“You have two options”, the young dentist smiles at me.
“Number 1, we anaesthetise you and pull it out removing the problem forever,” I can see this is his preferred choice. Sick bastard.
“Number 2, I can give you more antibiotics and we can hope they do a better job than the last course”
I think for a minute and roll my tongue over the swollen gum of my lower right wisdom tooth. I feel another pang use of sharpe, intense pain.
“Let’s get this out of my face doc!” I plead, and then the needle comes.
We’re in George Town in the state of Penang in North West Malaysia. After spending a few days picking strawberries and sauntering through the Cameron Highlands we made our way here before crossing the border north into Thailand.
The first day of our arrival is well timed with the celebrations of Wesak Day or the birthday of Lord Buddha. The town is awash with smiling, welcoming faces of Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. We join in the celebrations but it isn’t the reason we’re here.
George Town has a bit of a reputation as a foodie paradise.
Named after King George III the streets of old town and colonial architecture give a glimpse into a colourful past.
Like many port towns George Town has become a melting pot for many different cultures and nationalities which give some insight into why it’s now famous for food.
As you walk the busy streets in the evening the hawkers and street sellers come to life with an array of dishes and delicacies from all over Asia.
Thai, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese and of course Malaysian dishes are whipped up in a frenzy before your eyes and dashed with lime juice and chilly.
My favourite was Assam Laksa, a sweet, sour, spicy noodle broth infused with tea leaves. Slurping our way through bowls, haunched over a small plastic table me Hannah and Amy wash our food down with a few bottles of Chang as the hot night hums on.
I try and ignore the pain in my mouth.
On our 3rd day in George Town the grey clouds have dispersed, taking the rain with them. We make the most of the sun and hire a 4-seater bike to conduct a self guided street art tour.
Like most cosmopolitan cities George Town has its fair share of graffiti. The locals are immensely proud of the reputation it’s garnered as an artistic hub, and the quality is high.
Artists generally stay away from such well known phrases as “Gaz woz ere” and opt for a more refined, skilful tone.
With Hannah in the driving seat and me and Amy providing the extra thrust, we navigate the narrow streets stopping for photos and the odd beer to quench our thirst.
Much like Banksy’s kissing policemen in Brighton, many of the paintings have taken on an almost mythical role at the centre of George Towns culture. It makes the place feel open and modern.
As we tick off peeping kittens and wide eyed, larking children I realise that our route has flowed between a number of temples, churches and mosques.
It may be the art, or perhaps the beer, or even the groups of people laughing through the streets filling their bellies, but George Town to me seems to cater for all and exclude non.
In what is overall a majority Muslim country, the city has once again affirmed my belief in people co-existing peacefully regardless of faith.
My tooth still fucking hurts though.