5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang – Day 3 (November 2016)

Sunrise over Kuah Town

The first thing in the morning was spent admiring the wonderful sunrise scene at our balcony. The harbour was peaceful and calm. Moreover, the changing lights of the harbour scene was picturesque. They were like paintings on canvas, very beautiful to behold.

The skies above the hills in front was equally mesmerizing. The clouds above the hills receiving first light of the day was putting up an awesome light show. Yellowish orange lights were coming up behind those hills. Gradually, a ball of light slowly emerged. As this glowing orange ball continued its ascent, the surrounding brightened up dispersing glorious rays of sunbeams from above the hills.

Kuah in Langkawi had awakened. The city had come to live even though everywhere was still quiet this morning. This short sunrise moments were indeed amazing. This would be the beginning of a great day for our onward journey to Penang.

Breakfast in Adya Hotel

After the awesome sunrise show, we went for breakfast. The restaurant was already quite busy. We were asked whether we would like to sit inside the restaurant or outdoor. We requested to be seated indoor and were ushered to an empty table and coffee was poured for us.

The buffet spread varieties were very good with both western and local items. There was a counter for self-service noodles soup. Of course there were fruits, salads, cereals, bread and pastries. The food quality was pretty good but we couldn’t say the same for the coffee. They seemed to have a very different definition for coffee in Langkawi. Other than Starbucks Coffee at Cenang, we didn’t have a good experience with the local coffee here. However, there was a machine in the restaurant and my wife made herself a cup of soya mild which was excellent.

Back in our room after breakfast, we rested for a while and watched a little TV as well as caught up with the children using the hotel’s excellent wifi. We did some packing to get ready to depart Adya Hotel. The nice balcony was the last place we spent a little more time to enjoy the habour and city views. Kuah was bright and sunny and it would be perfect for our ferry ride to Penang.

We went to check out after 9 am. After collecting our RM 100 deposit, we approached concierge to get us a taxi to head to Kuah Jetty. There were a few taxis waiting at the carpark in front of the hotel. Within minutes, a taxi arrived at the main entrance and we were on our way to Kuah Jetty. Our experience at Adya Hotel was very good. The staff were genuinely helpful and friendly. The hotel is modern and room nice and clean.

Transfer to Kuah Jetty

In under 10 minutes, we arrived Kuah Jetty. The main entrance of the jetty was a very busy place this morning. There were so many visitors coming into the building. A tour leader holding a flag was leading tourists to head into the jetty building. We could also see Eagle’s Square not very far from the jetty. But it was too hot to go over there to enjoy the park. It didn’t make sense just to head there to snap some pictures of that giant eagle statue, a symbol of Langkawi, and then get back to the jetty for our ride to Penang.

Inside Jetty Point, some shops were already opened for business. Vendors were also setting up stalls at the atrium waiting for arriving visitors to grab some more souvenirs before departing Langkawi. It was apparent that Jetty Point was getting ready for business for the day. We went into Starbucks Coffee to grab some food to bring for our ferry ride which would be about 3 hours to Penang. Unfortunately, the coffee equipment was under maintenance so we couldn’t bring along a cup of mocha or cappuccino for our ferry ride.

Next we went into the waiting area which was very crowded at the front. There were many passengers there but they were waiting to depart for other destinations. After this big group of passengers left, we moved up front to sit and wait for our ferry. The waiting hall is rather big with many chairs to cater to departing passengers. For passengers heading to Medan or Thailand, there is another departure hall where immigration clearance counters are there to screen passengers before departure.

Langkawi Ferry to Penang

Our ferry departure time was 10.30 am so at 10 am, we were called to board our ferry. There was some confusion regarding the queuing system where we had to approach a staff at a table to check our boarding passes. He would then issued us with number tags indicating our seat numbers. It was different from the seat number printed on our boarding passes. So this was a first come first serve system base on the queue at the departure hall. After this, we went to board our ferry to Penang.

Once we entered the ferry, there was more confusion. The staff collected our number tags and told us to sit in the cabin on the lower deck. The seat numbers on the ferry were completely different from the number tags we were given. We were told it was a free seating system, so much for efficiency. Hence, we took our seats by the windows as more passengers were coming down.

Those with huge luggage and bags had their stuff stored in front before going to the back to find their seats. There were quite a few passengers who questioned the staff why they were not allowed to sit on the top deck. The ferry wasn’t full so only the lower deck was used but the lower deck was almost full by 10.30 am when the ferry departed Langkawi.

It was a sunny day as we left Langkawi, an interesting island tourist destination. Langkawi is not so developed compared to Phuket and Bali so this island is more laid back. There are other tourist attractions we didn’t have a chance to visit this time so we would leave them for our next visit. The island hopping tour at Cenang was fun and the cost very affordable at only RM 30 per person. Sunset at Cenang Beach was very pretty. Cenang area is more exciting and nearer to other tourist attractions. Unless we need to take the ferry, we won’t be staying at Kuah town the next time.

Great Sea Views During Journey to Penang

About 10 minutes into the ride, we were allowed to head up to the upper deck to sit. This was strange. Perhaps, they needed to ensure the ferry was stable with proper load balance during departure before we were allowed to head up to take our seats. Life vests were inside both the lower and upper cabins. The upper cable was more comfortable with a much bigger screen TV than the lower deck with two small miserable TVs. The upper cabin has lesser seats though.

We were also allowed to head out to the outdoor area from the back of the upper cabin to enjoy the sea views. There are islands around Langkawi just like Phuket. So the sea views of the surrounding was nice, especially under great weather this morning. Halong Bay in Vietnam is of course a lot more impressive. Some passengers decided stay outdoor more so for those who smoke.

We returned to the cabin to rest and watch TV after spending some time out door. After a while, there was nothing much to see other than the sky, the sea, and the horizon. Moreover, it was very glaring outdoor as well. So we simply relaxed for the rest of the journey doing our own thing. Mid journey, we took out the puff we bought from Starbucks Coffee and had a quick bite. It was very good. Initially, we were thinking of getting the breakfast set from KFC. We were glad we had Starbucks’ snacks instead.

Slightly after 1 pm, we were nearing Penang. We went back outdoor to enjoy the view of approaching Penang Island. The distant skylines of Penang looked so tiny while we were cruising towards the island. As we got closer, the view of Penang also got clearer. We could make out the coast of Batu Feringghi followed by Tanjung Bungah and then Gurney. The buildings in Georgetown became much clearer in particular Komtar, when we were near shore. Finally, we berthed at Swettenham Pier at 1.30 pm. A Star Cruise vessel was already berthed there as well.

Heading to Royale Bintang Hotel

Not long after, we made our way out of the ferry and walked out to the main road. The 3 hours ferry ride was pretty alright that cost RM 70 including tax. No food and drinks were available on board. So it would be a good idea to buy some food before boarding the ferry if you need to eat something during the journey.

Our hotel, Royale Bintang, was just nearby so we walked out to the main road to look for the hotel. At the circle, we crossed the road and walked along Pengkalang Weld. Minutes later after crossing Downing Street, Royale Bintang Hotel right was there. So we took about 5 minutes to walk to the hotel. We entered this very grand heritage building turned hotel to process our check in for the two nights stay.

The hotel lobby was busy. The ambiance of the hotel was great, very grand with an European feel. The entire hotel is non smoking which is good news for us. The hotel staff were friendly and just like in Langkawi, the hotel required a RM 100 deposit, which wasn’t a problem. A moment later, we were given card keys to our room.

Beautiful Hotel Room in Royale Bintang Hotel

At the lift, for security reason, card key was required to get to our room level. Once we entered the room, it was wow, what a nice and grand room. This hotel is 4-star but it is closer to 5-star standard. The room was so nice and the bed so inviting, clean and comfy. A bench was placed in front of the bed, very useful to put on our shoes before leaving our room.

A huge mirror and writing desk with a very nice chair plus a big wall mounted TV completed the room furnishing. Of course coffee and tea facility was included with bottled drinking water as well. There were more than enough power plugs for phone charging and other devices.

The wardrobe was located next to a dressing table with another huge mirror before the entrance of the bathroom. The bathroom came with separate rain shower stall and toilet. Full range of toiletries was provided too. Wifi worked very well and plenty of programs on TV. Air-conditioning was perfect. This was the best choice of hotel for this trip. We were glad we were staying two nights.

Great Lunch at Sri Tanjung Restaurant

Next, we headed back to the lobby to check out restaurant for lunch. Self service welcome drinks were available at the lobby. We went to the back of the hotel and had lunch at the Sri Tanjung Restaurant. The weekday set lunch was just RM 18 nett for a main course, a drink and also a slice of cake for the day. There were four main courses to choose from. We ordered hor fun and chicken chop set.

The ambiance of this restaurant was very nice, just like in the olden days, very nostalgic and nicely restored. We were already quite late and lunch time was almost over so the restaurant was rather empty. The restaurant staff were very friendly too. Our food came shortly and lunch was great. It was so good to sit in comfort to have an enjoyable meal.

Exploring Royale Bintang Hotel

After lunch, we explored the hotel a little. The area outside the restaurant was quite interesting. The famous Boustead Heritage Tunnel is part of the hotel. We entered the tunnel and went to the business centre to enquire whether we could do an online check in for our flight back to Singapore in two days time. There was a charge of RM 8 to use their computer and internet so we declined. There would be additional cost for printing as well.

Across the business centre is the very nice café, with a very English setting where English afternoon tea set is available during the afternoon. So this is one of the historic sites within the hotel. We then walked back to the lobby passing the bar and lounge area. This would be another great place to unwind too, especially during the evening where live music is available.

Before returning to our room, we went to the swimming pool to check out the facility. It looked very nice but a bit cold because of the absence of sunlight due the pool being sandwiched between two hotel blocks. A gym is there as well as the wellness centre. We then returned to our room to rest.

Back in our room, we watched TV and chatted with the children back home. The Astro Cantonese channel provided great entertainment while we rested before heading out to explore Georgetown and have dinner. This hotel room was really comfortable as we while away time.

Heading out to Explore Georgetown

At 4.30 pm, we finally made our move. Georgetown was our target. We left Royale Bintang Hotel, turned left and turned left again to walk through the Interactive Museum to take a short cut out to Pengkalan Weld. Once on the main road, we turned right to walk towards the Jetty Bus Terminal. Along the way we passed another heritage building being restored to a 5-star hotel. It looked like near completion and would be opening next year. This would be another nice option to stay.

We then crossed the road to walk to the jetty bus terminal not far ahead. It took under 10 minutes to reach the bus terminal. We waited for the free CAT bus and a few other passengers were already waiting. About 5 minutes later, the driver opened the door and we boarded.

So we took a nice ride as the bus passed quite a few landmarks in Georgetown when it made its way to Komtar and then returned to the terminal. It was a joy ride touring Georgetown on a bus instead of walking. We could see street arts at some locations but this time we won’t be spending time hunting for street arts. This CAT bus finally arrived at the Komtar bus stop where most passengers alighted. Those waiting passengers outside immediately swamped the bus when it arrived.

Shopping at Prangin Mall and 1st Avenue Mall

Our first stop was a quick survey of Prangin Mall. Nothing much had changed since we last visited about ten months ago. Christmas decorations were in place but it wasn’t interesting at all. The main atrium was empty. Perhaps it was a Thursday and no event was scheduled. From the mall when we looked out, we could see it might rain during the evening.

So after walking a few floors with nothing to buy, we walked to the back section of Prangin Mall. This side of the mall was very quiet. Many shops were closed and quite a number of shop space was available for rent. We then walked through the connecting bridge over to 1st Avenue Mall.

What a difference over here at 1st Avenue Mall! The mall was so bright and modern. Many main brand retailers are tenants here. It was so pleasant to spend time over here. We went into Parkson Store and did some shopping first. Next we entered H&M Store to check out clothes. Then we went to the basement main atrium where the whole space was nicely decorated for Christmas festivity. The polar bears here were cute and lovely. It was a winter Christmas setup, very pretty and attracted quite a lot of shoppers posing for pictures.

Dinner at New Lane Food Centre

After shopping, we left 1st Avenue Mall and walked along Jalan Magazine passing Hotel Jen. It was drizzling as we made our way to New Lane Hawker Street for dinner. This street food eating place is located very near to Sunway Hotel. At the traffic junction we walked ahead into Jalan Macalister and not long after, we arrived at Lorong Baru where the New Lane Food Stalls were located.

It was a little wet during this fine drizzle but the place was crowded. Since it was drizzling, we decided to sit indoor inside a coffee shop. The coffee shop was busy as well but we managed to find a table and we settled down. We ordered two plates of char kway teow nearby telling the stall holder not to put cockles. While my dear wife waited for the food, I went to buy BBQ chicken wings and also a plate of chee cheong fun.

There were many stalls along the street as I walked up and down to choose which stall to patronize. A nice rainbow had formed after the light drizzle and it was beautiful. We also witnessed rainbows during our previous trip ten months ago.

When I returned to the table the kway teow had arrived. But I still found cockles there which I had to remove. This kway teow was just ordinary and nothing to write about. The chee cheong fun was full of sesame and a little too oily. Good thing we ordered hot tea to wash down our meal.

We left after this somewhat underwhelming meal. Our meals at Red Garden Food Centre was much better during our last visit. Anyway, we retraced our steps to return to Komtar for the free CAT bus back to Royale Bintang Hotel. There were quite a lot of tour buses along Jalan Macalister. There is a brightly lit restaurant across the road most likely catered for these tourists.

Taking Bus back to Royale Bintang Hotel

In about 10 minutes, we were back at the bus stop in Komtar. Initially, there was only one passenger waiting with us for the bus. As we waited, more passengers gathered at this bus stop number 9 outside the main bus terminal. Many of these people were locals and their behaviours left much to be desired. Quite a few were spitting openly near us.

A woman in her thirties came on a scooter and started to rummage the dustbin for recyclable stuff at the bus stop. She managed to find two empty drink cans and then left. Some time later, an old woman showed up collecting old cardboards to sell. These were sights of locals finding means to get by. We waited quite long for the bus. It finally arrived after about 45 minutes of waiting time.

Just like the previous scene reenacting before our eyes, everyone swamped the bus. The driver didn’t open the front door for passengers to board. He only opened the rear door for passengers to alight first. When the bus was almost emptied, the driver then opened the front door for passengers to board. It was crowded on the bus to say the least. The people here had no concept of queuing so it was quite chaotic at the bus stop.

So the bus left Komtar and plied along in Georgetown. Passengers alighted at different places and it became more comfortable on the bus. Eventually, this CAT bus turned into Downing Street where we alighted outside Royale Bintang Hotel. It was just two minutes to cross the road and walk into the hotel in which we were very glad.

Back to Wonderful Royale Bintang Hotel

Before returning to our room, we made a quick round to check the hotel. The hotel lobby was still busy. The bar and lounge area was however empty of guests. The three persons Filipino band and singers were singing with no audience. It was a rather sorry sight. It must be hard on them. We were already quite tired so we returned to our room.

Back in our wonderful room, a nice shower was in order. We were really tired after having to stand at Komtar bus stop for 45 minutes to wait for the CAT bus. We should have walked into the bus terminal to take one of the many buses that would return to the Jetty Bus Terminal. From there we could then walk back to Royale Bintang Hotel. Anyway, the CAT bus has a bus stop just outside the hotel so it was worth the wait.

After a great shower and having made ourselves comfortable, it was time to unwind in our beautiful room. We were so comfortable now watching TV and spending time with the children on WhatsApp. Catching up with news was also in order. It was really good to relax in this gorgeous room.

Soon it was clear that we had to hit the sack. We had a long day coming over from Langkawi. We would be shopping at Gurney area the next day. So it was time to conclude our day and prepare for the next day to come. Turning down the lights, we slipped into our peaceful world of rest in our most comfortable bed in this wonderful heritage hotel.

Continue to Day 4

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