Penang Nov 2014

My dad is a Penangite but we don't balik kampung all the time, so I haven't checked out the popular sights or eats on this lovely island. Since this is a family trip, I'll share the highlights of my recent visit. You gotta love Rapid Penang bus as their routes cover popular tourist attractions, be it historical sites or food havens.

1) Penang Hill

Also known as Bukit Bendera, this is the peak of the island. One can take the Rapid Penang bus no 204 to the foot of the hill and head straight to the counter. Despite it being a school holiday, it was not as crowded as I expected. Note that we reached approximately 8.30am, so coming early is always a good idea. 

Ticket price is RM8 after flashing the MyKad, and we were ushered to take a photo (which is sold for RM35) before boarding the train. The funicular train was upgraded in 2010 and the ride was pleasant, fast & air-conditioned, which was a plus because it was incredibly hot at the summit. You can view the history of the hill and the train at the gallery prior to boarding.
The hill station is connected to a food court. Upon exiting, we meandered around the area. Do check out the panoramic view of the island from the old Bellevue Hotel. Unfortunately for us, there was a fog so half of the view was blocked but I imagined it would be a sight. The hotel staff informed that on a clear day, you can see both Penang bridges. The room rate starts at RM300 for a standard room; the hotel is undergoing some minor refurbishment so maybe you can consider spending a night up here :)

The other attractions include the Owl Museum, a bird farm and a Hindu temple. Perhaps next time I will hike up and take the train down. Also, an observation deck seems to be in construction so maybe visitors will be able to view more of the island from an elevated point. More info on Penang Hill here.

2) Penang Street

The Rapid Penang bus conveniently stops at Penang street facing the police HQ; here is the highway to food heaven. The famous Teochew cendol is here (hint: the Q would be super long), their ais kacang is delicious and the nearby Joo Hooi cafe serves a mean bowl of asam laksa. Don't hesitate to try the char kuay teow and fish ball kuay teow soup! 
Char kuay teow
Assam laksa
Kuay teow soup

3) Balik Pulau Assam laksa
Most people would tell you to head to Ayer Hitam wet market for the best assam laksa, but I find the Balik Pulau laksa super potent, plus they have the lemak (Siamese) version for those seeking a stronger flavor. We took the bus 501 to the Balik Pulau bus terminal which was within walking distance of the Nan Guang kopitiam. Note that the laksa stall opens at 11am so we meandered around the town and admired the colonial era architecture of the Sacred Heart Church. This church was built in the 1880s and still stands strong and serene today. We headed back at 11am and ordered both the normal + lemak versions. I prefer the normal version; lemak version was too strong for my palate! :p
The beautiful Sacred Heart Church
Church ministry
Kim Laksa
Nan Guang kopitiam
Normal version
Lemak version
Peaceful feel in Balik Pulau

4) Suffolk House
This restored building used to be my dad's school canteen. There's an entry fee and you may enjoy high tea. We decided to just walk the grounds and enjoyed the sounds of the birds chirping in the afternoon. More information on Suffolk House can be found here
Welcome to Suffolk House
Lovely Anglo-Indian architecture
Bridge walkway
Hello moo moo
Sunny afternoon

5) Padang Brown
Dad swears by the Padang Brown char kuay teow and yong tau foo. Unfortunately the food court was closed for upgrading works and it only opens 2pm onwards. One day I will stuff them and update this blog :)

Do you have a favorite place to visit/food to eat in Penang? Feel free to share you experience! :)

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