Penang 2004

Another recount of my travels from long time ago for consolidation purposes.

Penang | 05.11.04

I went to Penang to attend a friend’s wedding with some colleagues. Though we didn’t know each other very well, the trip went surprisingly well. On the first morning, we had to go to the Senai airport in JB. We almost missed the plane. After reaching Penang, we headed to the city center to get lunch and some groceries for our short trip here. The city center is quite bare in comparison to the other cities I’ve visited before. In fact it’s only later that I realised that the liveliest place is outside the city. Penang is really a small town where everyone is almost like family. We headed to our hotel next at Batu Ferringhi. There we checked in and also rented two cars to get us around. Our first stop, Penang Hill. We took the tram all the way up the top which took us 30min. But it’s an experience to sit the oldest motorised tram in Asia I think. Up on the top, it was like walking in the clouds. It was raining though and we sought shelter in a hotel there and had our dinner. Yummy. Food in Penang is GOOD! There were a lot of other things to do there but it was too late to venture around. Thereafter we went downhill and drove to Gurney Drive which is the most popular place here to get good food…and i mean good and a lot! Penang laksa, rojak, chee cheong fun, char kway teow, cuttlefish, fried chicken, chendol, you name it you have it. I ate like I never ate before. Almost forgot I had dinner just 45min ago. Retired to hotel bloated but very satisfied. Most people speak Chinese here so it’s easy to get around.

Penang | 06.11.04

Today we set off earlier after breakfast in the hotel. We were going to try to go round the less inhabited side of the island. First stop the Tropical Spice Garden. We were contemplating taking a trek through it till the price of RM$13 turned us off. So we headed out to the Butterfly Garden. It was really more like a mini zoo of all the possible insects and amphibians you can think of that you can find in SEA. For an entrance fee of RM$12.50 we really got to see a lot of things and come face to face with thousands of butterflies. You can almost touch, feel and smell them. But kinda creepy after awhile. Heh. After that, we headed to this seafood restaurant that’s supposed to be famous called End of the World. The food wasn’t too bad except I was quite full from breakfast. We also went to the fishing village to look see the kelong. After that we took a long drive along a mountain route to bring us to a nutmeg and clove farm. Along the way there are other farms for flowers, fruits and durians. Pity the durians were not in season at this time of the year. And we also missed the nutmeg farm as it was located quite inconspicuously and it was too nauseous to go through the mountain again just to find it. So we settled on a fruit farm and ate some fresh fruits. They also offered a tour of their farm but it cost RM$20 per pax. We decided to pass on it. After that we returned to hotel to prepare for friend’s wedding at this E&O hotel. It’s supposed to be a 6 star hotel and I agree it was really grand, a reminiscence of the time of British colonial rule. After the wedding we took a slow drive to view the Penang Bridge that connected the main land to the island. It is 13.5km long. And that ended our last nite in Penang. Of course we didn’t miss the Liverpool match at the lounge. It was nice to sit down with friends and cheer the team on.

Penang | 07.11.04

We didn’t have long in the morning as we had to head out to the airport early. We didn’t want to almost miss our flight again. After breakfast and a stroll along the beach to get some shells, we took the cab and headed to airport. En route, we stopped at a shop selling Penang’s native products. Their famous tao sar piah or dragon biscuit ball. It was really cheap and yummy. A good souvenir or gift for friends back home. The cab driver was really friendly and told us a lot about Penang. It’s a pity we did not spend more time there to explore the place. However we did learn that during Ramadhan, the fasting season, the Muslim community do not swim which explains the empty beaches. In addition the beaches have jellyfish and it connects to the Indian Ocean hence the waters are very deep and currents strong. We also learnt that we can take a connecting ferry for 2.5 hrs to bring us to Langkawi island which is a true beach resort. Perhaps to save that for the future. It’s actually pretty easy to drive around Penang and definitely more economical than getting cabs all the time. The road system needs a bit of getting used to but once you are ok, you are set for the journey. Overall this has been a really fun trip and fulfilling for the tummy. Great hangout for friends but probably will be a while before I come back again.

Afternote: Based on the family’s travel plans, we’d be heading up to Penang in December 2012 for a short break. Check out what’s changed after 8 years. One thing for sure, Penang property is selling like hot cakes now.

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