I spent all of last weekend in one of my favourite Malaysian states. I suppose that’s not saying much, since there are only 14 but it’s one of my favourites nevertheless. We only spent 2 nights there, but I had so much fun on that trip. Penang just has so much character, you know? And food. Of course.
I arrived in Penang in the evening. My parents and sisters had gone earlier because I had work that day, so they picked me up in our rented car. We straight headed to eat kuey teow, one of my favourite foods ever in the whole wide world. I mean, just see one of my Facebook cover photos. It was raining so we didn’t actually get to go to Gurney for kuey teow, muah chee and pai tee like we usually would. But this kuey teow place was pretty good! I don’t remember what it’s called but it’s supposedly famous. If you want to know, ask my mum haha.
We didn’t do much else that night, I think we just went back to the hotel after dinner because it was raining. But the hotel we stayed at was beautiful. I mean, it wasn’t extravagant. And I don’t even know if you’d call it a hotel per se. It’s called Muntri Mews and there are only 9 rooms in the entire place. It’s made to look like a traditional house and it’s done up really well. I really loved it because it was small, intimate and has so much charm. Service was also really good and I just can’t like a place if it doesn’t have good customer service.
On Saturday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. I had scrambled salmon and eggs with toast and apart from kuey teow, those are also two of my great loves. Spoiler: I will have the exact same thing for breakfast the next day.
After breakfast, we headed out on foot to trek around Georgetown. Armed with umbrellas, sunglasses and foldable fans, we did that typical touristy mural tour. We didn’t find that many, but it was nice to see the shops and different lanes, areas and buildings along the way.
Saturday was also the day I got pooped on by a bird for the first time in my life. It REALLY HURT. We were walking around, and my dad was right behind me holding his umbrella. Suddenly I feel a hit on my head and I thought my dad had accidentally hit me with an umbrella but when I turn around with my “WHAT?!” face, he goes “oh no…..” and then my sisters gasp and say “oh no…” and then it hit me. I’ve just been shat on. My sister Aida quickly gets a bunch of wet wipes from my mum’s bag (good thing mothers always carry around such big bags full of random things, isn’t it?) and starts wiping. Everyone knows that if there is feces around, you better get rid of it before I see it or else I will start gagging and puking. Anyway, it is a good thing I pakai tudung because I just went into a shop to buy another one and then carried on as usual.
We had nasi padang for lunch at Transfer Road that day. Apparently my parents and sisters love it, and so do lots of other people because it was packed. I’m not the biggest fan, but it was good.
After lunch, we went back to the hotel to wipe some of that sweat off of our backs and chill for an hour or so before we drove out on those uphill winding roads to Batu Ferringhi. We used to stay at Ferringhi whenever we were in Penang so it was really nostalgic to drive past Parkroyal and Hard Rock Hotel. We saw the beach from the car as we were driving up and that’s the closest I got to a body of water the entire trip. Have I ever mentioned I’m kind of a city girl? Because I am.
Anyway, we visited this batik factory in the area. It wasn’t much, I guess. It could be a lot better, but it was still cool to see how people hand-made the batik designs. It reminds me of kelas seni in school. I think we did batik both in sekolah rendah and sekolah menengah.
Then, we stopped by at the Teluk Bahang fishing village. It was really exciting to see this area, specifically the jetty and the pasar nelayan. Last year at my internship, I spent almost 2 months reading about the fishing industry in Malaysia, the types of fish, the supply chain, the nets, the boats, the fishing licenses… gosh, it sounds odd to recall the fact that I was so immersed in reading about all of it, but I was. I really wanted to visit one while I was working but I never got to, so seeing a fishing village and the infrastructures I read about last year in real life was really cool. It’s kinda like seeing the movie of a book you’ve read (???) but different. Almost.
We had time to kill between visiting the fishing village and dinner. So what do we do while waiting to eat? We ate. We stopped by Hard Rock Cafe for some snacks and chilled there for a while before driving back down to Georgetown. Later that night, we had dinner at Woodlands, which is this vegetarian Indian restaurant. It was so good! I had paneer briyani and some palak paneer. If you don’t know, paneer is cheese and I love cheese. Yes, go ahead, add that to the already-long list of food I love. Indian food is just so good. We walked around Little India a bit but it rained again that night so we didn’t do or see much.
The next morning, after breakfast, we left pretty early to go to Penang Hill, or Bukit Bendera. I have no idea why it’s called two different things in English and Malay?! But anyway, it was my first time there because the last time we tried to go, it was closed. I mean, there isn’t much to do there other than take the tram ride up the hill and then take pictures with the view, I guess. But I love going to lookout points! It was a little cloudy so I couldn’t really see much of the Penang bridges, but the view was still amazing and the weather up there was pretty chilly too. We walked around for a bit. There was like a garden kind of thing, and lots of people cycling and hiking. My dad said he wants to come back here to hike up. Everyone else just laughed. After about maybe half an hour or so, we took the tram ride back down and went back to the hotel to pack. 😦
We didn’t really have a plan for lunch on Sunday, so we kinda drove around a little. So many shops were closed on Sunday, or at least opened only in the evening around 4. Where do people eat on Sundays?! We ended up eating at this roadside hawker place. I got another plate of kuey teow because, well, kuey teow. After lunch, we went to this Peranakan Mansion. I really love visiting heritage sites like these. The last time we came to Penang, we visited the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion and I actually have a picture I took there hanging above my desk in Philly.
Anyway, the place was really cool! If I recall correctly, this traditional Baba Nyonya house was built in 1884 and later restored. Admission came with a complimentary tour. Our tour guide was actually a Thai guy, and he was really friendly and informative. We learned quite a bit about the house and Peranakan culture, like what clothes they would wear for what occasion and why certain furniture in the house were arranged in a particular way or designs in a specific way.
The house also adjoins this chinese temple. There was a life-size bronze statue of the first owner of the house there! The first owner of the house was Chung Keng Kooi, who, according to the poster in the temple, was born in 1821 and came from the Zengcheng district in China. He reportedly had 4 wives and 16 children. They were a rich family; so rich that they were one of the first few families in Penang to own a car. Their Rolls Royce had a license plate number P 4.
We spent quite a bit of time looking at their clothing and jewellery gallery. It’s so interesting how much you can learn about culture through looking at clothing. We learned what kind of dresses girls would wear at home, what they would wear on Cap Goh Mei, what the families would wear for (the 3 years of) a mourning period.
The house was really beautiful. I don’t know about my family, but I really enjoyed learning about local cultures and histories. I wish more museums in Malaysia were done up nicely like that, with good tour guides who can tell wonderfully informative stories.
After visiting the mansion, I pestered my family to go to Restoran Kapitan because I really wanted to try this thing called ayam milani. It sounds Italian, doesn’t it? I have no idea what it’s made of, honestly. Maybe some kari, some butter, some… cheese?! I don’t know and quite frankly, I don’t care!!! It was amazing. It was bahagian peha though, so I didn’t eat it. I eat chicken breast, strictly sebab tak reti makan benda lain. But I had the naan that came with the chicken and the sauce and it was the best thing I had on that trip. I still dream about it. If you’re in Penang, definitely go try it! Thanks to my friend Izura for recommending it to me. 🙂
We still had some time to kill before going to the airport so I suggested we go on a drive to see the new Penang bridge. I… kinda regretted it. Because it was so long! We literally just crossed the bridge only to come right back, haha. One thing is for sure: I’m glad we flew instead of driving up to Penang. Because even that half an hour or so we spent on the bridge was boring. We didn’t even have any road trip snacks! Hehe.
By about 6-ish (?) we were already at the airport. We had McDonalds for dinner that day. I had a McChicken because they didn’t have a Big ‘n Tasty. At first, we thought it was just a Penang thing. But little did we know, it was foreshadowing a grave discovery.
We got home at maybe 10.30pm and I was exhausted! I only had my (severely worn out) Cole Haan shoes with me, so my feet were not doing so great. But I had such a good night’s sleep on Sunday night because of how tired I was. I mentioned this the other day, but there are few things that feel as good as crawling into bed after a long day. Getting myself to work on Monday was a task alright. But I’m glad I got to go on a short holiday with my family and I’m really looking forward to my next 2 short trips. 😀
All high quality pictures were taken by my sister Julia. Check out her VSCO and follow her artsy fartsy Instagram. She’s the coolest among the anak-anak Mustak probs. (And if you’re wondering, Aida’s the smartest and I’m the princessiest)