Penang folks are rather proud that they are Penang folk. We are proud of the fact that we have the best food in Malaysia, and the Chinese is most certainly proud to speak the genteel Northern Hokkien dialect. Which is why I jokingly refer to the state where I was born as "the motherland".
After an arduous 9 months slogging for the CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing, I was super excited to celebrate my emancipation from assignment hell by a trip up north. My goal for the 5-day vacation was simple: Eat, explore, sleep and read.
Is it me, or is it hot??
My family took the speedy 4-hour ETS train from KL Sentral (with me grumbling about waking up at an unholy 6am all the way). It's RM118 for return tickets, and we took the the 9am train. When we finally landed in Butterworth, the extreme heat (thanks to our good friend El Nino) was a shock to the system, especially since the train was soo cold just moments before. After lugging our bags up the very disabled-unfriendly stairs and ramps to the ferry that will take us across to Penang island, we were soaked in sweat.
Penang island was no better. I swear, it must have been a 40 degree Celcius day, because waiting for the bus that would take us to the hotel was so unbearable I threatened to take a taxi to the hotel. Being a stout, thrifty Penangite, Mum was mystified why I would consider paying $20 for a ride when a free bus ride could be had.
But we got to Heliconia hotel's air conditioned confines soon enough!
Below (from left) The ferries that take us from the mainland to Penang island, a refurbished shop house, Chowrasta market and some salted fish at a market.
WHEN IN PENANG, EAT!
I don't care what Singapore says in their tourism brochures, but Penang has the best food in South East Asia. So I did my duty in contributing to the Penang economy. Admittedly we ate at New Lane hawker centre, what most Penangites would consider a tourist trap, but it was very convenient to have all the best hawker dishes under one ... sky?
Actually, the family and I were also there for the annual Qing Ming (tomb-sweeping) festival. My paternal grandparents were enshrined at a collumbrium at Kek Lok Si temple. Because of the heat and an unfortunate and ill-timed bout of food poisoning for yours truly, we took a taxi to Air Itam. RM70 for return. Ouchies.
Five days was over just like that. I achieved my goal of being the laziest tourist ever - that's what I needed, to sleep after months of sleepless nights studying! With food purchases (tau sah peah and hiao pia, which are traditional Chinese biscuits) and nearly a dozen books from the Big Bad Wolf sale, my bag literally burst from the strain. It was a great vacation with the family, eventhough I have to admit I was a bit of a sourpuss from the blazing weather most of the time.
Thinking of visiting Penang? Don't hesitate, it's awesome! But then again, I'm biased. :P