Day 2 – Penang
We got up before 9 am and went to the restaurant beside the front desk for breakfast. We didn’t have much expectation about the buffet breakfast from this hotel. We thought if we could eat something to get by would be good enough for us.
The restaurant was not very big. Most of the tables were occupied. We waited for the staff to clear leftovers from a table before we could take our seats at the table.
There was a table with bread, croissants and cheese by the front wall with the glass windows where we could see some people sitting outside along Jalan Penang. There was also another table where there were nasi lemak rice, ikan bilis, sambal chilies, scrambled eggs and baked beans. There was some drink that looked like fruit juice and soya milk plus two jugs of coffee and tea.
We took our coffee, some scrambled eggs, baked beans and some croissants and had our simple breakfast. The coffee was way below par for Penang. We didn’t even finish the whole cup. The food was just passable with the limited spread available.
After this underwhelming breakfast, we went out to Jalan Penang, crossed the road and walked to the coffee shop diagonally across Merchant Hotel. The service there was great as the tea lady sat us down and helped us order fried kway teow and other fried stuff. The two cups of coffee cost only RM 3 were very good. This was the real Penang kopi.
We really enjoyed our second helping of breakfast here. The tea lady conversed with us in Cantonese and the other stall ladies spoke to us in Mandarin and Hokkien and we chatted for a while during our meal. The food prices here were cheaper than Red Garden Food Centre. This coffee shop Kheng Pin opens at 7 am but most food stalls would only be ready by 7.30 am. This coffee shop is a good alternative to go for breakfast for those those staying around this area.
We returned to our room after this hearty meal. We brushed up, packed up and then left Merchant Hotel to head out to enjoy Penang. We exited the hotel around 10.15 am and turned right and walked to the bus stop just right ahead. There were rickshaws across the road waiting for tourists. We waited for the free CAT bus and soon the bus came and we went on board to head to Komtar.
Soon after, we reached Komtar not very far away. We walked over to the lane to catch bus 101 and the bus happened to be there where passengers were boarding. We boarded the bus and paid RM 1.40 per person to head to Gurney Plaza. Not long after, we passed Gurney Paragon Mall and then arrived at Gurney Plaza one bus stop away. We alighted and went across the road to head into the mall and it was barely 10.45 am. That was pretty efficient and we didn’t have to spend a lot of time on the road to get from one point to another even by public transport which was very affordable.
As we entered Gurney Plaza, we noticed the event on ground floor was geared towards the coming Chinese New Year celebration with Chinese New Year products on sales there. We walked all the way through and exited the mall to walk towards Gurney Drive to have a look.
We walked past cafes and restaurants and soon were at the main road along Gurney Drive. It was a nice, bright and sunny day. We could see the sea across the road. It was low tide and the sea was quite a distance away. After checking out this area, we returned to the mall.
We started from ground floor and walked up a floor at a time to explore and do some shopping. Sony was holding a promotional event at the main atrium attracting quite a few shoppers to their booths.
It was still very early and the mall wasn’t crowded yet. So we walked up another floor, checked out shops and shopped for clothes and stuff along the way. We also went into Parkson Store but didn’t buy anything there.
Gurney Plaza was dressed up with Chinese New Year festive decoration which was quite nice with red lanterns hanging down from the ceiling. There are cafes and restaurants at almost every floor that would easily satisfy anyone’s preference for choice of food.
As we continued our upward survey of the mall, we saw GSC Cinemas on the top level. When we finally reached the top floor from our shopping, we approached ticketing counters to check out on some movies and timings. We were pleased Ip Man 3 was available in the afternoon so we purchased tickets for the 1.50 pm show. The cost would be RM 27 for two tickets but when we paid using Citibank credit card, the cost for the pair of tickets was reduced to RM 20. This was great. We also enquired about the recent release of the movie Star Wars. We were told there was only one show that day but the timing clashed with the movie we just booked so we had to forgo this movie.
We still had nearly 2 hours to go before our movie, so we continued with our shopping on the way down. This time we went all the way to basement level. We were looking for Din Tai Fung Restaurant for lunch. We were dining at Din Tai Fung Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur a month ago and were told they would open a new restaurant here in Gurney Plaza and hence our search for this restaurant. In fact, we already saw their advertisement at the main entrance outside Gurney Drive earlier.
The basement at Gurney Plaza was a hive of activities. Besides the supermarket, there were many bakeries, eateries and restaurants here. We finally found Din Tai Fung restaurant. There was quite a queue outside the restaurant. So we joined the queue. The restaurant was pretty organised. They had staff that come out to attend to those at the queue where we were given the menu and the order sheet. About 15 minutes later, we were ushered to a table. We gave our order sheet to the waitress and then all we had to do was to wait for our food to arrive. We were given wifi password which was wonderful to keep us occupied before our food was served.
Not long after, our food came. They were still the same standard like the restaurant we had our meals in Kuala Lumpur. The waitress was diligent to keep refilling our tea. We didn’t order a lot of food as we were not very hungry after our late breakfast. The food was good and it was a satisfying lunch indeed.
It was still a little early when we left the restaurant. We made our way slowly back to the cinemas on the top floor of Gurney Plaza. Along the way, we visited the washrooms to make ourselves comfortable before the show. We could see parts of the surrounding of Gurney Drive from a glass wall on one of the floors.
Eventually, we were back to the top floor. We entered the cinema and waited for the show to begin. Slowly more people came but the theatre was not even half full. A little surprising as this was a Saturday afternoon. The movie soon began.
Donnie Yen is a real martial art expert trained from young by his mother who is also a grandmaster in martial art. Starring together with Mike Tyson was interesting and it was reported that he broke Mike Tyson’s finger during filming which was actually an accident. This was another great movie by Donnie Yen and we thoroughly enjoyed it especially when we watched it in Cantonese. My children had already watched this movie back home but only the Mandarin version though.
We left Gurney Plaza after the movie. We exited from the entrance at Gurney Drive around 4 pm. It was already overcast, a stark contrast to the bright sunny day before noon. It was no longer low tide and the sea covered all the way to the waterfront. Years ago when the roadside food stalls were located next to the sea, rubbish and left over food were just thrown over into the sea. Now that the hawker centre has been moved over to the other side of the road, Gurney Drive has become so pleasant.
We turned right and walked towards Gurney Paragon Mall. We passed by the mall earlier on the bus and we had not been to this new mall before. It was just a few minutes walk away and soon we were already there. This mall has a beautiful exterior. A nice water fountain from the ground was a lovely welcome to tired visitors.
There are restaurants and cafes on the outside just like Gurney Plaza. Starbucks Coffee is near the entrance into the mall. We were greeted with more Chinese New Year decorations inside Gurney Paragon Mall. Beautiful lanterns were strung up across the atrium creating a very nice Chinese New Year mood for shoppers.
There was a Harvey Norman event on the ground floor below those beautiful lanterns hanging overhead. This is a high-end mall with many branded shops taking up shop space here. Surprisingly, this mall wasn’t as crowded as Gurney Plaza next door which might be more well established.
As we browsed and shopped around in the mall, we noticed it had started to rain. We were glad we made it into the mall before the skies opened up. So we took our time to explore the mall floor by floor. My dear wife did her shopping while I helped with the “logistics”.
Eventually, we made it to the top floor which was the cinemas again. We enquired about the Star Wars movie and were told there would be a show at 6.30 pm and it was only barely 5 pm. We decided to forgo the movie as we didn’t want to spend so much time here because we still wished to explore Georgetown a little more.
So we continued with our shopping downwards and reached the basement level. There are bakeries and restaurants as well as a supermarket on the basement. We bought quite a lot of stuff from Summer Bakery where there was a 50% discount for a second slice of cheese cake. We bought other cakes, a nice slab of Swiss roll and bread to bring back to Singapore the next day. Some of these cakes were for our supper that night and breakfast for the next day where we needed to check out by 6.30 am. We bought more stuff from another local bakery on baked buns and coconut tarts nicely put into a small box to bring back to Singapore.
Before we left Gurney Paragon Mall, we went to the information counter to ask for direction to the bus stop. A friendly elderly gentleman attended to us and drew us a small map to help us navigate our way to the bus stop. We were also advised beside bus 101, we could also take bus 104 back to our hotel. He was very helpful indeed and we were grateful.
So we left Gurney Paragon Mall, crossed the road and walked straight ahead into a small road heading towards Jalan Burma. Once we reached this road, we turned right and a bus stop was right there. Within 5 minutes bus 101 came and we boarded the bus and paid RM 1.40 each for the bus tickets again and were on our way back to Georgetown and it was only 5.45 pm.
About 20 minutes later, we alighted from the bus, walked past Cititel Hotel and returned to our room across the road at Merchant Hotel. We noticed the coffee shop Kheng Pin where we had breakfast in the morning was already closed. We dropped all our bags of shopping stuff and then left the hotel again to go for dinner. We exited at the back of the hotel and walked through the car park towards Red Garden Food Centre.
We passed the boutique shop, The Chocolate Museum, and then entered Red Garden Food Centre. It was just 6.15 pm and a little early for dinner so the food centre was mostly empty of diners. However, we chose to come early so we would have plenty of seats and we won’t have to wait too long for our food.
It was still very bright and thankfully, it didn’t raining here. Most of the food stalls were ready for business. We settled down comfortably and started to order food for dinner.
We ordered quite a lot this time. We had fried fish, and other deep fried stuff from the same stall. We also ordered fried kway teow again. We ordered a plate of duck rice plus a bowl of wanton soup as well. Of course, we had fresh fruit juice too. It was a sumptuous meal indeed.
Having eaten so much, we decided to explore Georgetown on foot again. The famous Blue Mansion is just next to Red Garden Food Centre. We didn’t go in for a look though.
We took the same route as the previous evening and walked to Jalan Muntri. When we reached Jalan Muntri, it was blocked off for vehicles. We could walk into the street though and further ahead, there were a few red trucks parked along the road. Part of the road was cordoned off as there was filming going on at one of the shops. So we walked through quickly and entered Love Lane.
This time, we took our time to explore Love Lane turning left and walking all the way to Lebuh Farquhar. At this junction, there is a colonial building which is a Cathedral. Along the road is also a lovely lodge with a beautiful courtyard.
We then went street arts hunting along the road and were not disappointed. We eventually reached the junction with Lebuh Chulia which was as busy as ever. Further left along the road were street food stalls with hungry diners having their meals. We turned right and walked along the road to explore this part of Georgetown that we missed out the previous evening.
Tourists were sitting at the corridor along the road at guesthouses enjoying the old world charm of Penang. We then passed Yeng Keng Hotel. We crossed the road to the other side to look for street arts. We found two pieces of lovely art opposite each other where one of them was the funny character Mr. Bean.
We then continued our walk along the road terminating at Jalan Penang where we turned right and walked back to Merchant Hotel. Before returning to our room, we went up to the rooftop one more time to enjoy the view of Georgetown before sunset.
It was actually getting dark over in Georgetown. The far distance after Komtar and Penang Hill was enameled with a light hue of pink in a fading greyish blue sky. The silver lining along the ridges of the hill was pretty.
The roads below were lighting up and Georgetown was bidding goodbye to a good day and beginning to embrace a lovely evening for those who enjoyed its enchanting past. Having witnessed the darkening of Georgetown from the rooftop of Merchant Hotel after 7.30 pm, we returned to our spacious room.
We had a tired day in Penang and nothing was more enjoyable than a good dip in the clean and deep bathtub. After shower, we were resting comfortably enjoying our evening over movies and connecting with the children back home. We did our packing as well to prepare to leave this place before 6.30 am.
We didn’t bother to arrange with front desk about our next day’s breakfast having experienced a not so palatable breakfast in the morning. Anyway, we had plenty of cakes and pastries for supper and breakfast.
Later in the night, it was supper time. Coffee and tea complimented nicely with the cakes that we bought from Gurney Paragon Mall. There was no need to work out a sweat to have supper back at Red Garden Food Centre though the food centre was very near. We were perfectly comfortable enjoying ourselves resting for the next day’s early departure. Soon after, we slipped into slumber having spent two lovely days in Penang after quite a few years.
Continue to Day 3 …