Penang 2013 Day 1 – Long Time No See

While doing my recently concluded Lombok travelogue, i realized that I did not do a write up on my Penang trip back in December. Well, here goes, before I forget all the small little details.

It all began when I was planning a surprise Christmas holiday for the missus. At first i was thinking somewhere nearby, possibly Serendah or Janda Baik. But the hotel situation didn’t favour me, due to the super peak season during Christmas. I was discussing this with my colleague, and she said why not go Penang? Penang! Yes, why not? I got the hotel recommendations from Boone, and managed to get a cheap rate at short notice. And I was set.

Here’s a little bit about me and Penang. While it is obviously Peninsular Malaysia’s top tourist destination, i have only been there, well let’s see, 4 times?

My parent took me there when i was 5 years old. My only recollection of that trip were from a photo they took of me and my siblings standing in front of the old funicular train going up Penang Hill. My mom always reminded me that i was sick on that trip.

The second time i went was in the mid 90’s, with Boone and Peter for a treasure hunt. We spent most of the time in the hotel and one dinner in Gurney Drive, didn’t get to see Penang at all.

The third time was a short trip a few years later when Alyssa was small, but with her being a toddler we didn’t go out much either. But i remember going up Penang Hill and staying at The Gurney. And the last time was with the cell group back in 2007. But being in a huge group meant we didn’t go around much either.

So basically, I have never done the full touristy stuff, so this trip was the best opportunity to do it all.

On Christmas morning, i surprised the wife with the news. And the bigger surprise was… We are going TOMORROW!

Anyway compared to our other trips, this was a cinch to prepare for, with not much packing. We set off early on Boxing Day, stopping in the post office in Batu Gajah to renew WY’s driver’s licence. We set off before office opening hours, and this particular office was en route and rural enough to be deserted. Second stop was in the famous Foh San for authentic dim sum, it was packed with tourists as expected.

No more pitstops, and we reached the ferry terminal. Taking the bridge would have been faster, but this was more for nostalgia. Even with relatively few cars, it was a long wait.



And then we are on the island! First impression was that traffic was good! My previous trips here left me with the memory of jams and reckless motorbikes.


This trip, we had Waze so navigating the city was so easy especially with the newly implemented one way traffic. We headed straight for Royal Hotel.


The place was alright, a little run down, shaky wifi but the location was perfect.

View from our room.


Nice mansion turned into KFC. Stop the madness.


After my first lunch of char kuey teow in Georgetown, we decided to walk to E&O Hotel, taking pictures along the way.

The Han Jiang Ancestral Temple was really impressive, I was glad to see it renovated into world class tourist level, with the signs and displays.



More sights as we walked on.



Next was The Cheong Fatt Sze mansion, but it was closed when we got there.




The camera museum looked interesting but there was a steep entrance fee.


Now THIS is my kind of shop.


The interesting looking Jap restaurant opposite the Mansion.


We dropped by this place to look around plus iced coffee. Bit of a tourist trap, really.



Made it to E & O Hotel on the seafront. I’ve read about the rich Armenian history, the food at Sarkies and high tea, but we were here just for photos. I suppose back in the colonial times this was grand, but now it looks small compared to modern hotels and pushed to the edge by development. But it is a beautiful hotel, nonetheless.




We walked all the way back to the hotel for a swim. The pool is Royal Hotel is quite small. They should really refurbish this place.


We didn’t plan for anything for dinner, so I googled some food blogs for recommendations. One of them mentioned this place for tai chow in Pulau Tikus, so we drove all the way. Unfortunately, it was closed, so on the recommendation of some locals, we drove up near the flats to find a coffeeshop. We found one to have some char kuey teow, but it was kinda disappointing. The old cook thought a good idea to have sotong in his char kuey teow.

Not satisfied, we drove back to Gurney Drive for supper. I know people say its commercialized and all, but at least I knew we’d find good food here.



We were not disappointed.



Next – Georgetown Heritage Trail.

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