tea.

The person in charge of this restaurant spoke with my guide. There seemed to be some problem. I asked "Is there something wrong?" at which the snotty nosed little twit glanced down his nose at me with an expression that would turn cream sour then ignored me completely. My guide said he was saying afternoon tea has finished, that we're too late. What does he mean, I wanted to know, I am supposed to have afternoon tea here, he would have known we were coming. At which my guide said he would see what he could do. Inside I was seething at the rudeness and arrogance of it.

A few minutes later, he said I'd be able to have aftenoon tea and led me to the sitting room until it was ready. He then said that he would have to go. I hadn't expected that, somehow I thought I'd be driven back to my hotel. I thanked him though and said I had enjoyed the tour and how wonderful it was at which he gave me a hug and left. I could see he felt bad for me - it wasn't my fault, nor was it his that the trishaw driver was late.

Above: Corner bar
My view while waiting for afternoon tea. I wasn't impressed at being put here and thought it very poor PR.

A lesson in manners
The E & O Hotel may be a five star hotel, but not all its staff have five star manners. I had been left to sit here with no explanation, no apology, not a word from anyone working at the hotel - and by "anyone" I mean that snotty nosed manager. I may not be a grande dame with a haughty manner and a prune-faced expression dressed in designer duds carrying a Versace handbag, Hermès scarf draped around my neck wearing Gucci pumps and dripping in diamonds, nor would I want obsequiousness which I abhor, but I do expect to be treated in a respectful manner.

Time passed and about ten minutes or so later, a young man came to me and introduced himself as Henry (I think that was his name, apologies to him if I'm wrong) and said tea would be ready soon. He was back a few minutes later and proceeded to place on the coffee table in front of me a cup and saucer and a teapot. I looked at it and asked what is this? To which he replied afternoon tea. I said "I'm not having afternoon tea here, I want afternoon tea in the dining room." He then replied that the dining room was closed as they would be preparing it for dinner. I looked at him and said "Excuse me, I am not having afternoon tea on a coffee table in front of a sofa thank you. That is not how afternoon tea is served. I wish to be seated at a proper table and chair in the dining room." He said something about speaking to someone.
I was aware it wasn't his fault or his decision - he was only following orders.

The "side" dining room area
The young man came back and asked would I come this way please. Following him, I expected to be shown a table in the dining room, but we walked through this and into a little area on the right. When I said excuse me I want to sit there in the dining room, he told me he wasn't able to seat me there and that I had to sit here. The "here" was a smaller room, divided by a wall. I was none to pleased about this either - the table that had been set up was the furthest away facing the wall. The wall had a window which at least had a view of the terrace area. I thanked him and sat down facing the window.

Above: English Afternoon Tea at The 1885
This is my afternoon tea. There were six little sandwich quarters - two cut into triangles, four into squares, a couple of scones, a piece of fruit cake, a tiny pastry, a shortbread and another little piece of cake which from memory was orange with a glazed topping. I was surprised that the cream wasn't real cream - it wasn't fresh cream, but snow white mock cream.

Above: Through the dining room window
This was the view I had while seated at the table. During the course of afternoon tea, Henry came and spoke with me. I'm not sure if he felt sorry for me because of the way I'd been treated or this was something he normally did, but I suspect the former. Anyway, he was very nice and I enjoyed speaking with him. His granmother was a Nonya and he was very proud of is heritage. We spoke about the Baba Nonya museum in Malacca. He told me he was a student and was hoping to come to Australia to further his studies in the hospitality industry.

Later, I asked if I could sit outside to have a smoke with my cup of tea.

Above: Outdoor Sarkies Corner
Sitting here smoking with the slight breeze that was gently blowing was very pleasant indeed. When I later went to go back into the dining room, I found the door was locked. They'd locked the bloody door on me! Talk about rude - I should imagine that jumped up, toffee-nosed little manager person wasn't best pleased that I insisted on being served in the dining room. That one had tickets on himself and had all the makings of a real brown nose.

Seeing as how I'd been locked out, I decided to have a little wander around and take some photos.

Above: View from the verandah
As you can see, the canon faces the Penang Channel and in the foreground you can see part of the wicker furniture on the terrace.

Above: Canon on the promenade
Photo taken with the bay at my back facing the hotel. The garden area was lush and there were fuschias in the white urns.

Above: Ocean view from the promenade
I took this photo facing right. I don't know what the six yellow structures are and there is a large building to the left of them. As far as I could tell, I was facing east.

Finding my way back in
To return to my hotel, I wasn't sure how to get there from where I was and didn't fancy the idea of walking all around the perimiter of the E & O to find out, plus I didn't feel that I should have to. If you have afternoon tea there you should be able to exit by the front door as well. So - I had to find out how to enter the place and looked around for a door. Finally, finding an open door, I walked through and realised I was in what looked like part of the kitchen area. At first I felt embarrassed being there but realised why should I be embarrassed? I wasn't the one who had behaved badly and I had every right to walk back through the hotel. And so - I smiled at the hotel workers and eventually found my way back and was again in the foyer. As I approached the doors, a man quickly opened the door to me aqnd wished me a good afternoon (Plenty of bowing and scraping here). As I passed through and onto the verandah, another hotel worker greeted me with "Good afternoon madam" and "May I call a taxi for you madam?" (More bowing and scraping - I realised they thought I was a guest of the hotel!)

With a, "No, thank you. I feel like going for a stroll" to be followed with (from the hotel worker) "Very good madam, enjoy the rest of your afternoon" I thanked him and "strolled" back to the Bayview!

Above: Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Farquhar Street, Penang.

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