Penang Travelogue – Day 1

After our first trip with baby V (we went to Taiwan, read about it here and here), we thought “Hey, that wasn’t too bad”, so we decided to zip off for a short getaway over the long weekend in October. Best of all, my sister and her BF could join us, so we had our first full attendance family holiday with the little one! This time – to the Pearl of the Orient!

Since it was a short trip, we went via Tiger for this 1.5hour affair. As expected, no bassinet and no wider leg room for families. With a baby in tow (mostly on my legs), space was a constraint and we basically were frozen on the seat. We made sure baby’s essentials were organized accordingly so that things are within reach whenever needed during the flight. And since we all woke up pretty early today, baby V gets to nurse to sleep during the flight while daddy and mummy tries to get some shut-eye.

DAY 1: (Singapore –> Penang)
Snake Temple – Pasar Awam Air Itam – Kek Lok Si – Museum of Glass – Straits Quay – Penang Times Square – Street Food at New Lane

Upon reaching Penang International Airport, our pre-arranged driver uncle, Tommy, picked us up at the waiting area. As there were 6 adults + 1 baby, we opted for a more spacious ride – 10-seater Toyota Alphard, which actually proved to be a good decision because the space for luggage was a tad limited. It’s been years since we set foot in Penang (I was probably 6 or 7?). My sister got hold of a driver contact from her colleague who lives there and arranged for his services. His fees were RM1,600 for an 8-hour day, for 3 days; which we later cut to 2 days because we realized it wasn’t that difficult to hail cabs as there were usually a few stationed outside our hotel.

Since we arrived around late morning, we started discussing with Tommy on some possible destinations and popular sightings to visit. Not forgetting, the yummy food too! Hubs was getting all excited and started naming all the local delights that he couldn’t wait to fill his tums with. LOL! Our first attraction was the Snake Temple.

First stop: Snake Temple

Sleepy morning for this fella…

Check out snapshots of brave souls who wrapped themselves with the snakes here… I couldn’t wait to get out!! Yikes!!

According to my parents, back then, snakes were allowed to roam freely and filled the grounds of the temple. Tommy confirmed it and I could only count my lucky stars that they no longer hang around like that. It’s kinda freaky, isn’t it?! Now, there are only a few of them lying near the shrines.

We left the place to start our food trail, and went to try some Penang food, which according to Tommy, this place has pretty nice ones. It was right next to a wet market (stalls are mostly closed since it’s almost noon) and the stalls are at Pasar Awam Air Itam. Parking (limited) along the road is a common sight, so park when space is spotted!

First Penang street food: Penang Assam Laksa! It was sour, a little spicy and the thick bee hoon was slightly overdone (to me).

Penang Char Kway Teow! Driver uncle recommended to order it without eggs as they taste better. They come with medium-sized prawns, Chinese sausage, bean sprouts, fish cake, some veggie and cockles. Taste pretty nice, and we couldn’t resist ordering another plate, with eggs this time!

The portions were slightly small (for me), so we ordered more servings to share. Having had an early breakfast before our plane ride, it was also one of the reasons why I was hungry, besides the fact that nursing mothers burn more and get hungry faster. *Excuses to eat* For families with babies, do note that there are NO highchairs here, so you may wish to bring along a stroller or take turns carrying your bub as the other eats – which was what we did as baby V started fussing and wanted to sleep. The eating area is also rather warm, so you might wish to skip the long-sleeves stuff for baby and yourselves.

Next, we travelled to higher grounds to visit one of the grandest Buddhist temples in Penang and is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia too – Kek Lok Si. There’s a huge Goddess of Mercy statue which overlooks the area. The drive up there was kinda bendy, so you might wish to prepare some sweets if you’re prone to motion sickness like yours truly. Baby V was nursing on our way up and promptly fell asleep (rather rare in the afternoons back in SG!) so we waited in the car while the rest of the family combed the place. Mr Sun was rather fierce and I’m glad to be sitting in my abode hee!

The area was undergoing some refurbishment when we were there, but visitors were still welcomed.

Upcoming events at the temple…

My sleeping child :)

We headed downslope and back to flat grounds. Along the streets, there are many food stalls but do be careful about selecting the ones to try as some might not be that clean, as advised by Tommy.

It’s a big festival there for the folks of Penang to celebrate. At night, there was a procession at the city centre in celebration of the God’s birthday.

Some street stalls along the road…

Hubs and mum alighted to grab some street food which we greedily chomped in the car. No hands to take pic while carrying baby – oops, I meant, they were wolfed down too quickly! :P

Spotted some monkeys along the way.. and some of them were nursing their babies… totally relatable heh!

Just monkeying around!

This was really sweet… holding onto momma!

Our next place of interest was the Museum of Glass. Situated along the roads, parking was just in front of the place. Free entry to visit.

A small indoor place – Museum of Glass.

Stepping in…

Our tour guide explaining and sharing information on how those glass got so flat. Public can also customize them or make their own too!

More glass pieces, perhaps for the home or shops like cafes?

Pretty colours adorn the wall.. also customizable according to your preferences.

Recycled glass bottles!

Some techniques in glass art.

It was a rather touristy place of sorts… with souvenirs for sale… and random stuff like coasters, keychains etc… not my cup of tea, but if you fancy such pieces, you may like to check it out.

On our way to the Straits Quay, we passed by a reservoir. The water was still and the wind was strong… kinda reminded me of our honeymoon in the States where we roamed freely and drove along the coastal highway. Hubs thinks i’m crazy and that this place was nowhere near that at all! Well, even walking past Starbucks makes me feel like i’m on a holiday (i’m so easy to please!), so I tell him that he’s a lucky man! LOLOL!

Still water runs deep.

Someone having lots of fun in the breeze!

Straits Quay is a new retail establishment which houses cafes along the seafront, in addition to some simple shopping and a premium supermarket. Reminds me of a larger version of our Marina Keppel Bay,

We got hungry again, so food-hunting begins here. Considered a couple of cafes but one that caught our eyes only had cakes and the place wasn’t really baby-friendly. So we went with Dome, which had a wide menu including all-day breakfast, savoury and sweet treats. Yes, we ate like we hadn’t had lunch and this was supposed to be tea break! Baby V had bits of the pot pie pastry and scones (since she was a month shy of her 1st birthday, we offer her bits of our meals but choose the simple stuff only and also bearing in mind to stay away from allergenic foods), before she started screaming away for more. Oops!

Coffee break for the caffeine addicts!

Cranberry scones for the hubs.

I was craving for something hot and hearty – Chicken Pot Pie in my tummy! Oh and I must add that the veggie sides were delish!! Simple stuff but butter-licious!

My sister dug into her all-day brekkie which I couldn’t resist stealing her mushrooms from :P

There was another plate of puffs that I missed snapping but they were really good too! After we were done filling our tums, we finally headed to our hotel to check-in. Our choice of accommodation at Penang: Sunway Hotel Georgetown Penang. Initially, we were contemplating between another hotel (can’t recall if it was Holiday Inn?) and this because the former was closer to the shopping centre. Thankfully we didn’t, because the road right outside that hotel flooded when it rained on one of the evenings! Sunway Hotel Georgetown Penang was cleverly built on a small man-made slope, so its entrance is on higher grounds instead.

We took the Deluxe rooms for all 3 families and requested to be on the same floor, which they did arrange. For 3 co-sleepers, that bed was YAY-NESS!!

Baby V agrees that the bed was big!!

In all excitement to rest my back a little, missed out pics of the other areas of the room. The toilet comes with a glass door to cordon off the shower area from the basin and toilet bowl. We proceeded to prepare Baby V’s bath. They do not have a baby bath tub per se, but provided a large basin type (many folks use this to bathe their baby anyway), so it was great! Because of the glass door, bathing was slightly tricky; we had to place her bath tub in the shower area, daddy squats at the glass door outside the area while mummy holds her from the inside. Do be careful because the tub is very slippery and she was sliding as we bathed her.

After we each took turns to shower and freshen up, it’s time to hunt for dinner! Seems like we were endlessly shoving food down! LOL! We walked over to Penang Times Square, which was about 6 minutes away. Some interesting shops spotted at street level and things seemed promising!

As this trip was to celebrate Dad’s and hub’s birthdays, we wanted to look for a nice place for a slow meal. Seems like there weren’t much food choices that struck our taste buds. Dad didn’t want us to spend too much, so we settled for Western food at James Foo, which bore similarity to our local Aston’s. That’s when looks can be deceiving….

Dad’s steak with black pepper sauce on the side… not much comments from my pops but it wasn’t a thumbs up one for sure.

Hubs and my hotplate steaks. Mine was Black Pepper Rib Eye and Hubs had the Rib Eye with Garlic Sauce. Fries were soggy. Steak was overdone for his (he ordered medium well). The sauces tasted like diluted versions of whatever they were supposed to be and the strange thing was, our steak came with brown mushroom sauce already. Why oh why??

Mum and sis had the Pan-fried Dory Fish, and both ladies didn’t finish their meal. The fish was stiff and seemed like it wasn’t very fresh as if they have been kept frozen for some time.

We left feeling dissatisfied with the meal and started making plans of heading to the local street food just next to our hotel. Without further ado, we made our way, pronto! There was a row of shophouses near our hotel which sells their local produce (in fact, on both sides of our hotel, there were at least 3 shops selling their local produce!) such as Tau Sar Piah, Beh Teh Soh etc and we spotted a street art, so cameras out first!

Goofing around with the sista! We’re helping to bake those nom-noms, can you tell? :P

Okay, I don’t know what we were trying to do there… LOL!

A few steps away to paradise….. food again! Seems like we have been stuffing ourselves silly all day! And that food street is at New Lane (Lorong Bahru) – no less!

We shortlisted this Bak Kut Teh place for one of the days but never got around to trying it. Anyone had this before? We ended up having a not nice one on a super rainy day – stay tuned to find out where!

Braised meat, anyone?

We bought Fried Oyster Omelette from this stall!

Popiah for us, made by a young girl.

More food on the other row.

The coffee shop was so packed with customers who buy food from the street stalls, that they had to put that practice in place.

Tze Char stall by a senior couple.

Some travelled from elsewhere to get food from this popular belt of street food stalls.

More food on the other side!

One of the places to get local produce from! In fact, we got ours on the last day from the shop OPPOSITE this, because a taxi driver said theirs was better. Haha..

Supper time! The Oyster Omelette was fragrant and they were pretty generous with the oysters too. Cuttlefish Kang Kong was pretty yums too, I liked the crunchy veg! Popiah was a tad soggy for my liking but the filling was rather generous too – they look like they were gonna burst soon.

Girls need selfie time together!

Okay, Vera, you’re almost there!

Someone didn’t get the memo… Hey mummy! I don’t have a full set of teeth to do that yet! LOLOL!

The humble Passionfruit Cheesecake we bought from Times Square to celebrate both gentlemen’s hatch day!

After filling our tummies with all those calories and cholesterol in our parents’ room, we headed back to wash up and hit the sack. It was a long day for nom-noming and the weather has been rather kind so far. The next day, we hit town to check out interesting shops (and more food!), visited a Peranakan place, drank coffee at a hipster café and trawled the streets for those famous wall murals – stay tuned!