Penang is about a 5 hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur. It is an island and is connected to the mainland by two bridges one has been there for many years and the other the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge is new. It is an astounding structure being 24 klm long.
Check out our doings using the links below.
The bus trip from Kuala Lumpur was good. Smooth, comfortable, double decker (we sat up top at the front) it was not packed out and had a “comfort / food stop” halfway. The whole trip is about 5 hours. The bus terminal is about 25 klms from Georgetown where we were staying and after refusing a taxi as they ALL charge by quotation and will not use the meter even though the sign on the taxi says “This is a metered taxi haggling is prohibited” The quote was 40 -50rm. So we said forget it and waited on the local bus which took us both to Georgetown for 2rm each. Eventually we found The Broadway Hotel in central Georgetown. We were not impressed when they said we were on the third floor and no lift. But we managed the steep stairs and settled in to a reasonable room with a good bed, new aircon and a somewhat small shower and toilet. When you shower the toilet gets a shower too. The hotel had a few shortcomings such as no lounge, no tea/coffee facilities either in the room or hotel at all. Noisy like you would not believe with cars, hundreds of motor bikes, dogs and people all competing throughout the night on the road just meters below the window. Want to check the time at night… get out of bed and put on the terribly bright room lights next to the door. No side tables or table and chairs in the room. Very sparse, but only 70rm. I did tell them most travelers would be happy to pay another 10rm and be able to make tea/coffee and cook some toast. But I guess it fell on deaf ears. Anyway we came here to see Penang and eat the foods that this town is famous for. Our top events were:
*A visit to the night time food market at Gurney Drive.. Fabulous hawker stalls, great food (and beer) (See pics)
*A trip up the funicular railway that goes to the peak, the highest spot overlooking Penang. Unfortunately it was very hazy and the view was lost somewhat (See pics)
*A visit to the BIGGEST Chinese temple you have ever seen. Lots of steps so we didn’t last long. (See pics)
*Breakfast at MacDonald’s new restaurant built in one of the most historic refurbished buildings. (Yes we do eat “ordinary” sometimes.) 🙂
*A haircut!!! I told him “take it all off”. Feels great (See pics) Cost 8rm ($2.50)
*A couple of wonderful Indian meals (See pics)
*A walk around the old section of Georgetown, steeped in history.
Two days is not really enough to see Penang properly (or eat the foods) but that was it for us and it was hotter than KL and we missed the comfort and facilities of the Condominium. So after commencing our return at 11am to go to the bus terminal, one hour away, a six hour bus trip back (traffic in KL was bad), getting trains and taxis we arrived “home” at 8.30 with just enough time to have a welcome cold shower and get down to the complexes restaurant beside the pool and have dinner…. And a beer or three 🙂
P/S We did have some severe problems with the bus company but that was settled to our satisfaction after a visit to their head office the following day, which again consumed about four hours bus and train journeys. But that is another story. (Ask me if you want details)
Wombats comments on Penang:
1 = bad 10 =good
Based on a stay in the older section:
Atmosphere: 8 out of 10
Accommodation where we stayed: 6 out of 10
Ease of using local transport 2 out of 10
General area cleanliness: 6 out of 10
Locals friendliness: 9 out of 10
Ability to be understood by locals: 7 out of 10 (Fair)
Foods varieties: 8 out of 10
Restaurants and eateries: 7 out of 10
Comments: Public transport is a little difficult but we did manage buses after asking around. The foods here are very good with a good variety of restaurants. The Intercity bus depot is a pain being about 25 klm from Georgetown giving taxi drivers the opportunity to rip unsuspecting tourists off. Overall: We would return.
Penang today bears the mark of an early history of successive foreign influences – from the early Indian Civilization that took root in northern Malaya to that of the Portuguese, Dutch and later the British who came to this part of the world in search of spices and stayed to participate in the lucrative trade.
Nicknamed the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is famous for its soft sandy beaches and is fondly regarded as the food capital of Malaysia. Some of the most interesting sites of Penang include the sandy beaches of Tanjung Bungah, the landscape from the summit of Penang Hill and the vipers in the Snake Temple. The quaint nooks and crannies of Georgetown and the Tropical Spice Garden – the only spice garden in South East Asia – as well as Penang’s many flea markets, pasar malams’, KOMTAR and modern shopping malls also merit a visit.
As fabulous as its beaches are, some of Penang’s deeper mysteries should also be experienced. According to local folklore, the Snake Temple, dedicated to a Buddhist healer-priest, was inhabited by snakes who crawled out of the jungle on the night of the temple’s completion. The snakes are still there today. The Kek Lok Si temple, at Air Itam, is reputed to be the most beautiful and largest temple complex in Southeast Asia. Its seven-story pagoda, over 90 feet high, is a harmonious blend of Chinese, Thai, and Burmese architecture and craftsmanship.