Foiled attempted robbery in Georgetown.
Second time to meet this situation, with the exact same thief.
PART 2 - How it worked tonight (JULY 1st at 8.30pm)
Near the fire station on Chulia Street as I walked, alone , towards the Jetty at about 8.30pm. This is a major street (not a dark street). There was a lot of car traffic but no other pedestrians. He suddenly pulled up on his motor bike just in front of a parked car ( I was near the rear of the car), and my instinct said not to get trapped against the wall so I walked around the car on the road towards him. He stepped off the bike, adjusted his large, squarish, sling-style, black bag and slowly reached into his righthand pocket for something, which he concealed in his left hand under the bag as he stepped towards me while saying " Excuse me". It all happened in a flash but it was a word-for-word, action-for-action repeat of what had happened in January, by the exact same guy. He terrified me in January so it was a horrible deja vu moment. This time I screamed "No", "Go away " instantly, as I backed away from him. He walked back, silently, to his bike and did a U-turn in front of me, therefore giving me time to write his number/license plate.
After his "Excuse me" , he had nothing else to say after I screamed. He didn't try to explain I was mistaken, didn't try to apologise for scaring me, or keep asking what he wanted to ask. This is why I strongly feel it was an attempted robbery situation.
I then headed back to Little India to be among the crowds, giving up on walking to the jetty area. I planned on eating something in Little India, but 5 minutes later he passed me again on a very crowded street in Little India. Not sure if he was following me or just that this area of Georgetown is his territory. I walked to a crowded bus stop and hid at the back of the crowd , while waiting for the bus , feeling a little shaken.
PART 1 - How it worked , in daytime, in January.
First he saw me near the Chinese temple on the Street of Harmony. It was a Sunday, I think, as it was fairly quiet. Maybe 3 or 4pm. He suddenly stopped his bike, got off the bike and said "Excuse me" , like he needed help. But as he spoke, he moved towards me really fast, and much too close to me , so I stepped back away from this "too close for comfort" interaction just as someone came around the corner. I kept walking and he disappeared. I was puzzled but really thought no more of it. Until an hour or so later as I was waiting for a bus outside St George's church ( near the museum) and he rode past, stopped his bike, slowly adjusted his big bag before coming back to the bus stop to talk to me. I noticed he pulled the bag over his body in a strange way, I felt he was concealing something and my guess , reflecting later on this, was that it was a knife. At that moment I realised (1) it was the same guy, and (2) that there wasn't anyone else on the street (lots of cars driving past but no-one walking nearly). He started with "Excuse me" as he continued to move closer to me. He then said something along the lines of " there are few buses running so did I want a lift" as he continued walking towards me . He was still about 2 meters away and coming closer. I had an umbrella in my hand which I put up between us, and I screamed at him to go away. I backed away from him while still screaming at him, actually stepping onto the road; taking my chances of being run down, yet hoping that someone would stop rather than run over a screaming tourist. He quickly moved back to his bike and there was a strange movement as he put away whatever was hidden under the bag.
I didn't do anything about this (other than tell my family about it) . Not really sure what I could have done, as all that had happened is that I had foiled something from happening.
You can imagine the shock to have it all happpen again tonight.
I will talk to Malaysian friends on Monday to ask if it is worthwhile going to the police about this. Yes, I have his license plate number , but I am unsure if the police can actually do anything, as nothing actually happened once I screamed.
I am not trying to scare tourists as this can happen anywhere in the world, but would like to warn females who may be walking alone in Georgetown, day or night, that this has happened. I feel that he may target women, rather than men ; as I am 5 foot 6 and he was a little shorter than this. Please be very aware of your surroundings as you move around the heritage area. Certainly be careful of a guy on a motorbike, wearing a white helmet and carrying a big sling-style bag, who actually gets off the bike while saying "Excuse me".
For readers who may think I am a naive first time tourist;
I never ever wear a watch nor any kind of jewelry. Never, not just when I travel.
I was wearing runners, baggy shorts and a shirt. Nothing ritzy or brandname.
I was carrying a small , sports-style, sling bag, with nothing valuable inside. Just a water bottle and a book plus a notebook.
My coin purse , with a tiny amount of money , was in my pocket. I don't carry a wallet when I use the Penang buses.
I was carrying a canvas bag, with 2 bottles of wine in it. Now I realise it would have made a great weapon (joke).
I have travelled solo to 50 plus countries, without a problem.
I have studied basic self defense, and thank my lucky stars I could back away from him. I never ever walk alone down dark streets.
I trust my instincts to keep me safe.
I have been living in Penang on and off for the past 5 months.