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Malaysia Travel Diary: George Town

Touring Penang

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We had an awesome trip to Malaysia (KL and Penang) in July/August 2010. Here is details of our time in George Town in Penang. We have just left Kuala Lumpur, and next we spend some time in Batu Ferringhi. See also our Food Diary of Malaysia.

28th of July, 2010: Day 1 in George Town, Penang

We flew from KL to Penang Island with firefly, the cheap airline for Malaysian Airlines. It was a very good service, including a free bus to George Town. We got off the bus daily, and caught a taxi a short distance up the road from our hotel-hotel Mingood.


We were desperate for some lunch, and got directions from the front desk for some local food. We don't think we found the right place, but got an OK meal with the darkest white coffee we have ever had! In the afternoon, Clare walked down Penang road to Komtar area for some grocery shopping, and found many interesting items for sale such as timtams. When Clare he turned, it was rob's turn to go out-he walked to the corner with Olive in the pram she was asleep in no time.

We headed out to find the esplanade for dinner. We were not sure where it was, and actually walked past the food stalls and continued for quite a while before we realized we had missed it. It was tiring walking around in the warm evening, but the food selection was great. We also had a couple of beers, sitting on the seaside with views across to the mainland.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

29th of July, 2010: Day 2 in George Town, Penang

A basic western breakfast was served at the hotel's rooftop restaurant-a good change for the kids. We thought we had heaps of time, but only just made it to the 11.00am tour of Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. It takes a long time to get the day bag ready and everyone dressed for a full day out. That all of the old building took an hour, which was just a little long for Olive's attention been delete them. It was fascinating, and made even more interesting by the entertaining tour guide. We learnt a bit about Feng Sui. Maybe next time you visit we would stay in one of the rooms. We strolled down the Komtar walk and had a nice lunch in a cafe. Olive was treated to a merry go round ride, something we usually avoid when we are at home.

Fort Cornwallis
Fort Cornwallis, Penang

From the blue house we tracked down the free shuttle bus which took us across town to Fort Cornwallis. It was small but had some interesting early history of the town.

The day was nearly over, we had no time for the high tea at the E and O, it will have to wait until tomorrow. Instead we rested in the park, and a local Chinese boy came to play with olive. It was great to see the kids playing together without having to verbally communicate. We jumped on the free shuttle bus back to our our hotel, then a short rest before going down the road to the Green Garden market and hawker stalls. There wasn't a great selection, and a lot less stressful with Olive asleep in the pram. She just couldn't go the distance, and she stayed asleep all night with no dinner.

Dim Sum, Penang
Dim Sum, Penang

30th of July, 2010: Day 3 in George Town, Penang

Clare finally got her dim sum meal, and served the traditional way off carts pushed around the tables. It reminded us of a sushi train, paying for just the plates we selected. After eating much too much, we walked across town, passing a few old Temples. The main one we wanted to see was Khoo Kongsi, an elaborate old Clan house, very intricately detailed. We walked through the little India area with a few familiar sounds and smells of India. We stopped for some refreshment at a funky looking sweet shop. For lunch we continued the Indian theme and visited a restaurant which was very cool inside, and had a huge meal. There were so many things we wanted to try, and the waiters were very good at suggesting things to us.

High Tea, Penang
High Tea

A short distance from Little India we walked straight to one of the historic Clan jetties-a line of wooden houses built along an old jetty. From the city centre we caught the bus to the Eastern & Oriental Hotel for our much anticipated high tea. It was very sophisticated, the fancy cakes especially. It is something we would never have done back home- it had only worked out to be about $15.00 each here.

We were very full after the huge lunch and afternoon tea, we hardly needed any dinner. Rob took Olive out for an omelette and he had a south Indian dosai (or thosi as they write it here). When he returned, Clare ducked out for a cob of corn and some shopping. It is rare that we have headed out without us all together.

Tek Lok Si temple
Tek Lok Si temple, Penang

31st of July, 2010: Day 4 in George Town, Penang

We took breakfast upstairs again. Olive was keen to have normal breakfast, though it was still a struggle to get her to be the cereal and toast available here. She must miss some of the food from home, even though we can often get something similar here.

We took the bus to the Tek Lok Si temple, a huge complex just out of town on the slopes of Penang Hill. As we saw the crowds on arrival we realized it was a weekend. Not only that, there was a festival on too, bringing lots of visitors to Penang. The path up to the temple was narrow and filled with souvenir shops. It did not take long to realise our mistake of bringing the pram. Rob had to resort to carrying it through the crowd, but it was still tough going. There was a large pagoda there, that we never made it to, as there was an even bigger statue. We had to take a chair lift up to see it. The statues around and the carvings on the pillars were especially impressive. There were lots of other Temples and nooks and crannies, we probably only saw half of the whole complex.

Hawker food stalls, Penang
Hawker food stalls

While resting by a pond, we had a very interesting experience. Out of the blue an old Chinese man came along and sat near us. He lit a cigarette, then started talking about his father- "he was a great man". Little did he know that it was 10 years to the day since Geoff Reilly died. Clare would have sworn it was him coming back to visit. The man's father was disabled, and Jetson had apparently reminded him of his father. The man also had Parkinson's, reminding Rob of his dad. It was an emotional moment.

Jetson was very popular as usual. He just loves the attention too. On the way back down we saw a huge monitor lizard in a creek- totally unexpected. We found a nice local place for lunch, then caught the bus back to George Town. It had all taken so long. It rained on the way back, and many streets started to flood.

After a rest and some Internet, we caught a taxi out to gurney drive, another food hot spot. It was not as obvious as we expected, but we found the collection of of hawker stalls providing a wide range of Penang specialties. We finished the day with a beer toast to Geoff in our room.

botanic gardens, Penang
botanic gardens, Penang

1st of Aug, 2010: Day 5 in George Town, Penang - Botanic Gardens

We had Indian breakfast at a local restaurant which was super busy due to all the Indians in town for the Saint Anne festival. We walked down Penang road to the Komtar bus depot for our bus out to the botanic gardens. All the buses seem to take the longest route to get to any place. We could easily save some time by taking a taxi each time, but not save money. The botanic gardens was a nice call and green break from the town. There were wild monkeys to see, and a few locked specialty gardens. We took the tram around, then walked the same route for a closer look.

toy museum
monsters inc.

We had lunch at the only restaurant nearby. Olive drank a coconut and Rob had a burger. We caught a taxi from here to the toy museum. It was a huge collection of toys and figurines, mostly from movies. Olive loved it, getting excited about each character she recognized.

Back in town we organized a trishaw ride with a driver we had met at breakfast. We needed two to sit comfortably. In the hour ride through the streets we saw some parts of town we had missed-some quiet Lanes, a Chinese opera and inside a Hindu temple. We all got a red dot on our forehead after a 10 RM donation. We were dropped off at the new world park food court for some more local dishes, then walked back to our hotel.

dim sum breakfast
more dim sum

2nd Aug, 2010: Day 6 in George Town

We returned to the same dim sum restaurant from the other day, and even tried a few more dishes from the cart. On the way back to our hotel we bought a big bag to carry the extra luggage we now have. We have plenty of time to pack up as we can check out at 1.00 PM. Time to check the email - our budget is going well but it was a shock to see the big transaction fee for our bank withdrawals.

We walked out to Ho Ping's for lunch, a place just down the road that we had passed numerous times before. We taxied to our next hotel, the Holiday Inn at Batu Ferringhi, the beach resort area only 15km from George Town.

> see more about our time in Batu Ferringhi.

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