Penang Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
We have returned to good old New Zealand â€˘ land of the long white winters â€˘ from Penang, Malaysia â€˘ land of eternal scorching summer.
What a wonderful holiday we have had, we are not really tourists; we are travellers, we delve into the culture of all the countries we visit, making a big effort to understand the people, their flavour, heritage and culture.
We were staying in the best of resorts in the best position on Batu Ferranghi Beachâ€™s golden sand. Location, location, location as they say â€˘ we had it all. However, the resort refused to come to the party over complimentary breakfasts or even a reasonably priced deal, they planned to charge NZ$22 each per day although they did agree to only $20 each when we got there, this was ridiculously expensive â€˘ so â€˘ we went out on to the street every morning and bought ourselves what we thought was a Malaysia breakfast, in fact it was an Indian breakfast Roti Canea (spelling may be suspect here) which is a sort of cross between a pancake and an omelette filled with egg and onion and served with a dish of curried pickle, sometimes we got toast with jam â€˘ like a sandwich and a cup of strong Malaysian coffee that taste a lot like chocolate and smells like coffee and is so nice.
We would arrive back at the Shangrila Golden Sands Resort just in time to catch the bus to one of the innumerable scenic sights around Penang island or on the Mainland, where we would arrive, by chance just in time to indulge in some exotic ethnic treat from a small food selling hawker for lunch.
A typical day saw us start off in a free shuttle bus to Georgetown (The main city on the island) jump into a trishaw to be pedalled slowly to the ferry terminal, where we took a free ferry trip across the Straits to Butterworth, and back again just because we rather like being out on the ocean, in the cooling breeze.
You note we didnâ€™t drive ourselves â€˘ traffic was too chaotic for us.
The night time is really the time Batu Ferranghi starts to come alive, hundreds of small hawkers stalls spring up along every street and fill every car park along the main highway, selling all kinds of everything â€˘ pewter, china, linen, carvings, clothing, food and drinks and more, a virtual treasure chest of good things.
We wandered along buying a few bits and pieces here and there every night, by the last night we were well know to almost all the stall holders, they gave us a lovely send off when I told one of them we were to leave the next day, word spread like wildfire and every place we had bought from wanted to shake our hands and say â€ś Sahib and Marm. Have a good trip home and be sure to come back to Penang.â€ť It was really nice. Funny that they named us that wasnâ€™t it, we felt a bit like as Maharajah and his wife as we sailed down the street ( I better mention we had indulged in a few drinks prior to this). Unheard of I know!!
We met some lovely people while holidaying too, they helped make our stay so great and I hope we helped them enjoy things more too, it was nice to dine out with a couple of fair dinkum Auzzies even though they had the best penthouse suite in the resort!!!! We overlooked this, as they were kind enough to share their fabulous view with us â€˘ and their gin and T.
We took several trishaw rides, where a little man pedals a bike with the two of us perched in front, its a trifle scary when they ride out into the traffic with us in the lead but its a good way to see the town, and so cheap.
There were numerous Arabs staying in the district, we had never seen a Saudi Lady all donned out in the full long black outfit, complete with yashmak covering all of face except a tiny slit for the eyes, even in the high temperatures these poor ladies had to be fully covered with trousers and long sleeve blouse on under the black getup â€˘ they must have just cooked! No swimming for them and it was all silence- is- golden- and- keep- one â€˘step- behind- the- Sheik. It was very hard to get a single word out of these ladies.
One morning we decided to take the ferry to Butterworth on the main land of Malaysia for a bit of a look around, went to the bird park and saw quite a number of tropical birds in a well looked after birdpark, but we were the only visitors all the time we were there, they won't make any money at that rate. Caught a bus out of town to someother town many miles away where we enjoyed a lovely lunch ( this lovely lunch later made us very sick, the chicken must of been suspect) then caught another bus back to Georgetown via the wonderful bridge that is 6 kms long and so beautiful with its graceful arches. On both the bus trips we deliberately sat on opposite sides of the bus so we had a Malaysian person sitting beside us. We do this so we can have a chat with the locals, we find all sorts of interesting things from these chats, that sometimes leads us to things we would not of seen otherwise. Was a wonderful day apart from the throwing up all the night long afterwards!
The upshot of all this is: we intend to return to Malaysia again, should the opportunity arise.