A Weekend on Penang Island, Malaysia

My return trip to Asia is coming to a close. I have spent two weeks in Malaysia, and just about two weeks in Thailand. It's getting close to check-in time to go home!! I haven't even been homesick, though it has been 27 days since I left. 

I haven't yet written about my trip to Penang Island in Malaysia, so let's go back in time and relive that wonderful, peaceful weekend, shall we?

Penang is a lovely island about 5 hours north of Kuala Lumpur. It's got a really large Chinese and Indian population and is really popular with expats as it's just a beautiful place no matter where you are on the island. There are a fair amount of big-named factories up in this area, and a lot of tourist activities. I was pressed for time so didn't get to see/do much, but it was lovely to just get away from work and go see another part of this beautiful country.

This is the view from my bus. Five hours of this - nothing but beautiful trees, different types all mixed together; rolling hills, blue and gray skies; wild monkeys running on the side of the road (seriously-this happened!).

Something I found really wonderful about the cheap bus I was on - There's a handle behind each seat and each handle has a little knob, from which everyone hangs their food/drink bag. The drink bag was strange to me at first, but now I love this idea. It's a regular small plastic bag that you would put food in...but they put your drink in it when you buy it, with a straw (everyone uses a straw), and then you just carry your drink by the bag handles. Your hands never get wet, if it spills, it lands in the bag (mostly I think), AND the best part - you can hang your drink while on a bus so you never have to worry about it!!  Malaysia bus makers are SMART.
This was my hotel view in Penang. I wasn't in my room very long, as I was only there for the weekend, but I could look at this every day.  The condos down by the water are about $2.5 million USD. I don't need the view that much...
It's slightly hard to tell from this photo...but the hanger on the back of the bathroom door made me laugh EVERY time I saw it. It was like someone really wasn't trying that hard that day.

I asked multiple people in Penang what I should do with only one free evening on the island. Everyone said to go eat at Gurney Drive and go see the sunset in North Penang Island and visit the night market nearby the beach. And since it's always good to take the advice of strangers - this turned out to be my exact itinerary.

This is where I ate dinner on Saturday evening before heading to see the sun set. This is at 5:45. I was rushing to finish so I could make the 6:30 sunset up the road. There was not one other person in the place while I was there. Apparently in Asia, you just don't eat around 6pm. When I left the beach area, I shared a taxi back to this area with a couple from Australia who were headed to dinner....at 10pm. And it was packed.  It's a famous food area: 

This was the most amazing sweet and sour chicken. The stuff I have back home is NOTHING like this. EVER. 

This is me - at the beach. Ready for the sunset. I put my hair down for the photo. And then put my hair immediately back up because it's a million degrees in Malaysia. If I lived there forever, I would probably have to go all G.I.Jane with my hairstyle, cause longer thick hair does NOT work in this part of the world. 


So Amazing.

Enough of the beach. One thing I LOVED about Penang was the friendly people,as you would find all over Malaysia. Ever cab I got in, every restaurant I went to - I talked to locals and they were so happy to share information about their country. This is where travelling alone becomes a really great time. When I normally get in a taxi, I ask if they are local and then we chat up about whatever. When I was with the couple sharing a taxi, we only spoke to each other. As soon as they got out and we headed on to my destination, the taxi driver and I had the best conversation. If I constantly had a travel companion, I would have missed out on some wonderful chats.

One of the things I really hate about Penang - every single taxi driver except the one mentioned above - overcharged me by far. One guy doubled the meter and told me that it's standard for the island. Another told me that taxi's on the island use a different type of petrol and so they use the meter but they also have to charge a petrol fee based on how much the meter is showing. I hate arguing with everyone over what amounts to a few dollars...but when you know you are getting an unfair deal, you have to try to make right. When I was headed to the beach, after a 20 minute enjoyable conversation with a taxi driver, the meter read something like 32 Ringgit. I gave him 100. He thanked me and just waited for me to leave. I said, oh, sorry-I actually gave you 100 Ringgit. And he replied, right, the meter shows half price. And i refused to leave the taxi, stopped partially in the road, slightly blocking traffic because HELLO - that's robbery.  Eventually I got him to give me back 45 of the 68 he owed me, but it was literally about a 6 minute ordeal. It gives taxi driveres a really bad reputation! You can't trust them anymore. But then my last taxi driver of the night had a printed sheet with set prices from each section of town to another and I wanted to hug him for being honest.

Anyway....here are some random pictures:
This is a Malaysian baby. THIS is how you become a Malaysian adult who is not bothered by the heat. The day I took this photo, it was probably 98 degrees and maybe 89% humidity. The baby was wearing a long sleeve, pants outfit. With socks! In that weather?? No, thank you! He was as happy as could be though, probably because the large red-faced, sweaty american sitting next to his mama looked like a cartoon character.

This is a cat. In what seems to be a hamster cage, calmly taking a bath. This is in an artists stall, she painted some beautiful pics of cats. Lots and lots of cats in the booth. And then a real cat in a hamster cage. I was told that cats are kept in cages because stray dogs (which there are a lot of) will eat them. Sad. Everything about that -for the cat- is sad.

If you steal the ironing board at my hotel, they will bill you 380 MYR. 

I liked this dapper man on the mens bathroom sign.

And I really like that when you enter, you are meant to flip over the Vacant sign yourself - to show that the restroom is "engaged." So quaint!

And that ends my Malaysia pictures...on to Thailand!


  1. Bijoux said...:

    I'd be so angry about the taxi scheme! Ripoff!

    Crazy about the overdressed baby!

  1. Wow, what an adventure. I love the little details you share--drink bags, monkeys, babies.

  1. Denis said...:

    You look good in that beach picture **** four stars

  1. carma said...:

    a cat in a hamster cage taking a bath - bizarre...

    that is an incredibly gorgeous sunset photo - breathtaking.

  1. Denis said...:

    You should make the beach picture your new facebook profile picture


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