The music of Silence

the most beautiful sound on earth... absolute silence and yet, you hear music

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Penang Trip Jan 2017

Penang 5 days Trip Feb 2017
Back for my annual trip to Singapore for Lunar Chinese New Year and this year we (aka me, my parents and my 2nd brother's family) decide to add a twist to it..
Off to Penang we go!

The sights of Penang from Lim Wah Tai
It has been 25 years since I last visited the island and my perspective of the island changed over the days.

As we prepare to make our escape.... and no, we are not moving to Penang permanently!

Landing in the airport and making our way to the hotel, the island felt foreign yet familiar. Growing up in South East Asia, I'm no stranger to metal roofs and 60's shophouses. But with Singapore phasing out such architecture and living in the states for the last 10 years, it certainly brought back some nostalgic moments, especially for my parents.

We spent 5 days in Penang and it's been fun-filled and food-filled ^_^.
Every day is filled with a new adventure, especially with my playful 4 year old niece entertaining us with her unpredictable antics!

Golden Sands Shang Ri La @ Penang

First day - Arrival in Penang
With an arranged transport by Shang Ri La, we had no problems getting to our hotel.
After resting for the afternoon, we explored around the hotel grounds and discovered a great hawker food center where we started our first dinner, a gastronomic event out of many in the days to come!

Hawker food 1 : Char Kway Teow, chicken wing, Assam Laksa, Satay, Oyster omelette and Wanton Mee

2nd Day - Hanging out in the pool
The hotel grounds has some nice facilities with water slides and a gym. So we spent the morning swimming and hanging at the pool. It's great having some family time again!

For lunch, we went for Nonya food next to the hotel and it's a good deal for the amount of food that we ate. (unfortunately we finish the food before i remembered we haven't took any pictures)

After lunch, we decide to go to Gurney drive and check out Gurney Plaza and try some of the local food at the famous hawker center at Gurney road.
Unfortunately it's probably the most disappointing hawker food in our Penang experience. The place is over-crowded and over-rated for a few items that we ordered.

Gurney drive Hawker food - Cendol, Oyster Omette, Squid Kang Kong and Char Kway Teow

We also had dinner at Oriental Seafood in Gurney Road and it's again, overpriced and mediocre in its food quality. Note to self: Gurney Road has become a tourist trap!

Oriental Seafood.. a fairly disappointing tourist trap

3rd Day - Sightseeing
We decide to rent a driver/Toyota Innova for the day and see what Penang has to offer for Tourism.
1st stop: Penang Hill

View of Penang from Penang Hill

Photos of everyone at the viewing area

Map of Penang Hill

This is a hill at 713m above sea level. It gives a great respite from the intense heat and humidity at sea level in South East Asia. Unfortunately we have limited time and only explored the viewing deck and a minimum area after the viewing deck. The Jeep Trail could be a great experience should we decide to come back again!

With Dad in the tram up the hill
There's a great view of Penang Bridges and Penang city on the top of the hill.

Sights of Penang from the hill side
2nd stop: Kek Lok Si
This is probably one of the biggest chinese temple in Asia of its kind. As our guide/driver Minda said, this is the headquarters of all temples =) and it's staggering how much money flows into this temple all year round.
There's an impressively huge new Kuan Yin statue in the top level. And you can see Penang city from the property perimeter.
We decide to skip the pagoda level and went straight to Georgetown after this

The Huge Kuan Yin Statue in Kek Lok Si
The statues around Kek Lok Si, with the 12 horoscopes
3rd stop: George town lunch and street arts trail
George town is a Unesco Heritage Site that's still functioning as a vital living area for Penang citizens. It's certainly interesting exploring the narrow streets with Minda who knew how to navigate through the maze.

Cendol is a must-try for South East Asia. It's a icy cold dessert suitable for the climate. Made with Gula Melaka which is palm sugar from Malacca. We went for the famous place Lebuh Keng Kee Kopitiam at Penang Road. Check out the long queue!
Crazy queue in George town for Cendol
At the same coffee shop, we ordered Assam Laksa (rice noodle dish made with fish broth and tamarind juice) and Rojak (South east Asian salad with shrimp paste)
The Famous Cendol with the long queue
After lunch, we went in search of the street art in Georgetown.
As Minda is Hindu, he knew of these 2 painting by a Russian lady of a Hindu fortune teller and the boatman. Great details!
The Street Art in Georgetown

4th stop: Peranakan Mansion
We decide to stop at the Peranakan Mansion (aka Nonya Baba) museum after the street art jaunt.
Saw some breath-taking chinese and south-east asian antiques preserved with great care and love. The guide is also an amusing guy with funny accolades as he explained the Peranakan culture.

The lower floor of the Peranakan mansion

The Upper floor of the mansion

Peranakan Mansion
Antiques pictures 1

Antiques Pictures 2
Antiques Picture 3

After that, we sweated for an hour in a coffee shop while waiting for the famous char kway teow by the red hat auntie.
Definitely worth the wait as she stir fried it with a powerful charcoal fire and do it one plate at a time! Even half way through my plate, i can still feel the heat of the noodles. Piping hot! =)
Tried a good Chee Cheong Fun and good oyster omelette too in the same coffee shop! We even had a free plate of Char Kway Teow as the guy sitting beside us over-ordered 2 plates instead of 1!

The Famous Red Hat Auntie Char Kway Teow with her stylo milo sunglasses

4th day - More sightseeing

This is the last day and we decide Butterfly Garden would be a great spot for my niece. She certainly enjoyed the beautiful butterflies and greatly amused by our antics to catch them with our hands.
Alas, she isn't brave enough to attempt it herself. More courage required!

Entopia Butterfly Garden with loads of creepies crawlies

The different species of Tiger butterfly

After the garden, we went to Tai Tong Seafood center near the Garden and it's another great food place!
Reasonable pricing and food made with a soul! Especially the signature dish of Mantis shrimp made with salted egg yolk! yum!

Tai Tong Seafood Part 1

Tai Tong Seafood Part 2

After lunch, we went to a batik shop and it's interesting to see how the artist draw the lines with a free hand using wax. Apparently the wax will allow the dye from the manual painting process to form the right lines and sodium silicate to fix the dyes before cleaning the wax away by boiling.
End result: a beautiful batik product.

Learning the batik making process

We also went to a local product shop and honey shop and purchase more Penang snacks like Tan Wen Cookies, Durian chocolates, nutmeg oil etc.

Honey Farm Outing

Getting Local Products at Lim Wah Tai

As for dinner that night, we concluded the gastronomic trip with Andrew Kampung.
Andrew is a great host with local soulful food. All of that food, wine and beer for ~$100 sing dollars.
Andrew Kampung Part 1

Andrew Kampung Part 2

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