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Penang, Malaysia

After arriving in Ipoh, where our (adopted) brothers Alex and YK met us at the train station, where they took us to a fantastic Indian restaurant. You would have thought Mark and I hadn’t eaten in days. After dinner, we were driven home where we would spend the night before our 4 night mini vacation. I know, right? Like we need an escape after already traveling for a month. Our destinations were Penang and Pangkor Laut. The first two nights we would spend in a very colonial 5* hotel. If anyone ever goes to Georgetown, would recommend the E&O hotel. It was built back in the 19th century and still retains its charm.

But first we were to make a few stops before Penang. Breakfast was in order to begin the day of touring. One must be nourished to handle Alex’s itineraries. After nourishment, Taiping was the first stop. It took us a bit but realized Mark and I had been there the last time we had visited the family. Realizing we had been there we stopped at a WW2 Cemetery.

It was quite peaceful with the mountains in the background made it quite lovely.

Mark met a new friend on one of the tombstones. It was a stick insect and although we have seen them on TV we had never seen them in person. Naturally we had to stop and take videos but needed Mark had to prod the little dude so he would perform for us.

After amusing ourselves with the poor insect, we headed to Sentosa resort. This resort was with feng shui in mind, so folks come here to chill. The next stop was lunch, and the roadside restaurant is where Alex’s father used to stop and take the kids when in this area. This is the beauty of having locals show you around. You wouldn’t even know this town or restaurant unless someone had been here before. The place was packed. The meal was typical of Hokkian. It also helps to have the local order the food. Alex has many talents and one is knowing his food. You never have to worry about if the food or which restaurant to visit. He’s always on point. We had octopus, greens, noodles as well as fresh fish. Last leg of the trip was to get to our destination, Penang. We arrived around 2pm and checked into the new wing of the Eastern & Orient Hotel. When you enter the hotel you think you were transported to a different time. Upon entering our room, we both realized it was bigger than our condo. How else do you think we could afford to take a year off?

Oh, so touring wasn’t quite completed. Before we could enjoy the property, Alex had us rushing out to catch the last tour of Cheong Tze Fatt Museum. It’s a mansion which dates back to the 19th century, and was built by a very wealthy Chinese. It’s blue, very, very blue. It has been updated/changed a bit since we last came and now one can take photos. We couldn’t back then.

As the hotel rooms we were in were on a business floor, they have a cocktail hour each night from 5-6pm. As the decor is that of Victorian time one could see how the elite lived back in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. Many notables have come and stayed at this hotel, such as Sun Yat Sen, Charlie Chan, Noel Coward, along with others. Each room has a balcony with a view of the sea and the city.

One can catch a beautiful view of the sunrise if one was up early enough. Not by choice, but we did manage to get a view of the sunrise, the last morning we were there.

Our second day, first on the tour was one of the renowned Chinese temples in Penang, named after the Chinese Khoo clan. Named Leona San Tong Khoo Kongsi, The history of the clan goes back 650 years. It’s quite grand and extremely ornate and certainly should be on the list to see when in Penang.

Penang is also known for it's street art. The photo leading this post is one of the most famous, and is featured on t-shirts for Penang. An artist who apparently is well known in some areas of Malaysia named Ernest Zachaveric. You can tell by the throngs of tourists lining up to take photos of his work.

As it was getting hotter by the minute, we opted for a quick coffee/beer break with some cake. YK took us to the longest cafe in Malaysia, called China House. You have a choice to sit indoor, outdoor, or a mix of both. Folks come for the coffee,cake, snacks and beer. You can also have a full meal here. Great atmosphere as the building itself is quite old.

Now that we have seen some of Penang we then went back to the hotel where we picked the car up to drive to the beach area of Penang. It appears one either stays in Georgetown for the historical aspect or heads out to the beach area. It’s a good drive, and one should make a decision on which area to spend or break it up. The traffic between the two is horrible. We stopped to have lunch at Lone Pine, one of the hotels which was very lovely, before enduring a very hoy muggy tour of the Spice Garden. Here one can find more than 500 plant species. At this point we didn’t care if we saw 5, it was that uncomfortable because we were in the rainforest/jungle and it as over 40C with humidity of 80%. Half way up they provided a sweet tea which we both opted out of tasting. We did manage to see a monkey.

Back to the hotel for a very nice long shower before going down to the bar for happy hour. The last night Alex and YK took us to a beautiful restaurant called the Suffolk House. After a sumptuous meal we were then entertained by Alex (he found a piano) which was begging for him to play it. Alex is classically trained from the Royal College of Music in London, and it’s always a pleasure to hear him play. That being said, the manager of the restaurant didn’t agree, and said he was too loud. That fun came to an end quickly. Nonetheless hearing him for the few minutes is always a treat.

After that we headed back to the hotel, where Mark and I enjoyed sitting out on the balcony listening to the waves. Great way to end the evening, and our time in Penang.

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