I wasn’t planning to blog about my two weeks in Malaysia; this was a super relaxing break to recharge after a rough trip back to the UK, where my uncle Mark sadly passed away.
But I absolutely had to rave about the people of Penang.
The people here have been absolutely lovely since the moment I arrived!
I didn’t have the exact fare (2.70 MR/£0.50) to take the 402 bus from the airport to Batu Ferringhi and a super kind old man was really helpful changing bills for me. The architecture of all the high-rise condo buildings is beautiful so the journey is really cool. From the bus you can also really clearly see that this place is a blend of different cultures – there are countless mosques, temples and churches along the way.
I stayed for a few nights as a huge treat in the Hard Rock Cafe and the staff were pretty nice. I enjoyed some time by the pool but the place is simply overpriced. The drinks are so expensive that it’s a joke.
The beach is gorgeous and just check out this sunset!
Then I decided to move to a guesthouse a hundred metres down the beach. Baba Guesthouse is very simple and a room with a fan costs 60 MR (£11) which is perhaps overpriced for Penang but it’s in a good location in Batu Ferringhi.
However… it is a few hundred metres from a phenomenal resort called Park Royal. You can pay 50/55 MR (£9.30/£10.30) for Day Membership and you can use all of the facilities including a fabulous pool and the nice restaurants, plus there is a decent happy hour. On top of that, you get £6 or £7 credit on your wristband to spend at the resort.
I visited the resort for a few days and the restaurant manager, Jelani, was super sweet and he arranged for me to have free food all day on the third day including a phenomenal buffet dinner!
The village of Batu Ferringhi comes alive after dark! There’s an excellent night market along the main road and it’s a perfect place to practice bartering for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, everyone speaks fantastic English so you don’t have to worry about a language barrier.
Secondly, they are all incredibly friendly – everyone says hello and asks how you are, they are very genuine and they don’t mind if you aren’t shopping so you don’t get hassled.
To keep this post short, I just want to mention a hostel, a couple of great coffee shops in the city and a few attractions.
I made some good friends while I was there and we hung out in Penang city when I moved there after almost a week at the beach. Claire, Marina and I went for drinks most evenings, usually starting at an excellent local hangout called Antarabangsa Enterprise, an off-licence with outdoor seating on the road.
We also went to a great 3D Trick Museum where there are loads of different rooms and paintings with props that make it look like you’re in random crazy places. Great fun for about an hour.
I stayed at Drippin’ Dragon Hostel for 5 nights and I thought it was an excellent place. The dorms are huge but you have individual pods so there’s plenty of space and charging point etc, beds cost 20 MR (less than £4) per night! There’s a bar with happy hour – cocktails are 10 MR (£1.85), the staff are friendly. It is in walking distance of all of the best bits of the city, or you can take a cheap Grab if you don’t want to walk.
I recommend Secawan & Such coffee house which is on Hutton Road just past the turning to Argyll Lane (it’s away from town if you walk from the hostel). The coffee is great, the wifi and aircon are good and the atmosphere is nice. The food is a little pricey but I found the caesar salad (cheapest thing on the menu) to be really nice.
Coffee on the Table is a 3D coffee art cafe. The first one I’ve ever been to. The coffee is about twice the usual price but COFFEE ART!! I paid 17 MR (£3.15) and got this pretty rabbit.
While I was at the beach at Batu Ferringhi I decided to visit the Penang Butterfly Farm, despite a couple of locals telling me not to bother and that it was for kids. I paid £16.00 entry, which I think is crazily expensive for Malaysia but I really enjoyed myself.
There is a lot to see in many different zones with different types of creatures. The information boards have plenty of information and I learned a lot.
A couple of highlights were the scorpion displayed under UV lighting and getting to spot the huge Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing butterfly and just generally nerd it up on butterflies.
They even had horseshoe crabs in a little tank that you could get really close to!! So exciting to see these living fossils up close.
The giftshop is AMAZING and you can buy so many beautiful framed butterflies (I don’t know if that’s cruel or not but they are just mesmerisingly beautiful).
I went with Marina to the Avatar Garden one night and we paid 1 MR (£0.18) towards the upkeep of the garden to get in. Everything is lit up and painted in UV and it’s nice to see if you’re in the area.
Penang is famous for its street art and I managed to pick up a dedicated street art map and toured around the city for a few hours tracking down all the cool bits – it’s a must if you visit. There are painted artworks but the most famous pieces are made of metal and have explanations with them.
Kek Lok Si Temple is at the foot of Penang Hill and I enjoyed looking around this for an afternoon, though I thought the goddess statue at the top of the hill was much less impressive than I expected now that it’s had a tall housing built around it. Still worth going though.
So that’s that really. I had a great time in Penang and was sorry to leave, even after two weeks. I definitely didn’t do everything that I could have done and I would happily go back!