After a terrible bout of food poisoning, I felt a lot better this morning. I should be able to take in some food today. So we went for breakfast at the Sri Tanjung Restaurant quite early. The restaurant was pretty empty at 7.30 am. We chose a table in the middle and went to get our food.
The buffet spread was pretty much the same with different varieties but the day before was better. My wife went to the egg counter and ordered an omelet to share with me. She also tried the local soup noodles as well as the roti canai. I took just very little amount of food hoping not to upset my stomach again. I dared not try the fruit juice but I took some fruits and a cup of coffee and that was it.
We returned to our room after breakfast to freshen up and rested a little bit more and also watched some TV. Our flight to Singapore was 12.50 pm so we had plenty of time before leaving Royale Bintang Hotel. Finally after chatting with the children back home to prepare them to meet us, we went to front desk to check out.
The hotel lobby was busy as usual. We collected our RM 100 deposit and then exited Royale Bintang Hotel. It was the same ritual of making two left turns to the back of the hotel to walk through the Interactive Museum to get to Pengkalan Weld. Then we walked towards the Jetty Bus Terminal again to take bus 401E to the airport.
Bus to Penang Airport
It was another bright and sunny day this morning. It had been great weather during the day and then a light shower early evening while we were in Penang. We walked past beautiful former colonial buildings. The building next to Royale Bintang Hotel would be turned into a 5-star hotel and should open in 2017. This new hotel would be very grand and with balconies facing the harbour, this would surely be a selling point for the hotel to make a mark in the hotel industry.
Shortly after midnight I began to feel unwell. I was shivering in cold and had to put on my jeans and socks plus bathrobe and then cowered under the blanket. At the same time, I felt nauseous so I could not lie flat on bed. I had to prop myself up with more pillows and tried to sleep. The toilet became a tourist attraction through the night.
Was it because I caught a chill walking during the light drizzle before dinner? Was it due to food poisoning at the Hawker Centre at New Lane where I told the hawker not to put cockles into my kway teow? I had no idea. It wasn’t really important. I was just miserable.
To add to my misery, a bunch of school girls checked into the hotel around 1 am and were making lots of noise at the corridor. The school teacher didn’t fare much better talking so loud outside our room. I was too tired to get up to rebuke them but my wife did. To up the ante, we received a phone call later in the night and it was called to the wrong room. I couldn’t pick up the call but my wife did. Oh, what a night!
I survived the night and didn’t throw up but the toilet trips were draining to say the least. From our room windows, we got the impression it was going to be a hot day. It would be good to head out for shopping but I wasn’t in the best condition to move around. The hawker centre behind the hotel wasn’t opened so early.
It was breakfast time. I made it to the Sri Tanjung Restaurant for breakfast with my wife. The restaurant was busy but we managed to be seated. The restaurant staff were still as helpful and friendly. Coffee was poured for us when we got seated and my dear wife went to collect her food.
The buffet spread was pretty sumptuous. There were western and local dishes on top of the usual salad with cheese, bread and pastries. Of course fruit juice and fruits were available as well. My wife was enjoying her breakfast while I took some fruits hoping to get my body back in balance. I was simply content with having my coffee. The coffee in Penang was much better than those in Langkawi.
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.
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.
We had a week that would be free in November 2017. So in April, we booked flights to Langkawi and fly home from Penang. Cost for both flights was just around $80 per person. This would be about the equivalent cost for taking a coach to Kuala Lumpur and back to Singapore. In addition, flight time is just slightly over an hour which would be much shorter than the 5 hours bus ride to Kuala Lumpur.
Our flight details were as follows:
Singapore to Langkawi12.50 pm to 2.15 pm by Tigerair Penang to Singapore12.50 pm to 2.15 pm by Jetstar
Such flight timings were pretty ideal. We won’t have to wake up very early in the morning to rush to airport and would be in time to check into hotel in Langkawi upon arrival.
Deciding Where to Stay
For hotels in Langkawi, we booked Nadias Hotel at Cenang Beach for the first night and then Adya Hotel at Kuah Town for the second night to facilitate our ferry ride to Penang Island.
We also booked Royale Bintang Hotel in Georgetown, Penang which is near to the ferry terminal. Average hotel cost was around $70 per night from Agoda.com for all these hotels when we booked early.
To save the hassle of having to get to Kuah Jetty early to purchase ferry tickets, we bought our ferry tickets online at Langkawi Ferry. Cost for a ticket from Langkawi to Penang was RM 70 inclusive of tax. We simply printed out the boarding pass and we were good to go.
With all arrangements settled, we were ready to head to Langkawi and Penang for a short break.
Singapore to Langakawi
November came so quickly. We took a leisurely bus ride to Changi Airport with just a piece of hand held luggage in the morning. It was slightly before 10.30 am when we arrived Terminal 3. First stop was our usual fish ball noodles for a quick early lunch.
Next we walked to Terminal 2 via the underground link way and approached Tigerair’s counter to collect our boarding passes even though we had already completed our online check in process. Once done, we entered the secured area, cleared immigration, we were free to roam the airport.
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.
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.
We haven’t visited Penang for quite a few years now. When the children were younger, we used to drive to Penang directly and enjoyed Ferringhi Beach, Penang Hill, Georgetown, shopping and dining. So to commence our travel plans this year, we took a very short weekend break to Penang Island just to explore Georgetown area, do some shopping and enjoy the local food there.
Our flights schedules by Air Asia were as follows:
Singapore to Penang11.45 am to 1.05 pm
Penang to Singapore9.55 am to 11.20 am
We would be staying at Merchant Hotel in the middle of Jalan Penang close to many attractions and within easy reach for local food.
So our departure came as we made our way to Changi Airport on a Friday morning. Since we were travelling light and had no check in luggage, we went straight through custom and immigration at Terminal 1 and had a late breakfast at the McDonalds at Terminal 2. We took our time to head to the departure gate and eventually boarded our flight to Penang.
It was a full flight and we were sitting at the back of the plane. This was however the noisiest flight we had flown on any plane just like taking a bus across the Causeway to Johor. The plane was full of passengers from a certain country that talked non-stop ignoring and not listening to instructions from the air stewardess. A guy even stood up to rummage the overhead locker while the air stewardess was demonstrating safety procedures as the plane was taxiing for takeoff. Another lady got up to go to the toilet when they plane was about to land and the air stewardess had to shout at her to return to her seat. Hilarious indeed. Anyway, this was the first time we were flying with Air Asia.
Other than those incidents, our flight was uneventful and we landed at Penang Airport ahead of schedule near to 1 pm. Interestingly, we had to disembark via the mobile staircase instead of the usual aerobridge. It was a good experience as we had the privilege to take pictures of the bright and pretty yellow colour plane as we proceeded into the terminal building.
Immigration clearance was smooth and shortly we were out of the airport. Just as we stepped outside the terminal building, we saw bus 401E passing by and we rushed to catch the bus not far on the left along the road. There were some passengers alighting and some boarding so we managed to board the bus. Bus fare was just RM$2.70 per person.
We took our seats and enjoyed the ride to town. As it was a Friday afternoon, some stretches of the road was congested due to people going to mosque and their cars took up a lane on the road. After some time we reached Queensbay Mall where a number of passengers alighted. We then continued on our journey and arrived Komtar around 2.20 pm. This was pretty good timing and cost effective as well.
We entered Prangin Mall to find a decent restaurant for lunch. We worked our way up each level and finally decided to have lunch at Home Recipe Restaurant. We ordered the weekday set lunches and topped up for soup, drinks and desserts. The set lunches were reasonably priced.
We took our seats near the edge and had a nice view of the mall from above. Our food came and we tucked in to enjoy our lunch. The main course was pretty tasty however, the soup was not up to standard and the mango pudding was dilute. Drinks were fine though.
We did a quick survey of the mall, entered Parkson Store which smelled of cigarette smoke so we quickly left. The mall was having some promotional event on the ground floor but we were not really into shopping mood yet so we left the mall and headed towards Jalan Penang.
As we walked into Jalan Penang, the first side street on our right Lebuh Keng Kwee was attracting a crowd. This was where the famous Teochew Chendul was located. So we joined in the crowd, queued and bought ourselves a bowl of chendul for RM$2.50. This dessert was really good and hence, the crowd.
Tourists were taking pictures of this stall and soaked in the local atmosphere of this place, even though it was quite hot and humid on a hot day. This place had become a mini attraction. There were more food stalls further up the street. There was a fried kway teow stall where we were tempted to try but we thought better reserved our stomach for dinner.
After the nice dessert, we walked further along Jalan Penang. We passed Ho Ping Café where we had a meal there many years ago and the unmistakable Cititel Hotel was right in front of us further down the road. We knew Merchant Hotel would appear soon as the hotel would be just slightly further across the road from Cititel Hotel.
So we walked past Cititel Hotel and Merchant Hotel was just across the road from Cititel Hotel after Jalan Muntri. Being a hot day we were perspiring when we entered Merchant Hotel to process our check in matters handled by a female staff and it took a while. Meanwhile, a group of Caucasian tourists turned up at front desk for check in and another male staff attended to them. The group of Caucasians was given welcome drinks but we were not served. Anyway, the welcome drinks were just very small cups of tea or juice.
This lady staff seemed to be less competent. The Caucasian group of tourists collected their keys ahead of us while we were just two of us came ahead of them during check in. Finally, we got our keys and we deposited RM$100 cash with front desk to be returned to us upon check out. We told her we would be checking out very early at 6.30 am on the second day to catch our flight out of Penang and we would miss breakfast because breakfast would only be served from 7.30 am onwards. We were told to return the next day to inform them to see what could be done.
With check in procedures settled, we went to our room on the 8th floor. We were given a room with the windows facing a void so no room view to talk about. The advantage was we would be insulated from all the road noise but with no sunlight coming into our room, the room looked dull. The room however, was spacious and quite clean but very hot and humid as the air-conditioner had not been turned on probably for quite some time.
The king bed was good, very firm and comfortable. The pillows were too flat but good thing we had two pillows each. Because we had no window view, our room was a little dark even with all the lights turned on.
TV is wall mounted in front of the bed next to window with curtains covering the void. There are only 8 channels but they included HBO, Discovery Channel and BBC so should be good enough for English speaking foreigners. Password for wifi is indicated on the room telephone and it works pretty well.
Bottled waters and coffee and tea facility were provided and minibar was free but it consisted of only 2 packet drinks and another bottle of water in the fridge. Nothing to shout about but still better than none.
Bathroom is quite spacious with a deep bathtub but it doesn’t come with shower curtains so the floor would be wet after shower. There is also a small step after the entrance into the toilet which pose a hazard when rushing into the toilet at night.
So our room was pretty alright especially with the location being strategically located in the middle of Georgetown. Red Garden Food Centre is just behind the hotel and a bus stop is right outside the hotel along Jalan Penang where we could hop on to the free CAT tourist bus to go places.
It was just 3.45 pm and too hot to venture out to explore the streets. So we relaxed and watched TV for a while before heading out to explore and have dinner. The room was quite spacious and it took a while for the air-conditioner to cool down the room.
When it was already 6.30 pm, it was time to head out to see what Georgetown had to offer. Before heading out, we went to the 11th floor and walked up to the roof top to have a good view of the surrounding to orientate ourselves.
It was still very bright when we were up there and the views of Georgetown from the rooftop was great. We could see all the way to the ferry terminal where a big cruise was anchored there.
Towards the left we saw a nice rainbow up in the sky that welcomed our visit to Georgetown after quite a few years. We truly enjoyed this marvelous sight. It was a great feeling indeed to see a rainbow in the sky on a bright day.
Right in front was Penang Hill with the setting sun piercing fiercely through the clouds in the distance. Slightly front left was the unmistakable Komtar that used to be the pride of Penang in the yesteryears where we had dinner at the top to enjoy the splendid view of Penang from above looking as far as the Penang Bridge beautifully lit up at night.
It was wonderful to be able to look around this UNESCO Buffer Zone from Merchant Hotel to see what this place had to offer after all these years. This short orientation from the top of the hotel was useful before we head out before sundown.
So we walked back into the hotel and passed a small gym with three pieces of equipment that seemed to be in working condition. Back to front desk, we checked with the staff about the area and dining options around Georgetown. These two new staff were much better than the staff who processed our check in earlier. They were friendly and gave us great details on how to explore this area. Another 3-D map given to us was really useful as well.
We then exited Merchant Hotel, turned left and walked into Jalan Muntri. At the first junction on Leith Street, we could see Red Garden Food Centre on our left not far away after the car park of Merchant Hotel. Actually, the Chocolate Boutique Shop is just right beside the hotel car park before Red Garden Food Centre.
We skipped Red Garden Food Centre where we would come back for supper after exploring Georgetown. We walked on along Jalan Muntri and the beautiful rainbow was still visible in the sky seemingly guiding us along the way. It was a lovely sight indeed.
We passed interesting cafes, shops and hostels as we continued our walk along Jalan Muntri. These old buildings were quite well preserved but the street was quite empty during this time.
Eventually, we reached Love Lane at the end of the road. We had a quick look around, turned right and walked on towards Lebuh Chulia where we would look for dinner along the road. Along the way, there were interesting cafes, shops and guesthouse like Jalan Muntri.
When we reached Lebuh Chulia, the traffic junction was quite busy. A 7-11 convenience store was there with a street art piece on the wall outside the store. There were shops on both sides of Lebuh Chulia and not far on our left, we could see many street food stalls across the road.
So we crossed the road and walked towards the roadside food stalls. The rainbow could still be seen in front of us on the left. It was really pretty. We walked along the road and checked out the food stalls.
We decided to have Penang fried kway teow and had a fresh coconut and hoped to order more food after this. There were not many tables and chairs around the small lane at this hawker centre. We did manage to get a table after the left over plates were cleared by the hawkers.
Our food came but it also starting to drizzle. So we ate hurriedly to avoid our food and drinks getting additional seasoning from the rain. The fried kway teow portion was small and tasted fine but not the best we had tasted in Penang. Perhaps we were eating too quickly and we could not enjoy our food because of the drizzle. So no more additional food for now due to the light rain.
After this meal, we went around to roam the streets for street arts but it was also getting dark. The rain however had also stopped. Soon we were near to Komtar again so we walked towards 1st Avenue Mall next to Prangin Mall that we didn’t cover early in the afternoon.
It was already 7.45 pm when we entered 1st Avenue Mall. This mall was clean and modern. Parkson Store is an anchored tenant taking up a few floors. This Parkson Store was pleasant without cigarette smell and after a quick look around, we exited Parkson and checked out other shops.
H&M has a shop here which is quite big with two floors of shopping space. Brands Outlet is there as well. Likewise Best Store and also Royal Sporting House where we went in for a look but with no discounts going on we left the store.
Of course there are cafes and restaurants in the mall but we were not keen for another meal here. We were planning to have supper back at Red Garden Food Centre next to Merchant Hotel. 1st Avenue Mall though clean, new and modern, crowd seemed to be absent.
Next we went over to Prangin Mall again via a connecting bridge which was very convenient. Prangin Mall even though is an older mall, crowd size seems to be better than 1st Avenue Mall. Perhaps this mall is more established. In addition, there are more smaller shops selling stuff that are more reasonably priced.
We spent a little more time now to look at clothes and shoes. There was an event going on at ground floor. My wife did some shopping while I roamed around to take pictures.
After shopping, we went to the bus stop next door outside the mall to wait for the free CAT bus to go back to Merchant Hotel. The CAT bus came after about ten minutes and we boarded the bus. We alighted near the Police Station near Jalan Penang and walked back towards Merchant Hotel.
Jalan Penang looked a little different at night when lit up. It was a pleasant walk along Jalan Penang and we walked into Leith Street before Cititel Hotel. We could see Red Garden Food Centre not far away.
When we reached the food centre, it was already near 9 pm and the place was quite crowded. There were not many empty tables left. We found a table on the outer edge in the middle and settled down to order food for supper. There are many food stalls here and those having supper here would be spoilt for choice.
We had satay and barbecue chicken wings and wanton noodles as well. The food took a while to come as the food centre was crowded with diners enjoying their night out. The food was good but we still preferred the satay at Chong Pang Hawker Centre in Yishun back in Singapore. Our satay back home comes with nice peanut sauce and the satay meats are well cooked and tasty.
Red Garden Food Centre is quite a touristy place attracting many diners who are foreigners. Music entertainment was provided at night and everyone was having a great time eating and chatting the night away. The ambience was indeed good to while the evening away alfresco style, a little hot and humid though.
We were getting a little uncomfortable having walked a lot around Georgetown feeling hot and humid. So we decided to head back to Merchant Hotel next door after the Chocolate Boutique Shop. It was very easy to walk through the car park to enter the hotel lobby.
Soon we were back in our room this time nicely air-conditioned as we left the air-conditioner running due to the hot climate here. Furthermore, the hotel corridor was not air-conditioned so the room would be quite warm and would take some time to cool down.
The deep bathtub was great for some good soaking. After a nice shower, we felt great again comfortably enjoying HBO movies and chatting with the children back home.
As the night drew on we had to call it a night. We would have another full day and night in Penang before flying off early morning the following day. We were pleased with our activities for the day.