Sunday, August 2, 2015

Christmas 2014 in Penang

George Town's street art attack
Two days before Christmas and we were on our way from Langkawi to Penang for the last leg of our Malaysian Getaway. From our sun,sea,sand and agro-tourism Langkawi experiences to street art and gastronomic delights in Penang.

When we arrived at the Langkawi Ferry Terminal there were a lot of people waiting, by the street, finding their way to their gates or looking for a place to eat. We were supposed to have a sit-down lunch at Kenny Roger's at the ferry terminal but the service was too slow and we were afraid we might not make it in time for the ferry check in so we decided to send the rest of the group to the check in counter while the others wait for our orders for takeaway instead.

The signs within the ferry terminal were not that clear so we had to ask around which gate we should go to. When we did find where it was, we were shocked to see so many people waiting and queuing but it wasn't clear where their destination was. I approached a small desk which might be the check in desk for our ferry company and we were told to wait because they were still checking in passengers for an earlier ferry schedule. So we sat and waited and waited. Then people started standing up and queuing (again) but before we joined the queue we made sure it was for our ferry schedule. Tickets and passports were checked then we were on our way to our ferry. When everyone has settled to their seats, we brought out our takeaway lunches and savored, once again, yummy chicken.

The ferry trip from Langkawi to Penang took about 2:45hrs with a short stopover at Pulau Payar about an hour after leaving Langkawi. Pulau Payar is a well-preserved, uninhabited marine park which is a good place to go on a day trip. Some of the passengers on-board disembarked in the island. Pulau Payar is one of the reasons why we can consider going back to Langkawi in the future. We didn't get a chance to visit this place due to bad weather and not enough time. We concentrated on the attractions within the main island only.

finally arrived in Penang
Penang pier and surroundings
When we arrived in Penang it was drizzling. We planned to walk to our respective accommodations (the others booked at Lang Hoose while we stayed at New Asia Hotel) since based on the map the two were just a few blocks away. With the unpredictable weather though, we decided to hail a cab just outside the ferry terminal to get to our hotels. Our taxi driver was a chatty one, telling us things about the area. After a few minutes though, looking at my google maps app, I was in doubt whether he knew where we were going. He already drove past the street where he was supposed to turn to get to our hotel. He said it was to avoid traffic etc etc. But then he called someone on the phone and was asking for directions! Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity to get to our hotel (and MYR10) which was just about 2kms away, we have reached our destination.

New Asia Hotel, if I put it into Singapore living context, would be like a shop house of sorts. The hotel rooms are located on the second floor of the building while several eating places are found on the first floor and along the street. We chose New Asia Hotel (also known as New Asia Heritage Hotel) because of its central location within George Town amidst street food stalls. It has a very nostalgic feel to it - with its wooden windows, antique-looking furniture, and several wooden art pieces. It was all well-worth it for the price we paid for it ($106.32 for a family room, for 2 days!). There was an additional MYR4 Penang tax upon check in. 
our room key - it will never get lost with a keychain this big
We dropped our bags, rested on our comfy beds, checked out the antique-looking furniture (I felt like we were back in time) while the boys retreated for a few minutes to their gadgets. 

We headed down after a few minutes and walked around to sample our first Penang dish. We didn't have to walk that far though because just next to the building was this street lined with several food carts and shops.
dessert first before anything else

our first Penang food feast
That was it for Day 1 in Penang - food and only food. And an evening of playing games with the family. It was already past midnight when we realized they still had to walk back to their hotel. Time flies when you're having fun.

DAY 2: Penang walkabout on the eve of Christmas

The following day, it was our turn to walk to their hotel which was just about 600m away. We passed by some street art and old houses but our minds were set on breakfast.
We walked another 500m from Lang Hoose Residences where our travel companions stayed to Xen Teck Cafe (along Pangkalan Weld). My sis- and brother-in-law knew about this breakfast place so they brought us there. First order(s) of the day - coffee, hot milo, kaya toast (with and without butter), kway teow, bah kuteh. Kaya toast cost MYR 1.50 while the kway teow cost MYR 4. So cheap!
we loved this cup which came with measurement.
That's 220ml of Milo for breakfast for the kids.
my SIL and I, photo op at our breakfast place while the others marched on to the nearby jetty
Having filled our stomachs with local delights, we were ready to roam around Penang and go sight-seeing. We walked to nearby Chew Jetty, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is an entire jetty of the Chew Clan.

While the men headed straight to the end of the jetty and took pictures, the ladies took a more leisurely walk appreciating the houses and souvenirs sold at some of the shop houses. There were a variety of interesting items to choose from - fridge magnets, key chains, shirts, phone covers, post cards, note pads, notebooks, etc. It was difficult to decide which was the best souvenir to buy. Finally, I settled with this notebook which was also a collection of some of the Street Art in George Town. I could use it as a scrapbook for our Malaysia trip.

After the jetty visit, we walk a little further down the road to Weld Quay Bus Terminal. We asked around for which bus to take to Batu Ferringhi and were given confusing replies. There were several other people who also seemed like tourists and we were all heading to the same place. We were standing in line not knowing if we were in the right place. Finally, after a few minutes of waiting, a bus stopped by with the sign Batu Ferringhi. So we boarded bus 101, paid about MYR 2.80 per person and were on our way to a long bus ride to the beach area.
The kids enjoyed the beach a lot. They ran around, played with the sand, jumped over waves along the shore while we watched them from afar. We also had our lunch there from a local restaurant. 

Before dark, we headed back to town to explore the other thing Penang is famous for - Street Art. There were wall paintings, sculptures and other art installations. This reminded us of some of the art installations at Gamcheon Village in Busan, South Korea. It was fun posing beside these interesting and amazing works of art. There were so many of them so I just posted some of our favorites here:
the cousins 

nephew vs uncle and the minion  

reconnecting with my love for cats/kittens
My SIL riding the motorcycle art installation with the painting of the driver at the background
while I stare at this Malaysian footballer (?) towering above me.
someone's hitching a ride to the unknown
Oscar the Grouch looking at the trash around him.
Somehow the artist found a way to make something out of this eye sore of a sight.
After the trip to Batu Ferringhi and admiring Penang's Street Arts, we walked to China House for some snacks. My SIL read about this famous eating place and we wanted to try it out. Their specialty - cakes! While waiting for our sweet treats, the children were given big sheets of paper to draw on. Some of the previous customers' art works were actually displayed on the walls. 


our reward for the day, China House style
After tea time, we headed to Lang Hoose for an afternoon of fun and games with the family. During that time the game "Heads Up" was a big hit to us. So while waiting for Christmas eve dinner (which my SIL prebooked) we all enjoyed a good laugh and some competition.

For our Christmas Eve dinner, my SIL booked a Christmas dinner for the family at Five27 - a bar and restaurant. That's formal dinner and live music after as our special Christmas Eve dinner treat.

choice between sirloin steak, roasted turkey or risotto

We reminded the kids to put on their best behavior as this was sort of a fine dining place. We were already not dressed for the occasion so might as well make up for it with our finesse ;)

Delectable meal, intimate time with the family. That's what our Christmas Eve 2014 came out to be.

We walked along Love Lane and stopped by the church to visit the nativity scene before the strike of midnight.  

Happy birthday, Jesus!
Thankful to our Lord Jesus Christ for safe travel and unforgettable memories with the family
The end of our second day in Penang on Christmas Eve and what better way to spend it than to have a few silent moments to offer our prayers and thanksgiving.

Day 3: Leaving Penang on Christmas Day

It's Christmas Day, our last day in Penang. Before we bid farewell to this interesting city of gastronomy and art we had last-minute sampling of some of its local dishes and glimpses of city attractions.

One thing we liked about New Asia Hotel specially on this last day was the cute veranda. Our wooden windows opened to the sights, sounds and smell of neighboring shops. It was a beautiful, sunny day so we had the chance to take a family photo by the veranda.

Then we headed to a nearby coffee shop for breakfast. Siew mai and cold milo for the kids.

We headed back to the hotel after breakfast and took photos at the hotel entrance and the staircase leading to the reception area.

Below are the antique furniture and wood art at the hotel's inner court.

The hotel even has a good view of the KOMTAR tower.
We met up with the rest of the family for yet another breakfast trip. This was sort of our last meal in the city before we head to the airport for our flight back to Singapore.
the kids had their special table and special breakfast of kaya toast and cold milo (their favorite)

While the adults tried .......
dessert in the morning

Ice cream break for the kids while the adults went on a shopping trip.
More street art incorporated in some of the shops we passed by.
Photo op at George Town's World Heritage Inc.

another glimpse of the KOMTAR

We chanced upon this intriguing place. Just the perfect place for the kids to spent time in while the adults went on their shopping trip. We were enticed by the props just outside the place - a treasure chest of swords, masks, sign boards and costumes. The kids were raring to go and see what was there for them to do.
They couldn't wait to get in. Posing and getting into the role as they prepared to solve the puzzle simulation game of their choice.


my SIL, the only adult in the group who accompanied the kids, got free entry because it was her birthday month!
one final photo op before they embarked on their Escape Room challenge
After an hour, we came back for them and heard stories of how they almost solved the challenge given to them.... if only they had more time. They really enjoyed it a lot.

So there you go, the sights, food and experiences of our family on our week-long trip to three of Malaysia's top tourist destinations. There's still so much more to look forward to.
bye, bye for now

Trip Tips:

Ferry from Langkawi to Penang via Langkawi Ferry Services 

- adult MYR60, child 3-12yrs old MYR45 (one-way ticket)

New Asia Hotel (also known as New Asia Heritage Hotel)
71 Kimberly Street, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia 10100
Tel:  (+604)250 3636
Fax:  (+604)263 3669

Five27 (now known as Chulia Court)
- Address: 355, 357, 359 Lebuh Chulia, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia 

Escape Room
- Unit 2,3&4, Level 3, Block K, Setia Walk Mall, Persiaran Wawasan, 
Pusat Bandar Puchong 47160 Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia
- website:
- cost: MYR35 per person / (FREE entry on birthday month)

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