28 Jan - 04 Feb 2010 Penang

Penang Island aka Betelnut Island
Clean and adequate standard double room for only MYR 35.- or US$ 9.90 per night - a steal. Enthusiastic and more than helpful young staff.
Wifi for MYR 12.- per 24 hours.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Penang Tune Hotel in Georgetown, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:
N 05° 25.16' E 100° 19.63'


Meeting up with our Penangite/Canadian Baba-Nyonya friends Mun & Chuah, exploring together the bustling, predominantly Malaysian Chinese city of Georgetown (which combines the best of the East and the West, ranked 8th in ECA International's Most Livable and Workable Cities in Asia) between the Esplanade and Penang Hill and always having “time for a Tiger” from Singapore, acclaimed the official beer for the upcoming Chinese Year of the Tiger.
"'East? They wouldn’t know the bloody East if they saw it. Not if you was to hand it to them on a plate would they know it was the East. That’s where the East is, there.' He waved his hand wildly into the black night. 'Out there, west. You wasn’t there, so you wouldn’t know. Now I was...'" 
Celebrating together with local Hindu crowds Georgetown's version of the masochistic Thaipusam Festival (at it's heart, a pilgrimage procession which takes place to bring the statue of Lord Muruga, who represents virtue, youth and power, on a silver chariot, led by more then 60 kavadis adorned with peacock feathers, from Little India to the Nattukottai Chettiars' Temple atop the hill of Waterfall Road), thus (i) smashing coconuts on the road in front of the chariot, (ii) empathising with the Hindu devotees who go through the physical endurance of being skewered and pierced on the back and front of their bodies by hooks with miniature urns as an act of penance and (iii) watching the brisk trading (alms for blessings and cash for dye powder, respectively) between the paying devotees and the money-taking priest-crews who man the bull-drawn chariot: after all, religion is a lucrative business model, everywhere in this world.

Applying with two identical photos from each of us and one copy of each passport for two single-entry tourist visas for Thailand (valid for a stay up to 60 days, “employment prohibited”) at the relaxed and friendly Royal Thai Consulate-general +6042268029 in Penang and getting them issued within 6 hours, free of any charge and no hassle.

Indulging in exotic Nyonya dishes, a fusion of Malay cuisine with Chinese (Hokkien) cooking style, which are distinguished by their sophisticated use of spices and herbs such as daun kesum (kesum leaves aka Vietnamese coriander), serai (lemon grass) and bunga kantan (wild ginger) thus establishing our own (vegetarian/pescetarian) Top Five of Penang food: (i) Penang assam laksa (thick rice noodles served in a spicy and sour fish broth made with mackerel flakes, tamarind aka assam, lemongrass, chillies, galangal, thinly-sliced onions, prawn paste and finely-shredded bunga kantan [ginger flower]); (ii) char koay teow (flat white rice noodles stir-fried in a large wok over a roaring open fire together with prawns, cockles, eggs, soy sauce, chillies, bean sprouts and chives); (iii) pork-free Hokkien mee (fragrant noodle soup of shrimp paste and dried prawns, served with fresh prawns, fish cakes, leafy greens, squids, vegetables, crispy deep-fried shallots, spring onions, fresh lime, chillies, light soy sauce and a bit of sambal on the side), (iv) oh chien (fried egg omelette with fresh and succulent oysters, garnished with chopped spring onions and served with sweet and sour chili sauce); (v) nasi kandar (steamed white rice served with a variety of thick, aromatic [fish] curries, vegetables and side dishes), our favourite: Al-Hass CafĂ© on Jalan Burmah opposite our hotel.

Taking the Rapid Penang +6042381212 city bus no. 401 (MYR 2.70 per person) from Georgtown’s Komtar Bus Terminal to the Bayan Lepas International Airport and flying uneventfully with Air Asia (“Now Everyone Can Fly”) in a red Airbus A 320-200 to Kuala Lumpur's KLIA-LCCT for all inclusive MYR 64.- or US$ 18.- per person, one way.

Click below for more blog posts about Penang
17 Feb - 20 Feb 2013 Georgetown
01 Feb - 17 Feb 2013 Batu Ferringhi
09 May - 12 May 2009 Georgetown

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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Konni & Matt Travel Photos

Facing Penang
© Konni & Matt

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