Back from Penang


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 “Whenever you need to pee, the traffic would be moo-ving so slowly.”

I treated Mum to a short holiday in Penang and I think we both really enjoyed ourselves. It is nice to just get away from Singapore once in a while, even if it means to just do nothing in another country.

The plane ride from Singapore took slightly over an hour and we were greeted by a downpour. Bummer! I had not realised how long it took from the airport/town to the Holiday Inn in Batu Ferringhi, and how winding the hill roads were. I started to wonder in the minivan if I had made the right decision about the hotel.

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But the room we got on the 18th floor of the tower wing proved that all was worth the effort. We had a room with a private balcony facing the rolling hills and misty clouds, two very large luxurious beds and a generous-sized bathroom.

Since it was raining hard, we decided to do some “indoor sightseeing”. We hopped onto the shuttle bus and hit the Gurney Plaza, which offers “the best shopping experience”, according to our friendly bus driver. I enjoy shopping with my mother, because we tend to like the same type of shops and we love to dig in the messy sale bins. You’re a real champion if you can find something good in the mess!  

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“Erm, the prices can’t be right!”

The food loft on the fifth floor offered breathtaking views of the sea, but the food was overpriced in my opinion. In the end, we decided to head down to the hawker centre just beside the mall to have yummy asam laksa, char kway teow, muah chee, fried taw kua and dessert.

 

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The food was extremely good, the sourish asam laksa really whet your appetite, and the char kway teow with crunchy beansprouts and fresh juicy prawns was truly heavenly. 

Unfortunately the beggars hanging around the food centre really ruined our meals as they would stand next to you and refused to budge till you put money into their cups. The taxi drivers were equally terrible. They were rude, sarcastic, and out to scam every tourist in my opinion. I would not even bother taking taxis had there been proper public transport.

Still, tired of paying RM20 – RM30 per trip to taxi drivers for a 20-30 minute ride, we decided to give the local buses a try. We hopped onto one at the bus terminal in Georgetown to get to the famous Kek Lok Si on Penang Hill. It only cost RM1.20 per person, but you had to sit with all sorts of dodgy people in an old rickety bus so dirty and grimey, and dispensed useful advice.

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“Bus rides get you thinking.”

Nonetheless, we got to our destination in one piece. Kek Lok Si, which began construction in 1893, is one of the biggest and most famous Buddhist temples on the island. You had to go up the slopes to get to the temple, but before that you must pay respect to thousands of sunbathing turtles as you entered the grounds. They were smelly!

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“We are smelly and proud of it!”

The top of the temple housed a 30m high bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy, which was a real spectacular sight. The views from this point were also awesome as you could look down at the whole of Penang and the sea.

We got back to Georgetown by another old bus, which stopped for ages outside a school to wait for students who just finished classes. I enjoyed taking in the sights, marvelling at the crumbling shophouses and interesting roadside vendors. It seemed like we were stuck in the 1970s.

The beaches were nothing to shout about if you have been to the Thai islands. There were plenty of skinny horses (I could see their ribcages) around for rides on the beach, but I told one of the handlers that I was very heavy and if I sat on one it would probably die. Poor horses.

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“Ban skinny horses like they ban skinny models.”

The rest of the days got by with more rain, so we did more shopping. I loved it that malls in Penang were relatively quiet; there were usually more shop assistants than shoppers.

This made the shopping environment a lot more conducive and in the end I came home with plenty of gifts for colleagues and friends.

It was a really short trip, but I was glad I was able to spend some time with my Mum, just talking about everything and waking up to the low clouds floating outside our room.

I think laidback Penang might have become my favourite destination in Malaysia. 🙂

Explore posts in the same categories: Food, Travel

2 Comments on “Back from Penang”

  1. Jeano Says:

    Sounds like an interesting holiday…love your travel account and the hawker food looks so tantalising…I’m salivating already!Btw is the food centre along Gurney Road still open?

  2. tintedglasses Says:

    Yes the food centre is open, that’s where I had the yummy food featured above. The char kway teow was really lovely. But the beggars and taxi touts were a real nuisance. It would have been a better holiday if we had our own transport and had explored a few more places.


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