Ah, what a beautiful island! Architecturally especially, and also topographically, too! One of my favourite islands I've visited in Asia, Penang is simply rewarding and a must if you're into culture, food and history. Let us start the epic journey. Under way...
|Khoo Kongsi's interior|
|Canon at Fort Cornwallis|
Penang Museum - One of the biggest museums in Georgetown, this has exhibits about just everything of the island including its history. Admission fees is about RM 1.
Goddess of Mercy Temple - It's a good temple, but unfortunately the crowds know that. There are nice incense sticks, big ones, and the architecture is of course Chinese. Let's add the word "bustling" and you can picture the temple. I guess, it's dedicated to the same goddess whose statue is on top of the Kek Lok Si Complex.
|Bank Street's white buildin|
The Chocolate Boutique - The concept is simple-: you are entitled to a free tasting round where you can sample delicious goodies and are then welcome to buy expensive and overpriced stuff. Worth it, though. Don't confuse it with Cocoa Boutique, this one is on Lebuh Leith.
Penang Hill - Since the funicular was closed, until November 2010, I guess, the only way to get up was by jeep (apart from a long walk). And you had to wait for about 15 minutes if you arrive in the morning. These jeeps aren't "jeeps" they're more like small 4WDs and they're small because there are many turns and curves up the hill. The one we went in had no A/C but it was fine because the air was very pleasant. Up is a hotel, some villas, a viewing station that's all around, a Hindu temple and a mosque apart from some shops, eateries and cooler air. You can also walk up. The tracks commence from the same area; close to the Botanical Gardens. But when we went, it was very cloudy and misty, obstructing views. The picture below right is of the mosque there which was apparently closed.
Botanical Gardens - The entry is free of charge but a tram around the gardens costs around RM 2 if you want to take it. It's a nice tram that takes through some areas and stays on only one road. There is also an orchid garden. They're also loos there, not free and very filthy.
|Mosque at Penang Hill|
|Kek Lok Si Pagoda Complex|
|Statue of Goddess of Mercy|
You can take the car-ferry to the mainland. Once parked, you could roam around for about 15 minutes before the ferry docked. The views were great of mainland. There are also fair washrooms. Once in the Mainland (Seberang Perai), you are in the industrial area of Butterworth. There is a Bird park there but it is very sad. Many birds are tied and the whole condition is dilapidated and unattractive. RM 20/person. We came back by Penang bridge, longest in South-East Asia. There is a RM 7 charge (toll) when entering Penang.
Around the circuit comes a lot to see. Here's a brief of what we saw.
Tropical Spice Garden - A very lush area, the Tropical Spice Gardens should be explored with shoes although we survived in sandals, I'll not recommend it. It's a nice place and worth a visit.
|The Batik Store|
On the way to, our guide showed us some typical Malay houses in a fishing village. That area was also pretty close to the Butterfly Farm.
Cocoa Boutique - Not too far from Georgetown, we visited the Cocoa Boutique with the guide. Please do not confuse this with the Chocolate Boutique. This offers similar things but the variety (tasting, that is) is slightly lesser over here. It is, however, still worthwhile.
Snake Temple was also wonderful. You can ask for snake skin, too. There are also many snakes and handlers around. There are snakes kept, too. The whole place is nice and recommended.
Like the tower above. which is Victoria Monument.
Close to Lebanon restaurant on Batu Feringgi, there is an operator. Look for the Money exchange on the same sidewalk and you'll find it. Rates for a Toyota Avanza hover around RM 20/hour. They're bargainable.
A bed or two
We stayed in 2 hotels
Holiday Inn Resort was a very nice hotel. I'd recommend the Beach Wing because it is closer to- you guessed it- the beach (and hence the sea) and the ambiance, staff and food are really nice. From RM 250
Cititel is in Georgetown on an unbeatable location on Jalan Penang. We had the 19th floor rooms which had amazing city views and partial sea views. Breakfast is OK. From RM 300.
Entrees to desserts
Lebanon - On Batu Feringgi Rd (Jalan Batu Feringgi), this is a very nice Lebanese restaurant. The staff is very cheery and the food is good with unlimited bread for around RM 2. Ambiance is very nice, too.
Sri Ananda Bahvan - In Georgetown .We made a mistake going to this place. Noise beyond belief, one restroom's door was broken and it fell on me. food is OK with hard paneer (cottage cheese) and the waiter forgot half the order while jotting it down, though.
Bella Italia - Close to Lebanon. Nice pizzas, if a bit too cheesy. Outdoor seating available. Good staff.
Kek Lok Si Vegetarian Restaurant - Staff is good, though their English is limited. It's on the way to Kek Lok Si complex. Food ranges from OK-good but pricing is reasonable.
Pastamania - In Gurney Plaza, this is a nice fast-food restaurant. Pasta is good, and so is pizza.
Passage thru India - On Lebuh Leith, this is a great small, homey place with nice and delicious food. Prices are OK, too and service is good.
Time in Penang.
|Goddess of Mercy Temple|
|Temple of the Reclining Buddha and surrounding temples|
Picture Gallery of Kek Lok Si Pagoda
With just one day, you should focus on the capital Georgetown seeing its classic attractions such as Khoo Kongsi, Fort Cornwallis, Goddess of Mercy Temple and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and surrounding temples. If you have time left in the evening, visit the Kek Lok Si Pagoda and take a night tri-shaw ride in Georgetown if you have time left and aren't feeling tired.
Just visit Georgetown and do the tri-shaw ride on the first day. On the second day, visit the Kek Lok Si Pagoda, Penang Hill and the Botanical Gardens. Spend the evening in the beach area of Batu Feringgi and visit the night market.
Follow the above for the first two days. On the third day, take a whole circuit of Penang, visiting for example the Batik, Spice Garden, Butterfly Farm, Snake Temple etc. If you have time left in the evening, visit some of the malls along Gurney Drive.
No of visits:1