Trip Report by David & Gail August 2000
Well hi all and in particular Kayes. I did promise to provide a trip report when our group of friends got back from our trip to Langkawi and Penang. So hold tight, here we go. Had a good comfortable flight with Malaysia Airlines. Staff where good and would recommend the airline for anyone considering who to fly with. Also for any Aussies who are Ansett Frequent Flyers MA are now a full partner. We got a little confused at KL Airport with the transfer from International to Domestic. Easy enough to get from one terminal to the other, just confused as to whether we had to go through Immigration / Customs at KL.
We stayed at the Bayjara Beach and Spa Resort at Langkawi. Nice hotel and great setting with all of the room being set within the rain forest. Rooms were looking a little tired however and needed a bit of freshening up. Also smelt of cigarette which these days I can't stand the smell of. Staff generally good however the front Reception staff left a lot to be desired. The Beach Restaurant staff where really good and friendly. Likewise the Concierge etc where friendly and helpful. The food and drink prices were good we thought considering on Langkawi the hotels have the guests largely at their mercy as it difficult to find other places to eat out at. The quality of the food was very good. We basically sat around and unwound on Langkawi. Only went into Kuah the once and wandered up to Telega Tujuh (7 Wells) Waterfall on another day. Some great views from the top. It rained on most days but didn't cause any hassles. We had a great day in the Spa and Saunas. It actually rained most of that day but couldn't dampen our spirits as we just laid back in 28-degree water and relaxed. Had a couple of exciting moments with 2 sea snakes one day when walking along the beach but the best was when a snake fell out of a tree onto one of the girls when we were sitting around the pool. Frightening at the time but a good laugh now. Her dashing hero of a husband sat there, did nothing and continued to read his book, oblivious to what the commotion was about till later. Unfortunately we didn't do any snorkeling as the sea was too stirred up. I had thought the waters around Langkawi were supposed to be good for that so I assume we maybe came at the wrong time of year. Well after 5 relaxing days on Langkawi we had a short flight to Penang and it was into the big time for 8 days. Certainly a very different place to Langkawi, traffic, noise, people, tall building etc. The Tour East driver that picked us up from the airport was really good. Didn't try to "hard" sell us their tours but rather told us what we could do and gave us some good information as first time visitors to Penang.
We stayed at Batu Ferraghni at the Bayview Beach Resort. An excellent hotel, good friendly staff, big clean rooms and excellent facilities. Highly recommend it to anyone wanting somewhere to stay at Batu Ferranghi. It seems at least as good as the Park Royal and only a little behind the Rasa Sayang. So what did we get up to? Well I put on 4 kgs and that was with out even trying. Found some great eating spots and we only just touched the surface. Most mornings we had breakfast at the Happy Garden, just down from the hotel. I picked it up off the forum and they do have a nice, cheap breakfast.
Some of the other eating places we tried follow below with a few comments: Batu Ferranghi Area: NUR HANISAH- Nice Roti Murtabak with Beef or Chicken filling. Also with Pineapple or banana for dessert. Very nice sizzling beef. JASMINE'S KITCHEN- Very nice Tom Yom Thai (Hot). Vegie, beef or chicken samosas. Delightful Prawn Cocktails. Very nice sizzling beef. BEACH CORNER- on the beach next to Park Royal. Nothing fancy but good food. A very hot very nice Tom Yom. A nice Chicken Curry for 8MR. Very Nice Fried Chicken with Dry Chili 8MR. Likewise with a Fried Beef and Oyster Sauce 8MR. THE NET- near The Lone Pine. A real find this one. Great Indian food and good staff. A Spicy Lamb Curry and a Beef Vindaloo to die for, 5MR each. Variety of breads including wonderful Naans of cheese and garlic. Also a great Dahl. THE SHIP- A little more up market and fancy but great setting. Western meals (steaks etc) at a good value price at around 28MR for a nice steak. Excellent Prawn Cocktail for 13MR. Prices may be a little dearer than most around area but still cheaper than we pay here in Australia for the quality. MAGIC- Between Rasa Sayang and Lone Pine. Excellent currys for around 12MR. Fried Garlic prawns that must be made in heaven. And again some wonderful naan bread. Georgetown Area: Hawkers Stalls at NEW GOLDEN PHEONIX Gurney Rd. A smallish Muslim Restaurant opposite KOMTAR on Penang Rd. Whit sign with Green writing. A fantastic Roti Murtabak (chicken).
We did do a bit of sight seeing and some of the places we went to were: Butterfly Farm, Funicular Railway, Fishing Village, Botanical Gardens, Captain Kling Mosque, Kok Lok Si Temple etc Wandered around Georgetown a few times. KOMTAR was worth a visit for the shops and the look-out. Don't know about the restaurant up top however. While I could easy bring myself to eat off the street stalls etc I thought that restaurant was dirty and smelly. Actually we found that Island Plaza seemed a better Shopping Centre than KOMTAR but that would depend on what you wanted to buy to some degree.
Anybody going to Penang, you must catch the local transport buses for the experience. Great stuff. If you are a West Australian you will never complain about our buses and our bus drivers again. We don't know how lucky we are sometimes. 70 cents Australian for a 15Klm trip, how do they afford it? Ride the bus and you'll find out. There must be some great employment opportunities for mechanics and upholstery fitters in Penang's bus companies. Likewise with the taxi companies, a shock absorber replacement business could make a fortune. Even people from Sydney would notice the difference between the Penang taxi's and theirs (but they will be fixed by the Olympics, won't they?). Actually I didn't know you could drive a small 4 cylinder manual car from Island Plaza to Batu Ferranghi and not go over 50kph (usually between 20 and 40kph) and not take the car out of top gear. Well I might stop it here as I've gone on enough. All in all we did have a good time. I think we might go back to Penang in the not too distant future as there was still so much we could have done. If anyone has some questions or information that I might be able to help them with please post a request here and I'll help if I can. There is a lot more information I gained but have not included here. If you post up your email I have some things I can send to you. Thanks to Kayes for the Forum and to all those that have provided information that I had extracted in planning our trip. And Lucia just for interest the TomYoms were hot but not uncomfortably so, they were very nice and very tasty. I did say we liked out spicy / hot foods. Regards, David & Gail (and the others)
Re KOMTAR. It was that 57th floor restaurant I meant. It's a shame that it is a bit poor as the view would be great on a clear day. We didn't have a clear day when we visited the lookout or the day we visited Penang Hill. What would be really good is a revolving restaurant up there. I agree with your point KOMTAR vs Island Plaza. I should have mentioned that in my message. Some of the shops in KOMTAR however are compatible with Island Plaza even if the general ambience of the building is not. It was nice to see a DOME Coffee shop at Island Plaza (DOME is actually from Perth). On the matter of Tom Yoms- when we return to Penang I'll check with the Forum for your recommendations. Now I wouldn't assume to know too much about Penang. Kayes, yourself (particularly as residents) and many of the others posting here have lots more knowledge but I just noted a few things such as bus fares and numbers, taxi fares, tour costs etc which others may find of interest if they haven't been before. If one is forewarned with these then you can get into enjoying your holiday quicker. KAYES: Actually I think I planned the holiday to be a good mixture of sight seeing and enjoying the food. However it got high-jacked and the food seemed to dominate. Probably because some of it was so good. For myself, I would have liked to seen a bit more of Penang / Malaysia on this trip. However that gives us a good excuse to return in the future. I think all the taxis I caught have forgotten where to put the air into the shocks. Another point for you to ponder. In Australia it's very much illegal to cross over solid white lines on the road. I have often been intrigued in Asian countries that it seems mandatory to cross over the lines on the road and the more blind the corner you are approaching the more your need to move to the right hand side of the road. Can get very nerve racking and I have more than enough grey hair already. Yes I think you're right Mr Edwin Yap does owe you something for all the good reports he gets here. I didn't have the pleasure of meeting him but from all account he is we respected and obviously runs the business very well. Do you think that might get me a special discount from the Bayview when I visit next time? As a matter of interest regarding your thoughts about these travel experience / information type posts. There are some good forums for Bali / Lombok and Phuket etc I have found that do that. The only problem is that many of the posts are quite poor and not helpful (to the point of being un-truthful). But then it's still up to the reader to determine what is of value to them and what is rubbish. If you have the time and inclination then I would encourage you to set up something along those lines. I sure they do help attract tourists and help them enjoy their stay. Again, thanks and all the best with your endeavours with the forum. David