Hello from Penang! :) It seems we haven’t been spending a lot of time at home in our condo in KL. When my husband told me that he’s got a conference to attend on this island and that he’ll pay for my fare if I wanted to tag along, I was actually having second thoughts about going.
Yes, really! Carol, with the crazy levels of wanderlust and the constant travel whims! I guess after going to Sabah then to Langkawi (we even have a scheduled weekend trip to Singapore a couple of weeks from now!) in just a span of weeks then attending events in between, I just felt like we were never home anymore (and I am honestly in love with how cosy our condo is) and I know I have a ton of posts to write (all the traveling has given me quite a backlog).
I honestly felt that I wanted to just stay still for a bit – preferably on our couch, watching Gossip Girl re-runs or baking. But hey, I couldn’t pass on the chance of seeing Penang with my husband. I knew I would be jealous if I was left at home. And though I’m missing the ASEAN Ladies’ Circle Coffee Morning this week (one of the events I’ve been looking forward to for a while!), I’m glad I went with him. Penang is just so beautiful!
From the moment we spotted the island from the air, I knew I’d have a special relationship with this place. Come to think of it, I was already aware of some of the great things about living in Penang through AmandaMuse, a vlogger on Youtube that I like. (She talks about beauty, travel, expat life, and motherhood. So if you’re into those things, I suggest you check her out.) I never expected I’ll be visiting Penang so soon but I guess that’s the beauty of my husband’s job. Almost nothing is certain, plans can always change. Guess who’s never bored? The crazy wife, of course. ;)
Anyhoo, we took the 55 minute flight from KLIA this morning and arrived past 10 am at Penang International Airport. Our hotel is at the Batu Ferringhi area (Penang’s well-loved beaches and resort-hotels are here) which is 31 kilometres away – at the opposite side of the island! Instead of taking a cab which would cost us RM74 (Php1010.81, EUR17.81, USD22.57), we took the 102 bus which only costs RM4 (Php54.64, EUR0.96, USD1.22) per person! Crazy price difference!
The bus is also a great way to see Georgetown, the State of Penang’s capital, as well. We dumped our stuff at the hotel, freshened up a bit, and went straight for one of the restaurants along the main road in Batu Ferringhi.
First order of business was food, of course! It was past lunch time and Penang being one of the most famous places in the world for food made our hunger even worse. (They weren’t serving meals at the Air Asia flight we took because we were traveling for less than an hour! Boo! I love Air Asia’s Nasi Lemak. Yes, I happen to like trying out plane food. KLM is my top pick, just so you know.)
Hunger games! Cafe Sanaa is located near Holiday Inn in Batu Ferringhi.
We ended up in a small place that serves authentic Middle Eastern food. Cafe Sanaa did not disappoint. Dishes are freshly made upon order, and the price points for the quality and the amount of servings aren’t so bad either. Our whole meal cost us around RM64 (Php874.22, EUR15.41, USD19.52). Here’s what we had:
Chicken Seekh Kebab for Alvin. Juicy meat with that authentic kebab taste. The spices are well blended and leave a distinct aftertaste with a slight spicy kick.
Chicken Tikka Masala for me. I asked them not to make it too spicy as my tolerance is kinda low and they happily obliged. Creamy, rustic flavour with enough spice to affect the taste and not leave me chugging down a litre of water after every bite.
Butter garlic rice that’s actually good for two but I finished almost all of it by myself. Good thing my husband asked for some at one point. I was eating on autopilot. Also creamy and with just the right amount of salt.
Butter Naan. Tasty enough to be eaten by itself, even better when you dip it in the Chicken Tikka Masala sauce. ;)
The guys running the place are also very helpful and nice. They’re kind enough to give directions and even stopped for a bit of small talk. After lunch, we took the 102 bus to the Komtar Bus Terminal where we were to take the 204 bus (the only type of bus) that will go straight to Penang Hill. However, we were pressed for time and the bus taking quite a while to get to the terminal so we took a cab instead. It cost us RM30 (Php409.79, EUR7.22, USD9.15).
Hello, Penang Hill! To get to the top, you will have to get on a funicular train, similar to the one they have at Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. Though the one here in Penang is quite modern in design and goes a lot faster (which kinda scared the bejeezus out of me at first).
The train ride costs RM8 (Php109.28, EUR1.93, USD2.44) for Malaysians and RM30 (Php409.79, EUR7.22, USD9.15) for foreigners. Keep your tickets as you will be asked for them on the way back to the foot of the hill.
It was kinda hard to get a decent photo of the train as there were so many people.
The train can be a bit crowded but I won’t say it’s uncomfy. It was a pretty great ride to the top. Or maybe that’s just the Filipino in me that’s pretty much used to riding our MRT back at home during rush hour. It’s a character building and skill improving experience back at home.
Once you get off at the top station, you’ll have to walk through a bridge that will take you to the top area where there’s a park, an Owl Museum, a couple of viewing decks, food establishments, and couple of other attractions.
There’s an open area at the top where you can walk towards the viewing decks. Children can also play here and take photos as there are a couple of playgrounds and some exotic animals that you can take photos with (for a fee of around RM10 paid to their owners, of course).
There’s also an older model of the funicular train.
If you walk a bit further up the hill, there’s another playground for kids as well as a mosque and a Hindu temple. It’s always nice to see religions coexisting peacefully in certain areas, don’t you think?
The Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Penang. It’s been around since the 1800s as a shrine for the Hindu deity Murugan, the god of war.
My husband and I were also talking that morning about how we miss Bali. It was one of our honeymoon destinations last year and we had so much fun there, immersing ourselves in the ever so vibrant culture/beliefs of Hinduism.
The Penang Hill Mosque primarily serves those who work and live on Penang Hill.
View from the top.
On one of the observation decks is a love-lock area. You might be familiar with this practice that became extremely famous in Paris where lovers would write their names on locks, attach it on one of the metal fixtures the Pont des Artes, and throw the key to the river. Well, you can also do it on Penang Hill! But a word from the wise – er, I meant cheapskate – bring your own padlocks! ;) Padlocks are sold in this area between RM25-RM35!
Here’s a secret: When I went to Paris last year, I left a lock on love lock bridge with our names on it. I also wrote: “Is it really meant to be?” on the back of the lock. HAHAHA. CHEESE! One for the movies! Alvin and I just finished obliterating (Obliterating? Lol!) a couple of HUGE, ugly, psychotic obstacles to our relationship then. I went to Europe for a month to think, be merry, and hit the refresh button on my life. Haha! When I got back from the trip, Alvin proposed and we got married a couple of months later. It really is meant to be after all. ;)
Update: I was thinking of looking for the lock I placed there when we go back to Paris next year but was surprised to see news today that the lovelocks at Pont des Artes are to be removed and the metal railings are to be replaced with glass panels! Well, the bridge was apparently starting to collapse due to the weight of all those locks (45tonnes according to the news! What?!). So I guess our love lock is gone! However, it makes me smile how my husband told me while were on top of Penang Hill that we don’t need locks to symbolise our love as it’s intangible and we ourselves know that it’s true and lasting. My husband is not really the cheesy type but he does have his moments. ;)
There’s also an Owl Museum on the hill. I was ready to dismiss it right away but what got me fumbling for my wallet and handing over RM10 (per person) was the promise of a Harry Potter photo-op. Yes, I’m a fan girl and it’s that easy to get me into a museum which I wasn’t really interested in at first.
I have to admit, it was pretty cute inside and we learned a bit more about the Wizarding World’s preferred post carriers.
Seems legit. ;)
This might just be my favourite photo of my husband – ever. My very own, Japanese Harry Potter! Lol! <3
No make up anymore, no problem! We spent more time at the different viewing decks. Tip: The best view is at the David Brown Restaurant’s terrace.
We got a bit tired and decided to check out the food court.
We shared this HUGE Iced Mango (Mango Kacang) that costs RM10 (Php136.60, EUR2.41, USD3.05). We weren’t able to finish it. It’s that big.
We took the 204 bus back to the Komtar Bus Station and the 102 bus back to Batu Ferringhi. It’s a good thing our hotel is near a lot of food places – from restaurants to small eateries down to hawker centres. Being the Filipinos that we are (we practically eat 8 times a day back in Manila), we had to get dinner before retiring to the hotel.
We went to the Long Beach Cafe which was basically a hawker centre.
Interior. Lots of locals and tourists. I can say the selection is pretty good. It’s got stalls serving Chinese, Middle Eastern, BBQ, and Western food.
Hot and cold Teh Tarik – only RM3 for both! ;)
My husband got some shrimps cooked in sweet sauce with cashew nuts and rice. I wasn’t able to take a photo as he was already too hungry. Didn’t have the heart to stop him. Haha!
I ordered a prawn and fired rice set for RM13. It was so good! The prawns were fresh and the rice was so tasty!
At night, the main road in Batu Ferringhi comes alive with stalls selling clothes, souvenirs, and other knick-knacks.
These cute, vintage earrings caught my eye.
Some tourists take these modified bikes/rickshaws to move around the area.
We’ll be here for a couple more days for my husband’s conference and while he’s busy working, I’ll probably be doing a bit of sigh seeing on my own. ;) I’m not the type of wife that can’t do a bit of exploring without her husband. But I’ll leave a couple more places to visit with him on our last day, of course. ;) More later, Carol P.S. Sorry for any typos. It’s past 1 in the morning here and I need to catch some sleep! Been awake since 5:30am. Zzzzz.