Saturday, October 13, 2012

Travel Report : Penang

I went to Penang for 5 days with a friend this year. It is like only an hour flight away from Singapore and said to be an island with a laid-back charm and delicious food and here is the report. A little warning though, it'll be a long post with lots of photo spam.

On a side note totally unrelated to Penang itself, Changi airport were having these amazing temporary indoor gardens on display. I think it was to coincide with the opening of the Gardens by the Bay. I just had to share it with you!

 We arrived at about 4pm local time. The view below is of Penang bridge that connects the island to mainland Malaysia.

Aerial view

Whenever possible, we prefer to take public transportation because it's cheap and you can do some sightseeing while you're getting to the hotel. Our hotel was Park Royal at Batu Ferringhi area which is located literally at the other end of the island, luckily there's a bus that goes there straight. It'd take about an hour to reach Batu Ferringhi but we figured we weren't in a hurry so we went with it.
Waiting for the bus outside the airport
Interior of the bus
The journey was pleasant, very mellow and it did take about an hour but you got to see lots of places.

Here we've arrived at Batu Ferringhi!

As I understand it, Batu Ferringhi is considered a more upscale area and kind of touristy. Lots of money changers, travel agents, and themed restaurants at the area.

This is our hotel.
It's a five-star hotel but the building is old. I do love the lobby design, very open and blurring the line between outdoor/indoor kinda thing. High ceiling and lots of ceiling fans give a nice tropical feel.
Double volume corridor
The Pool area with landscape
The breakfast area
These are the view from our room.
A Room with a View
The disappearing horizon
That's Batu Ferringhi beach right at the back of the hotel. I couldn't take my eyes off of the seemingly disappearing horizon. I felt so small, and so invigorated.

I didn't take any picture of the room because there's nothing much to talk about. It is a pretty old building and when I was standing at he balcony, I saw a rat as big as a guinea pig running around the courtyard. Not that I have a problem with it, just an observation.

Anyway, we were famished so we decided to eat at Golden Thai seafood restaurant nearby which also served as a birthday dinner for me.

Fish BBQ Malaysian style, I forgot the name of the fish.

Clockwise from top: Tom Yam soup, Fried Enoki mushrooms, and kangkong belachan
We ordered fish BBQ, kangkong belachan, tom yum soup, and fried enoki mushroom. It was delicious but nothing out of the ordinary and I figured the price could be a rip-off so for that kind of price I expected something more. The wait-staff was kind of slow, sometimes they would chat with each other or play with their cells in front of all the patrons to see. Very disappointing for this kind of restaurant. Funny thing is, of all the stuff we ordered, I loved the enoki mushroom the most.

The next day we headed to town in search of more authentic Penang cuisine and we found it! We alighted near Komtar and walked down a couple rows of shophouses and found this hole-in-the-wall durian ice cream 'restaurant' that also sold some of the most famous Penang dishes. here's what we ordered:
Chark Kway Teow with juicy shrimps

The famous Assam Laksa

Kueh Pie Ti with parsnips and shrimp fillings

Ice Kachang, very pretty! The white scoop is durian flavored ice cream
Notice the worn down table top. These are hands down the best food we tasted during the trip. I would recommend this place to you but I don't remember the name.

Next up we headed to the much-hyped George Town. Seeing as it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we were hoping to see something special. Well...perhaps we wandered at the wrong part of the town, perhaps it was Sunday so very few shops were open, but the trip to George Town was a bit of disappointment. It may be more impressive to people from the western world but for me, I've come across this kind of spectacle almost everywhere in the city I live in or my home country so it's not that unique to me.

It is still a fun experience, though. Here are some of the pics:

A very cute art on a side of a wall, made with wire

Before we knew it, it was afternoon again. We went back to Batu Ferringhi and hit up Long Beach, some kind of food court that is ubiquitous in Penang. We wanted to eat here the night before but it was full to the brim, we couldn't find a table.
Interior of Long Beach
Here's what we ordered:

Clockwise from top: Roti canai with curry, oyster omelette, fried spring roll, and satay

Oyster omelette

I must warn you that they're really not as delicious as they look, although as a South-East Asian, my standard is definitely higher ;-)

Next up we hit the beach. Gorgeous, sunset-lit beach.

It was so idyllic and tranquil, and there weren't much people around. I'd just stare into the ocean and got lost in my own thoughts. At night I'd open the door to the balcony and let the sound of the waves in. Bliss.

And that was pretty much what we did for the next few days, just ate and hit the beach.

The next day we ordered in room service for lunch because we were too lazy to leave the hotel. We ordered Nasi Kandar, another Penang favorite with Indian influence, and for my sweet tooth I got strawberries with chocolate mousse. They tasted surprisingly authentic!
Nasi Kandar

All the dips and Papadum cracker

Strawberries with chocolate mousse

We went to Long Beach again for dinner and I got a little carried away with my order.

Fish BBQ and Ba Kut Teh


Mixed Veggies

Again, nothing special but the chili dip for the fish BBQ was really nice.

I also bought a couple of chicken wings BBQ but they weren't for me........they were for this little fella:

I think he belonged to one of the hotel's staff. He had a collar on and he seemed to behave. He would sit outside the lobby and didn't dare to come in even though there was literally no stopping him. He was very friendly and he gobbled down all the chicken wings I bought him happily ^_^

The next night we went to Kafe Goodall for dinner, it's the same type of food court as Long Beach, only it's located a little nearer to town.

*On a side note, while the vista was very beautiful, I truly hated the bus ride along the Batu Ferringhi beach. The road was on the side of the cliff overlooking the ocean with many turns and the driver just sped through the undulating terrain, hardly slowing down whenever there was a turn or slope. It was terrifying!

Exterior of Kafe Goodall

Interior of Kafe Goodall

Stingray BBQ

Oyster Omelette
It was very meh. I actually bought an Assam laksa as well but it was so horrible I wasn't even compelled to take pictures.

The next day we were flying back to Singapore but not before stopping by Tesco and hitting up our last eatery in Penang: Hakka Tree.
Fried Enoki Mushrooms
Golden Wontons

Meatballs soup
They were actually very yummy! I still prefer the enoki mushrooms at Golden Thai. The golden wontons were not as I expected, it has this white fish paste fillings instead of minced meat that I'm used to but still tasty. And lastly, meatball soup. Love.

And here are some of the things I relied on the most during this trip:

Clockwise from top left corner:
1. Multi-color earrings from New Look
2. Green maxi dress from Monsoon
3. SK-II miracle water to keep my skin in check
4. Maybe Baby perfume by Benefit
5. I Want Love by Elton John and Mad Season by Matchbox 20. Somehow these two songs were in heavy rotation on my iPod the whole time I was in Penang
6. Black-blue Marc by Marc Jacobs acetate sunglasses
7. OPI Stranger Tides

My overall impression of Penang is that it is a very mellow town. There aren't still that many tall buildings and massive highways, the feeling is indeed laid-back.

So to conclude this long and winding post, I thought I'd share another photo of that idyllic Batu Ferringhi beach.

Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. Suddenly craving for nasi kandar..the only nasi kandar we had was from the hotel, but still good though. I love Penang, but the bus drivers were daredevils. Everytime we took bus, I always fell silent :D
    Love the hidden gem where we had best Penang char kway tiao, assam laksa, pie ti and ice kachang.