ONE WEEK IN MALAYSIA: PENANG CITY TOUR 1 [2018.02.27-28]

I was excited to go back to Malaysia – solo this time! This is my third time after Kota Kinabalu in 2014, and Kuala Lumpur in 2016. I spent 3 days in Penang, 2 days in Melaka, and 2 days in Kuala Lumpur.

I’m ready! I think this is the last time this floral bag worked perfectly LOL

There wasn’t really a lot of preparations for this trip other than some hotel bookings, bus bookings, and vouchers I ordered from Klook. I also had some ringgit left from my last trip so no need to do currency exchange for transportation from the airport. It’s easy to do it in Malaysia anyway. Also, I had a very hectic schedule prior to leaving since I had to look for a new apartment and move in on the same day I had to leave. Anyway, I managed to do everything and leave at 6pm, just in time for my 8:45pm flight.

Everything was fine until boarding. I was stopped because as it turns out, I reserved a seat for my return flight but didn’t pay. See, this was really fishy because you can’t reserve a seat without actually paying for it. And I never added a seat! They let me through saying that I can just pay for it when I arrived in KL. I just said yes because hello, I didn’t want to stay there, argue and get left behind by the plane. But I wanted to talk with customer service and I did through Facebook messenger when I arrived in KL. They initially said I added the seat through the mobile app, and that is impossible because you can’t add seats on the app. When I told them that, they said it was through the website. Also, the seat was not even that good! My theory is that the staff at the airport probably accidentally added that using their own system. I don’t know if they are using SkySpeed or whatever, but that’s the only way to have that seat added in their unpaid. I ended up paying for it anyway and it was such a pain because I couldn’t use my credit card in Malaysia. Thanks to PayPal, it was a lifesaver.

Anyway, so my flight was to KLIA, but since my first stop is Penang, which is a few hours north of Kuala Lumpur, I booked an AirAsia flight from KLIA to Penang. Meaning, I had to stay for a few hours at the airport since my flight is not until 5:45am.

I had to get my SIM card first from Tune Talk, and then had some snacks. I booked the SIM card through Klook and it’s a pretty good deal. Since I was staying for 7 days, I chose the Lite plan, which contains 15gb of data and RM5 worth of calls. That was really useful to me cause I had to call BPI a few times during the trip but was unsuccessful. And you can buy load online using your credit card, which is super convenient.  After that, I had a few hours to kill. There were actually a lot of people at the airport and had their own corners for sleeping. I decided against it since there wasn’t really anywhere that seemed comfortable.

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Missed teh tarik!

While at the airport, I met a new friend. I wrote about her on my Facebook cause she was sooo nice. I didn’t have an adapter for Malaysia and I badly needed to charge my phone. I remember I also didn’t bring one when I was in Malaysia, so the first day we were there, we borrowed from the hotel. But when we came back from Laos, we really didn’t have one to use. I asked the receptionist to charge my phone the next day. But that’s for a different story time. Not sure if I already wrote about that. Anyway… I was sat beside a plug, contemplating if I will buy one at the convini. But I found it too expensive at RM23.90. Suddenly, this Malaysian girl sat beside me cause she’s also going to charge her phone and power bank. At some point, her power bank stopped charging so I lent her my cord. I asked her if I can borrow her adapter once she’s done and she said yes. (She had two adapters.) In the end, she gave me one of her adapters. I wanted to cry!!! It saved me RM23.90. My point is, if you help someone, they’ll help you back. Also, it really pays to be talkative and to chat up random people. You meet new friends that help you along the way.  ^^

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Meet my new friend!

At around 4am, I had to say goodbye to her and proceed to the floor where domestic departures are. Since I had done mobile check-in, I went straight to the boarding gate and an hour later, I was in Penang!

Day 1: Penang

It was still too early so I sent a text message to Queen’s Hostel. They said I won’t be able to do early check-in since they still have guests but they can get my bed ready by 11:00 am. It was good enough for me. So I took the bus from the airport to the Jetty Terminal, I forgot which bus it was though. Then from the terminal, I walked to the hostel, which is on Lebuh Queen. Even then, I already liked the vibe of this little town. Love love the old style of the buildings.

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I booked Queen’s Hostel through booking.com and I was really drawn to it because of the canopy-style beds! They were super cute on the photos and definitely were what I expected in real life. So it’s called Queen’s Hostel because they cater to women. The canopy-style dorm beds are strictly for women. The dorm beds are located on the second floor while they have private rooms on the first floor. Men are allowed to book the private rooms but almost everyone in the hostel is a woman. The curtains provide so much privacy because they’re opaque. The bed is on the floor, you have your own lamp and the side table doubles as a locker for your valuables. The receptionist is super cool! I love her! I forgot her name but I remember her being Brazilian and she mentioned that she has been coming back so many times to Penang and every time, she works at Queen’s Hostel. I also met some really nice women at the hostel and one lady even shared her roti with me while I was having my tea. I definitely will stay here again and hopefully stay a week. I want to lounge in the area and just relax instead of napping on my bed or going out so much.

Anyway, since I arrived too early and couldn’t check in yet, I left my bags first and then went on to start my city tour. My hostel is already very close to Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling so I started my tour there. But first, I had to get some more RM since I didn’t do it at the airport. There are a lot of those on this street. During my 3-day stay here, I only went to my “suki” money changer. The Indian owner is so nice, the second time I went there, he already remembered me and even asked about my day. He also didn’t ask for my passport anymore.

I also decided to get some breakfast at Cafe Little Angel – which also became my favorite breakfast place in Penang. I believe it is a family-owned restaurant and is run by a husband and wife. The restaurant is on the ground floor and they live upstairs. I was able to see their cute daughter the 2nd time I went. On the first day, I had coffee and kaya toast. Very light since I already ate something at the airport as well. On my last day, I had their big breakfast since it was so cheap, I think it was RM4 or 5 – with free coffee! What’s not to like. It’s owned by a very nice couple. The location is also great since it’s right across St. George’s Church. This was my first stop on my first day!

St. George’s Church is this beautiful white 19th century Anglican church where I met a new friend – the guard of the church, named David. He volunteered to take photos of me at the church and its garden. When I went back on the last day, I looked for him but he wasn’t there. Which made me think, was he real? LOL, I’m just kidding.

From there, I just walked around and saw a lot of places on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. It is also called Harmony Street. I got this tourist map from the hostel so I just marked them on my map.

Guan Yin Temple is the first landmark I saw upon arriving in Penang. I could see it at the end of Gat Lebuh China while I was on the way to my hostel. It was built in 1728, which makes it Penang’s oldest Taoist temple. Right next to it is the Penang Chinese Town Hall, which is part of the Sun Yat-Sen Heritage Trail.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple is super close to my hostel as well! The back entrance is on the same street as my hotel and the other entrance is on  Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, near the money changers and Little India. I love the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, when I know that there is one in the city I’m visiting, I make sure to pay a visit. This temple was built in 1833, making it the oldest Hindu temple in Penang.

Kapitan Keling Mosque is a huge majestic mosque along this street. It’s really impossible to miss it because it’s right on the corner. I entered and there wasn’t really anyone there. I took some photos from outside only cause I don’t know if you are allowed to enter.

There were some places that I didn’t read about but saw on the tourist map so I went there as well.

Once I’ve had my fill of Harmony Street, I went to explore the famous Armenian Street, where you can see lots of street and wall arts. But you can this everywhere in this town as well, not just Armenian Street. I didn’t see everything obviously, there’s a link where all the arts are plotted on Google Maps but I wasn’t able to find everything obviously – which means I need to go back. Penang is definitely one city I need to go back to!

If only all parking lots look like this

Of course, I had to include myself at times, too. (And one cute kid) Had to ask strangers to take my photos.

Probably the most famous wall art in Penang!

What’s great about Penang is that you can so many things on different streets. In case you happen to make a wrong turn, it’s still worth your while because you’ll see something for sure. While exploring Penang, I just let my feet take charge. There are so many things I went to that was unplanned.

On one of the streets, I stumbled upon Acheen Street Mosque.

I think this was the Penang Penarakan Museum.

And there’s a lot of cat art! There was even one cat-themed cafe with a parody of the bicycle art.

From Armenian Street, I walked further and visited the Clan Jetty. I really enjoyed walking here. There’s so much to see, it’s super colorful and I just felt relaxed walking wooden planks and then seeing the sea at the end of it. There is also a street art right at the entrance that’s why I decided to go. It’s not my first time to visit a settlement like this because we visited one in Kota Kinabalu a few years prior. I think that’s also why I didn’t really visit Kampong Ayer in Brunei anymore a few months ago.

After visiting the Clan Jetty, I decided to walk back to my hostel so I can check in. I took a different route so I can see other streets. Lo and behold, I saw some cute cafes and more street art. You can literally just walk around Georgetown and see so many things. So I was finally able to check in and took a nap.

I had a ticket for the Made in Penang Interactive Museum so I went at around 5:00pm. I also booked this on Klook because it was cheaper there. It’s a 3D optical illusion art museum, but the art is focused on Penang’s culture. It was closing at 6:30pm and I wanted to make sure I had enough time to go around. Turns out, I was the only person there when I went. It was pretty nice cause there was a guide and she told me some things about the history of Penang and they were very helpful in taking my photos since I was alone. I had amazing photos to be honest but since I was alone, it was a little awkward for me to do poses. It would have been fun to be with a friend. Luckily though, I had the place all to myself so I breezed through everything in like 30 minutes.

WARNING: SO MANY PHOTOS LOL

I still had a lot of time before sunset so I decided to take an afternoon walk and see some more landmarks in Penang. It’s really amazing cause they’re just so close to each other. I passed by the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower on my way to the Fort Cornwallis. I decided not to go inside the fort because I read reviews that it’s not worth it. I just took a photo outside. LOL.

Walking further, I reached the Esplanade. There’s so much to see here, it’s waterfront and there’s a huge park. The Town Hall and the City Hall are also located here. They have a food court here that reminds me a bit of the hawker stalls in Singapore. I had pasta on one side and then moved to another to have ice kacang. I was planning to wait for the sunset there since it was facing the sea. But damn, the sunset is really late here! I think I left a few minutes before 7:30pm and the sun still hasn’t set. Also, I didn’t want to walk in the dark alone so it probably was a good idea to leave at that time.

The City Hall and the Town Hall in Penang. (I dunno why they have both.) Pero sobrang majestic ng both buildings!

On my way back to the hostel, I passed by the Church of the Assumption – it was closed at the time, but I was able to take some nice photos from outside the gate. When I got there, I realized I was on Love Lane, which is also a famous street so I kept walking. This is the street for boutique hotels, cafes and bars. I only saw a peek but would definitely want to explore this area more during daytime.

So that’s how I spent the first day – lots of walking, street arts and beautiful buildings.

Talk to me~