It was 5.30 am when we got up from bed. Breakfast was the nice cheese cakes we bought the night before from Gurney Paragon Mall. Coffee and tea were available so we had a quick and nice breakfast, definitely better than what we could get from the hotel.
After final packing, we went to front desk for check out. We also got back the RM 100 cash deposit and left Merchant Hotel shortly. A right turn led us to the bus stop couple of steps from the hotel. The CAT bus came within minutes and we boarded the nearly empty bus. It was just 6.30 am and we were glad we left the hotel slightly early otherwise we would have missed this bus having to wait at least another 20 minutes for the next bus.
We arrived Komtar bus station in less than 5 minutes under extremely light traffic. The bus station was also very quiet and quite empty except a few passengers waiting for buses here and there. We went straight to lane 5 to wait for bus 401E.
In about 5 minutes, bus 401E arrived. We boarded the bus and again this bus was rather empty as well because it was still very early in the morning. Bus fare was RM 2.70 per person. The bus left Komtar and we were on our way to the airport. As this was a Sunday morning, road traffic was very light. The bus soon reached Queensbay Mall and the sky was beginning to light up.
After Queensbay Mall, the bus made a few stops along the way with more passengers coming on board. Eventually we arrived Penang Airport. It was just 7.30 am and the sky was getting brighter. Our flight was 9.55 am and we were in good time and had plenty of time to explore and shop at the airport.
We alighted and walked into the arrival hall of the airport. It was very quiet at the arrival hall. Apparently, no flight was arriving so early on Sunday morning. The facilities at the arrival hall were empty of arrival passengers and almost all the car rental offices were unmanned.
We took the escalator and went up to the departure hall. It was such a great contrast over at this level. It was a hive of activities here with passengers heading to check in counters. Some counters were crowded with passengers in queues waiting to drop their luggage and collect their boarding passes. Some airlines offices were busy with walk in passengers booking flights out of Penang.
There are a number of shops at the departure hall hoping to empty the pockets of departing passengers offering chocolates and sweets, local goodies and Ban Heang Bakery is there where this company also has a nice shop at Jalan Penang. This is good news for those who have no time to buy some local goodies and they can get some nice stuff here to bring home.
There are many cafes and restaurants at the departure hall as well. Among the eateries here are Pinang Kopi Tiam, Noodles Shop, Irish Sandwich Café, Secret Recipe, KFC and McDonalds fast food restaurants. Since we were still very early, we had a go at the McDonalds for a second round of breakfast where they serve porridge.
After the nice meal, we went to clear immigration which was efficiently taken care off. Once inside the secured area of the airport, there were shops and restaurants that were already open for business so early in the morning.
There are duty free shops and more candy shops selling chocolates and candies. Famous Amos has a shop there too. There is a mini mart inside this area as well.
There are more cafes inside the airport for those who might need to have a meal before boarding their flight out of Penang. Those who have missed Ban Heang Bakery outside at the departure hall and still wish to purchase some local products, fret not. Another established local shop Yee Hup is here selling goodies such as cookies and biscuits. Nutmeg products are also available. Nutmeg juice, nutmeg oil and balm are all available here for those who wish to bring home some gifts for friends and relatives. This would be the last chance to get local products and goodies before leaving Penang.
Soon, we were called to the boarding gate. The aerobridge was not used again. We had to board the plane via the mobile staircase. We were very glad it was not raining otherwise it might be rather inconvenient to board the plane under wet condition. Very quickly, we went up to our seats and settled down to wait for the rest of the passengers to come on board.
When everyone had boarded and firmly secured in our seats, the plane soon taxied along while the crew held a safety demonstration. Thankfully, this return flight was quieter with no more comedies like someone standing up just before the plane was about to take off.
Within minutes, we were airborne. It was great weather as we flew south heading back to Singapore. The view of the long second bridge linking Penang Island with the main land was beautiful as our plane flew over across the sea towards the peninsula. As we were seated facing west, the morning sun didn’t affect our viewing pleasure during flight.
It was an uneventful flight and in about an hour, we touched down at Changi Airport, again slightly ahead of scheduled landing time. We disembarked at Terminal 1 but we walked to Terminal 3 to clear immigration. We then went to the food court to enjoy our favourite fish ball noodles for lunch. We had to queue for a while though and the person in front of me ordered seven bowls so it took a while. Eventually, we collected our delicious noodles and had a great lunch before heading home.
These two days were just nice for a short break in Penang after quite a few years. Penang didn’t change very much. Gurney Paragon Mall was new to us though. All we did was some shopping and enjoyed the local food in Penang. We were most happy watching the movie Ip Man 3 in Cantonese at Gurney Plaza. Lunch at Din Tai Fung over there was great too.
As for street arts at Georgetown, we just did what we could to locate a few of them. Our mission wasn’t to kill our legs to look for many of these street arts in Georgetown. This was simply incidental activity while we enjoyed the old world charm in Penang. Enjoying the view of Georgetown from the rooftop of Merchant Hotel was great too, especially during sunset. Perhaps we should have gone to the rooftop to enjoy sunrise view over Georgetown as well.
Although breakfast at Merchant Hotel wasn’t that great, the location of this hotel was excellent, right in the middle of Georgetown along Jalan Penang. Anyway, there are plenty of good food options around the hotel.
The free CAT bus is a bonus for sightseeing around town. Public buses are convenient and very affordable too. Taking bus 401E from the airport would bring us to Komtar or all the way to the jetty taking just around an hour. Bus fare is just RM 2.70 per person. Waiting time doesn’t seem to be very long too. Taking bus 101 would bring us to Gurney Drive as well as going all the way to Ferringhi Beach if we so desire. A couple of years back, we took bus 102 from Ferringhi Beach outside our hotel all the way to the airport. To return to Georgetown from Gurney Drive, simply head to a bus stop along Jalan Burma and take bus 101 or 104. Bus fare is only RM 1.40.
As we travelled very light, we took a bus home. So this ended our short two days break to Penang. We will return for another visit and maybe stay a little longer and even head over to Langkawi from Penang Island. Penang has added a second bridge from the main land of West Malaysia. Perhaps, we might even do a self-drive tour to Penang in the future. We shall wait and see.