09 May - 12 May 2009 Penang

Penang Island aka Betelnut Island
Clean and adequate standard double room for only MYR 20.- or US$ 5.50 per night - a steal! Young and enthusiastic staff.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Tune Hotel in George Town, which we would recommend, and for directions:

Matt: Taking Rapid KL bus no. U81 from Kuala Lumpur's Pasar Seni Bus Station to Subang, about 25 km west-southwest of downtown Kuala Lumpur, and hereafter flying from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport with Firefly (“Your Community Airline”) in a rather new and clean turboprop ATR 72-500 to Penang’s Bayan Lepas International Airport for only MYR 35.- or US$ 10.-, all inclusive and one way.

Matt: Watching the colourful and brightly lit float-and-candlelight procession (some floats were carrying the statute of Buddha) in Georgetown, the bustling state capital of Penang (affectionately known as the “Pearl of the Orient”) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on Vesak Day (promisingly pronounced "we-suck day") when the Buddhist devotees, a potpourri of diverse cultures, celebrated Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death by carrying candles in the shape of a lotus, Wesak flags, lanterns, flowers and joss sticks, and chanting prayers.

Matt: Visiting the Kek Lok Si Temple +6048283317 at Air Itam, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, and climbing the seven-tier, 30-m high tower of its Ban Po Thar aka Ten Thousand Buddhas Pagoda which consists of Burmese designs on top, Chinese at the bottom and Thai in between.

Matt: Exploring the many ornate kongsi (Chinese clan houses, mostly Hokkien) and recovering in-between each visit in one of the excellent-value eateries in the Chinatown of Georgetown, hailed as the food capital of Malaysia, and tracking down Penang’s Malay, Chinese and Indian heritage in its unique cuisine (from yong tau fu [bean curd and veggies stuffed with fish paste] via assam laksa [fish soup spiked with tamarind paste and a mint garnish, served with thick, white rice noodles] to chee cheong fun [broad, paper-thin rice noodles that are steamed and rolled around a filling of prawns, served with a chilli dip sauce]) which is additionally spiced up by the cooking of a multitude of immigrants to Penang (e.g. Europeans, Armenians, Jews, Arabs, Japanese, Ceylonese, Javanese, Burmese, Siamese, Achinese, Buginese), and eventually trying to structure his overwhelming impression of bustling Penang from the 60th-floor observation deck (entry: MYR 15.- or US$ 4.-) of the 232-m tall Komtar building in downtown George Town.

Matt: Flying with Firefly (“Your Community Airline”) in a reliable turboprop ATR 72-500 from Penang’s Bayan Lepas International Airport back to Kuala Lumpur's Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport at Subang for only MYR 35.- or US$ 10.-, one way and all inclusive, and catching the KL Metrobus no. 9 from the airport back to Kuala Lumpur Sentral.

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