Close to 19 gigabytes worth of photographs and i am finally done with tidying them up for publishing in this blog! Penang Island is no stranger to me as i have visited it no less than three times although the last one was a long twenty years ago!
Appended below shall be the much awaited itinerary for the short three days, two nights visit to Pulau Pinang; history students should be aware Penang used to be part of the Straits Settlement from 1826 to 1946 that included Singapore and Malacca.
- reminder - do click the links to read the details on the respective days and at time, the individual attractions or food that i had. :)
[9.03 am] Arrival at Terminal 1 of Changi International Airport well ahead of time as our flight was scheduled at 11.25am. Waited for Alex's colleagues and their families to arrive (meet up was at 9.30am) and by the time we were done with the check in and luggage drop, it's about an hour later.
[10.03 am] Proceeded to the airport's staff canteen for breakfast; aside from cheaper pricing, the local variety is much more extensive in this air-conditioned canteen compared to the dining establishments housed within the departure area.
[11.43 am] Seated comfortably in the AirAsia plane as we were randomly assigned to "hot seats" with extra leg room! This was the first time i had the air steward demonstrating the evacuation procedure so close to me! Thanks to the handsome Azmi for allowing me to take his picture!
[11.48 am] The aeroplane shot off the runway after a slight delay and i am so loving the clear view from the sky of the upcoming new terminals for Changi Airport; from the look of it, it's more than twice the current size.
A good omen came in the form of beautiful clouds that fleeted by as i peered at them wistfully from the small window. Guess i wouldn't see much rain and i am glad i brought along a few sleeveless tees!
[12.42 am] Less than an hour later, we landed on the tarmac of Penang International Airport! Those interested to get the data plan for the phone can do so at the three counters (Digi, Hotlink, Tune Talk) BEFORE getting your passports chopped.
[1.34 pm] After collecting our luggage, we made a beeline for the airport's official taxi counter as we had about twenty persons in our group and it made better sense to hire 10-seater van instead. Our journey to Georgetown was at a standard RM 89.40 for the van.
[2.08 pm] Hotel for the next two nights; Bayview Hotel Georgetown which was famed for its Three Sixty° Revolving Restaurant and Sky Bar! A review would be posted soon!
[3.47 pm] Checked in, dumped our luggage, took a bath, check out the gym and pool and we finally hit the streets almost two hours later.
[3.57 pm] Alex and i split from the group and with the trusty map i had in my hand, i was gunning to try the signature dishes of Penang; char kway teow and chendol and got my fix at this famous stall along Lebuh Keng Kwee. p.s. Lebuh means street or avenue in Malay.
[5.12 pm] Komtar Tower - Penang's tallest building that was already built and operational when i visited twenty one years ago! We rejoined the group as some were interested in the next attraction in my itinerary.
[5.47 pm] Ghost Museum at RM 28 per adult! As expected, the ladies in the group shunned away from the museum but i can tell you, the guys who went totally enjoyed it.
[6.40 pm] The ladies were chilling out at this quaint cafe called Sekeping Pinang opposite the Ghost Museum. I shouldn't say chilling out as the place was rather warm!
[7.07 pm] At this time, it was still relatively bright and we continued our way along Lebuh Carnarvon without an aim as the lighting condition may not be conducive for photo-taking of the popular wall murals nearby.
Random street art (铁塑漫画) dotted the walk and i must say the state has done a fantastic job for tourists and despite the hot weather; i am likely to return to the island in the near future.
Elaborately-styled Chinese temple at the crossroad of Lebuh Cannon and Lebuh Armenian (where most of the wall murals were located) even though it was in reality pretty small in size.
[8.04 pm] Someone recalled seeing a hawker centre near the Esplanade on one of the many brochures we grabbed from the rack at the airport and thank god we found it! I wasn't too hungry and only bought a plate of Penang fruit rojak to share with my companions.
[9.50 pm] Hunger kicked in and i dragged Alex out to Red Garden Cafe which was only about a two-minute walk from Bayview Hotel. This non-air-conditioned food court (nope, not a cafe in my opinion) came strongly recommended by Ms Pearly Ang for its pipa duck rice.
[10.15 pm] For a person who doesn't hold his liquor well, i am surprised i agreed to join the rest at the sky bar of the hotel! By the time we got back to our hotel room (thankfully, still sober), it was about midnight.
[7.00 am] Woke up to this mesmerizing view of Georgetown basked in the early sunlight with the iconic Komtar tower right in front of us.
[7.45 am] Breakfast was taken and a walk would be required for ease of digestion. Doing my research of the hotel's surrounding before the trip, i noted there was an old Protestant cemetery that's about 200 meters away. I had to visit it.
[9.40 am] Through the hotel's travel counter, we rented a van for 4 hours to bring us to two notable attractions in Penang; both of which i had been to in ALL my past visits to Penang. First one - taking the tram up Penang Hill!
In addition to the lower temperature at the top of Penang hill, the view itself was worth the ticket price and the tram queue we had to endure. At this vantage point, you can also spot the 13.5-kilometer Penang Bridge and the newer 24-kilometer Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge (commonly known as Penang Second Bridge) on a clear day.
[12.13 pm] Very bad traffic from Penang Hill to our next destination which was honestly close by and by that time, the whole lot of us were famished! I was starving and had to make do with a plate of Penang char kway teow and the soup based Hokkien prawn noodles at Beng Chin Garden.
Okay, i lied. I ordered a packet of muah chee from a mobile street vendor. Turned out it was really good; impressing even my fellow group mates. I always believe in sharing by the way.
[12.44 pm] Second destination - Kek Lok Si (Temple of Supreme Bliss / 极乐寺). Burning your calories would a definite and climbing the temple after your meal would be advisable.
[2.33 pm] We spent a lot of time at the temple (including the iconic pagoda and the gigantic Guan Yin statue) and even had to fork out extra money to extend the van's rental. Anyway, the driver sent us back to Bayview Hotel as many of us had our shirts soaked with sweat!
[4.00 pm] Left the hotel in search of the wall murals! In case you are unaware, Penangites generally speak Hokkien even though most Malaysian Chinese in other states were more comfortable with Cantonese.
[4.51 pm] Ice ball drenched in colourful sweet syrup from a stall along Lebuh Armenian - it's an absolute thirst quencher in that scorching hot weather!
[5.23 pm] If Lebuh Armenian is in your itinerary, you might as well pay a visit to one of the most famous clan jetties in Penang; Chew Jetty (姓周桥). What's a clan jetty? It's similar to a village with a high concentration of a specific Chinese surname but on water.
[6.07 pm] Penang actually has a few durian plantations and i made a mental note to have durians! And we did satisfy ourselves at this blog-recommended shop near Komtar where a Mao Shan Wang (MSW) was priced at RM 48 a kilogram! Do keep in mind that at that time, Singapore's MSW was more than S$30 a kilogram.
[7.15 pm] As it's our last night at Penang, i had to finalize my purchase of foodstuffs for friends and family back home! I think i bought the most in my group!
[7.46 pm] Makan time and at Red Garden Cafe again where i had a serving of nice char siew! The worse had to be the pork satay that had minimal fat, not sweet, not favourful and came with a horrid dip that's not our usual peanut curry sauce.
[10.05 pm] Rested for a while before popping out of the hotel to Lebuh Kimberly as i heard from Dr Oh that there's a local dessert i should try; 四果汤 which i realised eventually was like our Singapore cheng tng!
[7.30 am] Breakfast at Bayview Hotel; we didn't sleep in as i needed to get to a place and time was a luxury given that our flight was at noon and we had to leave at 9.30am.
This was my objective - egg tarts from Ming Xiang Tai. They had numerous branches and the nearest to us was a 10-minute walk, next to the famous Chendol stall. The staff were extremely friendly, especially the managers; Joshua Kee and Melvyn Lim!
[9.14 am] Took a last shower at the hotel and had to bid farewell to the great view outside! Turned out i should have stayed longer in the room as the transport we arranged for was late! My bet is that the drivers have forgotten about the arrangement. Nevertheless, Alex felt that they would be super late and arranged with the hotel's travel counter for airport transfer; turned out it was cheaper than the one we pre-arranged!
[10.19 am] Reached Penang International Airport - we waited a long time to check in our luggage and sadly, i couldn't quite explore the airport given the limited time and could only thank my lucky stairs that i had bought enough.
[12.00 pm] Departed on time and i was once again given the hot seats! Maybe i shouldn't purchase the seat next time on the budget airline portal; not an issue to me to break away from the group since i always spend time on the plane watching my videos. Oh, i do need a window seat though.
[1.05 pm] Landed at our beloved Changi International Airport.
And who came to pick us up? My sister, brother in law and of course, the two young monkeys in the family! By the way, i don't have that strong influence on Jovyn's exaggerated expression. Her mom is the veteran at that!