Sunday, April 12, 2015

Penang, Malaysia on a Weekend

Logan Heritage Building
The nicely restored Logan Heritage Building

Roughly two months into my new job last year, I had this sudden urge to hop on a plane and go somewhere far, but not so far really because I am only a mere working mortal. Who am I kidding? The urgency could have been attributed to my Chinese New Year holidays being void of any plans, that or the feeling wherein I wasn't yet ready to bury myself with the demands of work again, whichever the case. Needless to say, I booked a weekend return flight to Penang, Malaysia from Singapore, just as soon as I knew the fare won't break the bank.

Penang has been in my top nearby places that I want to visit and by nearby, I mean I can just allot a weekend for a quick visit. I know it sounds like I am doing disservice to these places that are definitely worth more than two days but being someone who needs to earn her keep on a weekday basis and has only a limited number of vacation leaves sadly, weekends provide the most ideal solution.

If you're in the same boat as me, here are a few things that can give you an idea on how I had filled my short and sweet time in the island of Penang. And moving forward, this type of post will replace my usual and not so helpful itemized-by-the-hour itinerary. To be honest, I don't make such detailed itineraries in reality anymore but most of the time, I am only armed with a list of things to do, and somehow so far, it effectively does the job.

Day 1

Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang Malaysia

After depositing my things at my guesthouse and having quickly refreshed myself, I immediately went about my day. With Penang's intense afternoon heat, I was beyond grateful that I was seated in an air-conditioned Rapid Penang bus that took me from Georgetown to Air Itam, my first destination for the day. Taking a cue from others who also wanted to visit Kek Lok Si Temple that day, I got off the bus with them. The temple complex is perched conspicuously on a hill, which makes yet another obvious clue.

Kek Lok Si Temple is a Buddhist temple and is known to be the largest temple complex in Southeast Asia. With its location on a hill, it likewise offers a commanding view of the sprawling development in Penang. What I particularly like is the ostentatious architecture of the temple structures and the pagoda. I didn't go inside the pagoda which has an entrance fee but I only immersed myself by combing through every corner of the temple, while mostly delighted with the many lanterns hanging in the ceiling.

Penang Hill

Penang Hill

Having experienced the sticky hot feeling in the temple, I decided to proceed to Penang Hill with the cool atmosphere in mind, since the hill is of considerable elevation. Little did I know, what was even cooler was the funicular train that got me from the foot of the hill to the top!

Street Food at Night

Fishball Noodle Soup Stall in Penang, Malaysia

Back in Georgetown, I hunted my dinner among the many stalls that popped up that night in a street which was closed from traffic. The hubbub was just a walking distance from my guesthouse which made it convenient. After a short deliberation with my hunger, I settled myself at a noodle stand and for my company, a piping hot fishball noodle soup subsequently came. As I gobbled down my soup, I was interrupted by an equally entertaining grandpa, who was one of the two manning the stand. At first, he asked me where I come from, threw in a few guesses and when I told him I'm from the Philippines, he told me that I look like Chinese so therefore, I should know how to speak Chinese. He was just hilarious.

Day 2

British Colonial Structures

Penang Supreme Court

On my second day, I walked around Georgetown and got mesmerized on how Penang has successfully restored and maintained the colonial structures, left by the British in this part of Malaysia.

Georgetown Promenade

Georgetown Promenade in Penang, Malaysia

Still on my aimless wander, I then found myself at the promenade, staring at an infinite cloudless sky and the blue sea with its waves crashing into a rocky narrow shoreline. I give kudos to Georgetown for keeping their seas looking pristine.

Hidden Temples

Temple in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Penang island has a large population of Chinese, mostly of Hokkien descent. It is no wonder if you can see many small temples tucked in between the houses in Georgetown.

Mural Paintings

Mural painting in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Previously, I had already seen photos of murals in Georgetown. I found them very creative and quirky at the same time. But when I was there, I had almost ignored a few murals that had been right under my nose all along. It must be the sweltering heat. Good thing though, groups of people were milling near these murals for a photo. You can't find the murals in one area but these works of art are ingeniously spread all throughout the historic streets in Georgetown. You just need a sharp eye to look out for these hidden gems.


Ice Kachang in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

And to fight off the extreme heat, I needed iced desserts every after a few minutes. Can you blame me?

Yes, my time in Penang had been fleeting but Penang still made such wonderful memories that are definitely for keeps. Of course, there are other things that you can do in Penang like frolic in its beaches but I have a lazy arse so, this is it for now.

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