Penang Island on the West coast is the oldest British settlement in Malaysia, and one of Malaysia's best known tourist attractions. Great beaches, great food, and a really worth to see town with authentic old Chinese houses, shops and streets- Georgetown.
I have been to Penang several times.The first time, I was still in primary school and it was a school trip.We had no say where and what to see, just follow the teachers.We stayed overnight in a school somewhere in Penang.I still remember we slept on those hard benches and tables.
Another time was in mid 90s together with my working team-mates.This time we stayed in Golden Sands Resort in Batu Ferringhi Nice and at least a 4-stars-hotel, overlooking the sea. There were at least 10 of us, lying on the beach and under the sun the whole time.We had a great time and great food then.
Visiting Penang with Joe was another different kind experience. We came back to Malaysia in 2001, almost one year after our wedding.We did not go for honeymoon after our wedding, so we decided to get away to Penang where we don’t have any relatives to visit.We took a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh,visited my aunt and uncle in Tronoh and stayed for 3 days.After that we continued our journey to Penang.We didn’t want to pre arrange any hotel and sightseeing schedules,so we bought a travel guide, Lonely Planet. From there we found some budget hotels.We settled for Peking Hotel at Jalan Penang and paid a after seasonal price at RM40 for doubles.The room was ok, with air-con, bathroom and TV.I was quite happy that there was an air-con in the room, although Joe wasn’t so excited about it.He could sleep better without one.This hotel was not new, except the outlook of the building and reception.Our room was quite old fashion, as well as the furniture and bed.I noticed it has been a long time since they last renovated the rooms or never ever since they started in business. Stains were everywhere in the bathroom, on the walls and window grills were rusty.In spite of that, the room was kept clean and comfortable for its price.Staying in the town centre (Georgetown) makes getting everywhere easier.We went around with only buses. Near to our hotel we boarded the buses from Lebuh Chulia, where we found connections to many places.These were the places we have been to in Penang Island:
Kek Lok Si Temple A Buddhist temple situated on top of the hill at Ayer Itam.To reach the entrance of this largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, we had to climb up a flight of stairs.A full breakfast would help and it wasn’t boring to go up the stairs as there were many shops along the way.A nice spot for photography, especially on a bright day with blue sky.On the way down we bought some souvenirs and Penang’s local specialities (belacan, nutmeg).
Penang Hill It’s not too far away from Kek Lok Si Temple.In order to get to the hilltop, about 800-850m above sea level, we had to take a cable car.(hiking is possible too) On a clear day, you can have a spectacular view of Penang Island from the top. Unfortunately, that day was a bit misty and we could hardly see the Penang Bridge.Besides that, there are nice gardens for picnic, a mini bird park and restaurant for afternoon tea.It was a relaxing afternoon.We came down hill before sunset.On the way to the bus stop,we saw some stalls being put up.Very interesting, next to a wet market.And a sign „Penang Laksa".Mmmh, so we had our Penang Laksa next to the market blended with some drain and fish smell.Quite Malaysian style.
Batik Factory At Teluk Bahang, a rather quiet and isolated part of Penang. Visited a Batik factory and had a chance to see how batik was produced. But these hand painted batiks are very expensive, instead of batik cloth we bought a few items from Royal Selangor Pewter from the batik shop.
Not too far away is the Penang Cultural Centre. The activity as well as the cultural show start only in the late afternoon, so we went around to look at those traditional village house and Borneo longhouse.We found some handicrafts in those houses too.Actually, there is nothing much to do in Teluk Pahang. Batu Ferringhi A day by the seaside was in our programmes. The beach here was quite clean, although the water was a disappointment.Nevertheless, it’s ok to swim.We purposely chose a spot with not many people and almost deserted.As usual Joe put his towel under the sun and I looked for a nice sheltered place under the coconut tree.And off he went down to the sea.Half an hour later, he ran back holding his right hand in great pain. Oh...O! A Jellyfish gave him a good kiss.Now we knew why this part of the beach was so empty...A old Malay man saw what happened, quickly ran to get a bottle of vinegar.The pain slowly subsided after applying some vinegar.We were also told to urinate on the spot for emergency. (where it stung)
In that evening we went to Eden Seafood Village for dinner. Joe wanted to order a dish of Jellyfish for revenge, but was quite disappointed to find out there was none ... (He got his revenge a few days later in Kuala Lumpur at a Sushi Bar... ) Joe was totally impressed with the restaurant’s fresh seafood. He could actually pick his choice from the aquarium and it would be served on his plate 15 minutes later. In Germany we get only filets from the supermarket, we hardly could see fishes with heads and tails. It was a luxury for both of us.
Penang Museum Very well maintained and presented.We spent a good three hours or maybe more to go through the exhibited items.I find that the museum is not only very interesting for foreigners but also for locals from another state.I was fascinated by the great collections of the old items used by those early immigrants from China.They are called Peranakan, the Straits-born Chinese.Their tradition and food have both Malay and Chinese characteristics.For example, their wedding costumes, shoes and furniture.We learned also the history of Penang during colonial days.A good history refreshing course, especially for me. Coco Island Cafe Our favourite entertainment place after dinner.It is sort of open air Bar with DJ music.Great place to watch Penang street life by night, indeed very busy and lively.Also a nice place to observe the cafe visitors, people, came either for a drink or trying to find a companion (a lot of actions were going on) or watching others like we did.We enjoyed the cold beers under the sky, the music and the interesting people.
Georgetown is very warm and humid for an Island city.It’s a good idea to stay outdoor.Hawker stalls offers great choice of Penang specialities for supper and of course with very reasonable price.How could we resist this temptation?Supper was part of our daily activity after stopover at Coco Island Cafe in the evening.It is indeed an eating paradise.
Penang is really a colourful and historical place, there is so much to do and to see there. We will definitely go back there again.Our four-day visit was not enough.
Note: Information and details regarding to places to visit, to eat, to stay and how to get there, can be found in the travel guide, Lonely Planet.

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