Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stop Over In Penang

17th, 19 - 20th March 2012

On the way to and back from Hatyai, we stopped at Penang. It was opportune for me to savor the famous Penang food again after my last visit in 2008.

On the first overnight stay in Penang on 17th March, Chong came over to the airport to send us to the hotel and to take us out for a late dinner. Thank you for taking the trouble every time I come over to Penang. You have to drive all the way from Sg. Petani in Kedah and endured the traffic jam at Penang Bridge just because I am coming. Not only that, you have to treat us to dinner! Where can one find a friend like you? You are a true friend, Chong. I owe you.

Originally, Chong wanted to bring us to a place which a friend of his had introduced. However, he was unable to find the place and so we ended up at Super Tanker food court. By that time, it was already 10:00 p.m.

On our return trip to Penang from Hatyai on 19th March 2012, we reached Penang late again. Since Red Garden Food Court was the nearest place to our accommodation at Oriental Hotel, we decided to go there for our late dinner.

The next day, 20th March 2012, I woke up early as usual and went out to explore for breakfast. I had Penang Curry Mee at Kafe 78. Not bad.

After that, I went to take a stroll from Upper Penang Road to Dr. Lim Chwee Leong Road, Lebuh McNair, Magazine Road and back to Penang Road, basically walking on the periphery of Komtar, Prangin Mall and 1st Avenue before returning to the hotel. I noticed while strolling that Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul has upgrade itself from the little stall at Lebuh Keng Kwee to a place beside Komtar Walk, near the overhead pedestrian bridge.

After my friends woke up, we had breakfast at Kafe Kheng Pin. I ordered Lobak to be shared by us. Then, we changed our Thai Baht to Malaysian Ringgit at a money changer along Penang Road. The rate was MYR1 to THB10.29. It was a very attractive rate.

Then I accompanied them to Komtar shopping. Except for Pacific Supermarket and the government offices the whole place was practically dead. From Komtar, I went over to Prangin Mall. It looked like Prangin Mall is following the way of Komtar to its demise. The food court has closed and the giant screen had fallen silent. Except for the lower floors, a few shop lots on the upper floors have shuttered shut. It was more vibrant in 2008.

From Prangin Mall, we went to 1st Avenue, a new shopping centre. From 1st Avenue, we crossed Magazine Road to go to the unnamed hawker stall selling Teochew rice porridge. There were a lot of patrons and when we arrived after 1:00 p.m. the side dishes had almost been sold out. It looked like its main business was no longer Teochew rice porridge but normal economy rice.

During lunch, we discussed our programme for the afternoon and decided to take Rapid Penang bus to Kek Lok Si Temple and Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera). From Komtar, the bus fare was MYR2.00 on buses no. 201, 203, 204 and 502 while the bus going to Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) was no. 204. The fare from Kek Lok Si Temple to Penang Hill was MYR1.40.

We were walking from the base of Kek Lok Si Temple to the bus stop when Rapid Penang bus no. 204 turned the corner to the bus stop a short distant away. We ran and made it just in time. From there, we went to Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera).

It looked like the red funicular trains have been replaced by blue trains. In the past, a one way trip up or down the hill would require passengers to change train at the mid-hill station with the full journey taking 30 minutes. These new trains could make the same journey in 10 minutes without the need for the passengers to change trains. It was fast. A two-way tickets cost MYR8 for Malaysians and MYR30 for non-citizens.

That evening, a former colleague who was now working in Taiping came over to pick us up. From here, we went to Gurney Drive food centre for dinner when the place he originally intended to bring us was found closed for the day.

21st March 2012 would be our final day in Penang. We would be leaving for KL that evening. Again, I woke up early to look for breakfast. I found an open air food court somewhere near the back of Chowrasta Market. There were a number of stalls here and there were quite a lot of patrons. It looked like a popular place. After my friends woke up, I took them to the same place for breakfast.

Since we had late breakfast, we skipped lunch. On my part, I have not had my Nasi Kandar yet from the famous Line Clear Nasi Kandar. How could I leave without a taste of it? I decided to buy take away Nasi Kandar before packing my luggage for our evening flight to Kuala Lumpur.

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