Penang’s streets weave, often oneway, through the eclectic array of new and old buildings, giving Penang a chaotic but charming feel. Beaches, resorts, markets and malls; this place has everything. Georgetown with its street art, galleries and cafes was a favourite of mine.
We grabbed a berth at Straits Quay Marina which is a large modern area with shopping mall, bars, restaurants and cafes lining the marina. It is easy to get to Georgetown, and other places, by bus from the marina (see travel notes below).
We caught a bus into georgetown and hired a bike for the duration of our stay in Penang. We treated ourselves to a larger scooter hoping that my coccyx and back wouldn’t suffer quiet so much. Alas ’twas not to be.
The following day we decided to cross the Penang Bridge – 13.5km long – to the mainland for a look around and making our way back across the ‘Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shan Bridge’ – hows that for a mouthful! The ‘Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shan Bridge’ is 24km long and, opened on March 1st 2014, it is the longest bridge in Southeast Asia. We did a massive 200km ride that day before returning to our comfy air-conditioned abode! Have I forgotten to mention Dwayne bought himself an air-con in Johor!
We spent a couple of days exploring Georgetown’s ‘little India’, colonial buildings and the wonderful street art. Little India was full of ‘Bollywood’ music, colourful saris and the aroma of pungent curries. A few streets over, Armanien St was a contrast with its Chinese lanterns, trishaws, arts, crafts, and souvenir shops, complete with a gaggle of tourists on bicycles.
I loved the street art! It was amazing and a great way to see Georgetown as you walk around trying to find it all. Below are just some of my favourites. There is so much of it to see.
Wrought iron artwork is scattered through Penang’s streets. the art depicts an interesting story of the area, as each piece of art narrates a part of Penang’s history including information about street names, different areas or as the one below does, the history of a local food dish.
Chew Jetty, a ‘living heritage community’, is the biggest waterfront settlement in Penang. Established in the mid 19th Century it is the only clan jetty left that continues to observe the once a year annual worship of its Temple Deity and the Jade Emperor. It would have been a very different place to visit years ago, before the tourism boomed, however it is all souvenir shops and little else to see now. In our travels Dwayne and I have been lucky enough to visit villages built over the water which remain little touched by todays modern standards. Chew Jetty was a disappointment but still a nice stroll and an interesting place to purchase your souvenirs.
Kek Lok Si Temple is a buddhist temple at Air Itam. We discovered it whilst riding around trying to find the Penang Hill Station. It is said to be the largest buddhist temple in Southeast Asia and with a huge statue in an equally huge pavilion it certainly is impressive.
It is an important pilgrimage centre for Buddhists, and while we had a look around we saw many people praying to their deities while burning incense or ringing bells.
We found Penang Hill Station and bought a ticket to ride to the top of Penang Hill on the funicular railway. The views from the top are pretty impressive.
We went for a walk, visiting the temple and mosque before finding ourselves at a fence full of hearts and padlocks. We don’t know what all the hearts were about – but anything with that much love gotta be a good thing right?
Dwayne found a mosquito filled path through the forest and then proceeded to drag me, protesting all the while through, an unknown to us at the time, Dengue Fever area (we saw the sign after!) We finally made our way back to the station after seeing the cutest monkeys. I am fairly sure they were Dusky Leaf Monkeys (Trachypithecus Obscures).
Another funny sign! This one gets me because it is so particular about what not to throw down the toilet. This sign was in the toilets at the top of Penang Hill. DON’T throw toothbrushes, combs, sanitary items or pens or pencils in the toilet! What about mobile phones, reading glasses, giant gobstoppers and rulers….??
Travel Notes (May2015)
MYR – Malaysian Ringgit written here as RM
Straits Quay Marina – Cost for 45 foot yacht RM54.00 /per day (AUD $19.00)
Power and water extra. Clean good amenities. Washing machine and drier in female toilet/shower room (not sure how the men use them?).
Shopping mall with groceries etc at marina. Restaurants, bars and cafes.
Shopping – Five minute walk to Tesco from marina
Public Transport – Catch bus out the front of Tesco – cheap.
Scooter hire – Chulia St Georgetown. RM30.00 /day for scooter. We hired a larger scooter for RM45.00 /day (AUD $15.00).
Funicular Railway – For non-Malaysian the fare for a return ticket is RM30.00 (AUD $10.55) for adults and RM15.00 (AUD $45.30) for children.
(For Malaysian citizens, the fare for a return ticket is RM10.00 per adult and RM4.00 per child aged between three and 12. Senior citizens RM4.00).
Food – lots of cheap food courts and food markets such as “Persiaran Gurney” the Gurney St Hawker Centre which is open from 6pm to 12am with heaps of food stalls. For more about the food of Penang go to Penang Dining here!
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