HAPPY New Year y'all ! Hope you've had a blast and let's hope for a better year. It's really been a long holiday for me and sadly it's coming to an end today as I get back to work on Sunday. Loved it although I think I need another short break to recover from it. The past three weeks had been a juggle between managing family members and finding precious pockets of time to recover from all that social and family interactions. In between all that, Aloy and I managed to seize some time, two nights and three days actually, to re-visit Penang. The road trip took us to Ipoh first for two days where my dad fed us with Indian curries and yummy Ipoh hawker food before we got back onto the North-South Highway to Penang. I've always liked driving up north for its endless green hills sprouted like brocolli heads in the vicinity. Really scenic especially when the sky is clear and blue.
Penang - the rustic island located on the northwest coast of the Peninsular is a lovely place to explore. Aloy and I are fond of the island for several reasons - mostly sentimental because we went to a university there which is also where we both met. That was more than a decade ago. Still, it's easy for anyone to fall in love with the island for all it has to offer. From the food to culture and environment, the island has always made me feel like a carefree tourist despite having lived there for four years.
Instead of checking into a resort along the winding Feringgi beach line, this time around, we chose to stay in the city centre at the gorgeous Yeng Keng Hotel on Chulia Street, Georgetown. I adore the 20-room boutique hotel which is a tastefully refurbished 150-year-old building. Beautiful rooms, friendly staff and a great location. My only complain is that perhaps the rooms (at least the one we stayed in) may be a little too small and can get pretty congested if luggages are not tucked into the cupboard. On day two however, we had to head out two blocks away and check into the Banana Boutique Hotel as our room at Yeng Keng was only available for a night. The second hotel, also an old building with a new touch has a traditional feel with a Chinese temple theme to it. Again, really helpful staff and a great location. Bigger rooms too. Breakfast selection ? Not great. Over all, I wasn't crazy about the theme.
On the first day, we drove around Sungai Dua, Minden and Bukit Jambul via Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) just to see how much the place had changed over the decade. Driving around the hilly compound brought back memories and there were some pleasant changes in some buildings. Aloy got pretty nostalgic when we visited his School. We took some photos and later moved to the School of Communication. Well, since I was never too fond of my School, my moment only came when we passed by the swimming pool near the Minden gate. It was tagged with personal memories. I had spent many hours training and swimming in that pool. It was my fortress at one time.
The Gurney Drive is a place where the city meets the sea. The popular seafront promenade has a mall, residences, eateries and entertainment outlets on one side and the sea on the other side. It's a lively place with lots of activity where you can see both locals and tourists. We took a stroll here and headed over to the hawker stalls. Expected in a touristy place like this one, I was disappointed with the food as a local. Having said that, it's probably a good place for tourists to sample some of Penang's food all in one nice location.
A trip to Penang is incomplete without experiencing life along the winding roads of Batu Feringgi. The area is a place where beach-loving tourists park themselves at the many hotels and resorts along the way. One of the newer establishments is the Hard Rock Cafe Penang, complete with a hotel too. So we spent some time there sipping Martinis, listening to live music while watching the antics of some drunken tourists. It was a fun night for all of us.
|Driving north on the North - South Highway is always a delight.|
Green hills and blue skies is a therapeutic combination really.
|This breath-taking view is from a lookout point just after the|
Jelapang toll and before the tunnel ahead of Kuala Kangsar.
During the rainy season,it gets all misty here but I like it best
when the sky is clear.
|This is halfway on the 13.5km Penang bridge. Officially opened to|
traffic in 1985, it is fourth longest in Southeast Asia. I remember
travelling often to Penang on this bridge when we were kids.
Love the fairytale sky here.
|The outdoor lounge at Yeng Keng during the day.|
|The courtyard at the Yeng Keng. Love the colours|
|The cafe at Yeng Keng during breakfast. Loved the velvet sofas|
and the bar area where the buffet was laid out below a transparent roof.
|The courtyard at the Banana Boutique Hotel has|
a fountain with koi in the pond. On the
background is an alter with some deities on it.
There are also many more deities on the upper floor.
Locating ourselves at Chulia Street was the best for us as we wanted to be in and around the city centre. We walked around a lot on the second day, shopped and ate at some of the recommended eateries listed in the Penang Food Trail guide. Naturally some selections were disappointing but the famous Penang Street Cendol (local dessert with coconut milk base) was still good. Later in the evening, we met up with an old friend who took us to the Straits Quay for a drink (this area was not developed a decade ago) and later to Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling's (Pitt Street) Nasi Kandar Beratur for supper. It's a pity that by this time, my camera had run out of battery because just at the corner along the Buckingham Street, there's a beautiful mosque built in the 19th century by the Indian Muslim traders.
|The Cendol stall on Penang Road always has a line of customers.|
|We had lunch at Nasi Kandar Line Clear on the second day.|
Almost always brimming with customers but I prefer
Nasi Kandar Pelita and Kayu Nasi Kandar anytime.
One of the places I insisted on visiting was also the Protestant Cemetery (1789 - 1892) on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah (Northam Road). It's the oldest Christian cemetery in Penang, created to bury the early British colonial administrators, traders and missionaries. It also holds the grave of Captain Francis Light, the island's founder. The cemetery was used until the late 19th century. When the Western Road Cemetery was created on a bigger piece of land, new burials were done there. During my uni days on the island, I visited this cemetery quite a few times with Jacinta. It's a strangely peaceful place to be.
|Capt. Light's tomb. It's located somewhere at the centre of the cemetery.|
|It is here that I learnt water confidence and trained to be a life guard.|
|On the right is the city overlooking the sea at the Gurney Drive.|
|Gurney Drive: Photo taken from a different stretch when it's twillight|