Trip Report by Lassi 25 August to 1 September 2002
I hope this report may interest some people, with a slightly different perspective from most reports. Most of my fellow PenangTalkers stay out at BF and their adventures centre on that area.
However, we live in a beautiful beach area (Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia), so our trips to Penang are all about Georgetown (and of course food!). We are a mid-fifties couple, travel on a fairly strict budget, but like a certain degree of comfort in our accommodation (big bed, refrigerator, full bathroom, colour TV). We opted to go this year without booking accommodation, just took a taxi to the Cititel (good central spot) and checked out a few hotels in that general area. We got a good room in the new wing of the Continental Hotel (Penang Road) for RM$98 nett, including buffet breakfast, (on a promotional rate). We were very happy with everything except they could really use some lids to keep the hot food warm at breakfast!
We spent the first day doing the usual wander around, just absorbing the sights, smells, and atmosphere, stocking up on ice & mix drinks (for the duty-frees, you know). The 7-11 in Penang Road is our local store of choice. Went to our favourite Nasi Kandar, Yasmeen, in Penang Road for our first meal - a tradition of ours. I'll get to more food faves later. Having been to Penang for our last 2 holidays, we didn't really do a big touristy thing this time. We enjoyed most of our time for the week just walking; markets off Campbell St in the morning, Little India, Burma Road area, the altars and stages of the Hungry Ghosts - we saw Chinese Opera one night, and a traditional puppet show another. So much noise and colour!
There were also the Penang Heritage Trust "Heritage Trail Walks", lots to see there as well. (Be aware, their office at 26A Lorong Stewart is often not visibly manned, but a knock on the door will usually bring somebody from out back). Lovely people. Make a donation. Kapitan Kling Mosque also looks spectacular, with the renovation almost completed - we came across it late at night while taking an after-dinner walk. Great to see, as it was all covered up a year ago. A good way to fill in a morning (waiting for the shops to open) is to take the ferry to Butterworth & back (.60 sen return)-thanks to Kayes for that suggestion! We even did one better,which was to catch a bus (No 18, RM$2) from KOMTAR, over the Penang Bridge, get off at Megamal to break the trip, then catch another bus to Jeti & board the ferry for the return trip to Weld Quay. We really enjoyed that; the bridge is awsome! Also a great opportunity to look around the stilt houses and take a long stroll through Little India. We also made great use of the FREE Shuttle Bus. Weld Quay-KOMTAR and all points in between. What a great idea it is.
FOOD: We all have our favourites, and these are ours: NASI KANDAR: We love them all, but our sentimental favoutite is Yasmeen, on Penang Road near Chulia. It was our first Nasi Kandar experience & remains special to us. MURTABAK/ROTI: The Taj on Campbell Street. They serve all day, while a lot of places only do them in the morning & at night. DIM SUM: Tai Tong at 45 Lebuh Cintra, near Campbell St. They do dim sum at night, which is a rare treat. CHENDOL: Anywhere and anytime! TANDOORI CHICKEN: Kapitan on Chulia (between Lebuh Queen & Lebuh Penang? - Opposite Mydin Dept. Store.) Evenings only, good Nasi Kandar by day. We did take Kayes' advice and go out to the new Kravan Cafe at Pulau Tikus, and while the Tandoori chicken was great, we found the place a bit yuppie-ish and still say that on a good night the Kapitan is as good, if not as genteel! For excellent NORTHERN INDIAN food in a really nice atmosphere, we love the Tandoori House, 34-36 Lorong Hutton (off Penang Road across from Campbell St.) Is is always our "big night out" in Penang. Great food, good service and still very affordable. By the way, have you deduced by now that we are not seafood eaters?
TAXIS: We prefer to walk or take the bus, but had a couple of occasions where we caught a taxi. (Caught in a storm, returning to the airport). We were pleasantly surprised, didn't get ripped off at all, and the drivers were so nice. The fare from the airport to town on the voucher system was RM$23, so we felt that RM$25 was a very good fare going back. When we arrived at the airport, the driver went into the building, brought back a trolley, loaded our bags onto it, & shook my husband's hand when he paid. How impressed we were! All in all, we had another truly wonderful (if far too short) holiday and came home determined to scrape together enough cash to go for it again next year.