The cab ride from the harbor at Lemut to Penang took around 4 hours. Our cab driver, Geoff, had a severe case of verbal diarrhea and did not stop talking the entire way. This twice divorced father of one ex factory worker and numerology fan was a hoot and kept us entertained the entire way.
I knew I would love Penang the second we drove onto the Island. Penang Island is part of the state of Penang, on the west coat of Peninsular Malaysia.
Malaysia has another island called “Pulau Pinang”, which is a diving site located in South China Sea and part of the Johor Marine Park, which consists of a group of islands: Pulau Aur, Pulau Dayang, Pulau Lang, and Pulau Pinang itself. (Thanks Wikipedia!)
The Island is huge – not the sandy half moon complete with palm tree you would expect – this place is full of homes, malls, restaurants, universities and has a population of 700 000 people. It;s alos diverse and full of history, and I couldn’t wait to explore it all.
We stayed at the gorgeous Shangri la Hotel in the suburb of Batu Ferringhi. Our room and view was gorgeous and the hotel was right on the beach. We quickly made friends with the barmen at our beach bar and the majority of our fruit content fr the next 3 days came from the fresh margaritas they made us.
Lime and Cranberry Margaritas
The view from the pool – facing the hotel
View from our room
No Honeymoon bubbly – this time it was a rose. Because that’s the most practical thing to give a traveling International tourist.
Our hotel also had ‘first in Penang’ Cronuts. Score!
Friends we had met in Pangkor Laut had told us about a restaurant to try in Penang called ‘Long Beach Cafe’. Lucky for us it was apparently on the road we were staying on – so on our first night we set off to find it. Our road was also home to the famous Penang night market so we spent hours browsing and looking for the restaurant. We could not find it, so to avoid starving (I jest, we never went longer than an hour between meals) we decided to eat a huge indoor food hall. We later found out that that was in fact Long beach cafe and it was delicious! I chose from the Indian stand and Barry from the Malay. There were about 30 stalls to choose from, and the food was dirt cheap and delicious.
Barrys R15 chicken, rice and prawn dish
I ate my prawn curry before we remembered to take a photo
Now, the part I was most excited for was a visit to GeorgeTown – the capital of Penang. Known worldwide for its street art, I was dying to take photos and explore the town. And explore we did – street art is everywhere and walls, roads and everything in between is covered with art. One of the more famous street artists is Ernest Zacharevic. He incorporates objects such as bicycles and swings into his murals and people flock from all over the world to see his work. he is often referred to as ‘The Banksy of Penang’.
I call this ‘Barry reads a map in the back of a bus’
Being the cool cats we were, we were allowed to sit at the back of the Hotel bus and make out.
Malaysia is obsessed with Owls. Obsessed.
I call this one ‘Barry reading a map under the shade of the tree above him. In black and white’
So about 4 hours and 15 km into our George Town trek, I realised I may have a spot of heat stroke. Considering it was over 40 degrees with a humidity level of 100% I wasn’t particularly surprised. I credit my survival that day to Coca-Cola and ISO 1000. Here is Barry sampling the delicious-ness that is ISO 1000 (sugar and water in a tin, 2 bucks, sorted). Also, as much as I love curry – when you are hotter than the front chair in Satan’s hell you feel like anything but. Alas, it was all one can find to eat – so ate curry we did.
Note the sweat patches still (this is after sitting for an hour to cool down)
An old man sells plums from his home in Love Lane
Taking cover under a bridge and waiting for the rain to pass.
One of the attractions in Penang is a train ride to the top of Penang Hill. Taking our chances with the rainy weather we set off one day to hopefully catch break in the showers and get the view. Unfortunately it rained solidly the entire day, but even though the view was obscured the train ride itself was worth the trip.
The train taking us up Penang Hill
Selfies at the top of Penang Hill
I don’t know what I expected from the inside of the building in Penang Hill – but it was very similar to a canteen – with the bottom floor consisting of an Owl museum (of course, so logical) and various vendors selling fruit, and the top floor consisting of more vendors selling local Malay food. Typically the only counter serving ‘french fries’ had a very long queues. I’m not sure why people travel if they aren’t willing to sample the local cuisine.
Unfortunately the rain obscured any chance of a view
The rest of our time in Penang was spent reading, swimming, eating, drinking and sampling every flavour of margarita at the beach bar (we were unanimous in our decision that lime was the clear winner).
This Tom Yum soup was one of the spiciest dishes I have ever eaten. It took me over an hour to finish, and several bears to put out the fire in my mouth. I then managed to get some in my eye – Barry was lovely – in between laughing he even managed to get some photos of me writhing in agony.
Angry Birds water, anyone?