Tuesday, October 21, 2014

{Family Trip} Hello Penang, the Island of Pearl!

Penang, the food heaven for Malaysia,  the home of Georgetown, unesco heritage site where many of the buildings have the interesting mural art by Ernest Zacharevic. Whether you are a local Malaysian or a first time tourist to Malaysia, you would not want to miss Penang. 

We visited Penang last year with the little ones, this time we have returned again with my in law family. So I'm going to combine the places we've been and food we've tried in a single post.

Penang is just 3.5 hour drive from KL, but we detoured to Ipoh for some dim sum brunch. It was a disappointment for the Foh San dim sum, from service to food, I don't think I am keen to revisit it anymore should we ever come Ipoh again. The workers serving there were unfriendly and the dim sum did not made up for the poor service level. 

Anyway, that was just a short 30min detour, let's get back to Penang.

When we saw the Penang bridge from afar, the little ones were so excited that they kept shouting all the objects they saw. "Ocean!", "Bridge!!", "boat!", "tower!!", "Airplane!". 

Noticed how everything has an exclamation mark? :)

Where to Stay?

We stayed at the Penaga hotel located at Jalan Hutton, it has some hotel rooms and few units of well preserved terrace houses that are refurbished and turned into comfortable home for the travelers. 

View from hotel on a bright morning.. I like Penang as it's a mixing bowl where all races settled in peace and many of the heritage buildings were taken well care of, unlike in KL.

The mosaic corridor that leads to our terrace house. 

The living room with tall wood-plank ceiling was spacious and tastefully decorated, but I find it rather dim even with all lights turned on.

The cozy reading corner

The greenish backyard with an open jacuzzi.

I really like the wooden windows with colored glass panels in the bedroom upstair, many details of the house were restored if not preserved.

The retro restaurant with soft lighting. A delightful place for dining.
The duo hanging out at the pool side restaurant.

Right before they took a dip in the petite pool.

Can you see me?

Overall I would think the hotel is well suited for friends or couples traveling without young children. The dark staircase can be a bit of a danger for young kids and older folks, but otherwise it's a really comfortable and elegant place to chill out and relax. 

In conclusion? If you want sun, beach & fun, get a hotel along Tanjung Bungah or Batu Ferringi. But if you want a classy and comfortable place in the heart of Georgetown, this is an ideal choice.

Alright, enough about the hotel. Let's check out some of the places of interests within Georgetown that we had visited.

What to Do & See in Penang?

• Armenian Street
A stroll along this heritage street that has many cafés and specialised museums - from Teoh Chew Puppet Musuem, Batik Musuem to Sun Yat Sun house, this is a happening street full of international travellers and local Penangites.

You may freely explore the street on foot with little one in the stroller like us, or if you don't feel like walking, there are free shuttle buses and paid trishaw services available around the city.

"Hello?", at an old telephone booth.

A storehouse covered in morning glory.

The beautiful lotus

An heritage home turned into lodge house.

Plenty of cafés along the street that serve rich coffee, among few that we liked are China Cafe for its quirky design and Amernien Cafe for the retro deco that made you feel like 30 years back in time. 

Wide variety of cakes at cafe China

The olden style design in Armenian cafe.

• Sun Yat Sun's House

This was the secret hiding place for Sun Yat Sun, the leader of the legendary revolutionist, which offers many escape paths.  Entrance cost RM5 for adult and RM3 for the kid, with free drinks and commentary by the friendly volunteers.

The backyard's door, the words 寿寓 means a prosperity home, or blessed home.

Fort Cornwallis
Fort Cornwallis is the first military and administrative base of the East Indian company back in 1780s. It costs RM2/adult and 1/child for entrance, a decent place for a short visit and learn some history about the island, but otherwise there is really nothing much to do here.

My little models posing at the entrance.

"Look, pirate ship!", yelled little C.

There were 17 canons at the fort, and my little C pretended to fire each and everyone of them while kept asking me to keep up, "come on mommy, follow me!", so I was busy running around with this little captain. -.-"

Photo time, the open space allowed us to have fun with some panorama shots.

 Wall Art @Georgetown 
During the previous trip we went around town searching for mural painting by Ernest Zacharevic and the local artists like what other tourists did, it was crazy but just for fun. You may grab a copy of the Georgetown brochure from any hotel which will provide exact locations for these wall arts.

Little Boy on the Chair

Children on Bike

The Cat Parade

The minions (they are gone now, replaced with Marge Simpson)

Bruce Lee spotted!

You may refer to this virtual map shared by CocoaMews 

• Made In Penang 3D interactive museum 

This museum located along the Church Street (Jalan Gereja) was opened in Nov 2013 and is an interesting mind challenging art gallery where everything looks real, as if they are stepping out from the picture frame.

From the hanging Spider-Man, to the fearsome T-Rex, to the local icon/politician Lim Guan Eng, this is a must-visit place to learn about Penang history the fun way.

Batu Ferringi Beach
Batu Ferringi is well known for it's sandy white beach, there is an array of hotels along the beach, from the elegant Shangri-la hotel to the popular Hard Rock hotel, each has easy access to the beach. We took the duo to the beach during the last trip to have some fun with sand castle. This time due to the rain we had to give it a miss.

Butterfly Park @ Batu Ferringi
If you feel like some place educational and cooling, check out the Butterfly park. It was a great haven for the tropical papillios, kids can see the real caterpillars and cocoons, and even experienced having the butterflies landing on their hands or hairs. 

The cocoons 

Even have plenty of monkey cups.

Penang Food We Liked!

I am saving the best for the last.... The reason we really loved Penang is the FOOD!!

Disclaimer: I'm not a foodie blogger, and I'm not super choosy with my food. So long it is delicious I'm happy, I would not insist on having the best of the best of the best. This is very much just the list of food that we have tried and liked. Some I could not even recall the exact store name so please pardon me... :P

Penang is famous for its street food for a reason - the street food are abundance and heavenly nice! For a small fare you can try out plenty of sumptuous multi-racial food. It's simply a food paradise for anyone!

And here are few we liked..

Cendol & Ice Kacang 煎怼 & 红豆冰
A bowl of shaved ice topped with sweet assortments and syrups (Sarsi, palm sugar and rose syrups for Ice Kacang!),  these 2 are among the best choice to combat the tropica heat. There are few popular ones but personally I liked Penang Road Ice Kacang & Cendol.

Cendol, in the aromatic palm sugar, kidney beans and jade jelly.

Penang Fried Kuay Teoh 槟城炒粿条
Lebuh China and Siam Road Fried Kuay Teoh are among the popular choices, but I liked the one we had at New Lane (next to Sunway hotel). Pulau Tikus also has a famous Char Kuey Teoh stall but I do not have a chance to try it.. Funny but I didn't had any photo of the famous Penanf CKT! :-/
Fried Oyster Omelete, O-Jian 蚝煎
We have tried the one at Lam Ah Restaurant & New Lane, I find the later  is much better. The oysters were juicy and popped in the mouth, a plate this size cost RM12 but it was certainly worth it!

For safety reason, I did not offer this to our little ones as they had yet to take their hepatitis A jap. 

Penang Curry Mee 槟城白咖喱面
Yes, the famous white curry noodles originated from Penang, it has the pale apparence because the use of milk powder in the curry. My bowl of curry may look a bit plain but the authentic version comes with prawn, squid and clams. This is very reasonable and delicious!

• Prawn Noodle

Another must-try local delicacies unless you are allergic to prawn like me, I can only watched big guy enjoyed his bowl of delish. :(  

Chee Cheong Fun & Loh Mee 
On the left is the rolled rice flour sheet with hot & sweet sauce, sprinkles with generous amount of white sesame; on the right is the fat noodles in thick broth with shrimps and pulled chicken.

Nasi Kandar 
Line Clear Nasi Kandar @ Jalan Penang is the recommended place for Nasi Kandar by the locals, it's basically white rice served with choices of fried fish, chickens, mutton, curries and flooded with mixed curry source. A very flavorful dish. We had it for take away, the curry was really nice to go with the white rice and the fried chicken was very tasty thanks to the special marinates, but I find the fried fish too salty to my liking. No picture taken as my fingers were all oily.. :)
Restaurant 747 Hainanese Restaurant
Moved from Jalan Transfer to a really ordinary looking Bangalow unit at Lebuhraya Peel, this family run restaurant cooked up some really nice dishes for a very reasonable price. We had 8 dishes and it only cost us RM198! The "lobak", ichi kaban (fragrance fried chicken) and the beef with radish here were really nice.

I was told another of their signature dish is the 8 Treasure Duck, but since many of us are not fancy of duck meat, we did not ordered the signature dish.

Satay @ New Lane
It's some really mouth watering barbecued meat there!

Chicken Rice at Lebuh Cintra
If my memory did not fail me, this is at Lebuh Cintra.. It's a simple but fulfilling lunch with grilled chicken 烧鸡, lobak 卤肉 and Teoh Chew stewed egg, 潮州卤蛋  

Of course there are many more of other street food worth trying out, but there is a limit to our tummies so we have to leave those to next trip..

Just another thing. Just like Taiwan, Penang too has a rich variety of local snacks, or "Kueh", 糕果, as the locals call it. We visited Lebuh Cecil Market and bought few for snack time.

These are the glutinous rice balls with red bean paste inside, coated with sesame outside. My boy loved it!

This Apom Manis (pan fried pancake) is an modified version from the original which used peanuts and butter for the filling. I still prefer the authentic Apom Manis. 

Muar Chee 麻芝
A local delicacies with soft and chewy texture, made with glutinous rice and coated with crushed peanuts on the outside. Like it or not, is a very personal taste. I actually like having the exploding peanuts in my mouth, reminds me of my wonderful childhood.

Alright folks, that's it about our Penang trip! I am sure there will be more to discover for our next trip as I would never grow bored of this "treasure island".

If you have never been to Penang before, you really ought to give it a try, either for gastronomy exploration, the heritage trail or the sun-shinny beach. 

Now, time to work on the pile of dirty laundry, ciao!

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