Thursday, 25 December 2014

Re-discovering Penang

        Penang has always held a special spot in my heart so when hubby included Penang in our Visit Malaysia 2014 itinerary, my heart leapt with joy. Two gracious hosts, Jason and Alex, also played a part in making this visit a huge success.

         Jason, hubby's cousin, is the right person to take us to good Penang food as he has lived in Penang for more than 10 years. We were introduced to New World Park, a modern food court in Georgetown, bordered by Burmah Road, Hutton Lane and Swatow Lane. According to Jason, the food stalls that used to operate at Swatow Lane have all moved into New World Park, hence you get all the divine street food under one roof. Hubby predictably zeroed in on his favourite prawn mee. I threw caution to the wind and indulged freely by ordering assam laksa, or chien (oyster omelette) and ice cream pancake! The following morning, Jason took us to the Super Tanker Food Court at Lip Sin Garden, Sungai Dua. Upon his recommendation, I tried the tasty fried mi sua. Any guesses for hubby's pick? Bingo! It was prawn mee again!                          
Ice cream, bananas and peanuts on crispy base

Succulent oysters in fried with egg and starchy batter…yum!

        Alex, another photography aficionado, took hubby to Teluk Tempoyak, a quiet Malay fishing village on the southeast tip of Penang island, for sunset shots. Until recently, Teluk Tempoyak was truly off the beaten path and it is in rustic sites like this that a photographer is often rewarded with pictures of great depth.
Bridging the Gap at Teluk Tempoyak

Alex, hard at work at Teluk Tempoyak

Two Friends At Sea

Taking You Out To The Sun

Fruits of my shopping spree
While hubby was engaged in his photography pursuits, I conveniently walked from Eastin Hotel to Queensbay Mall  for some retail therapy. 

         After they were done, Alex picked me up from the hotel to join his wife and son for dinner at the famous Pak Hussin Tomyam Restaurant in Sungai Ara. It was heart-warming to see Malaysians of all races dining under one roof. Ever the gracious host, Alex extended dessert to more photography opportunities for Derrick. We were taken to a spot under the
Penang Bridge from below
first Penang Bridge, a firm favourite with anglers, photographers, BBQ enthusiasts and dating sweethearts. Braving the infamous Penang traffic crawl, we moved on to Gurney Drive close to midnight. Night owls were everywhere!
Gurney Drive at midnight


        We changed hotels the next day as Derrick wanted somewhere closer to the city centre for different photography sites. With a colleague's recommendation in mind, I chose to stay at Chulia Heritage Hotel,
Ideal location, affordable rates, clean rooms
centrally located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Penang. 

Tourists at Chew Jetty
        This new location enabled us to explore the nearby clan jetties. These water villages are over a century old and are each named after a certain clan. We managed to visit three of them ---  Tan Jetty, Lee Jetty and Chew Jetty (which is the one attracting most of the tourists). 

Bloggers have been raving about the prawn fritters at Tan Jetty so it made sense for us to try some. I must have looked like a hungry tourist, wandering around the jetties under the hot sun, poking the stick into the plastic bag of tasty delights, popping them into my mouth without any decorum and occasionally sharing them with Derrick!
Happy to find the prawn fritters stall

Tasty delights sizzling away in the hot wok

        The bustling Chulia Street, where our hotel is located, has gained a reputation for good food. There were positive Internet reviews of the several chicken rice shops and we chose to eat at Restaurant Goh Thew Chik, where long queues were forming in front of the two shoplots. Derrick, who is a chicken rice connoisseur, proclaimed the food to be very tasty but still loses out to his favourite chicken rice shop in Ipoh.

        In the evening, Derrick was once again whisked away for more photography. With the harsh afternoon sun slowly setting, it was comfortable enough for me to venture around, seeking the much talked-about murals around Georgetown. With a tub of warm
Sticky rice balls coated with brown sugar, sesame seed & lots of ground peanuts
muar chee in hand,
weaving around the streets to locate the wall art was part of the fun. Feeling carefree, with all the time in the world, I also took a breather at a cafe to enjoy the thirst-quenching drink of lemongrass, lime, lemon and sour plum soda...bliss!      
Boy on Motorbike at Lebuh Ah Qwee
Ernest Zacharevic's famous Siblings on a Bike

Boy Reaching Up (for Starbucks?) and Children Reaching Out for Pau

Interesting street art in Penang

        That night, Derrick and I roamed Chulia Street for street food. As cautioned by Jason, Chulia Street at dark becomes a rather notorious area with men and women in the flesh trade coming out to prowl. But with lots of tourists and locals around, it was still safe enough to hunt around for food. We did not have to look far, as there were plenty of hawker stalls around. And we had the tastiest koay teow th'ng good that Derrick had a second helping!
Look for this stall at Chulia Street
A bowl of goodness!

        My mum, who used to work in Penang, has fond memories of Campbell Street's dim sum. So the next morning, we ventured there to seek out Tho Yuen, an old Cantonese restaurant that has been around for more than 5 decades and still commands a loyal following. Perhaps our expectations were too high, but the dim sum served there were a notch below Ipoh's. Still, it was a nice experience eating at such an old establishment.
Dim sum from the steam array
Fried snacks for dim sum

        Before bidding adieu to Penang, we drove to Eaton Kuih Centre at Jalan Tan Sri Teh Ewe Lim. I am extremely fond of their green cakes as well as their rendang.  
Red and green ku from Eaton
        As always, all good things must come to an end. Our short Penang trip was over. But as Penang has so much to offer, the Pearl of the Orient beckons us to return, in the not too distant future.

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