See other entries to Weekly Photo Challenge with this week’s theme, Curves, HERE!
Posts Tagged ‘must visit in penang
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Memorable. It was one of our most unforgettable dining experiences ever. We’re eternally grateful!
05/17/13, Friday, Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, Malaysia. My family and I were fortunately invited by E&O to a 3D2N luxury accomodation at one of the five-123-square-meter-Corner Suites, among its 117 units of 55-square-meter-Superior Suites located at the newly built, Victory Annexe wing (our experience & views on the hotel suites, other F&Bs & facilities plus our personal recommendations will be on a separate post on this blog series about E&O).
On top of the many exclusive privileges for guests at Victory Annexe that my family and I enjoyed, such as daily breakfast in either Sarkies at its ground floor (which we already sampled previously; blog post HERE!) or in Planter’s Lounge at its 6th level that also serves evening cocktails, E&O was more than generous to invite us as well, to a weekend family dinner at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, 1885.
1885 is located at the ground floor of the historical Heritage Wing of Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, which is a few-meter-walk from where we checked in. Stepping inside the restaurant felt surreal; the atmosphere was absolutely different. I silently observed Tina and Gabby’s reactions when all of us allowed the moment to just sink in. It was truly an amazing treat for the three of us!
“Named for the year that the E&O Hotel was established, 1885 offers classical yet contemporary cuisine in an elegant environment in the finest traditions of colonial fine dining.
The selection of inventive fusion dishes from our accomplished chefs, accompanied by a superb selection of wines, marks 1885 as the perfect choice for an enjoyable dining experience.
Traditional English Afternoon Tea is also served in this elegant setting. Candlelit tables, starched linens, silver service, and attentive staff create a magical experience.” ~sourced from http://e-o-hotel.com/1885/
Every table was set simply in tuned with the E&O’s theme : Timeless elegance.
A set menu was specially prepared for us courtesy of the Chef, who happened to be on a special assignment in another Malaysian state that night. Nonetheless, the 6-course-meal was obviously well thought of and was nothing short of impressive.
One of the strongest points that impressed us with 1885 was the fact that they provided a kiddie-dinner-menu for Gabby. Believe me, having separate adult and children’s menus means so much for a family of diners! As in our case, Gabby got to exercise his decision making when he trusted his very own taste in selecting between choices from appetizers to entrees and desserts.
Waiting for our orders was never an issue since we’re entertained by a very soothing and relaxing music that further enhanced the over all ambience of 1885 and of course, made our lovely epicurean experience even more remarkable. A pianist was playing pieces from our wonder years! Love songs commonly heard on the radio during late 80s and 90s were beautifully played on the piano throughout our 7PM to 11PM dinner.
I didn’t expect 1885 to be filled with diners that night but tables were almost packed. I may have underestimated not the restaurant itself, but the choices of guests when it comes to eating places in Penang. It was a great proof that there’s really a market for high-end and quality-dining amidst the volume of affordable hawkers in this Malaysian gastronomic paradise!
Our dinner kicked off with a variety of breads on a basket carried by waiters from table to table.
Tina and I opted to have different entrees. The choices were usual but the plates were extraordinary. It was a toss between seared fish and baked steak. In as much as I wanted to dunk my fork on a handsome slice of Wagyu Fillet Mignon, I allowed Tina to have it since she liked it over the cod fish and I thought, she’d eventually share it with me, and she did, hehehe!
Because we’re having fish and beef dishes, white and red wines to complement everything were mandatory. I like!
The service of 1885 staff was impeccable. They were highly courteous, quick and attentive. Kudos! To us, they deserve a raise!
Not merely because we’re far from being wine connoisseurs (well, surely we’re not!) but I personally have confidence with established restaurants’ recommendations. So when one of the staff asked us of what wines we like, we threw the question back to him politely. With a smile, he instantly suggested Fire Road Pinot Noir 2011 from New Zealand and LFE Chardonnay 2012 from Chile.
It was indeed, a fine dining but our conversation remained casual. Gabby discussed his wishes on how to celebrate his upcoming 9th birthday in his school here this October; he already had ideas in mind from the cake, to his requested fried chicken fillet strips with home-made gravy for his mom to prepare for his classmates and teachers, and the gifts that he’d like to receive -what else but toys!
One by one, our plates arrived on our table.
Between Tomato Soup and Creme of Mushroom, Gabby chose the latter and he liked it a lot, leaving his soup bowl empty in few sec.
The greens came in next.
Must have detailed shot…
If Gabby had Creme of Mushroom Soup, Tina and I had the Lobster Bisque.
Then it was time to cleanse the palates.
The test of patience and understanding happened when a wait staff committed mistake in mentally jotting down the orders. Between Carbonara and Bolognese Pasta, our little-big boy told the waiter he likes the former. After several minutes of waiting, a pasta plate with red sauce landed on our table.
Gabby to Tina : “Ma, is this Carbonara?”
We looked at each other and without wasting a minute, I called the attention of the waiter. Told him that our boy wants Carbonara and not Bolognese. The staff apologized, took the plate and positively replied that he’ll prepare another plate with Carbonara sauce; he even asked us if he can use Rigatoni. To me, that’s being customer-friendly!
Gabby’s choice :
Tina and I saw how Gabby literally devoured his Carbonara. It was even piping hot when Gabby had his fork with pasta to his mouth, one after the other. We were in awe watching him eat. It must be that good!
1885′s Baked Wagyu Fillet Mignon passed Tina’s disriminating taste! She had it medium-well and even commented to me that it nearly tasted her favorite fillet mignon dish that she ate in one of the most regarded restaurants in Tagaytay City back home. She shared to me a generous chunk and I effortlessly understood her praises for the dish. It must be the quality of beef plus the meticulous method of cooking. The potato side dish was not merely chopped and fried but was creatively done in thin and layered servings.
My plate :
The cod fish was well seasoned; neither bland nor too salty. It perfectly complemented the crispy prawn tempura. What made the dish soared to the highest heavens was pairing it with sauteed soba. I only hoped for another similar plate that night! And the waiter’s recommendation of chardonnay? I never had a doubt.
Gabby thought of having Single Scoop Ice Cream over Trio Flavored Ice Cream from the kiddie menu.
If Gabby only had the very common yet classic, vanilla flavored ice cream, 1885 prepared a uniquely textured and bitter-sweet dessert plate for Tina and I.
It’s hard to fake it; we liked every plate from the very first one to our dessert. Just look at the smile of my lovely wife. Naks!
At this point, we’re almost struggling with satiation. Tina and I told the wait staff that since our Corner Suite has coffee making facility, we had to let go of having coffee at 1885. However, we got a word that they already began brewing it, so we happily gave in. What’s a pretty meal without coffee ending (or to some, tea) anyway?
Before writing this, I asked Tina and Gabby of their honest comments with the service, ambiance and food of 1885 and I got no negative response. I only heard from both of them, “Masarap!” or in Bahaya Malaysia, “Sedap!”
We wish to come back for some English Afternoon Tea next time.
Thank you very much, 1885 at E&O Hotel Penang!
STAY TUNED for MORE of this E&O BLOG SERIES!
1885 | Eastern & Oriental Hotel | 10 Lebuh Farquhar, 102oo Penang, Malaysia | Operating hours : 2PM-11PM (daily), English Afternoon Tea is served from 2PM to 5PM | website : http://e-o-hotel.com/1885/
*While this is a sponsored blog post, the words are all mine unless quoted, and were never influenced by anyone.
Tags: beautiful hotel in penang, beyond toxicity, blogger, doc gelo, docgelo, e&o hotel, eastern oriental hotel penang, expatriates, family, family boding, Filipinos, filipinos in malaysia, hotels in penang malaysia, Life, luxury, must visit in george town penang, must visit in penang, ocw, ofw, photography, postaday, staycation, tourism malaysia
The theme of this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is so apt for what we’re having now. For 3 days and 2 nights, my family and I are spending the lovely weekend over a SPONSORED luxurious staycation at EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL PENANG’s 123-square meter-CORNER SUITE. They invited me to review the newly built Victory Annexe Wing of this incredibly beautiful only-seafront view-hotel in George Town, Penang, Malaysia that boasts of heritage and timeless elegance; best, I’m experiencing everything with my family. It’s a sweet ESCAPE from our usual daily routine. It’s totally different experience that deviates us, even for a bit, from all hassles, stress and challenges of daily living in abroad. We cannot be grateful enough!
These photos are just teasers of the upcoming blog series about E&O Hotel Penang. Stay tuned!
This is my entry to WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE : ESCAPE
Tags: breakfast, char koay teow, chowrasta penang, Coffee, dim sums, george town penang, jalan chowrasta, malaysia, market, must eat in penang, must visit in malaysia, must visit in penang, pasar chowrasta, penang malaysia, photography, street photography, what to eat in penang malaysia, what to visit in malaysia, what to visit in penang, where to eat in penang malaysia, where to go in penang
Almost every weekend here in Penang, I usually go to pasar (Bahasa Melayu for market, marché, mercado, palengke) in Bagan Ajam; that’s only a 5-minute-1-bus-ride away from where we live in Butterworth. My usual Saturday or Sunday starts when I hop on the Rapid Penang bus at around 6:30AM and finish buying everything that our budget allows at less than an hour. I go to the public market alone and purchase the ingredients we need that would be good enough to last about one to a week and a half of consumption. Tina’s wifely weekend duties begin after I arrived home as she lords our kitchen when she washes, slices, marinates and prepares everything that I bought.
And just so you know, located in front of our building’s apartment is a row of shops that includes a few mini-pasar (mini-mart) where we also source some of our needs whenever our pantry runs out.
Because of the proximity of the Bagan Ajam public market from our home and the availability of mini-mart downstairs, we rarely go to other pasar particularly in the island (Butterworth’s located in mainland Penang). But last weekend was exceptional. I killed the curiosity in me after finally discovering the charm of the public market at the heart of George Town. I liked most things I saw in the stalls of Chowrasta and Kuala Kangsar Roads.
After riding the bus and the ferry from Butterworth to George Town, I walked unhurriedly after hopping off the Rapid Penang Bus #202 at Jalan Penang to Jalan Chowrasta. I arrived in the famous Pasar Chowrasta situated right at the center of Penang’s UNESCO World Heritage Site early at 7:30AM, still with less crowd and blessed with a fine weather.
“Uncle, can I take a photo of you?” I asked the old Chinese-Malaysian old man who seems to have mastered the art and skill of spring roll skin making through his years. With a quick glance at me and a smile, he nodded. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he must be one of those they called, Living Heritage of Penang.
Funny to recall that during our first few days of living in Penang, we didn’t even know where to buy spring roll skin or what we call in the Philippines, “balat ng lumpia”. Apparently, the stalls in Pasar Chowrasta that overflows to Chowrasta and Kuala Kangsar Roads have more to offer than spring roll skin. From fresh produce to dry goods, the possibilities of going home with an empty pocket is highly.
If you come to Pasar Chowrasta with an empty stomach, worry not and remind yourself that you are in Penang – Malaysia’s gastronomic paradise! Having a growling stomach isn’t an issue here because even with only one ringgit, there’s a Nasi Lemak bungkus that could be satisfying. The problem always lies on difficulty of choosing from the wide variety. Almost every corner has stalls and eateries that offer ready cooked and freshly-prepared tummy fillers good for either dine-in (as they say here, “having-here!”) or takeaway. Surely, there’s something for everyone even for those with most discriminating taste.
I didn’t go inside the building of Chowrasta Market itself and was content with everything along Jalan Chowrasta and Jalan Kuala Kangsar. The scene and the sight brought me back to my days in the Philippines where I used to frequent the streets and stalls of Ongpin, Binondo, Divisoria (our country’s versions of Chinatown and huge public market) and Quiapo located at the heart of Manila.
I should’ve brought reusable shopping bags and extra money with me. Perhaps, next time. My aim was actually to capture what this market is all about and I went back to Pasar Bagan Ajam the following day as usual.
Those tiger prawns looked fresh! And everything else appeared so inviting to be sampled.
Textiles, shirts, undergarments, potted plants, cut flowers are sold side by side with chicken and pork and even frogs (not in photo).
Dumplings made on the spot. Must be delicious!
I looked at my wrist watch and it said 9AM. Time to eat my breakfast. I’m very predictable. Throw me a plate of Char Koay Teow and a cup of coffee and I am a happy man!
In less than 5 minutes, I’m done eating. But I wanted more! I’m craving for something. So I walked back to Jalan Chowrasta and went to a parking-lot-looking eatery that’s strategically tucked along the road. The stall that sells potted leafy and flowering plants greeted me.
What to eat? What to eat? I’m craving for….hmmmm. *light bulb on!* DIM SUM!
I asked the lady who sells dim sum if they’re open on Sunday; she said yes but they usually stop business at 12PM, so just like the one in Bagan Ajam, the public market here also closes at lunch time.
Meanwhile, here’s my Saturday breakfast #2 :
For less than 10 ringgit, I savored these delightful dim sums plus another cup of hot coffee! Oh yes, like my wife, I’m addicted to caffeine! I didn’t finish all the dim sums though, so I had a few of them as takeaway and purchased some more for Tina and Gabby.
The dim sums I bought as takeaway for my wife and kid included Hong Kong Chee Chong Fun. We used to eat it in Manila when we go to our favorite Chinese food kiosk selling Shrimp Cheong Fan. This one had Char Siew Chicken and generous shrimps as filling; wrapped and topped with roasted garlic. Served with chilli sauce and soy sauce. Yummy!
Before the clock hits 11 in the moring, I’m already home. With so much excitement, I showed Tina my photos and told her how interesting the market at Chowrasta and Kuala Kangsar Roads is!
Truly, one may learn a lot about the lifestyle, culture and people of one’s place by a simple stroll in its public market. Pasar, mercado, palengke or market absolutely defines a community!
I dare say one has never been to George Town, Penang without exploring her public market, particularly this in Jalan Chowrasta and Jalan Kuala Kangsar.
I shall come back!
Tags: a day in a life of, amateur photography, appreciation, armenian street, breakfast, cannon street, cheese roti, chew jetty, chew jetty penang, docgelo, expat blog, expat blogger, expat in malaysia, expatriate, family, food in malaysia, george town penang, heritage sites penang, heritage trail george town penang, inspiration, jetty, life in asia, life in malaysia, lifes abroad, lifestyle, lifestyle blog, lifestyle blogger, morning, murals, murals in george town, murals in penang, must eat in penang, must visit in malaysia, must visit in penang, nikon D7000, penang malaysia, photography, photos, photos taken by nikon, restoran kapitan, roti canai, roti keju, street art, street arts, street arts in george town penang, sunrise, visit penang, weekend
Sunrise viewed from Chew Jetty, George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Saturday, 20 April 2013. Incidentally, I entered this photo in the HIPpix Challenge contest in Penang. If you like it and would like to support, kindly click this LINK HERE! and click the like button after the jump. Thanks!
Waking up early with my family on a Saturday morning just to watch the sunrise at one of the waterfront-settlements in George Town, Penang and stroll around a few streets simply to capture images randomly doesn’t happen on a daily basis. I consider it a bliss! It’s an absolute breather from our almost-routinary-life in Penang (read : work-home-work or for our son, Gabby, school-home-school).
Despite the challenges and uncertainties of living abroad (and the expenses, my goodness! We just recently paid fees for renewal of my Employment Pass and my family’s Dependent Passes on top of our monthly domestic bills), I’ve been constantly reminding Gabby how blessed and lucky we are for having opportunity to live in Penang. I’ve been hearing myself reminding our 8-year-old kiddo redundantly, that tourists and travelers still take efforts in saving money, plan for trips and book flights, bus or train rides to this incredibly charming UNESCO World Heritage Site, while we’re fortunate enough to experience the best of Penang anytime we wish because we’re currently based here.
So at around 6:30AM, Tina, Gabby and I hopped on the Rapid Penang Bus from our current home in Butterworth to Penang Sentral Bus Station and took the 12-minute-ferry-ride to George Town.
Gabby found a fun way at no cost to entertain himself while inside the ferry via Jellyfish spotting!
My lovely wife, Tina bitten by the shutter bug and became hooked on instagram, captured this…
Then we hopped off the ferry and walked our way to Chew Jetty.
From Rapid Penang Bus Station in Weld Quay, Chew Jetty can easily be reached via few meters of strolling towards left. It has been a year exactly when I first visited this modest place (read my blog post HERE!); inevitably, changes happened over time.
I was so excited telling Tina that I will take her photo by the mural of one of the houses at Chew Jetty. It looked like this when I went there on my second visit last June 2012.
For reason unknown to us, the mural previously frequented by local and foreign tourists is now a memory.
As I am following George Town, Penang (Penang State Tourism) on its facebook account, I saw a photo they posted of a newly installed mural done by a local artist at Chew Jetty. We saw it but it’s already deleted by white paint; I didn’t take photo of it anymore (I hope one of the readers could explain something about this).
Nonetheless, we’re still thankful to see the fire ball rising from the East!
My photos don’t do it justice.
Admittedly, I’m happy to see my wife enjoying her new past time : Instagramming! She’s now fond of taking photos by her ipod and at times, borrows the camera from my neck and takes her own shots. While she’s doing her thing, I did my own captures of some interesting things at Chew Jetty.
Here are a couple of beautiful cacti…
From Chew Jetty, we crossed the street and went straight to Lebuh Armenian. There, another favorite Ernest Zacharevic mural greeted us. It’s difficult to imagine for this mural to be broken down, it’s so fun to look at. Actually, there was a time that someone tried to destroy it by spilling liquid (was it milk or some paint?); thankfully, they managed to restore it. It remains to be one of the tourist-drawers in Pulau Pinang. Hopefully, the authorities can maintain it.
Then Gabby started asking where to eat breakfast. He said he’s OK with Restoran Kapitan and was craving for some Cheese Naan. Since the streets and the scenes en route to Kapitan were picturesque, Tina and I spent a few minutes of taking photos.
Goofed in front of a whimsically painted doors.
And rode the trishaw on display for that photo-op.
Breakfast, actually more like of our brunch was at one of our favorites, Restoran Kapitan at the junction of Pitt and Chulia Streets.
First time to try Roti Tisu from Restoran Kapitan and frankly, I liked the version from the other Indian eatery in the heart of Little India. They serve Roti Tisu with strawberry syrup and condensed milk there. Yummier, I think.
Washed down everything with Iced Blended Chocolate and Mango Lassi.
Hopped on the Rapid Penang Bus from Chulia Street to Komtar and went to Carrefour grocery for a little grocery shopping.
It was a Saturday morning well spent.
“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.” ~Mandino, Og
Tags: asia, backpackers in penang, backpacking in penang malaysia, backpacking southeast asia, blogger, char koay teow, doc gelo, docgelo, expat in malaysia, expatriate in malaysia, family blog, filipino in malaysia, george town festival, george town penang, hardrock hotel penang, lifestyle blog, must see in malaysia, must visit in penang, must visit in southeast asia, ofw in malaysia, penang assam laksa, penang malaysia, pulau pinang, southeast asia, travel blog, travel blogger, travel guide to george town penang, travel guide to penang malaysia, travelling, what to see in george town, what to see in penang, what to visit in penang, yeng keng hotel, yeng keng hotel penang
While my family and I have been living and working in Penang for almost 3 years now, I have not written yet a blog post summarizing the reasons why Penang is a must-visit place in Malaysia. So I was inspired by a travel magazine from Singapore that circulates around Asia where one of my amateur travel photos was fortunately published. Below is my mini-guide for first-time travelers to Pulau Pinang. Enjoy!
Experience diversities in this cultural melting pot in Southeast Asia where Malays, Indians and Chinese blend harmoniously. Heritage trails, gastronomic delights, resorts and beaches can easily lure the traveler in you to bring your feet in this Northwestern Malaysian State.
WHEN TO GO
George Town Festival 2013 runs from June 07 to July 07 and during this month-long celebration of the anniversary of inscription of Penang’s capital as one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Penangites’ culture and traditions are echoed in dances, street and theatrical performances, art exhibits and many more. However, one must know that revelry of each ethnic community in Penang is almost whole-year-round. The island’s sunny-weather also dictates no biases on when to plan a trip to George Town.
HOW TO GO
George Town is so accessible via air, land and sea. Fly directly from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to Penang with Air Asia or other airlines. Take a bus from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth or a train ride from Bangkok to Penang Sentral and hop on the ferry at the jetty in Butterworth to reach George Town in Pulau Pinang (Penang island) from Seberang Perai (mainland). The iconic ferry ride takes about 12-15 minute trip but waiting may be a little bit longer. Alternatively, one may take a taxi ride from either the Penang International Airport to George Town (or take the public commuter, Rapid Penang bus), or take a taxi cab from Penang Sentral Bus Station in Butterworth after alighting off the bus or train via the 13.5 kilometer-Penang Bridge, the longest in Southeast Asia.
BEST FOR VIEWS : Penang Hill located about 6 kilometers from George Town and 833 meters above sea level, it’s the perfect spot to get a glimpse of the island and the mainland of Penang. Best to go there : the very first trip of the day of the Swiss-made funicular train from the foot of Bukit Bendera at 6:30AM. Experience the Malaysian dusk while waiting for the glorious sunrise. Savor a Penangite breakfast at the foodcourt and appreciate nocturnal-feathered artsy crafts inside The Owl Museum. Penang Hill is almost a complete community with its Post Office, Bellevue Hotel, shrines of worship (Hindu and Muslim), gardens, playground and restaurants. The roundtrip fare for funicular train is US$ 9.42.
BEST FOR CULTURE : It’s a must for every heritage suckers to spend a couple of nights or more in this quaint Malaysian island. With a unique fusion of diversities from Malays, Indians and Chinese, their opulent and rich histories that are apparent in the city’s clan houses, museums and living heritage, can effortlessly fascinate even the most idle tourist. MUST VISITS are Pinang Peranakan Mansion located in 29 Lebuh Gereja or Church Street, George Town(Monday to Sunday including Public Holidays from 9:30 am to 5 pm, Admission rate: US$ 3.15). Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion also known as the Blue Mansion is both a heritage mansion and a hotel in Leith Street, George Town (Daily guided heritage tours of the house in English : 11am / 1.30pm / 3pm Admission fee US$ 3.77). Khoo Kongsi in Cannon Street, George Town (Open daily with US$ 3:15 Admission fee). Penang State Museum and Art Gallery located at Faruqar Street is also not to be missed (Admission fee of US$ 0.314).
BEST FOR WALKING : George Town, Penang’s Heritage Trail stretches from the parallels of Chulia Street include Kapitan Keling, Armenian, Cannon, Muntri , Church, Pitt, Leith Streets and many more. Clan Houses, street food stalls that are more popularly known as hawkers and restaurants to suit a wide range of budget offer Malay, Chinese, Indian and even Western cuisines, various Hindu temples, Muslim mosques, Taoist shrines and Catholic and other religious churches, art installations on walls of shophouses around George Town can be spotted randomly by foot. And when both feet and legs become sore, hopped in a traditional trishaw to upgrade the city’s sightseeing. If nature and some trekking interest you, head directly to Penang Botanic Garden, Penang Butterfly Farm or Tropical Spice Garden via taxi cab or Rapid Penang Bus where strolling under lush greens and blooms provides soothing atmosphere.
BEST FOR ESCAPE : For less than 10 minute Drive or 20-30 minute taxi cab or Rapid Penang Bus-ride from George Town to Batu Ferringhi , soak your feet on the sand and shoreline of Penang beaches. Hundreds of possibilities awaits you in Batu Ferringhi; there are water sports, night bazaars, hotels and spas , food, food and more food!
EAT & DRINK
HAWKER FOOD STALLS in the streets of George Town and Gurney Drive are the best in the island. It’s a must to savor Chicken Satay, Char Koay Teow, Dim Sums, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Penang Assam Laksa that ranked 7th on CNN’s list of Most Delicious Food in the World and the Malaysian staple food, Nasi Lemak (literally means, fatty rice made up of boiled rice from coconut milk, with hard boiled egg, roasted peanuts, anchovies, slices of cucumber, sambal or red and spicy sauce served with chicken or seafood wrapped in banana leaf and newspaper). While most food shops are Halal, there are also lots of hawkers and restaurants serving otherwise.
OLD TOWN RESTAURANT in Burma Road and inside malls in Penang serves a variety of Malaysian dishes and beverages from breakfast, lunch and dinner.
RESTORAN KAPITAN that’s open 24 jam (24 hours) located at the corner of Pitt Street and Chulia Street in Little India, George Town serves the best Indian food in the island. Must sample dishes are the Chicken Tandoori set with either Cheese or Garlic Naan, Butter Chicken Masala, Chicken Kebab, Briyani, Tosai, and their fruity infused yoghurt beverage, Lassi. Try Mango Lassi or Mango shake, or wash down everything with Milo-ais (iced Milo) or a glass of coffee or tea. Other Indian dishes can be tasted from Nasi Kandar restaurants.
KEDAI KOPI or coffee shops in the island offer Kopi with condensed milk or simply black, either in hot or cold mugs. Also popular drinks are Teh Tarik (literally means, pulled tea because the tea is pulled and poured in a height from the mug to make it frothy), Milo-ais (or iced Milo), Minuman Laicee or Lycee drink, Teh-o-ais or iced tea without milk and yes, a lot of milk tea craze in Penang too! Try buying a drink from a hawker stall and you’ll sip it from straw in a plastic bag of the drink tied with a loop. If you feel like indulging and splurging a bit, troop to either Chinahouse, Edelweiss Cafe or Amelie Cafe located at the heart of George Town.
ROTI BOY in most malls in Pulau Pinang sells the best buttery buns on Earth! Definitely, a must-try!!!
Head to Lebuh Chulia or Chulia Street for most foreigners’ favorite backpackers’ hotels and inns where mostly offer ranging from bed space to bed and breakfast, with internet café or coffee shop or restaurant at the ground level and sleeping spaces at its next.
If you dig accommodation with heritage appeal, try reserving a room at either Yeng Keng Hotel, also in Chulia Street or Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Leith Street.
When money isn’t an issue to you, premiere hotels in Penang includes Hard Rock Hotel Penang, Eastern and Oriental, Shangri la’s Rasa Sayang Spa and Resort, G Hotel, Traders Hotel and so much more.
GETTING AROUND : Tour around George Town in a day or two or immerse yourself in travel with Penangites’ lifestyle in a week or so via Rapid Penang Buses, taxi cabs, trishaws or by foot. Bus fares start at US$ 0.44 and up.
CLIMATE : Sunny all year long with few episodes of rainfall.
TYPICAL COST :
- Nasi Lemak : US$ 0.314
- Cendol or Ais Kacang : US$ 0.94
- Decent B&B : starts from US$ 15
- High end hotel : starts from US$ 219
- Visit to Cheah Kongsi : FREE!
- Penang WIFI : FREE!
AFFORDABLE EAT-ALL-YOU-WANT : Along Macalister Road at the heart of George Town Penang lies Towne Steamboat and Buffet that opens from 5PM onwards, where one can try his hands on cooking dim sum, cold cuts, seafoods and veggies on sour or spicy broth via steamboat, and also eat and enjoy cooked dim sums, fried goodies, chicken satay, steamed crabs, noodle dishes and desserts including bottomless ice cream bar and drinks for an affordable cost. US$9.40
BEST HAWKER STALLS : Bring your feet at the back of Plaza Gurney, and by the bay, your nose will be led by the aroma of gastronomic dishes from rows of the best hawker stalls in town. There you can find the best Char Koay Teow in Penang for my tastebuds.
MALL RATTING : Visit Pulau Pinang’s shopping malls that usually have 70-80% discounts on almost all items from clothes, luggages, kitchen and bedroom stuff to gadgets during great Malaysian season sale (July-December)
JALAN PENANG : A visit to George Town, Penang isn’t complete without strolling along Jalan Penang or Penang Road from Komtar –the tallest building in Pulau Pinang. Jalan Penang has Chowrasta Market, souvenir stalls and a ton of shop houses that sells almost everything you could imagine.
PLACES OF WORSHIPS : Do not miss to visit Kapitan Keling Mosque along Buckingham street, Standing Buddha in Burmese Temple, Reclining Buddha in Thai Temple (both located in Burma Road), St. George Church in Farquhar Street, it’s the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia and the other shrines located at the outskirts of Penang island -the picturesque Kek Lok Si Temple and the Floating Mosque.
CLAN JETTIES : Drop by Chew Jetty along Pengkalan Weld (a stone’s throw away from Jetty and Rapid Bus Station in George Town); Chew Jetty is one of the many clan jetties or water settlements by locals whose houses are built on stilts and are required to be preserved by UNESCO World Heritage Site authorities. Catch the sunrise, while away time by staring at the beauty of Penang Bridge or wait and watch for the sunset, take a cruise by boat from poles of the island via Chew Jetty.
PENANGITE DESSERTS : Cendol and Ais Kacang, an icy, fruity and nutty desserts available in hawker food stalls and restaurants around the island.
Hungry for more information about George Town, Penang?
Here’s a partial rundown of links to my previous blog posts about this beautiful island we called
our second home.
- George Town Festival 2011
- George Town Festival 2012
- George Town in Less Than A Day
- Kek Lok Si Temple
- Penang Hill
- Armenian Street
- Pinang Peranakan Mansion
- Pinang Peranakan Mansion Part 2
- Cheong Fatt Tze
- Khoo Kongsi
- Chew Jetty
- Shangri La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa
- Spice Market Cafe at Shangri La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa
- Yeng Keng Hotel
- Hard Rock Hotel Penang
- Food Porn at Hard Rock Hotel Penang
- G Cafe at G Hotel Penang
- G Cafe at G Hotel Part 2
- Penang Toy Museum
- Penang Assam Laksa
- Penang State Museum
- Tropical Spice Garden
- Penang Butterfly Farm
- Penang Spice Trail
- Steamboat Buffet
- Chinahouse Part 2
- Chinahouse Part 3
- Edelweiss Cafe
- De Tai Tong : Chinese Food | Mid Autumn Festival
- Amelie Cafe
- Cendol : Must Try!!!
- Charlie Brown Cafe at Straits Quay
*Incidentally, this blog is nominated again under the Best Expat Blog category of Ministry of Tourism Malaysia’s MITBCA. If you think this site deserves YOUR VOTE, kindly go to this site : http://www.mitbca.com/category.php?id=9
then click the log in fb button,
once logged in to fb, click the list of category on the left sidebar and select EXPAT, then hit the VOTE button for docgelo.com. Thank you!
Tags: armenian street penang, arts, cannon street, chulia street, doc gelo, docgelo, ernest zacharevic, george town penang, george town penang malaysia, khoo kongsi, lebuh chulia george town, lifestyle blog, lifestyle blogger, murals, murals in penang, must see in georgetown penang, must visit in penang, penang malaysia, photowalk, street art in george town penang, street arts in penang, street photography, tourism, travel blog, travel blogger, traveling, travelling, what to see in penang malaysia, where to go in georgetown penang
Khoo Kongsi and the other corners of George Town, Penang.
I’ve done photowalking here several times but its incredible charm never fails to lure me.
I keep coming back.
After I hopped off the bus and brought out my camera to start capturing some things I fancy, everything seemed to have occured in the past. It was somewhat like deja vu but not quite. Simply because this time, my photowalking got a volunteer companion; none other than the love of our lives, Gabby!
I thought I would stroll the laterals of GeorgeTown alone again but to my surprise, our 8-year-old kid decided the last minute to come with me. It was cleared to him that I would take long walks and multiple steps from one street to another but the boy was determined to transformed his weekend to an entirely different one from his Monday to Friday routine in school. He really wanted to tag along; I could not be happier!
So while we left his lovely mom who did some amazing household chores at our apartment (she always does it best without us around!), this wonder boy was with me for few hours goofing around one of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites…
Bus, ferry and another bus ride and we arrived shortly to Jalan Penang. We finally saw the largest of Ernest Zacharevic‘s murals in GeorgeTown. Beautiful, is it not?
Few little steps and our feet brought us to Muntri Street. Let the photowalking begin!
GeorgeTown literally inscripted its history, culture and traditions on almost countless iron rod sculptures installed in various alleys and streets. Creative, whimsical, informative and educational, these art pieces surely are eye-catching; a lot of tourists drop by to photograph them. One of them actually asked me, “Do you want me to take photos of you and your son with your camera?”
One of the firewalls of a shophouse in Muntri Street has another Zacharevic’s mural painting -a Chinese-Malaysian girl in kungfu outfit (or is it blue PJs?) whose hands appeared to be pressing on window shades. It’s definitely not my favorite but quite fascinating too.
Yeah, right! Get a Life!
From Muntri Street, Gabby and I lazily walked towards Love Lane…
I wonder why the Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharervic painted a broken heart on two public phones when in fact they’re installed in Love Lane…
Blink and you will miss this on the wall across 711 and the broken-hearted-payphones…
Quaint gestures of recycling on warmest greetings…
Meanwhile, at Ah Quee Street, art needs resuscitation…
Alas, another Zacharevic’s masterpieces!
Something pink in Armenian Street…
Or it’s just me. I imagined walking through Armenian Street at midnight with this sight of a
voodoo doll on a drift wood, would you not be afraid to death? LOL!
OK, it aint weird but…unique (for the lack of better adjective, hahaha!)
What about a pair of shoes on a giant frog’s mouth? Art? Recycling fun!
Can’t blame us if we craved for Starbucks…
Talking about craving, long walks need refueling of course. And the wonder boy wanted to eat in one of our favorites in George Town. Believe it or not, it was Gabby who wished to eat in Restoran Kapitan again for some Indian dishes. So we had Boneless Buttered Chicken, Garlic and Cheese Naan, Mango Lassi and Chocolate Ice Blended. Solb!
Our last stop was a bookstore for the little boy also craved for his favorite pocketbook series.
We enjoyed our weekend. Yet another special one. And you?
This blog’s other posts with George Town’s street arts include :
Tags: amateur photography, art, art pieces, children, congkak, culture, d' ark, d' ark school, d'ark private school, doc gelo, docgelo, dslr, education, expat, expat life, family, family blog, family life in penang, fastfood, food blog, foodie, fort cornwallis, francis light, fun, george town, george town penang, georgetown penang, heritage, history, http://docgelo.com/, kids, masterpieces, mcdonald's, mcdonald's happy meal, mcdonald's meals, museum, museums in penang malaysia, must see in penang, must visit in penang, nikon, nikon D7000, ocw, ofw, old town, old town penang malaysia, old town restaurant malaysia, paintings, parenting, penang malaysia, penang museum, penang state museum, personal blog, photography, photos, private school in malaysia, private school in penang, sir francis light, sungka, tourist spots in penang
9th June 2012, Saturday. If you must know, Gabby already joined an educational trip back home when he’s still in his pre-school years, so this one’s his second but his very first in Penang. Despite the fact that I have already been to the itineraries before, Tina and I made sure that we attend to our son’s because it’s one way of spending quality time with him. It wasn’t only Gabby and his schoolmates, a few parents and teachers who enjoyed their field trip; Tina, my mom and I also had fun! Oh, yes, the entire family was there! It was an absolute breather from our routinary work-home-work-home-life during weekdays and there’s no brighter day than seeing our child happy. Moments like this are non-negotiable.
Everyday, there’s a ton of things to be grateful for. The weather’s fine and we received little acts of generosity from people who have a ready hand even without asking. We didn’t need to call a cab to transport us from our place to Gabby’s school as both his school’s Principal and his service van driver offered to pick us up. The day was too perfect to start by breakfast in one of our favorite food places, Old Town. After filling in our tummies, we took few steps towards Gabby’s school and hopped on the tourist bus.
There were two itineraries for this field trip : The Penang State Museum and Fort Cornwallis. I have been to these places before but not with Tina and Gabby. Going back to places rich in heritage, history and cultures with family and schoolmates is definitely a learning experience. And as for Gabby and the other kids, they were given a task to complete before lunch; answers to the questions on the ”quiz” provided can be all found inside the museum. Hats off to Principal Jasmine for doing such! :D Going through the display in the museum became twice the fun!
A lot of things in this two-level museum can easily fascinate anyone. Although it’s filled with things that Malays, Chinese and Indians of Malaysia’s history used in ages, present generation including our kids can relate to them. Case in point, those luggages and trishaws for traveling, and children realized without saying that their tablets, smart phones and other gadgets would have not been brought to market if these things of the past had not been used.
TYPE ko ito, what about you?
It also houses a modest but beautiful collection of art pieces…
In the Peranakan or Straits Chinese chamber, one of the highlights is an intricately designed Wedding Bed…
And an authentic photo of a Peranakan couple taken on the day they tied the knot…
The Penang State Museum also has interactive sections that Gabby and Tina tried…While watching them play congkak or what we call back home as sungka, it made me wonder how many children nowadays still know how to play or at least, care to learn these games amidst online games and applications available now?
Photo-ops is a must in a field trip…
The group proceeded to Fort Cornwallis, in Esplanade, Penang; it’s the largest standing fort in the entire Malaysia.
If you’re Filipino or someone who has gone to Manila, this would make you feel like it’s Fort Santiago, although I would proudly state that the forts in the Philippines are far better built and preserved.
History and Wikipedia stated that Sir Francis Light initially took possession of Penang Island from Kedah and built the original fort. At present, his monument stands proud near the gates of Fort Cornwallis. The fort is one of the favorite tourist spots in George Town, it’s also used as a venue for cultural shows, and a park where most prenuptial photos here have been taken…
On a much lighter note, Fort Cornwallis became my family’s venue for kulitan (*insert english translation here*…google it if you please)…
When the clock turned into lunch time, we all had to go back to the tourist bus and head back to the mainland to wolf down one of those kiddies’ favorites, McDonald’s…
Because of work (for Tina and me) and school (for Gabby) during weekdays, we only get to spend more quality hours together as a family every weekends, so activities like this that promote family bonding, learning and fun are always welcome! It’s always a priceless treat!
How was your weekend, everyone?
Tags: amateur photographer, amateur photography, batu ferringhi, blooms, butterfly farm, butterfly garden, butterly, cuti cuti malaysia, doc gelo, docgelo, earth day, family, family and living, family life, filipino expat living in malaysia, flowers, foliage, garden, magnum, magnum ice cream bar, malaysia, malaysia my second home, malaysia tourism, mother nature, must visit in malaysia, must visit in penang, nature, nature theme park, nikon D7000, penang, penang butterfly farm, penang malaysia, photographer, photography, photos, science, teluk bahang penang, theme park, tourism malaysia, tourist spots in malaysia
For almost two years of living and working in Malaysia, most of our weekends are spent either enjoying the comforts of the 11th-floor-seaview appartment that we’re renting in Butterworth, our so-called-second home or exploring what Pulau Pinang has to offer. We’ve been to a few heritage sites, clan houses, public beach, various shrines of worship, shopping malls and groceries of course, have dined in local restaurants, some hotels and street hawkers, have gone to some of those must-see-tourist-spots in this island; yet, there’s actually so much more places to visit that are reserved for our Saturdays and Sundays.
Last weekend was no exception. With my 7-year-old son in tow, we celebrated another Saturday the best way we know how (read : family bonding) and finally set foot in The Tropical World’s First Live Butterfly and Insect Sanctuary, Penang Butterfly Farm.
Because my wife, Tina had to attend to a weekend medical community service required at work and my mom wasn’t feeling well to leave home, last Saturday, 04/21/2012 was another day of father-and-son-bonding. Incidentally, it was a day prior to Earth Day 2012 so I thought it was so appropriate and timely for Gabby and I to visit a nature’s theme park and passed up killing time on a weekend inside the mall. We’re happy to learn some things about nature and inevitably, ourselves too.
UNEXPECTEDLY, ALMOST IN PANIC
Had I not brought Gabby to this butterfly sanctuary, I would not know that he’s not that comfortable with delicately winged creatures randomly landing on his body. It was unbelievable because Gabby was even more excited than I am to go there and he himself labeled the day as our “Adventure Day” so I was very surprised that he almost panic when butteflies flew over him. I asked him to calm down and assured him that we’re safe with the butterflies and that it cannot harm us. He told me remarkably that he’s more at ease to see reptiles (Me: “What?!!! I usually freak out with the mere sight of snakes!). A couple of hours after, he’s already at home with the butterflies. I thought he was just overwhelmed as it was his first time to experience such. Nonetheless, he learned to appreciate those colorful day-flying insects before we ended our visit.
It was almost 12 noon when Gabby and I arrived at the front office of the Penang Butterfly Farm located in Teluk Bahang, near the tail end of the famous Penang coastline-beaches, Batu Ferringhi.
FREEBIES, DISCOUNTS AND MORE BLESSINGS!
When I was about to pay the entrance fees for me and Gabby, the male Front Office staff at the window-counter inquired if I am a tourist or a Malaysian (because of different Admission rates), I told him that I am a Filipino expat working as a Medical Lecturer since 2010 in Penang. He then asked for some IDs but I didn’t bring my company ID nor my passport with me. While I was flipping my card holder….
- Staff : “It’s OK, I saw you have Malaysian cards (referring to my credit cards and rewards-discount cards). Here you go… (He handed me two entrance tickets, 2 souvenir-notebooks, actually they’re DIY-Butterfly-garden-notebooks with a pair of tiny envelopes each containing something you put into the soil of flowering plants for it to bloom and attract butterflies, and 2 butterfly-shaped brochures).”
He only charged us 18 ringgit for me and 10 ringgit for Gabby instead of the usual rates (RM 27 per adult and RM 15 per kid).
- Me : ” Wow, thank you for the discount and freebies! Sir, can i shoot some photos inside? I’ll post photos in my blog and feature our experience here.”
- Staff : “Sure, no problem! Great! What’s your blog’s URL?” (he got a pen and a sheet of paper and was ready to write)
- Me : “Go check out, docgelo.wordpress.com, Sir. Thank you!
- Me : “And by the way, my blog is nominated in the Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Awards. You may want to vote too, haha! What’s your name, Sir?”
- Staff : “Edzil. Enjoy, pare! (*insert English translation of ‘pare’ here*)“
- Me : “Alright, Thank you!”
After we stayed for 3 hours inside the butterfly sanctuary, Gabby and I headed to the food kiosks just before the exit and ordered Chicken and Cheese sandwich, a bottle of cold distilled water, 2 cups of Mango juice.
- Edzil : “Doc, I’ve checked out your blog, you take good photos, man!”
- Me : “Hahaha! Thank you for your viewing my blog! What’s your name again, Sir?”
- Edzil : “Wait, I’ll get my business card.”
Sir Edzil happens to be Penang Butterfly Farm’s Front Office Assistant Manager.
- Edzil : “Doc, your food is on us! Don’t bother to pay them.”
- Me : “C’mmon?!!! Allow me to pay for this, please!”
- Edzil : “No, it’s on the house, if he (referring to the staff at the food kiosk) asks you to pay, then you pay, but surely he won’t, haha!”
- Me : “Wow, thank you so much!”
With few minutes of chit chat; I learned that he’s actually a Filipino but raised in Malaysia and according to him, there are a few more Pinoys working as tour guides (yes, Penang Butterfly Farm provides informative, amusing and educational tour guiding but I opted to wander around with only Gabby as I took photos). We’re very grateful for his generous gestures.
CHILDREN, COCCOON ISN’T PART OF THE BUTTERFLY’S LIFE CYCLE.
It’s always amazing to learn beyond books and outside the four corners of a classroom. It’s even more wonderful when one practically acquires knowledge hands on. You actually get that learning set-up in Penang Butterfly Farm. The actual Science that speaks about the life cycle of these flying insects happens right before your eyes!
So the life cycle only includes EGG (those tiny yellow ones in the next photo) –> CATERPILLAR –> PUPA (not coccoon but CHRYSTALIS / NYMPHA) –> ADULT BUTTERFLY (or IMAGO). The caterpillar normally thrives in fruity plants like passion fruit and the like, otherwise, it dies and would not metamorphose into pupa and imago.
But as soon as these chrystalis become adult butterflies,
some of its species ONLY LIVE FOR ONE WEEK. :(
It made me wonder, how would you spend your life meaningfully if you only have one whole week to live?
Back in the Philippines, I remember going to Orchidarium in Rizal Park in Luneta where a small Butterfly garden is tucked. They usually feed the butterflies back home with bananas, here in Penang, pineapples are their favorite lunch!
One of my favorite spots in Penang Butterfly Farm is this Oriental gazebo adorned with everything Chinese and an interesting concrete bridge.
Would you not be fascinated if you see authentic porcelain sauce dish, cups, plates and even pitcher were embedded as decors in the bridge?
BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL
I must admit, the sun was scorchingly hot during our visit (at least we didn’t have a downpour) so the little airconditioned theater that incessantly shows short films about insects was really inviting; Gabby liked the movies we watched for few minutes.
After watching insect-inspired short films, we walked through the next hallway where Gabby enjoyed another interesting part of Penang Butterfly Farn called, Biodiversity. Here, kids get to stamp their notepads with the park’s mascot prints, play and learn with the interactive touch-screens that feature educational inputs about the environment as a whole. There’s also a part where reptiles and spiders are on display en route to exit towards the souvenir shops.
We went back to the garden where a myriad of butterflies await.
If you must know, I took up BS Biology prior to Medicine and one specimen in Botany that’s hard to forget is the Pitcher Plant. There’s a spot in Penang Butterfly Farm that’s devoted to Pitcher Plant. It’s quite unique for it can trap mosquitoes and other minute insects in its “mouth”, it has somewhat like a prey-trapping mechanism; interesting, is it not?
Then I guess I was lucky enough to be accompanied by two winged friends during our time in the garden. Lucky or stinky already *yikes!*, I do like how Gabby snapped this shot.
Just before we had our “free snack” courtesy of Sir Edzil at the food kiosk near the exit gates, we savored Magnum bar (which we paid for, haha!).
Nature tripping at Penang Butterfly Farm + Family Bonding + Magnum ice cream bar = simply perfect to end the day. It was another day for family.food & fun!
Penang Butterfly Farm exceeded our expectations! We had a chance to commune with nature. It was where I forgot life’s hassles, worries and stress. Four hours spent there were indeed worthwhile; we had fun!
Penang Butterfly Farm. No. 830 Jalan Teluk Bahang 11050 Penang, Malaysia. Tel # +604-885 1253. (It’s accessible by car, taxi cab or by Rapid Penang Bus # 101 from George Town, Penang).
Tags: baskin n robbins, beyond toxicity, chicken kebab, chicken tandoori, chulia street in george town penang, chulia street in penang, doc gelo, docgelo, expat, expat blogger, family, family and living, family blog, filipino expat, first avenue mall, food blog, foodie, george town penang, georgetown penang malaysia, Ice cream, india, indian cuisine, indian food, kapitan, kebab, lebuh chulia, little india, little india penang, malaysia tourism, malls in george town penang, muslim mosque, must visit in malaysia, must visit in penang, nikon, nikon D7000, photography, photos, photos taken using nikon, prata, restoran kapitan, roti, tandoori, tourist, visit penang
When I learned several weeks back that Manila’s tour-guide-extraordinaire, The Main Man from Old Manila Walks, IVAN MAN DY is revisiting George Town, Penang after he graciously informed me via facebook, Tina and I had to think where we should treat him even just over dinner.
Tina first thought of bringing Ivan to Nando’s that specializes in Portugese Peri-Peri Chicken in either Gurney Mall or Queensbay Mall however, both of these malls are located in the tail ends of the island-one in the north, the other southbound; it means travel-commuting would definitely kill our time. I considered something authentic to Penang –the hawkers of course! But we personally prefer hawkers outside Gurney Mall for a wide range of choices but then again, location doesn’t fit the schedule. Then we narrowed the list down to 3 other family favorites –Old Town Restaurant (Malaysian cuisine), Towne’s Steamboat (Chinese) and Restoran Kapitan (Indian). I told Tina that since Old Town Restaurant is a chain present in almost all parts of Malaysia, Ivan might have already tasted it in the airport or somewhere. While we also considered getting a table after 5PM would be close to impossible at the frequently-packed Towne’s Steamboat in Jalan Macalister, thus we agreed to take Ivan to our favorite Indian food place, Restoran Kapaitan in Little India. I think it was a good choice beacause it’s only a few meters away from the hotel where Ivan stayed.
Because his arrival fell on a weekday, we could only meet him after work hours. Too bad we failed to tour him around in some of the heritage sites in this side of Malaysia. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the limited time we spent with him. The moment was like we’re only talking, walking and commuting in the streets of Binondo, Manila, hahaha!
Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks :
“Conceptualized, manufactured, bred and educated in the city of Manila, Ivan is the feet behind Old Manila Walks. Before he finally took to the streets, he was an active museum guide as well as a staunch heritage preservation activist. Now, he has found his calling being seasoned urbanite, a self-designated life-long citizen and ambassador of Manila. Since 2005, he has led the thousands of happy walking hordes down his city’s most historic quarters. Four years on and countless calluses later, he is still loving every step of the way.” -Sourced via OldManilaWalks.com
If you’re a Filipino-balikbayan or foreigner who would like to explore Manila in a nutshell, joining his walking tours back home is always informative, engaging, entertaining and educational. It’s history and gastronomic treats beyond books. We have joined 2 of his amazing walking tours around Manila -
- Malacanang Palace, San Miguel Manila : Power, Palace and a Shot of Beer
- Malacanang Palace – Legarda Mansion / La Cocina de Tita Moning
- Big Binondo Food Wok
- and my first few meetings with Ivan Man Dy were at Foodies’ Walk at BGC (Bonifacio Global City) and at where else but Binondo / Manila Chinatown
*For more of his walking tours and its details, check out their website at OldManilaWalks.com
After our simple dinner at Restoran Kapitan, we hopped on the bus to accompanied Ivan to one of the malls in George Town where he treated Gabby who didn’t say no, to a delightful scoop of Baskin n Robbins chocholate chip ice cream! Thanks, Ivan! And here’s wishing you enjoyed your days in Malaysia!
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Years ago, my only concept of Penang Hill was one of those restaurants that my family and our good old friends sampled at the 5th level of Shangri La Plaza Mall back home. I was completely clueless of Penang back then, more so about the entire Malaysia. I never thought I could bring myself and my family on top of the real Penang Hill one day. It wasn’t really a big deal climbing the Penang Hill via its 73 Million Ringgit newly renovated funicular train however, that Saturday morning when we went up there was one of our best in Penang! We were overwhelmed.
Penang Hill at 6:45AM, Saturday, 31 March 2012.
A little while later…
The memories of our little family trips to Antipolo, Tagaytay and Baguio Cities in the Philippines during my wonder years resurfaced as I was stunned at the breathtaking view 833 meters above sea level. Penang Hill has an absolutely cooler climate than its lowlands in this tropical Malaysian State. With its 16 to 21 degree Celsius weather, it’s enough for any tourists, locals and expats to be enticed to go up once in a while.
I arrived in Penang, Malaysia some 20 months ago and have been working as a medical lecturer since then. I immediately learned that Penang Hill was closed for much needed renovation of its system and track and replacement of its 87-year-old coaches. The wait for it to be fully operational again took almost a year but Tina, Gabby and I didn’t try to experience the ride and the hill itself last April 2011. Tina felt and still believed that 30 ringgit per pax round trip fare on the train up to Penang Hill wasn’t cheap (current rates for Non-Malaysians and Malaysian tourists are noted at the end of this post). I constantly tell her, family bonding is always memorable and priceless.
“Gelo, Huwag kayong aalis ng Penang nang hindi nagpupunta sa Penang Hill, ang ganda!” (“Gelo, Don’t leave Penang unless you have gone to Penang Hill, it’s beautiful!”) …These were the words directly told to me by one of the colleagues who already resigned from our work last year and went back home to the Philippines with his entire family. He was definitely right. Penang Hill is really something. It’s one of the must-visit sites when traveling to Penang, Malaysia.
The game plan: I initially thought of reserving an overnight accomodation in a 3-bed-family-room at Bellevue Hotel (which has a rate of RM242 nett or USD 79.45 inclusive of breakfast), the hotel located exactly in Bukit Bendera or Penang Hill boasts of its simple aviary and garden, that offers great views of breathtaking sunset and sunrise. The suggestion was vetoed by my ever loving and practical wife. I easily accepted, supported and succumbed to her decision, despite the fact that I already communicated with the hotel staff via emails, because I felt her excitement and her want to experience Penang Hill too with our family. That was enough for me.
The second best option I had in mind which I brought up to Tina and my mom was to go up to Penang Hill on the first trip of funicular train at exactly 6:30 in the morning, so we could reach the summit at still dusk and witness the daybreak after. I was silently jumping for joy when they both agreed to prepare, wake up and be at the ticketing area prior to the first trip!
I laid her all the possibilities and means on how we could get there at few minutes before 6:30AM. We all thought taking a pre-arranged cab from our place in Butterworth, Penang at 5:30AM and head directly to Bukit Bendera was the finest choice over taking the bus-ferry-bus-route. And we’re grateful that we’re not wrong.
We left our place in Butterworth before 5:30AM and arrived in Bukit Bendera when the gates were still closed. We waited for several minutes until it officially opened at around 6:15AM. Have I told you that punctuality freely flows in our bloodstream? haha!
After purchasing our round trip tickets for the 6:30AM first funicular trip for the day, we finally saw that blue-air conditioned Swiss made coach! She was so gorgeous!
And the fingers in two hands are more than the volume of passengers on that trip, there were only 2 passengers and 2 train staff plus the four of us. We occupied the first cabin next to the train captain to get the greatest view of the ascent, I think it’s a must if one gets a chance (The train can be filled with 80 passengers when some would ride it standing). The smooth inclined ride via the 2,220 meter track length was definitely exciting!
There’s no way but to go up!
After more or less 5 minutes (there were no stops during our ride that morning), we arrived at the summit.
The passage through the white tunnel is a sign that passengers need to alight few seconds after.
It was still darkness when we arrived in Penang Hill. We strolled and I tried to find a best spot to capture the stillness of the dawn. My mom first saw a concrete stairs guarded by an opened wooden gate; we didn’t read its signage that it’s the David Brown’s English Restaurant and Tea House at the Strawberry Hill (yes, the signage reads Strawberry Hill!). No one was there yet, so we went in. Tina and Gabby followed.
My wife began taking photos and videos using her ipod and mobile phone. I further went up the concrete stairs until I reached the restaurant and garden proper of David Brown’s.
I didn’t expect we would experience how colorful Penang Hill is.
These are the viewing telescopes located in front of the huge signage of Bukit Bendera at the foot of David Brown’s Restaurant.
The flora and foliage of Penang Hill that we found in David Brown’s English Garden and Restaurant
If you must know, the five petaled brilliant red Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis or to us Filipinos, gumamela, is the National flower of Malaysia.
This is David Brown’s Restaurant and English Garden at Penang Hill. I just wished we were not tresspassing as there were no people when we went here. We didn’t touch anything but only took photos however, tons of it.
Gabby : “Daddy, piktyuran mo ako!” (“Daddy, take my pictures!”)
Me : “OK!”
Then the kid ran a few meters away from us then ran forward and took a jump on air. He attempted for a “jump shot” several times and his mom and his grandmother and I we’re all giggling because Gabby’s too chubby to float higher on air.
It was almost 8:30AM and the sun was already up so we left that part of Penang Hill and went on to explore the others. We needed to take a bladder break and we’re glad to see a few steps down the David Brown’s Restaurant a simple tandas or toilet that’s well kept and clean with tissues and liquid soap.
After another stroll, we found a swing.
The swing is located at the facade of the newly opened, The Owl Museum at Penang Hill. It’s an owl-swing actually! hehe!
Before we headed to to the museum, we needed to chow down first. Good thing that the newly built museum has multi-leveled eateries, drink, desserts and souvenir stations where one gets to fill his/her tummy with the best view in Penang.
To me, one has never been to Malaysia when he/she has not yet tasted the country’s National dish or staple food…
After our simple breakfast, we trooped down the stairs and went to the very first museum in Southeast Asia that pays tribute to and promotes awareness about that nocturnal bird, THE OWL MUSEUM in PENANG HILL. To our surprise, we were greeted by two staff at its entrace who informed us with a smile, that the fees were waived for the reason that they just opened few days back. How lucky can we get? Indeed, best things in life are free!
What to see in The Owl Museum? Over a thousand Owl-inspired arts and crafts as masterpieces of creative artists from different parts of the globe.
I liked this paper-cut-out-chandelier; it made me think if it’s owl-inspired too. Perhaps, patterned after the eyes of the owl? Is it? It must be.
The museum is made of a thousand and counting collection of owl in various materials-metals, wood, paper, plastic, porcelain, semi-precious stones and a lot more that came from different countries, however, Tina found out from one of the staff that they’ve yet to acquire something made from the Philippines. There are also paintings and other art works that are owl-inspired. Here are some of those that caught my eyes…
For coffee lovers like Tina and me…
I like this for obvious reasons…
I perceived this owl-metallic art as a knight in shining feather, hehe!
Even the tiniest of the stuffs are oh-so-charming…
Their colors are vivid and bright, the details are eye-candy!
United Colors of Benetton, Owl edition?
One display window has these owls from London, England with title, “Nature’s Gift”. These figurines are made of feathers, straws, twigs, bark and seeds.
Pardon my shadow, these were “flown” from Paris, France…
Owls made of metallic materials and crystals are very interesting too…
Even the flower pot is owl-inspired. This museum is really “owl-some!”
Ladies would be delighted with these owl-themed accessories. I asked Tina to mimic how fashion-celebrity-bloggers whom we’ve met in our HKDL trip recently do it on their sites, hehe!
I could have bought a few if these were fridge magnets but they are rings for the girls who are edgy.
Now, children, meet The Royal Owl…
I swear, it’s really called The Royal Owl! It does look regal!
There’s this corner so called The Artist’s Station where one can sit for photo-op like what Gabby did…
But this one’s for real : When Gabby saw a chalk and board (he even asked his grandmother to request for an extra chalk from the staff), his world stopped for several minutes as nothing else mattered but finishing his own masterpiece!
Then our seemingly like never-ending photo-ops continued! We’re picture-addicts apparently!
We had fun inside The Owl Museum. Moving on, we walked our way to the other attractions in Penang Hill.
OK, now, kids, say “Taman Kanak-Kanak!”
Taman Kanak-kanak in Bahasa Melayu (Malaysian language) simply means Children’s Playground (apparently on the photo, right? hehe!). Most communities in Penang (I don’t know in other Malaysian states) have this colorful playground even at 833 meters above sea level! Penang Hill even have its own POS or Postal Office at the hill itself. Impressive, isn’t it?
What’s even more amazing is the presence of PEACE among the diversities here. Imagine this : Masjid Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill Mosque) lies a stone throw away from the Murugan Temple (Hindu Temple); they’re almost located side-by-side and the only structure in between these two different religious shrines is this Taman Kanak-kanak. There’s no obvious tension, neither conflicts between them.
Ladies and gentlemen, this was one of the 87-year-old coaches that used to run up the hills of Bukit Bendera..
And then the time came for us to bid goodbye to Penang Hill. It was a memorable weekend morning!
Tina recorded a video of our descent using her Samsung mobile…CLICK THIS!
I believe the best time to go up to this tourist spot is either daybreak like what we did or a few hours just before sunset. It becomes too crowded on a weekend, particularly hours past 8AM. Whether Penang Hill is a great tourist spot in this side of Malaysia or not, I know perception of beauty is so subjective but in my humble opinion, anything that’s breakthtaking is beautiful!
After that morning in Penang Hill, I think my family and I look at Penang in more different light. And I have to take back my statement mentioned earlier, it is a big deal to go to Penang Hill. It’s a must-visit place when you’re in this side of Malaysia! :D
Directions to get to Penang Hill -One can take his car directly to Bukit Bendera or preferrably take a 45-minute bus ride from George Town, Penang via Rapid Penang Bus # 204 and hop off the gates of Penang Hill funicular station or take a taxi cab from any areas in George Town which will be more costly of course. One may also take a 3-hour trek from the foot of the hill at Penang Botanical Garden or drive/ride a 4×4.
Round trip funicular fare for Non-Malaysian tourists : 30 ringgit or RM30 (USD 9.78 or PhP 421) and RM15 for children aged seven to 12. For Malaysians, the fare for a round trip ticket is RM8 per adult and RM4 per child aged between three and 12. Senior citizens and students will enjoy cheaper fares at RM4 per person. Train Schedule : 6:30AM to 9PM daily unless notified.
The Owl Museum, Open Daily 9AM-6PM. Admission Rates : RM10 per entry, RM 5 for Senior Citizen, FREE Entry for Children below 12 years old (as mentioned, we had no entrance fees because according to the staff at its gate, they just opened few days prior to our visit).
Tags: beyond toxicity, black and white photography, black and white photos, boat ride in penang, boats, chew jetty, chew jetty penang, clan jetties, doc gelo, docgelo, fun, Life, life on waters, monochrome, must see in george town penang, must see in malaysia, must visit in george town penang, must visit in penang, nikon D7000, nikon photos, photography, photos, sunrise, sunset, tourist spots in malaysia, tourist spots in penang, TRAVEL, traveling, travelling, unesco world heritage site, waters
With my 20-month-stay in Penang, Malaysia on working visa, I still consider myself a tourist. There are more to explore in George Town, Penang than meets the eye. That is, if you’re like me whose interests go beyond malls, shopping and dining. Penang is more than a gastronomic haven in Malaysia. The island was not listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites for nothing.
Out of curiosity why a certain modest place is part of the list, I strolled my way to one of the laterals of a busy thoroughfare, Weld Quay. A few meter-walk from Rapid Bus Station, I saw two other jetties; these are the Ong Jetty and the Lim Jetty. Then the third one is situated just across Armenian Road, this is the famous, Chew Jetty; so popular among backpackers, travelers and tourists, and that after online surfing, it caught my attention too.
Believe me, I have been passing this main road a countless times during weekends and public holidays but I have not noticed Chew Jetty neither I have thought that a Heritage treasure is tucked in this unassuming area.
A common sight of groups of old Penangite men spending lazy hours of the afternoon in hawker food stalls greeted me as I entered the vicinity. Then few steps more, I turned my back to capture the facade of a small Taoist temple right in front of the entrance to Chew Jetty. This effortlessly confirmed that this waterfront community has been flocked by a Chinese-Malaysian families.
Established in the Mid 19th century, this UNESCO’s World Heritage Site that is considered to be the biggest of the waterfront settlements in Penang had Ancestors’ origin from Xinglinshe Village, Tong An District, Quanzhou Prefecture, Fujian Province, China. Chew Jetty is divided into 2 parts (Part 1 and Part 2); each has length of 182 meters and 122 meters respectively. And there are a total of 75 houses within this preserved and protected Heritage Site (Note : These facts are posted at the entrance of Chew Jetty).
I enjoyed my late afternoon walk inside and snapped photos of things I perceived as fascinating. I had FUN!
Thou shall not underestimate this community built over the years by the Chew clan; they know how to decorate their houses on stilts.
HOMESTAY in some parts of Malaysia is common. They offer much affordable and competitive rates compared to commerical hotels. The greatest advantage, I think is you get a chance to be up close and personal with people of the town or city where you stand as a tourist. And Chew Jetty’s homes offer Homestay too! One can even get an online reservation from agoda.com or other travel-hotel websites. Another big plus when you opt for a Homestay in Chew Jetty is you’ll have an opportunity to wake up in a place where according to many, has an excellent view of Malaysian sunrise. However, you need to have no apprehensions and must have an adventurous mind when sleeping in houses on stilts. To each his own.
Nonetheless, the security is way better than you could expect. Nikilado ang mga pintuan dito, mga stainless pa ‘ata, gaya ng pagkaraniwang pinto ng mga bahay sa Penang (Doors of houses here are nickel-plated, perhaps stainless steel were used, similar to common doors of most houses in Penang).
One of the corners in Chew Jetty’s a stand out.
Not because it has Astro Cable TV, haha! No, definitely…
I found this small alley so quaint because of its colorful wooden walkway…
Imagine, you can step on a rainbow…
and view a Sunshine with LOVE…
Here are some more little things that made me smile…
and reminded me that simple things can definitely make you happy!
But of all the features that this UNESCO’s World Heritage Site has to offer, I definitely love the boats! (Read : I have a thing for boats) It would not be a jetty without them, right? toinks!
I love boats and I love planks.
Deities’ flags at the end of Chew Jetty
One of the best spots to adore the sunrise in Penang…
I saw various groups of tourists and a team who took photos of a bride-and-groom-to-be. Oh yes, Chew Jetty also serves as one of the favorite backdrops for those prenuptial pics.
Admittedly, I envy people who live in Chew Jetty. Although I and my family have been savoring glorious sunsets from our tiny porch at our 10th floor appartment, Chew families enjoy waking up with the best view of the sunrise in Penang and they get to rest and relax the way they want to.
It’s a wonderful stroll in this wooden pier without an entrance fee; it’s where I experienced a living heritage and an inspiring treasure.
Tags: amateur photography, angelo nino m. santos, architecture, art, baba, baba and nyonyas, beyond toxicity, church street, culture, doc gelo, docgelo, dslr, george town penang, gereja street, heritage houses in penang, heritage mansions in penang, history, interiors, lebuh gereja george town, lebuh gereja penang, Life, lifestyle, must see in penang malaysia, must visit in george town penang, must visit in penang, nikon D7000, nyonya, opulence, penang peranakan mansion, photography, photography love, photos, photos taken using nikon D7000, pinang peranakan mansion, straits chinese, TRAVEL, traveling, travelling, unesco, UNESCO world heritage sites
I have no other word in mind to express the reason why I paid another visit but compulsion. The decision came instantly one lazy Sunday afternoon. Without concrete and serious logic, I spent an hour trip via buses and ferry from our current place in Butterworth, Penang and strolled my way from Penang Street in George Town to Church Street under the heat of scorching summer sun.
The cliche, “One is enough, two is too much” doesn’t apply to my unexplainable attraction to what I personally call, The Green Mansion. My very first visit to Pinang Peranakan Mansion several months back was followed by a sudden impulse to go back. Perhaps, because I knew I have not seen enough and there are a lot more details yet to be appreciated. Or maybe, I was just looking for subjects where my lame photography skills would be put to practice. Either way, to say that I enjoyed my visit again was an understatement. People may look at the experience as something like watching a great movie over and over again. However, the visit to Pinang Peranakan Mansion for me, was actually so much better!
Res ipsa loquitor -”Evidence speaks for itself.” Those antique metal pillars in the central courtyard of the mansion were imported from Glasgow, a proof that the mansion was built on wealth.
Hey gold jewelries, we meet again…
There are more to appreciate beyond the thousands of collections of the by-gone-era. Call me a fool but I am drowned in fascination of the tiniest details this mansion has. Nothing was overlooked. Everything was done in grandeur.
Out of the massive volume of picture-worthy things inside the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, one may miss to admire these door handles in blue, orange and green crystals. If my memory serves me right, there’s also red crystal door handle in one of the rooms in the ground floor which I failed to capture. I didn’t notice them myself on my first visit! Educate me please, is this kind of door handles common in your places? Pardon my innocence, but I have not seen such, thus my amazement. I like the contrast of the colored crystals with the metal and the wood; they make a very intersting visual feast, at least for me.
Scottish iron-works, Chinese carved-wood panels, English floor tiles were put together in this century-old stately mansion that previously served as the residence and office of Kapitan Cina Chung Keng Kwee.
Wooden screens gilded in gold.
“The Peranakans, also known as Babas and Nyonyas, are a community of acculturated Chinese unique to this part of the world. They are also known as the Straits Chinese, having settled along the British Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. The Peranakans adopted local Malay ways and the British colonial lifestyle. These influenced its rich culture, customs, cuisine, language and lifestyle that are still evident in Penang today.” -via PPM Visitors’ Guide.
It must be my exposure to similar Filipino furnitures that I have an eye to these ultimately beautiful fine set of mother-of-pearls flawlessly embedded in those intricately carved wooden furnitures. It’s all in the details, I tell you.
To me, these seats look like thrones.
Allow me to digress. I grew up with both of my parents working; my mom worked more than expected of her in the office back home and my dad was a Saudi-boy for almost 2 decades. Needless to say, I and my siblings were oftenly left not with a nanny but with our late maternal grandmother. Isa akong laki sa Lola, ‘ika nga. But it was my mom who personally inculcated discipline to us. I remember my Lola as someone who’s strict at everything, almost perfectionist but lived her life with simple past times. Among them were gardening, playing sungka (or as Malaysians call it, congkak) and sewing our pillow cases and curtains all by herself. She owned a Singer sewing machine before, so my memories of her resurfaced in a blink when I saw this Green Mansion’s collections… I love you, Mama Idang! We miss you and Lolo Ama!
On a lighter note, in this age of LED, LCD TV and whatnot, this for me still looks hot! haha! Seriously, I cannot imagine the cost of this antique in shops; it must be a fortune!
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is gorgeous in monochrome, even stunning in colors!
If someone will ask me about the must-visit sites in George Town Penang, indubitably, the Pinang Peranakan Mansion tops my list. I HAD FUN! I wish to go back whenever I get the compulsion again.
View more photos from my first visit here : Pinang Peranakan Mansion
Pinang Peranakan Mansion. 29 Church Street 10200 Penang, Malaysia. Admission at the time of this posting: Adult RM10 (USD 3.24 or PhP 140), Child : RM5 (Child below 6 years -free). Open Daily from 9:30AM to 5PM even Public Holidays unless specified.
Tags: art, arts, celebrations, chinese art, chinese costumes, chinese drums, chinese lanterns, chinese new year, chinese new year in penang malaysia, chinese opera, chulia street, chulia street georgetown, clan houses, costumes, culture, doc gelo, docgelo, dragon, dragon year 2012, drums, EVENTS, festival, george town, georgetown penang, heritage, heritage mansions, khoo kongsi temple, lanterns, lebuh chulia, malaysia, must visit in penang, paintings, penang, photography, street photography, tourist spots in penang, traveling, travelling
Road closure is inevitable when there’s either a repair or an important event. More than a week ago, the streets of George Town, Penang were not accessible to traffic because of the Chinese New Year Heritage and Cultural Celebration.
Everyone’s feet were on the go to welcome the Lunar Year of the Dragon!
Every spot and almost every laterals of Lebuh Chulia rendered a festive mood. Even Penang’s famous trishaws were dressed to the nines for the occasions!
Do you have any idea in mind about the next photo? Have you seen similar dry runs before?
As I marveled at the various preparations to make the event lavish and merry, I followed a few groups of people walking down the red carpet.
Youngsters who rule the drums came in troops…
Drum roll, please!
Their thunderous drum rolls led me to the Opera Stage of Khoo Kongsi Temple…
The Opera Stage had these kids in traditional Chinese costumes prancing in lively tunes…
I only spent few minutes inside the Cannon Square of Khoo Kongsi because “something happened” to me (don’t ask what for now, will post it one day. Let’s just say, it happened all for the love of this hobby called photography). Moving on…
I exited the compound of Khoo Kongsi and went back to one of the streets of George Town…
Buddhist temples and clan mansions at this side of Malaysia are located left and right!
As I turned my back, another visual feast greeted my eyes : Chinese Opera Rehearsal…
The artists were stunningly beautiful in their costumes despite sans make up! I think this is because they proudly wear their culture on their skin.
Then, my feet brought me to this corner where kids were practicing what I assumed as yo-yo.
One more temple facade and I found myself back in Armenian Street.
In one of the souvenir stalls there, my eyes caught these pieces, won my heart and made me smile…
I know Tina would love these paintings as she appreciates art too. If only I have an extra budget for pretty but unnecessary things, I would have brought a frame or two for her. Perhaps, next time…
I’m sorry I failed to get the name of the artist, most of the artworks weren’t signed too so there’s no way for me to credit them.
CNY 2012 is being observed in Penang from 23rd January to 15 days after. A lot more streets will surely witness dragon and lion dances in the remaining days of the event; either on the grounds or on top of the stilts!
I know red is considered to be the most auspicious of all the colors. Does black attracts good fortune too? I guess so. It’s not a black cat anyway, it’s a lion! LOL! hehehe
And among the volume of inspiring sights I’ve seen, this one’s most enticing…*wink*
Tags: beyond toxicity, buddhist temple, chinese lunar year, chinese new year, doc gelo, docgelo, dragon, dragon year, family, george town penang, hibiscus, kek lok si, kek lok si penang, money plant, must see in penang, must visit in penang, orchids, penang, penang tourism, religion, temple of supreme bliss, temples, tourism malaysia, tourism penang, traveling, travelling, trip, vacation, year of the dragon
In my almost 2 years of being an expat in this part of Malaysia, I haven’t explored the entire Pulau Pinang (Penang Island), much more its neighboring states (with the exception of Kota Bharu in Kelantan that we visited last May 2011 and Kuala Lumpur of course). There are lots of tourist spots or must-visit places that my family and I have yet to experience. But of all areas that we’ve been to within the island, one of my favorites is Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple.
Kek Lok Si is the Temple of Supreme Bliss.
Despite its distance from where we live and inspite of the fact that we need to spend at least half of our day whenever we go there to explore and enjoy the scenic spots, not to disregard the travel period and remarkable fatigue we need to endure in walking and reaching its uphill shrines, every visit seems so meaningful when we’re inside the temple.
No, we’re not Buddhists; neither we know much of their religion other than reading the book Siddharta back in my High School days. Nonetheless, the atmosphere inside Buddhist temples like Kek Lok Si which was dubbed as the biggest in Southeast Asia never fails to bring tranquility, serenity and peace similar whenever we savor the solemnity of a Catholic mass or whenever we have a chance to commune with Mother Nature.
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” ~Buddha
To the few but loyal and valued followers of this humble site, you probably are familiar that my family and I only commute to take our feet to work and whatnot. We usually take Rapid Penang bus from our place in Butterworth for about 5 to 10 minute ride to Penang Sentral and Jetty. There’s a waiting period for buses to pass by of about 30-45 minute-interval but we have learned to go by. From Jetty in Butterworth, we take 12-minute ferry ride that takes us to George Town, the heart of Pulau Pinang.
We haven’t tried yet RO-RO (roll-on-roll out?) transportation back home but here in Penang, ferry rides are frequent part of our trips, mostly on weekends when we go to the island. This is how Penang ferries look like – the upper deck is usually alotted for commuter-passengers and the lower deck is for those traveling with vehicles (although some ferries accomodate people and cars at its upper deck too).
A stroll from getting off the ferry brings us immediately to the Rapid Penang Bus station in George Town. Buses are numbered depending on its route. Tina and I use an all-month-pass cards which are definitely cheaper than without particularly for those working people like us. Bus rates here are still affordable compared to other countries; discounts are provided to senior citizens (like my mom who’s here and my dad who came last year), children (like Gabby’s age pay half) and students.
After bus-ferry-bus-rides, I found myself at the foot of Kek Lok Si Temple again. It was my third time to be there but as mentioned, every visit gives a different experience. Tina was left home because she was nursing her bowel (oops!) :D This trip to Kek Lok Si, I brought my mom who’s visiting from UAE and Gabby of course who was so excited to enjoy her Mamita.
First things first -we had to eat. I took them to the hawker restaurant (their version of our local carinderia or turo-turo) which I’ve tried before located just where we hopped off from the bus. Our tummy fillers that mid morning were Chinese-Non-Halal toppings : Roasted Pork Rice for me, Barbecued Pork Rice for Mamy, Soyed steamed dumplings and Chicken Rice for Gabby which he liked the most! We washed down everything with Pure Lemon Iced Tea and Milo-iced for Gabby (yes, they call it here Meelo-ais).
Entrance to Kek Lok Si is absolutely FREE! After our hearty meals, I led them to its walk way where Mamy and Gabby’s eyes rolled onto the assorted souvenir items being sold by shops left and right. Literally, these stores line up the path en route to the shrines (Kek Lok Si has various temples not just one); they also make the uphill walk less tiring, haha! :D Tip : when shopping, haggling should always be observed; make sure you ask for the half of the original price.
The pond filled with turtles greeted us once more. It’s Gabby’s second time here, my third and Mamy’s first. Like his first visit, Gabby asked us to buy him kangkong to feed the turtles. No other feeds are allowed except kangkong sold by the vendor there. Our little-big boy had fun as usual!
There are short bridges to get to the central gazebo where they fed these tons of amphibian-reptiles with one bunch of kangkong. More bunches come from other tourists and visitors.
“Chinese tradition believes that a turtle is a symbol of longevity, strength and endurance. It is an act of spiritual liberation when a turtle is captured and set free in this pond.” ~sourced via penangvacation.com
Few minutes after, I was mesmerized again. I brought them first to the main temple where the ceilings are such a visual treat. I spent several minutes of silence as the interiors left me in awe.
Must have that detail shot….beautiful, is it not?
Not that we’re superstititious but we believe there’s no harm in doing few practices of other religions. To each his own. When I told my mom that there’s a Wishing Ribbon Tree inside the main temple, she went there first and chose her ribbons; Gabby and I followed to do the same.
Payment is done with honesty. You just drop the fees at the steel boxes where ribbons are selected.
Without a help from me, Gabby chose these ribbons and well, the kid has global concern this early as he included World Peace!
He followed his Mamita in writing the names of the love ones at the back of each ribbons. Gabby did this to 10 of his wishing ribbons.
Then, Mamy and Gabby hung the ribbons to the tree like what Buddhists do.
There are 3 huge altars inside the main temple at Kek Lok Si; here’s the center most. I find it so grand yet exudes humility.
Offerings at the altar…
Outside the main temple at Kek Lok Si, the colors and architecture are so inspiring! Can you blame me not to be tired of being here?
Every corner is picturesque!
Here’s the pagoda of the ten thousand Buddhas.
The view from the lateral of the main temple. The covered cat walk lined by red and yellow lanterns takes you to the other temples at Kek Lok Si.
Mamy and her apo enjoyed photo-ops at almost every spot.
They had wacky ones at considered “safe” places…
and observed decent poses inside the shrines… :
When my son asked me about those golden Buddhist statues, the clueless me simply replied, “I don’t know, Anak, just keep quiet, and smile for the pictures!” haha! :D After browsing the net just before posting this entry, I found out that those 4 (yes, they come in 2 pairs in glass cases) are Buddhists’ Heavenly Kings that bring hope and prosperity.
Amazing how these kyat-kyat (or what do you call these tiny sweet citrus?) were grown (or put) into almost perfect bunches! They’re reall fruits actually! Funny how some chinky-eyed-perhaps-Korean-or-maybe-Taiwanese tried to test if they’re reall by pinching them several times.
The bursts of colors are incredibly fantastic!
Bottles of water and chilled cans of soda bought from stores in between shrines kept us going.
My mom wanted to see everything of Kek Lok Si or at least most of it; she was in the mood to try even the inclined lift with roundtrip ticket of RM 4 (PhP 56) each….
just to witness the shrine of the Goddess of Mercy overlooking the hill…
the bronze statue of Kuan Yin or the Goddess of Mercy is magnanimous!
The view from the top…
Everything in Kek Lok Si seems to be so fascinating. I chuckled when I saw these creatures at the grounds. Can anyone confirm if Minnie Mouse is a Buddhist? *just kidding!*
Obviously, my 7-year old boy loved them.
Gabby and his Mamita had photo-ops galore!
If you must know, the temple has these voluminous red and yellow Chinese lanterns not only because of the upcoming Lunar Year of the Dragon but they’re there whole year through. Wonderful, aren’t they?
Then the moment came when I extremely wished I had a professional lessions in basic photography or at least has no mediocre skills in capturing such beauty…
The entire temple is such a visual feast!
Everything on it enhances its grandeur. From the magnificent architecture to the very impressive interiors, to the little details such as these greens. It’s a money plant, isn’t it?
Flowers are adored and least likely to be overlooked when we are with my mom. She so loves colorful and various blooms!
And if you must know, Hibiscus or our local gumamela is one of Malaysia’s National Symbols.
I guess my mom was happy with her first-time visit to Kek Lok Si. I know we’re all tired and fatigued after, but those are nothing when we think of the little fun memories we had at the temple. Indeed, the Temple of Supreme Bliss is aptly called!
A day spent at Kek Lok Si will never be dull and boring for me. It will always be glorious!
Happy Chinese New Year!
*Kek Lok Si is majestically located on the hills of Air Itam; you can reach it by car or cabs from George Town or by taking Rapid Penang Bus 201, 203, 204.
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If there’s one thing I love about weekend, it’s the opportunity to escape from my daily routine. The freedom of having time to relax, sleep all day or be in another place -inside the church where I find my weekly dose of peace of mind while attending anticipated Holy Mass, or being in my favorite coffee shop or in bookstore browsing and sniffing books, inside the cinema watching movies, dining and giving in to cravings of delicious bites, being a mall rat for a day, or simply doing anything and being anywhere far from my work desk; I always look forward to enjoying the weekend; it’s simply awesome and refreshing!
For 2 weeks now since my wife and kid arrived from Manila, my days in Penang have been happier. I always take efforts in planning and thinking of how to maximize and enjoy our weekends to the fullest; after all, it’s the only chance in a week that we can be together the whole day.
Last Saturday, 02 April, 2011 wasn’t ordinary. I was excited after my wife agreed that we bring Gabby to Tropical Spice Garden in Teluk Bahang, Pulau Pinang, a roughly 2-hour bus and ferry rides from where we stay in Butterworth. It’s a breather from going-to-the-mall, grocery shopping and other things we usually do to while away the weekend.
When was the last time you communed with Mother Nature?
How often do you appreciate her wonders ?
How well do you know those spices in everything we take in?
Would you like to see those spices in bushes before they end up in your kitchen jars?
We arrived at that piece of paradise few minutes before 10AM. At the reception, I paid RM 35 (PhP 490 or USD 12) for the 3 of us, as we availed of their family package. Citronella oil was provided to ward off mosquitoes before we entered the tropical lush greens. Unfortunately, because I forgot to wear sleeves, and wished I have those nylon slip-on fabrics commonly worn by bikers and trekkers and the fact that I easily perspire, mosquitoes feasted on my left forearm. Tina was so alarmed I might catch malaria or dengue but I guess, it wasn’t meant to happen; and the wheal and pruritus (read : itchiness) subsided few hours after. Good thing that Gabby was wearing a jacket and Tina had no mosquito bites. Nonetheless, I and my family had incredibly fun moments at Tropical Spice Garden.
The entrance to that seemingly oasis of tranquility…
Few steps from the facade, we were immediately drawn into a tropical forest with walk steps in between varieties of foliage and few blooms…
Do you play Plants vs Zombies ? Do you recognize those lily pods ?
Admittedly, we saw more of huge trees and plants and less of those spices.
We had several laugh-trip and kulitan-moments…
Believe it or not, drizzling stopped before we hopped off the bus and entered this garden. The climate became so perfect for a stroll amidst that tropical forest…
We met some foreigners who were learning how to cook Malaysian dishes using fruits, veggies and what else but tropical spices, hehe…
Apart from being lush garden of spices, century-old-trees and exotic flora, Tropical Spices Garden houses its very own Tree Monkey Restaurant where we had our delicious light brunch.
Of course, food would not be absent in our family’s adventure….
When was the last time you ate comfortably lounging on crossed legs?
I loved the fact that great attention was given to little details of this Thai restaurant…
From the ceiling, table tops, and whatnot, not a single detail was overlooked…
Would you like to eat your meal on a tree house?
Needless to say, the ambiance of Tree Monkey restaurant is far from being intimidating; it’s so inviting and fascinating; so does their menu…
As if one soup isn’t enough –we had Mushroom soup which has surprising texture beyond being thick and creamy and that usual thin and salty soup…
Tina gave a nod to my choice : Thai Seafood Paella…
It’s not spicy as expected; just deliciously flavorful!
Sure, we definitely miss some things about the Philippines, and so I ordered what’s close to our taste buds (mangga at suman) – Mango Sticky Rice…
Were able to washed down everything by these thirst quenchers…
Daddy Gelo had freshly squeezed OJ…
Mommy Tina enjoyed iced cold Caffe Latte
Adorable Gabby sipped iced cold Chocolate drink…
What’s even more worth remembering about our dining experience at Tree Monkey was the fact that we met 2 friendly Filipinas and an Indonesian (standing at the back) and Thailander (not in photo) wait staffs…
After our hearty light brunch, we stepped inside the little spice museum right across the restaurant.
Betel Nut, Cumin, Turmeric, Star Anise, Fennel, Clove, Black Pepper, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Coriander seeds, Nutmeg, Chilli. These and more are the spices of this garden…
Apparently, we enjoyed our Saturday morning…FUNtastic!
If you’re like us who, sometimes want something unconventional over the weekend, make your own adventure as simple as communing with yourself and with Mother Nature; it’s gratifying!
Look at my mag-ina, parang ayaw umalis at iwan ang lugar, hehehe!
Tropical Spice Garden is such a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of daily activities. Fresh air, lush surroundings, informative trek, great food, family bonding – what more can you ask for?
For details about Tropical Spice Garden, visit their website [HERE].
Until our next family adventure!
PS : After leaving the gates of TSG, we rode Rapid Penang Bus again and went to one of the malls in the island called, Midland Plaza and took the chance of 90% discount offered in Popular Bookstore. Then, we headed to another nearby mall, Plaza Gurney where Gabby and I had our haircuts done and ate our late lunch. We capped our Saturday after we attended the English anticipated Holy Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish.