Written by alias843 on 07 Apr, 2010
We arrived in Georgetown by ferry. Practically this meant that the cool sea breeze obscured the fact that the city was a broiler. So when we arrived at the ferry terminal we decided we'd rather walk to our hotel. It was only…Read More
We arrived in Georgetown by ferry. Practically this meant that the cool sea breeze obscured the fact that the city was a broiler. So when we arrived at the ferry terminal we decided we'd rather walk to our hotel. It was only a half mile away. How bad could it be? The answer is very bad. It was well over ninety degrees with humidity that you would have to swim through. By the time we made it to the hotel all we wanted to do was bask in the artificial coolness. There was no time for that though, there was too much that we had to see in Penang. We started with food. I'm pretty sure that it would be impossible to go wrong with food in Penang, with everything from Indian curries to amazing Chinese food and some delicious Malaysian options, there's no excuse to miss a meal. We started with Indian, and it was good. Thus fortified, we headed out to see what we could see, strolling through little India and Chinatown, braving the heat to soak in as much Penang culture as we could in our short stay. We wound up back by the waterfront, next to Fort Cornwallis, the strangest little fort I've ever seen.From what we understood of the exhibits inside the fort, it was built when the British landed on Penang, though it was quickly determined that the fort was in a poor location and would be of little use. Then the fort started to fall down. Rather than let the useless thing go, they fortified it well enough that it's still there today. It is also so blissfully close to the water that you can really enjoy the sea breezes, which make wandering outside much more enjoyable. After that detour, we headed in the direction of the history museum. We were both interested in the colonial influences on Penang, and this museum was full of interesting information and artifacts. It was here that we learned that Malaysia and especially Ipoh and Penang are home to a delicious kind of coffee. Where most people dry roast coffee beans before grinding and brewing them, these are first cooked in butter and sometimes sugar. The result is a very dark brew that doesn't change colors with the addition of milk. It also has a rich, creamy taste, most likely from the butter. It's usually served sweetened and it is delicious. Hands down, the best coffee that I have ever tasted. It was well over ninety degrees and all we could think about was drinking more of this coffee. We eventually had to stop before we jumped out of our skins or our hearts exploded.This meant that we had plenty of energy for ou last day in Penang and we used it all up. Strolling the streets, visiting the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion for a wonderful tour of a unique and fabulous place, and finally heading out to the Gurney drive for an amazing dinner of fish head curry and spicy squid. I cannot say enough about the food in Penang. So good, it can't even be measured on a normal culinary scale. Go! Stuff yourself! Then save up to go again! Close
Written by Richard Cain on 25 Jan, 2006
The last time I was visited Penang Island was in 1989, on my first backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. Returning in 2005, I was a bit concerned that the charming old town of Georgetown might have been bulldozed in line with the headlong development in…Read More
The last time I was visited Penang Island was in 1989, on my first backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. Returning in 2005, I was a bit concerned that the charming old town of Georgetown might have been bulldozed in line with the headlong development in the rest of Malaysia. My worries were beginning to be confirmed in the taxi from the airport as we were whisked along concrete scalextric tracks with views of the latest Tesco Lotus superstores and faceless apartment blocks in nondescript newtowns. However, as we descended into Georgetown, I was relieved as the years seemed to roll back and my memories of the old town transformed into reality.One thing was different, however. In 1989, the famous Eastern and Oriental Hotel, a relic of a glorious past, was just a shell, on the knife edge of demolition or expensive renovation. I was gladdened to find that renovation had won over. For an icon of old Asia it was also affordable, at $100, at least for one night. Despite out of my usual price bracket I think it was extremely good value. Have a look at my lodging entry to see why. We were only there for a few days, but I think a couple of days exploring Georgetown and then the rest of the island followed by a day or two checking out something we missed or just relaxing were enough for us to sense the essence of Penang. There are plenty of guide books and descriptions of Georgetown so I won’t get into specifics but it is a great place just to wander around, small enough by foot but also handy to hop into a bicycle rickshaw if the legs get a bit tired. Don’t worry. The rickshaw men will soon find you wherever you are. The city was established by Francis Light of the British East India Company in 1786. Since then it has attracted peoples from all over Asia to settle and trade. Their legacy is present in bricks and mortar with Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese and Sikh temples, mosques and churches. Not only religious edifices though, also Chinese shop houses and colonial hotels. After our night in the E&O, we moved to the less salubrious environs of the Cathay Hotel. Much cheaper than its illustrious neighbour but built at around the same time and with loads of character. Including the managers who seemed as old as the hotel but with a politeness from the same age. Although the building was British Colonial in style, the name echoed the dominant force of Georgetown. Since it was established there have been the Chinese and essentially Georgetown in a Chinese city. It was refreshing to see that many of the old buildings had remained pretty much unchanged over the years – not subject to the gaudy renovations of Singapore but somehow simply a constant renovation by the people living in them, keeping in the style of the original. It was also pleasantly quiet, the hubbub mainly a result of local people going about their business, be it shopping in the local market or chatting to their neighbours. Even the ‘backpacker’ centre of Chulia Street seemed to hark back to the laidback backpacker places of the 80’s rather than their more up-market cousins established for today’s more moneyed gap year crowd.So after exploring the old town, we hired a couple of Honda dreams and went about exploring the hinterland. The island itself is pretty small and if you want could circle it in a day. The east coast, south of Georgetown is a bit of a nightmare – wide busy expressways and newtowns. However, going north the suburbs quickly thin out and the road narrows to hug the twists and turns of the coast which reveal glimpses of beaches between palm trees. Soon however, the road opens up again to reveal the beach strip of Batu Ferringhi. The beaches here aren’t the best in the world, but they are pretty quiet and you won’t be troubled by hawkers. They are however dominated by the huge 4 star chains and so can be a bit antiseptic. The hotels soon run out and the pace of life slows as you pass typical Malaysian fishing villages. We stopped for a swim and were entertained by a pod of dolphins and sea some sea eagles out fishing. At the north West corner of the island the road ascends into the deeply wooded interior but not before passing the butterfly park, a surprisingly interesting place. There is a large central enclosure which you share with hundreds of butterflies. They also have an interesting collection of the ugliest looking insects you wouldn’t want to meet, some mounted and framed, but others very much alive, including the ones in the scorpion pit. Up through the tropical rainforest the road climbs, past durian, clove, nutmeg, cocoa and pepper plots. There are also a few waterfalls by the road where you can stop for a dip or sample the local fruits at a roadside stall. As the road descends into more arable land you can experience rural Malaysia, an interesting contrast to the Chinese city. Not least in the architecture. Here the teak stilt houses predominate. As we ventured south it got busier again. The south coast was beachy like the north but had a much more laid-back feel with few, if any, hotels or tourists. Having sampled masala dhosas (South Indian), Nasi Kandar (Muslim Indian curry) and Chinese stir fries in Georgetown, here we had to sample the Ikan Bakar (barbequed fish Malay style), before heading back.Two other ‘must-do’ trips which we did were just outside Georgetown. The Botanical gardens and Penang hill. Not too far from one another so certainly doable together in a leisurely day. You can even walk between them through the rainforest if you’re pretty fit and don’t mind the heat. The Botanical Gardens were established by an Englishman, Charles Curtis in 1884. They were planted over a disused original granite quarry which is no doubt why they appear in a natural amphitheatre framed by the magnificent backdrop of the jungle. Paths take you past some interesting planted trees, the orchid house and the fern house but also give you a little taster of the rainforest as well. In addition, you will no doubt meet the tribe of monkeys which inhabit the gardens but on the whole they go about their business and ignore the tourists.From here, we went on the funicular railway to Penang Hill. A surprisingly steep and lengthy trip. However at the top you are given the most amazing view of the island and across to the mainland. After the sultry heat of the tropical lowlands, it is also pleasantly cool. There is an old hotel on the top which is a nice place for a cool drink and to take in the view – it would appear not much changed from the 1800s as the hotel has a number of paintings from those days. However, don’t be glib about the sign to watch out for puff vipers in the garden – we saw one and I don’t think he was a pet.While waiting for the tramcar we took one last lingering look at the view. I had enjoyed my return to Penang, not least because it had stood the test of time, a difficult thing to do these days. But then we spotted red areas – jungle that had been cleared for development, we also saw a huge reclamation project to the north of the island and tall apartment blocks to the south. Thankfully Georgetown seemed to be safe from such developments – but for how long? Make sure you check out more photos of my trip to Penang and travelogues of South East Asia and beyond on the website Wanderings Asia. Close
Written by phileasfogg on 22 Feb, 2004
Penang, say the guidebooks, is the Pearl of the Orient. Never mind that the tourist boards of every other city (or country, for that matter) east of the Suez say the same -- Hong Kong, Philippines, Goa, Sri Lanka. But this is the real McCoy.…Read More
Penang, say the guidebooks, is the Pearl of the Orient. Never mind that the tourist boards of every other city (or country, for that matter) east of the Suez say the same -- Hong Kong, Philippines, Goa, Sri Lanka. But this is the real McCoy. Penang, exotica at its best. Chinese, Malay, Brit; colourful, effervescent, immensely likeable.
Our arrival at Penang didn’t really endear us to the city: we got off, puffy-eyed and exhausted, from the Kuala Lumpur train at 6am at the distinctly seedy port town of Butterworth, where a sharp-eyed taxi driver volunteered the information that the next ferry to Penang would leave after an hour and a half, and ferry tickets would cost us 47 ringgit -- whereas he could get us to Penang in 57 ringgit. Just 10 ringgit more, and in comfort -- and right now, too. Our guardian angel must’ve given us a silent warning because we decided to ask someone else too, and learned from a local railway official that the ferry would in fact be leaving in 15 minutes and cost just 30 sens a ticket.
To discover that we’d narrowly escaped being duped well and proper was hardly a good start to the two-day stopover we were planning at Penang. Surprisingly enough, though, Penang turned out to be the high point of our vacation. We had already seen glittery, fun-filled Singapore, with its spanking clean streets, its delightful Jurong Bird Park and its Night Safari; we had been on the somewhat weather-beaten rides at the amusement park at Genting Highlands; and we would be going on to Bangkok, ultimate in exotica. . . but Penang, even now, remains the best part of that trip. Vivid, delightful, and straight out of the pages of a history book, Penang will probably always be one of my favourite cities in the Far East- all that greenery, the grass verge, the palms and the bilimbi trees beside the road- and of course the fabulously historic aura which envelops so much of Penang. The very Indian colour of Little India; the irresistibly Oriental charm of Khoo Kongsi and the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion; and of course the very colonial feel of so many parts of Georgetown. Just driving down Lebuh Light on our way from the YMCA to the ferry terminal brought that back to me very forcibly -- so much of Lebuh Light is lined with pretty houses (almost mansions, really) -- with white columns, gravel driveways, pretty lawns with conifers framing the gate, tiled roofs and tall windows -- so many of those buildings actually look as if they belong in an 18th- or 19th-century English novel rather than a green island in the tropics! Anyway, all part of the irresistible charm of Penang.
Penang, or Pulau Pinang, as it’s known in Malay, is the island; its main town and capital is Georgetown. Captain Francis Light, who named it after King George III, established Georgetown sometime in the 1780s mainly as a trading centre for the East India Company. A major trading and mercantile centre, Penang attracted thousands of people- Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Armenians, Javanese, Japanese, Europeans, Indonesians and apparently anybody else who happened to be in the vicinity -- and all of them came and settled here. The city, till today, retains a very eclectic feel and is much more exotic, interesting and old-fashioned than, say, Kuala Lumpur. Chinatown is delightfully Chinese (more so, I think, than Singapore’s); Little India is really very Indian and the area around Fort Cornwallis is amazingly colonial -- even the streets here have beautifully Brit names: Jalan Farquhar (Farquhar was an associate of Lights’), Lebuh Light, Lebuh Cannon, Jalan Argyll, Jalan Scotland, Jalan Hutton, Lebuh Kimberley, Lebuh Carnarvon, and Jalan Magazine. . . delightful!
The buildings, too, with their colonnaded facades, their elegant columns, curving balconies, verandahs and wooden shutter-windows look straight out of The Jewel in the Crown. Many, like the lovely white St George’s Church and the white clock tower (near Fort Cornwallis and built to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign, although it was completed only in 1902, after she was dead) are really striking. Incidentally, in this list too it’s worth adding the lovely white-and-dark-blue Customs department building; the blue police department building; the HSBC building (HSBC, in fact, set up shop here more than a century ago -- a truly historic bank. Their building’s a yellowish-white one, quite nice) and plenty of other old colonial edifices, nearly all in very good shape.
We spent only two days in Penang and then we caught the ferry back to Butterworth, from where we were to board the train north to Bangkok. Everybody back home had told us how colourful Bangkok was, how vibrant and vivid, but we at least were sorry to be leaving Penang. The fact that we’d narrowly escaped being swindled on the way to Penang was forgotten. All we remembered was the smiling face of the stewardess who returned the tip, saying, "You’ve forgotten your money"; the sight of the bright orange flowers on the tree outside the YMCA; the serene face of the golden Buddha in the Burmese wat of Dhammikarma. The kindly guide, clad in a mauve skirt and jacket, her hair tied in a tiny pigtail with a minute gold ribbon, who took us around the Cheong Fatt tze mansion; the impressive Penang Museum; the breeze blowing along Jalan Macalister as we walked along it to the town center. . . yes, Penang is it. The real McCoy, the true Pearl of the Orient.
Written by Composthp on 29 May, 2005
Gurney Drive is the "food mecca" of Penang. Well-known to locals and tourists for inexpensive and delicious food, it comes alive after sundown every day, without fail, and stays open till the wee hours of the morning. Here, you can try every imaginable delight that…Read More
Gurney Drive is the "food mecca" of Penang. Well-known to locals and tourists for inexpensive and delicious food, it comes alive after sundown every day, without fail, and stays open till the wee hours of the morning. Here, you can try every imaginable delight that Penang has to offer, from assam laksa (sour and spicy rice noodles with a hint of tamarind juice) to rojak (fruit salad with prawn paste dressing), from lok lok (all manner of seafood, meat, and vegetables strung together like kebabs and dipped into assorted sauces) to silken-smooth beancurd with brown-sugar syrup. Food is sold from makeshift stalls and converted vans, so leave if you are a stickler for hygeine. Otherwise, visitors are spoilt for choice and limited only to the capacity of their stomachs. This is the place to commit one of the deadliest sin of all: gluttony.
We arrived a little after dinner hours and were lucky to find a parking spot and a table almost immediately. With such a variety of food to select from, choose a table near the stall that you intend to purchase food from as seats are premium and stall holders are territorial.
We hit the nearby vicinity upon landing in Penang for a late dinner (or supper) and were introduced to lok-lok, a hybrid between kebabs and steamboat. This is a great way to socialize and get to know the locals, as everyone gathers around a table laden with all manner of kebabs circling a small pot of bubbling clear soup in the center of the table.
To eat: diners select the partially cooked kebabs and place them into the bubbling soup till cooked, dip them into their preferred sauces like satay or chilli sauces and enjoy! At the end of the meal, the number of sticks is counted, and diners are charged accordingly.
Penang Rojak: The difference is in the sauce and the ingredients. Penang rojak uses more fruits than vegetables. Common ingredients found in Penang rojak include pineapple, green mango, jumbu air, guava, cucumber, turnip, and fried crispy fritters tossed in fragrant dark prawn sauce.
Assam Laksa: This is almost their national/signature dish. It consists of slippery rice noodles soaked in spicy-sour soup topped with sardine flakes, strips of cucumber, and beansprouts. The Penang version has no coconut milk; rather, tamarind juice is added for that added sourish kick. Though I am no fan of laksa, I deemed it my duty as a visitor to try it at least once and lived to tell the tale.
Char Koey Teow: This is my favorite dish--the one dish I crave for whenever I travel. It is essentially stir-fried yellow egg noodles with white rice noodles in sweet black sauce, prawns, egg, and (yes!) beansprouts. The Penang version is lighter compared to Singapore’s version but still sinfully delicious and fattening.
Other dishes we tried were fried tung hoon (fried vermicilla noodles), BBQ stingray in fiery sambal sauce, and assorted desserts like beancurd in brown sugar syrup; needless to say, we stuffed ourselves till our stomachs felt like overstretched balloons that would burst any moment. I think this was where we gained 1kg instantly.
To aid in digestion, we headed across Gurney drive to the paved walkway along the beach. Here, couples and families jostled along to enjoy the sea breeze and night views. Children were kept entertained with balloons and bubbles while their parents took a breather, couples engrossed with themselves, or friends simply hanging out together. If the sea air is not to your liking, head down to the Gurney Plaza next to the food stalls. A relatively new mall, the 1st floor boasts a café strip with cafes like Starbucks, Secret Recipes, Segrefredo sited next to each other and all vying for the young and trendy crowd. A perfect way to end the night no?
How to get there:
Just hop onto a taxi or trishaw and say "Gurney Drive."
Operating hours: 6pm to 12am
Dishes range from RM$2 (US$0.50) onwards.Non alcoholic drinks from RM$1.
Written by jane flockhart on 08 Mar, 2006
With a spirit of adventure, I arrived at Penang airport. Following the quiet voice of intuition I did not pre-book a hotel, instead I waited patiently until the airport had housed, taxied, and shuttled off all the other tourists, businessmen, and families enjoying the Malaysian…Read More
With a spirit of adventure, I arrived at Penang airport. Following the quiet voice of intuition I did not pre-book a hotel, instead I waited patiently until the airport had housed, taxied, and shuttled off all the other tourists, businessmen, and families enjoying the Malaysian school half-term holiday. My last chance of sharing a cab ride left, so I waited alone, intrigued as to what fate had in store for me The Malaysian woman I had approached for help swept across the vacant arrivals floor and welcomed me to Penang. Fortunately for me, her hotel was fully booked. It was one of the ugly neon lit things that dominate parts of Batu Ferringhi, the idyllic beach village north of George Town. However there was a vacancy at the Lone Pine Hotel.
A two-storey boutique hotel that had retained all of its subtle charm and glory, and boasts as being the first hotel in Batu Ferringhi. Refurnished and unostentatiously stylish, this tasteful abode sits directly on the beach and is secluded enough for a quiet rest, yet opens into the bay for parasailing, jet skis, scuba diving, and donkey rides. Malaysia hospitality is first rate and, never without a genuine smile, the staff at the Lone Pine ensure that I am settled, informed, and want for nothing.
The cultural diversity in Penang affords every type of face, language, accent, dress code, food, and religion. Harmony is the key word, and this is reflected in the natural smiles of every person you meet, pass in the street, on the beach, or in the bar. Softly spoken, warm and welcoming, nothing appears to be too much trouble for the natives of this island, and I enjoyed acclimatizing to this natural unhurried state of being.
As the evening and my appetite drew on, I left the tranquility of my hotel and walked out into the village itself. Avoiding the modern shopping complex nearby, with its all too familiar KFC and McDonald's bright lights, I wove in and out of the street market. Stalls heavy under the weight of Gucci, Fendi, and Prada handbags vied for my money alongside locally carved pewter, wood, and silver ornaments. A gap-toothed old man turned the volume up on Britney and Eminem hoping to induce my interest, but I preferred the piped tunes of the Indian sitar from the restaurant over the road.
A well-known essence of Batu Ferringhi wafted like incense in my direction, and following it I found myself amongst the plastic coated tables of locals, tourists, and onlookers in the Hawkers food market, home to nearly every type of Asian influenced food. The market is a collection of kiosks, some of which resemble fine jewelers, with delightful and colourful arrangements of ingredients and treats. Chefs disappear behind clouds of rising steam from the huge cooking pots as they prepare the food to-order. The centre of the market gives way to a hundred or so functional tables and chairs, seated upon which are locals and Asian tourists in equal number. Chinese clucking and chattering combined with order shouting and laughter culminates in wild and friendly, efficient service.
With no pressure to buy here, there, now or later, I was free to wander through the market and noted a wide and varied choice. Crispy noodles, Won Ton, Chinese Spring rolls, various fried and boiled rice, and Tofu, to unfamiliar and odd looking seafood, Singapore noodles, Indian chapattis, the local dish of fried Koay Teow, and other foods of unknown origin. Passing the plentiful kiosks, the chefs extend a warm invitation to try their particular delicacy. Westerners, like me, tackle the noodle soup by slurping but end up dribbling down our chins, but the Asians comfortably hunch over the table and, chin to bowl, devour the noodles quickly and with a smile.
Sizzling hot plates are carried to the tables, steam rising in all directions. And like the food, the faces are a blend of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian. A vapour cloud holds the moment then evaporates, and everything changes. I get a wet elbow from the wet wiped table, and water dribbles from my cold beer glass into my lap and again onto my book, staining the fresh ink on the page. Finishing dinner, I wandered through the market and back out onto the street into the mingling aromas of exotic food, motorbike fumes, street dust, and unfortunate sewage arrangements.
And, finally done with the heckles to buy saris, seaweed, and sandals, I nipped into one of the many bars/restaurants along the main street and sipped a beer watching the harmless happy mayhem of Malaysia unfold before my eyes.
Written by almy on 22 Oct, 2005
Not many visitors and tourists to Georgetown's famous Little India enclave know that the area's name was adopted by the local authorities only nine years ago. But whatever it is named, visitors hardly fail to sense the remarkable nostalgic charm and almost innocent simplicity of…Read More
Not many visitors and tourists to Georgetown's famous Little India enclave know that the area's name was adopted by the local authorities only nine years ago. But whatever it is named, visitors hardly fail to sense the remarkable nostalgic charm and almost innocent simplicity of the area. And no wonder. Little India breathes a rich living history that spans over two centuries. Culture here throbs with antiquity and tradition. The area has now become a magnet for heritage enthusiasts, international conservationists, and tourists.
Little India, with its intriguing inner city surroundings that comprise a copious collection of historic attractions of the colonial era such as a 19th century fort, courthouse, church, mosques, Hindu temples, and Chinese clan enclaves, entices a great deal of fascination and interest. To the hundreds of residents and workers who play here, the area bears a simple unspoken homeliness. For the people of Little India, the charming area has always been very much a part of their lives. The dynamism of the different trades renders a fascinating cornucopia of living activity depicting a rich, unique Malaysian culture. Music stores blare movie songs in Hindi and Tamil next to shops bedecked with flowing silk sarees. Rows of pre-war terrace shophouses teem with seemingly everything Indian - from pottery and stainless steel cutlery to spices and sundries, from jewellery to flower garlands There are barbers and astrologers, millers and grocers, money changers and fruit sellers, South Indian restaurants and herb dealers. The sheer colour, vestige and energy make the community stand in romantic defiance against the waves of industrialisation and development that have swept through most parts of Penang over the years.
One of the most imposing landmarks in the area is the 167-year-old Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Queen Street, probably better known for the scores of fluttering pigeons that flock its entrance than for the fact that it is Penang island's first Hindu temple. Tucked away at a quiet corner of Little India, the temple's ornate sculptures depicting Hindu gods and mythology, and its peculiar solitude lend it an instant, poignant air of solace.
Written by janeyee on 08 Nov, 2004
Pantai Kerachut is located at the northwest of Penang Island, unspoiled and not known to that many people; therefore, it is a great place for a serene day out at a beach. Pantai means "beach" in Malay language, by the way. It is one of…Read More
Pantai Kerachut is located at the northwest of Penang Island, unspoiled and not known to that many people; therefore, it is a great place for a serene day out at a beach. Pantai means "beach" in Malay language, by the way. It is one of six beaches in Penang National Park.
Kissing my bed goodbye at 6am on a lovely Saturday morning, after a tiring week of work, was no kidding. What was worse was that I went to bed at nearly 3am the night before (the night?? I think it's more suitable to be called the morning!!), after a crazy night shopping at Batu Feringghi with Erny and Wanchee. My alarm on my mobile woke me up anyway. After picking up EngLee and Wanchee, we went straight to the Casuarina Hotel to pick up Erny. By that time, it was 7:30am, but everyone was still yawning, and our faces looked as if we haven't been sleeping for the entire week. We had a quick breakfast at Teluk Bahang (noodles at 7:30am -- Erny said it was crazy) and headed straight off to the starting point of the hike. Yes. To arrive at Pantai Kerachut, we had to hike. We felt much more energetic after having a hot teh tarik.
The last time I went to Pantai Kerachut was nearly three years ago, with a group of friends. It took us three to four hours to hike there. Therefore, we thought it would be a much better idea to hire a boat for the return journey. After checking with a couple of fishermen, the boatman asked for RM$60 (approximately USD$16). It is expensive to take a boat one-way for RM$60. The last trip, we only paid RM$3 per person. This time, it was RM$15 per person.
The tracks have been improved compared to three years ago. Signboards are placed; therefore, it is not difficult to follow the path to get to the few destinations. Turning right after the hanging bridge would bring us to Muka Head, where the lighthouse is; however, we were heading to Pantai Kerachut, so we took the left turn. Along the way, stone steps were laid, and some very old tree roots make natural steps. It was very quiet -- not many people were there that morning. We met an old man and a German couple. The ground was a little wet because it was raining in the night. The rain made the forest very fresh, though. The leaves were lush green. Tall, huge trees stood proudly in the rain forest. Huge ferns grow everywhere. Some stones were covered with moss. Some trees were fallen, and many herbs grow along the path; however, I was not able to recognise them. We met a strange-looking tortoise on the way. The shell of the tortoise was sharp, and it was a bright-brown-with-orange tone in colour. There was only the sound of monkeys, insects, and water flowing. The feeling was excellent.
After a 1.5 hour hike/walk, we arrived at the beach, Pantai Kerachut. I was a little surprised because, as I mentioned, my previous trip took me a three to four hour hike along a tougher path. The current path laid is much simpler and so much shorter. There was a group of people camping. They were at one end of the beach, so we went to the other end and felt like the entire beach belonged to us. Seriously. There is no food or drink sold on this beach; therefore, it is essential to bring our own drinks and lunch. We had sandwiches and snacks for lunch. Before that, we did something heroic! We saved a jellyfish stuck on the beach! Unbelievable -- who on earth would want to save a jellyfish? However, it was a life, anyway. This jellyfish was definitely not a normal one, at least not the size. Till now, I had not thought of the reason why we saved the jellyfish, but I am glad we did. It is a shame, though, that we were not able to swim in the sea because of the jellyfish.
Pantai Kerachut is also a turtle hatchery for the Green Sea Turtle. However, it was not the hatching season, so we didn't have a chance to spot the little creatures. We had a chat with guys who spend a lot of their time at this beach, probably working for the sanctuary. They told us that they had spotted many types of animals in the forest. Wild boars, monitor lizards (we saw one crawling out from the bushes to the sea, to take a bath maybe), bats, snakes, monkeys ( which can be spotted on the trees by the beach, but beware with your food), etc.
The sunset is a view that should not be missed. However, we had to miss it that day, as rain poured after lunch. We had to take a shelter at the camp site. The shower stopped, so we decided to walk back, saving RM$60 for good seafood dinner. =) It took us only a one-hour walk.
Written by shammiyap on 08 Nov, 2003
In order to save time, you should visit these two places on the same day, as they are adjacent to each other. Take MPPP bus no.1 from KOMTAR Bus Station and stop at the end of its run at Air Itam village.
You will see a…Read More
In order to save time, you should visit these two places on the same day, as they are adjacent to each other. Take MPPP bus no.1 from KOMTAR Bus Station and stop at the end of its run at Air Itam village.
You will see a sign stating LEFT to KEK LOK SI and RIGHT to PENANAG HILL. From the market, proceed another 100m past the shophouses to the left and wooden house on the right. When you arrive at the car park after the shop, bear left. This is the way up to the KEK LOK SI temple, which was completed in 1904, as the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia.
The steps up to the temple are steep, so take a slow walk up. There are stalls along the way selling souvenirs, t-shirts, and local handcrafts. After the 5 minutes of climbing, you pass by a big tortoise pond. Devotees release these creatures to earn blessings in life. Here, you can buy vegetables or bread to feed the tortoise or a cold drink to ease your thirst. At the top of the flight of steps is an arched doorway, and beyond that a pavilion with multiple Buddha figures. There are a few temples here with different statues; you can tour around them at your own time.
Exit left and down a short stairway, this way leads you up to the huge KUAN YIN statue. Buy a return ticket for RM4.00, so that you can ride on the first INCLINED LIFT in Malaysia to the site indicated. When you reach, you can see the KUAN YIN Statue standing in front of you and another temple. Cooling and fresh air up here give you a very peaceful feeling.
The return to the temple and descend the same way you came up. Back on the ground, turn left after the bridge crossing and see out for local foods in any of the coffeeshops. Or you can have your lunch later at the foot of Penang Hill station, where you can find famous Asam Laksa.
At the market where you stopped at earlier on, hop on to any bus that go to the station at Penang Hill. The funicular railway, which was started in 1923, makes the summit of Penang Hill accessible to the public. The cable car fares cost RM4.00 return for adults and RM2.00 for children. The cable car departs every half an hour and the last journey ends at 9.15pm.
The journey takes half an hour which stops at 350m above sea level for its first stop exchange. Take the opposite train, which will then bring you up to the 735m high Penang Hill.
You can have a look of the entire George Town on top of the hill; take a slow walk around to enjoy the beauty amidst nature, or sip tea while relaxing yourself. According to the local, there are a lot of monkeys here, so you may want to be careful while taking a walk. There is a police station, a post office, some souvenir shops, and a hotel on Penang Hill. You may want to stay a night here if you like.
Written by Morbius on 16 Jan, 2004
We spent a total of five weeks in and around Penang. The beautiful island of Penang used to be bustling with tourists from all over the world. The beach resorts, we were told, were overflowing with festivities and events to keep the hordes of tourists…Read More
We spent a total of five weeks in and around Penang. The beautiful island of Penang used to be bustling with tourists from all over the world. The beach resorts, we were told, were overflowing with festivities and events to keep the hordes of tourists entertained. Unfortunately, the economic downturn that started in the mid-90s and the cataclysmic events of September 11 and SARS left a gaping hole in the fabric of tourism.
You can get great bargains at five-star resorts along the beach front at Batu Feringghi. We stayed at the Rasa Sayang Hotel and it was superb! The staff and service were great. The people both in and around the hotels were extremely friendly.
We rented a car and got around the island with little problem, but it can be harrowing at times--watch out for peak hour traffic and jams!
Food can be gotten at any time of the day. Gurney Drive is a good meeting place for food and other people like yourself until the wee hours of the morning.
If you are on a shoestring budget there's one to three-star hotels along Penang Road--Townehouse Hotel, Cititel, Malaysia Hotel, Peking Hotel to name a few. Also along Chulia Street you will find hotels that cater to the backpackers--cheap, good, and clean (according to a German couple).
We drove to Bukit Mertajam to visit St. Anne's church. Apparently there's a St. Annes festival each July and this small town is jampacked with locals and visitors as far as Iceland. The locals believe in this patron saint.
Another interesting side trip was to Pulau Langkawi (Langkawi Island). Beautiful beach resorts and beaches! A three-day visit to this island would be sufficient.
One last thing before I pen off. Try visiting one of the wet markets whilst in Penang. It's a hoot! I have attached some pics of one of them. Pretty interesting stuff.
Cost of living is low and bang for your buck holiday! Have fun!
Written by phileasfogg on 19 Oct, 2002
Penang must surely rank as one of South East Asia’s most interesting- and most vividly diverse- places. Wandering through the island, you find a new side of it at every turn- the almost European look of the villas on Lebuh Light, complete with wrought iron…Read More
Penang must surely rank as one of South East Asia’s most interesting- and most vividly diverse- places. Wandering through the island, you find a new side of it at every turn- the almost European look of the villas on Lebuh Light, complete with wrought iron gates, conifers and gravel driveways; the very Indian colour of Little India- and of course, the deliciously Oriental feel of Chinatown, all red lanterns and stone temples, incense burners and clanhouses.
It is the Chinese, largely, who have contributed to making Penang what it is today. Along with the Indians, Armenians, Eurasians, Javanese, Malays, Japanese (everybody, it seems, who happened to be in the vicinity washed up on the shores of Penang and made it their home)- along with all of these, the Chinese too arrived on this pretty little island sometime in the 18th and 19th centuries. Mainly from the Chinese provinces of Kwantung and Fukien, the Chinese immigrants who arrived in Penang were largely traders and merchants (who came here in the late 1700s) and later, in the mid-1800s, petty traders, labourers and artisans. Whereas some of these worked in order to earn enough wealth to finally return to China and live lives of comfort, the majority made permanent homes in Penang. Many of these (like the famous mandarin-minister-merchant-millionaire Cheong Fatt Tze) eventually acquired considerable fortunes of their own, and built palatial mansions known locally as ang mor lau- `big European mansions’ (check out Cheong Fatt Tze’s splendid blue-painted mansion on Lebuhraya Leith). Using a basis of feng shui and traditional Chinese architectural symbols and forms, these mansions incorporated more than a few European details- including, in some cases, material and furniture from as far away as the UK. The ang mor lau were actually in many ways an embodiment of the towkays (as the Chinese tycoons and rich merchants of Penang were known) themselves- Chinese and traditional, yet greatly influenced by the West. Many towkays dressed as Westerners, educated their children in England or America, and lived lives tinged with a fair bit of the Occident. Deep down, though, the Orient never let go of them- a blend of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism continued to be the basis of their religious beliefs, and the customs and traditions they followed remained very much those of their forefathers.
The days of the towkays and their somewhat flamboyant lifestyles have gone, but Penang’s Chinatown retains a delightfully part-Chinese, part-European feel which is really worth a visit.