Monday, August 29, 2016

Day One of My Three Days, Two Nights Penang Trip 2016

Kinetic Rain - the motorised art installation at Terminal 1 of Changi International Airport that never fails to stop me in my tracks so that i can catch its graceful movements, even for a few seconds.

After my unforgettable visit to Encik Tan, i couldn't resist ordering a plate of Hainanese cutlet curry rice stall when i saw it (under a different company) at the airport staff canteen! Verdict - not as good as the one at Encik Tan!

Photo time for foreigners who didn't manage to take the trishaw in Singapore; this was conveniently placed right before the gates of the departure hall. If it makes you feel better, i have never taken the trishaw before too and i am Singaporean.

I needed to double check the prices of cosmetics and perfume at the duty free shops in the departure hall; prices at the arrival hall (after clearing immigration) might not as attractive and the range is also not as extensive. No harm to do some homework as i still had plenty of time to spare before boarding.

Time to go into the gate; i tried my best to delay as there's nothing much you can do once you are inside the holding room. At least on the outside, you can still have your tired feet massaged by the OSIM foot massager.

Our AirAsia plane - coincidentally, there's a Thai Airway plane right behind; i took that airline in my last trip to Bangkok! Well, i could only remember the flight was really warm, as in temperature warm.

We didn't pay for seat allocation and it was a nice surprise to be given the expensive "hot seats" instead; which means, priority to board the plane!

Advantage of "hot seat" - ample leg space! The disadvantage was that i couldn't place my bag underneath the seat in front of me. This means my entire haversack had to go into the overhead compartment and that's inconvenient!

Never had i been so attentive to the evacuation demo as we were so close to the air steward! Must appear supportive mah since we were all aware that many people at the back had their ears "switched off".

After the demo, he also had to explain to us on the evacuation procedure we "hot seaters" had to take as we were the nearest to the exits!

Better read and keep in mind the instruction in case i, as seat warmer for the window seat that doubled up as the emergency door, had to do something.

Breathtaking, aerial views of Changi; couldn't' wait to see the development of the new terminals at Changi Airport, including the highly marketed Project Jewel!

Pulau Ubin - looking like a dinosaur smacked in between Singapore mainland and Malaysia, it had been a while since i last visited and if plan goes well, i would be cycling there in September!

Clear blue sky, cotton white clouds; the flight was said to be about an hour and this could only translate into good news to me as i couldn't stand having my butt glued to the seat for so long on the plane!

Cruising towards Penang Island (known officially as Pulau Pinang).

Landed without a glitch although Alex took issue with the supposedly rough landing. Oh well, i shall not comment since i am not a great car driver myself and have great respect for people who could maneuver such a gigantic vessel.

No aerobridge; not an issue for me so long it isn't raining! For the ladies, get ready your umbrellas as the sun can be scorching hot! To think about it now, i didn't have the luxury of aerobridge too in my last plane ride to Bangkok!

Stepped into the building and be comforted by the cool blast of air conditioning!

Before you get your passport stamped by the Malaysian immigration, you would definitely see these three telecommunication counters managed by Tune Talk, Hotlink and Digi respectively. Get your data plan if you belong to the type who has to post your status on facebook, tweeter, instagram at every stop.

I am kidding of course; having a data plan can be extremely helpful when you need accurate directions! Price package for Tune Talk as appended above.

Duty free shops - i enjoy checking out the duty free shops in every airport as i am a collector of vodka bottles and some countries have limited editions! The interest had waned somewhat as i don't have a dedicated space to display them in my new home!

With about twenty of us in the group, it made better sense to engage the service of the taxi counter. Unlike the ones in Bangkok, this was a legit counter.

Price list as above with variations due to the locations, number of persons (options for either a 4-seater taxi or a 10-seater van) and the time of the day.

Those who prefer to rent a car may consider the many car rental companies on the same level (opposite the taxi counter). Frankly, i might consider either renting a car or engaging a full-day driver in my next visit to Penang.

PLE 2945 - the 10-seater van assigned to us.

Receipt of RM 89.40 which was the rate as indicated on the price board i shared earlier. As we would need a ride back to the airport a few days later, Alex and my friend arranged with the same driver to pick us up for the return journey.

Penang, here we come!

With the towering Komtar in the background, i am quite taken aback that traffic was heavy! Guess i would have to scrap my plan to rent a car in my next visit!

The 13.5 kilometer-long Penang Bridge, in all its majesty, on our right side.

You know you have arrived at George Town, a UNESCO world heritage site, when you see rows and rows of old shop houses that would have long been demolished / heavily renovated if they were in Singapore.

Reached our accommodation for the next two nights; Bayview Hotel Georgetown (城市海湾酒店)! To read my review of the hotel, please click here.

Bayview was right opposite the Saint Xavier's Institution and as it was a weekday, the schoolchildren (likely in a uniform group) were practising their march. I was in a uniformed group when i was in secondary school too; the 19th company boys' brigade!

We were also exceptionally near to the blue mansion (otherwise known as cheong fatt tze mansion). Even though we wanted too, there just wasn't sufficient time for us to sign up for the tours to explore the mansion! Maybe i can consider a stay in my next visit as the blue mansion is also a boutique hotel!

The colourful traditional houses that my photographer friends (like the talented Sandra Macheroux) would go trigger happy about!

I was gaming for the Red Garden Food Paradise as my last meal was the disappointing Hainanese cutlet curry rice. Alas, it only opens for business from 5pm!

Known as Cathay Hotel in the past, this Chinese mansion had since been bought over and refurbished as a luxury hotel known as The Edison!

Mosaic tiles on the floor.

Buildings exuding the old school charm everywhere we go which was to be expected as this area is THE UNESCO world heritage site. Malaysia has two so far; the other being Malacca. Another strong contender, in my opinion, would be Ipoh!

Is that old, disused tram tracks on the road?

Ban Heang - where you can grab boxes of Penang famous tau-sar-piah and other wonderful snacks for friends and family back home! I was just glad that it was within a 10-minute walk from Bayview Hotel.

This Ban Heang branch along Jalan Penang also had a dine-in outlet where you can bite into a hot cha shao bing (a pastry with char siew filling), other local delights and have a cup of kopi.

Location - as Jalan Penang was rather long, i guess it might be easier for me to indicate that it's at the corner of Jalan Penang and Campbell Street.

Toh Soon Coffee - i noted the crowd inside this unassuming coffee shop and this is a classic example why i should have purchased the data plan. Should i have the use of mobile data, i would have known this shop was famous for its coffee and toast!

Market where you can get preserved fruits.

Loads of street benches; walking is the best way to explore George Town and it's nice to have these benches around, especially if you are bringing your parents / grandparents.

Another way to explore; bicycles! I didn't check out the rates and from memory, i don't remember many cyclists in Penang; maybe because there wasn't a dedicated bicycle lane and roads were generally too narrow.

Komtar Tower ahead of us!

Joo Hooi Cafe - where i had my first Penang meal; Penang char kway teow, oyster omelette, chee cheong fun and the famous Teochew chendul!

As explained in my separate posting on Joo Hooi Cafe, the chendol stall may be separated from the kopitiam but you can definitely order from the green-shirt employees when you are seated within. If time is not in your favour, then ask for the dessert in a plastic cup for ease of drinking. I prefer chendol in a bowl though.

Traditional biscuits and pastries for sale in a push / pull cart!

Next to Joo Hooi Cafe is Ming Xiang Tai Pastry Shop (名香泰餅家); famous for their trishaw egg tarts, you may also indulge in many other delectable Chinese pastries in that shop! There's even a dine-in area for those who wish to be serenaded by classical Chinese oldies.

Shopping wise, i didn't expect much and there was also the lack of motivation to buy anything; this contrasted from Bangkok where i can literally go nuts over shopping!

I did contemplate buying a few shirts with Penang street art prints for Jovyn and Jerald but they have grown so much; i wouldn't want to bear the risk of wasting my money and getting tees that don't fit.

Colourful shutters!

A flock of pigeons on the ground - the younger me would have dashed towards them! Now that i am less active with a slower reaction, i am worried they would shit on me if i were to attempt the same move.

Hot, hot, hot! Long accustomed to my air conditioned office and staying in the comfort of my house, it's been a while since i last walked for so long under the sun.

Part of the KOMTAR (short for KOMpleks Tun Abdul Razak) development, Prangin Mall was phrase three and opened for business back in 2001. Sadly, it is considered as an ageing shopping centre and doesn't command the allure it did a decade ago.

The 68-storey, 231.7-meter tall KOMTAR tower - it's now undergoing a revitalisation project and the most exciting thing to look out for had to be the look-through sky walk on the roof!

We didn't explore KOMTAR further as most people in our group were clueless on what to do and going to a shopping centre, when we had plenty in Singapore, didn't seem quite right given the limited time we had in Penang. Hence, we continued our way to the next place on my itinerary and chanced upon the sight above; submerging rim to get rid of the grease / dirt, i guess.

A hardware shop along the way; you can still find shops like this in Singapore and i can count about two right here at Chong Pang, where i stay. The only difference is that the ones in Singapore were too cluttered and it will be easy to ask the shopkeeper than try to look for the items yourself.

Lebuh Carnarvon - the street which shall lead us to the famous street arts.

Random picture as i have too many and i am running out of words.

A clan temple by the Teoh-surname. In Singapore, the same surname doesn't have the extra H letter. It's fascinating that Zhang (in hanyu pinyin / 张) can be pronounced in so many different forms; cheung, chang, teoh, teo, chong, teau, tiong. I know because my surname is Zhang too!

The section where the group broke apart as not many people share my interest in the paranormal; the next item on my itinerary was to check out the Ghost Museum!

Honestly, walking along Georgetown is like adding colours and realism to the back and white photographs we often see of old streets in Southeast Asia eons ago.

Old facade remains while the business within might not be the same; it might shock you to note that this is a 9-room guesthouse known as Sinkeh!

Had a great time at the Ghost Museum! Want to know what to expect and whether it's worth the RM 28 per adult ticket (for foreigners), click here!

Famished after the unique experience? You may visit the Shinise Cafe & Bistro that's just right across the street from Ghost Museum. It's a comfortable cafe and the only issue i faced was that the air conditioning could have been cooler!

The sun was setting!

Many interesting attractions closed by about 7pm and this model kit museum was no exception. Want to know what's inside? A teaser is available at their website here.

I love the big round orange eyes!

Hm.... just wondering if cold storage in Singapore would sue for trademark infringement. This company was literally a cold storage for items like pork, sea cucumber, fish maw.

At the corner of Lebuh Melayu and Lebuh Carnarvon; we wondered if we would still bump into our friends, who broke away from the group at this junction, in search of the nearby street art installations.

The red house - in Singapore, the same-named red house was infamous for its haunting although the last i checked, it has since been converted into a kindergarten.

I would have gone in if it wasn't closed as i couldn't find some of the signs in Singapore and i could feel the company's passion by looking at the number of signs pasted right outside.

This was supposed to be some gourmet marshmallows (with flavours like vanilla, lemon, chocolate, rose, passion fruit, stout and salted caramel) that even my travel mates were aware of. I am not a big fan of marshmallows and prefer them barbecued to a gooey, caramelised mess.

George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) - i read about a piece of news on it recently and saw that the CEO was a student from the NUS department i last worked in!

The state agency that "manages, monitors and promotes the heritage of George Town", GTWHI has a comprehensive map detailing location of heritage traders, attractions in cultural enclave etc. You may click the above for a clearer picture.

Hm..... a Golden Village hotel.

Bicycle lane along Lebuh Acheh - despite the thinner crowd, my excellent map reading skill did point towards the right direction. What i didn't know then was that shops closed early and it was a Friday!

The trishaw in Penang with the cyclist on the back; plus point from the viewpoint of the rider is that you would have a full view in front of you and plus point from the cyclist's viewpoint is that should there be a head-on accident, he /she would be somewhat protected.

One of the still-open businesses that sells souvenirs, brooches, cosmetic jewellery. To the ladies, this was a godsend and i think we spent close to 30 minutes inside.

A merchant association that seemed more like a dumpster or a store room for a karang guni (rag and bone) operator!

Old building again with a flag-pole lookalike in the middle.

Air Street can be literally deciphered in two ways as air is air in English but in Malay, air (pronounced as ah eh) means water. In this case, it's water street since it's the company name for a drink stall!

We got to a T-junction and proceeded to Cannon Street which would lead us to the Street of Harmony. To view more photographs on our evening walk along Cannon Street and Street of Harmony, click here.

At the end of the Street of Harmony, we looked to our 11 o'clock and saw a familiar sight; isn't that Bayview Hotel Georgetown?! Sadly, hunger beckoned and we forged ahead with our search for the hawker centre near Esplanade.

The esplanade was gearing for a big event on the next day; a music festival and sound checks were being conducted to ensure a smooth delivery. 

Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang - essentially Penang City Hall which administers not just George Town but also Penang Island as a whole. 

War Memorial that didn't strike me as impressive. However, regardless the size and magnitude, it's the thought of count to remember those who were sacrificed in the name of wars and conflicts.

Food truck - i am not sure if the rules have been relaxed for food trucks in Singapore but i am looking forward to the day when i could have comfort food from a food truck when i am walking along the beach, in a park etc. 

I mentioned about the big-sized bubbles along the promenade; aside from the bubbles, you can also purchased toys from this mamak shop next to the hawker centre

While the others have full meals, i am aiming for only fruit rojak. Frankly, i wanted to try the food at Red Garden Food Paradise and i needed some stomach space..

Yes, i did sneak out for a late-night dinner at Red Garden Food Paradise before rejoining the group for a drink at the Three Sixty° Revolving Restaurant and Sky Bar in Bayview Hotel

Blue mansion at night - do you know that it's rumoured to be haunted?



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  2. Oh, I have to say that the Penang cuisine is amazing. I really miss the food flavour in Penang. Love to be back there and thanks so much for the great post!