YES!! I managed to crystallize my ambition to set footsteps in Penang, my birthplace this year! I have make a ritual tradition for myself that I will be visiting the island at least once a year; just to taste the sun, sea and food of Penang. Once a Penangite, you just can’t take the Penang outta you. It’s in the blood – it’s the island home, a pride to all Penangites all over the world.
My Island Home, Penang. The Pearl of The Orient.
This time around, tried Penang Tune Hotel as we were in tight budget. As economical as the tagline, Tune Hotel in Penang provided quite a good price; unfortunately if were to be compared to Tune Hotel in Johor Bahru, the latter was much better as it provided television in each rooms whereas in the former, no television at all! But well, still; it suited the idea of just having hotel to sleep because you wanted to venture the island, aite? Anyway, Penang has abundant of budget hotels but I resorted to Tune Hotel as it has carpark space albeit limited.
The delicious “Nasi Kandar” with the must-have Squid Eggs or “telur sotong”! Not all stalls sell these. One of them is at KOMTAR carpark!
The first destination was to get a good “Nasi Kandar”! The cuisine is synonymous to Penang and the affiliation is tightly binding. The special part that I like about “Nasi Kandar” will be the squid eggs or “telur sotong”. I have written that piece in the recent USM Alumni Magazine “The Leader” (check it out!). Anyway, not all “nasi kandar” stalls sell these “squid eggs”; only selected stalls – and the one I know is at the old KOMTAR car park opposite “Popular Book Store”. Delicious!
My article on “Nasi Kandar”; published in USM Alumni Magazine “The Leader” -September 2012 Volume 7 No.3 issue. Check it out though I guess the editor missed my point on “telur sotong” that he/she heavily edited it with the wrong description. Oh, well.
The second destination was to materialize my yearn; to climb up the Penang Hill! Imagine, living at FRU Flats circa Boundary Road for almost 19 years; I’ve only climbed up merely TWICE! And what’s more with the recent news I heard that the train has now being changed from the older white-red coloured ones; to the new ala monorail-like; that really ignited the flame to re-climb Penang Hill! So arrived there around 5.00 o’clock and to my good surprise, I found out that there was a new entrance leading to the counter! The place had somehow being renovated; both the interior and exterior; more of a tourist-friendly atmosphere. The similarities to Hong Kong’s The Peak Tram is uncanny! I had an inkling that Penang Hill somehow took some models from The Peak; but whatever it is, it’s a good innovation for the future!
It was misty! So cool. I LOVE it!
It was drizzling when we boarded and up to the hill. Once reached at the summit, it was misty and so cool! Ahhhhh! I loved the atmosphere. It felt instantaneously as if like in Genting Highlands and Hong Kong at the same time! You know, Penang Hill has got their own Sky Terrace, just like Hong Kong’s The Peak Tram! And there were quite few newly-renovated places on the summit such as the stalls now are placed in conducive and ala exclusive-like dining places and there happened to be an Owl Museum! On an elevated place accessible by walking distance via staircases provided, there is a Hindu mosque (Murugan Temple) and not far from there, situated a Flagstaff Hill (Penang Hill) Mosque. Now, up from the mosque, lies a government bungalow built by the British called Bel Retiro – which happened to be a retreat place for governors, et cetera.
Hindu Temple for Lord Murugan.
The Penang Hill Mosque. Very cute!
Bel Retiro. The British-built bungalow for the British officers and now owned by the Government.
A bit of historical flashes (you know, since I LOVE history!) – Penang Hill is also known as “Bukit Bendera” or the Flagstaff Hill by the islanders; a named coined after the term used by the British during the colonization. It was said that flags or signs were erected/ignited on the summit to warn the Fort Cornwallis! Amazing, innit? Penang Hill consists several hills such as The Flagstaff Hill (the most developed peak), The Haliburton Hill, Strawberry Hill, Government Hill, Tiger Hill & Western Hill. Now, on the Haliburton Hill, there is this bungalow-now-turned-into-budget-hotel called Bellevue Hotel. It is said that Bellevue Hotel could be the first permanent building ever erected on the summit of Penang Hill! Amazing historical bit! I went to have a peek on the hotel and there is an aviary in front of it but only opened for the guests. The cool after-rain air added ethereal feeling to the place. I must sleep there, one day! For those who are interested, you can navigate this site : http://bellevuehotel.my/. According to the information plat erected, the hotel was a filming location/ place for a French movie which was nominated in the 1992 Oscar; garnering top sots including Best Actress for the leading lady, Catherine Deneuve in a film called “Indochine.”
Historical aspect of Halliburton Hill in Penang Hill, Malaysia. I am always fascinated with histories.
The Cliff Cafe.
You know, I felt lucky to experience the misty weather and after feasting “laksa” at Cliff Cafe, the weather turned all right. It was a mini tapestry of Hong Kong! I am glad that I went up there seeing Penang from bird’s view!
Gurney Drive at night. So lively. Folks coming out with families and loved ones savouring the sea breeze. Enchanting!
Boarded down and then straight went to Gurney Drive for authentic Penangite cuisine. It’s a no wonder why I’ve become fleshier and I am loving every minutes of it; savouring life and food! Feasted on “Laksa”, “Satay”, “steamed cockles”, and many more! The atmosphere was happening and lively with Hindi songs aired and people thronging. Ah, I’ve already begin to miss Penang! Seeing hawkers and people selling souvenirs at the side of the road facing the ocean (though it was dark) was somewhat an authentic nostalgia to be revitalized.
“Laksa”! Yummy, especially the ‘otak udang’ or prawn paste! Writing these make my mouth waters! Hmmmm!
The steamed cockles! Yummy!
Chicken satay! Yummy! Hhahahaa!
Yummy caramel! My favourite!
Since it was already night and had little place to venture, we just watch “Alex Cross” in Gurney Plaza starring Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox ( I couldn’t recognize him at first!) and Edward Burns a.k.a. Mr Christy Turlington. I thought Tyler Perry was good as Alex Cross, a departure from his usual comical alter-ego, Madea! He is so talented! The movie was somewhat merely OK… I give 3 stars for the movie but thumbs up to Tyler Perry & Matthew Fox! Edward Burns? Just a pretty face hunk; nothing more. Sorry. After a cup of delicious Coffee Bean’s Caramel in the Gurney Plaza boulevard, we called the night off.
“Alex Cross”. The film is just OK but thumbs up to Tyler Perry & Matthew Fox of ‘Lost’ fame!
This early morning, drove all the way to my old residence in Rifle Range Flats (I know!) just to reminisce the early-morning-breakfast-in-old-residence! I know, I am such a nostalgic freak, right? Walked along the Rifle Range bazaar and had typical Malaysian breakfast “roti canai” and “teh tarik”. So many changes. The crowd isn’t that hectic anymore; perhaps it is because school holidays; or perhaps because people are no more interested in having breakfast in lay-men stalls, I don’t know.
The Rifle Range bazaar arcade. This used to be very busy, thronged with people having breakfast. Now quite scarce. Had breakfast here, reminiscing those good old days. I miss my childhood! (.”)
Rifle Range flats – the oldest flats in Penang! This was my neighbourhood (Perhaps it’s like America’s Harlem; Ghetto style? LOL!) And I used to live inside the police barrack, FRU (federal Reserve Units). Ah, the postcode 11400 will always remain in my heart. “Nostalgic, I know*.
I went to see Pak Cik Salim’s bookstore which is situated at the very front of the bazaar arcade. Unfortunately, the shop was not opened and the name has been changed into KAFA Bookstore – but it was emblazoned there – formerly known as Salim Bookstore. I was quite disappointed that I couldn’t meet him. I even fantasized to take picture with him! He was the dearest books/magazines seller ever! I always bought tonnes of magazines (“Dewan Pelajar”, “Kuntum”, “Alam Perwira”, “Mutiara Naga”, et cetera) from him and he let me to take the books first and after that Ayah would pay him. I remembered that he presented me with free Dragon Ball & “Dik Cerdas” (Shin Chan) issues when I got 4 straight As in the UPSR circa 1996. I don’t know, I just hoped that I could meet him, you know. It’s just part and parcel of nostalgia…..
Wanted to meet the owner but unfortunately wasn’t opened yet. I hope one day I got to meet Pak Cik Salim…..
My former primary school; SRK Padang Tembak (1990-1996). I miss my friends, my teachers and those days…..
The compound in front of the school. Used to be housing estate and my friends, Nicholas Chan & Kevin Ng used to stay here but then bulldozed and now is a parking and recreational lot.Time flies….
I also went to my former primary school, SRK Padang Tembak or now known as SK Padang Tembak. Ahh…so many memories of childhood. Could it be that one day I WILL BE TEACHING IN MY FORMER SCHOOL? And then round the Padang Tembak market. I also recognized few familiar faces of the fruit sellers and the Auntie of “Alisan Photostat” opposite the school. Time flies.
The beloved “Masjid Negeri Pulau Pinang” (Penang State Mosque). In a quite meager state. Kinda sad…..
The last destination was the State Mosque or “Masjid Negeri.” It was a bit frustrating seeing the mosque in such meager condition! The paints were already fading, et cetera. I just hoped few plans will be carried to revitalize our beloved mosque.
My island home, Penang. (,”)
On whole, I enjoyed my Island trip. Although it was one day but I am quite OK with the new experiences to fathom and uncover our beloved Malaysia. I shall make more efforts to explore the island in the next future years, maybe? Penang, my island home.