It's been some time since I had contact with you from the UK, even though, I like many others in different hemispheres view your 'Penang Talk Pages' on a daily basis, I would like this article to be considered for your 'Notable Posts'
I am the person who wrote to you on your 'Penang Talk' page some time ago seeking news of a dear Chinese friend of mine by the name of Dickey Lam who had a Babywear/Toyshop opposite the old Post Office in Pulau Tikus, whom I knew whilst living at hillside, Tanjong Bungah 1974-77 whilst with the RAAF at Butterworth. My friends niece Rosie Khoo domiciled here in the UK and to whom I am forever indebted got in touch with me via e-mail not long after my request, and through an exchange of e-mails between the UK & Penang, I established contact with my old friend Dickey, through his daughter Jo-Anna via her e-mail, Dickey being of a more mature age like myself and who is not quite getting to grips with this new technology called Computing just yet. On arrival holidaying for 17 nights in Penang March 2006, and after contacting Dickey by telephone we arranged a long reunion drink where we both caught up with events past and present within Farquhar's Bar at the E & O where Margaret my partner & I were staying for four nights before decamping to the Bay View Beach Resort, BF, for the remainder of our holiday.
I finally after all this time also got to meet Rosie Khoo but not in the UK as you would expect where she lives, but in Pulau Tikus whilst she was visiting her dear Mother, and from where we had all arranged a luncheon date, eating at the 'Hot Wok' Tanjong Tokong, where the Baba Nyonya food was excellent, so that myself and Margaret could meet Dickey's other family members, those being his Wife and middle daughter Jo-Anna, who was extremely gracious and courteous as everyone was to Margaret in helping her with the choices on the menu, the iced Chrysanthemum tea Jo-Anna suggested for Margaret was absolutely delicious, whilst lunching it was stated by Rosie Khoo when we spoke that it is a long way 6,000 miles to meet someone, but I was more than pleased to meet the person who had been instrumental in the reunion I was enjoying with my friend Dickey, along with his family, plus it was a lovely way for the holiday to commence for Margaret and myself.
Enough of my reunion news, which was and is still wonderful, but more of my opinions for travellers to take a note of this particular trip of ours to Penang, we stayed initially in the E & O and was not disapppointed, my association with this Hotel going back many years, we were treated and feted like royalty, enjoying a suite overlooking the Malacca Straits, in the E & O we enjoyed Tiffin lunches, afternoon tea's & Friday evening buffets, which are legendary and a well kept secret on the island, and for which one must book, and who can wonder at the prices charged, lunch overlooking the Malacca Straits for less than £4 each, in a 6* Colonial hotel setting, with a Dinner/Buffet International menu to die for with all you can drink and eat for just over £10 each, fantastic prices never to be found in any comparable hotels I have known in Australia, UK or even Singapore, where everything is so expensive, okay should wish you can dine along the famous 'Gurney Drive' at the many Makan stalls offering a wide range of culinary delights at considerably less expense, it's just that myself prefers to indulge in more comfortable surroundings now I'm older, don't get me wrong, I have been known previously whilst on the Island many years ago to have had Padi Chicken & Balitong, so I'm no stranger to Makan stalls or the culinary delights on offer.Having taken the advice of Kayes, I also contacted G.S.Choong the optician via e-mail from the UK, and who is at 1Q Gottlieb Road, for both Margaret and self to have new glasses made, we both took our UK prescriptions so that the optician had a benchmark by which they could validate against our eyes, having a cursory eye test on arrival to tweak the prescription should it be necessary before having the glasses made, G.S.Choong has all the latest technological equipment that can be found here in the UK, and can test eyes also, we each both saved massively against UK prices, the service and civility, professionalism shown to us both was second to none, which sadly we now find non existent here in the UK, we came as customers and left as friends.
I also visited the old Christian Cemetery near to the E & O Hotel and like others sighted the last resting place of Francis Light, the founder of Penang, also the last resting place of one Mr Leonowens, the late husband of the wife who became Governess to the King of Siam as it was known then, but is now known as Thailand these days, for whom the 'King & I' and other films are based, research on the internet throws up some intriguing insights into this particular lady and all is not what it seems, I'll leave readers guessing on that one, but it is worth the research via the internet should one be so interested, she incidentally is interned in Canada.
Margaret and I along with Dickey visited the 'Cheong Fatze Mansion' one early afternoon which is highly recommended for those interested in Feng Shui, and the history of the Straits Chinese, but please remember the times of the tours which are eleven in the morning and three in the afternoon, and though we were somewhat early for the afternoon tour, we had a few refreshing Tiger beers at a coffee shop in Jalan Muntri diagonally opposite the new 'Hong Kong' shoe store, where my cerebral matter suggested whilst drinking that this must be the very street where the famous 'Green House' is located as I had read on 'Penang Talk', my friend Dickey confirmed that it was the very same 'Green House' which was the old 'Hong Kong' shoe store that Pat & Alan the owners, have had gutted and rebuilt to their specification under the 'Malaysia my second home Programme' which is also mentioned in the 'Penang Talk' forum on a regular basis, and so armed with the knowledge and location, we next day minus Dickey who had other matters to attend to both visited the 'Green House' whilst shopping in Georgetown, on many occasions as it turned out, it was for us both a welcoming oasis of calmness amongst the heat, chaotic hustle and bustle of Georgetown, lunch was always superb with the big bowls of soup on offer daily which are all home made and delicious, also there is it seems a large demand for bacon butties for those tourists missing the comforts of home, the proprieters are both retired from Melbourne, Australia who are more than willing to discuss any aspect of Penang tourism as well as giving free advice to those enquiring about the 'Malaysia my second Home' scheme, given time and a few more visionary people like Pat & Alan and Jalan Muntri could become quite a desirable area of Georgetown, our verdict is to definitely see and enjoy the warm welcome and food at the 'Green House' whatever nationality you may be, and all of course at Malaysian prices, definitely a hidden gem, and one to be searched out.
For those of you who are reasonably fit Margaret and I did the walk over Penang Hill from the Moon Gate near to the Botanical Gardens, and some four hours later emerged from the jungle at Ayer Itam which I thought for a couple of oldies, Margaret being middle sixties with myself not far behind quite remarkable, I have to admit I huffed and puffed, and it was as exhausting descending the other side as it was whilst ascending, but now we've done it, I don't see that we will do it again, those 'Hash House Harriers' must be crazy judging by the paper trails left on the hill, we were the only Europeans that day on the hill, lending substance to the old Noel Coward song that 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the Mid Day Sun' I certainly appreciated the aircon in the taxi whisking us both back to the 'Bay View Beach Hotel' where of an evening we would sit on the balcony at dusk before dinner every evening and watch a pair of sea eagles through binoculars soaring high above the Ferringhi beach looking for fish to feed the young waiting in the eyrie, it was wonderful to see them oblivious to the tourists, before swooping into the sea to catch fish, that alone was worth the trip to Penang from the UK.
Another worthy visit is the 'Khoo Kongsi' Clan house, which is set in it's very own grand courtyard, and was a first visit for us both, we were fascinated by the interiors and history of this grand building.
For all those people who like shopping, and there was days I agreed if only for respite from the heat, I did not mind traipsing about within the air-conditioned malls, there are shops and retails outlets to satisfy the most discerning of shopper, Gurney Plaza being the newest and most expensive mall, the most popular for locals being the Prangin Mall, with Ladies hairdressing & total body massages, if you have the time to indulge yourself being the bargains to look out for, with all the other shopping malls offering much the same.
There are lots of other tourist sites within Penang, and lots of eating establishments, but being lucky enough to have seen most of the tourist sites, but not yet all of the eating establishments, even after an association stretching back over thirty years with Penang, it always fascinates me when I arrive, and there is always something new to see when we visit, I would suggest new tourists look in on other 'Notable Posts' for inspiration and guidance, or ask 'Kayes' through the 'Penang Talk' page for specific advice.
Thank you taking the time to read this 'Notable Post', I hope it whets your appetite for all the wonderful sights, smells and sounds of this wonderful Island of Penang, best wishes to 'Kayes' and all the 'Penang Talk' contributers