ONE WEEK IN MALAYSIA: PENANG CITY TOUR 2 [2018.03.01-02]

Day 2: Penang

My second day was spent at Kek Lok Si Temple and Penang Hill. They’re both pretty far from the city, but closer to each other. Also, I woke up pretty late. Seriously, the bed at the Queen’s Hostel is so comfortable and curtains don’t really give you an idea what time it is so I just woke up so late every day, which is really unusual for me because I normally wake up early when I’m traveling. But first, hello Johnny Depp!

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You really see art everywhere!

I think it was already around 11am when I went out to have breakfast at the Mugshot Café. I just had to try their famous bagels. I was just a little bit disappointed because I don’t think you can get your mugshot there anymore. That area was closed when I went there.

There’s a bus stop close to Mugshot Café so it was convenient since I was going to Kek Lok Si. However, I wasn’t sure which side I need to go so I kept crossing the street until I figured out where. See this is a problem I encounter a lot because you know where the stop is on Google Map but if you are on the wrong side then you are getting on the wrong bus.

I took the bus because it’s the cheapest way to get there. It would be too expensive for me to get a taxi or an Uber by myself. I forgot which bus I took, but you can easily Google Map that and I think it took around an hour to get to Kek Lok Si. From the bus stop, you need to walk (more like hike) for 10 to 15 minutes more because the temple is on a hill. There is no entrance fee but you pay RM2 for the pagoda and RM6 for the elevator lift to Guan Yin. This is where my Travel Calculator really helps! I still know how much everything costs even if this trip happened almost a year ago. LOL!

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Cat of Penang!

The Kek Lok Si Temple is huge and there’s a lot of places for good photos. Since it’s in a high area, you also get a good view of the city. But I think it will look so much more amazing at night. Next time, I will visit Kek Lok Si Temple at night, but it has to be around Chinese New Year, too.

While waiting for the tram going to Guan Yin Temple

One thing I need to say though is that it is really hot in Penang, and I think especially on this day. Penang Hill Lower Station is around 3km from Kek Lok Si, and I had to wait quite a long time for the bus that goes there. Again, you can just Google Map the bus that you can take to Penang Hill. The bus takes you to the lower station where you take the funicular train that will take you to the top of the hill. You need to buy a ticket for the train, which costs RM30 two-way. The line is quite long and I was queueing for quite a while even if I went on a Thursday.

Sat on this swing while waiting for the bus to Penang Hill

Ughhhhh this super cute baby! I was taking photos and she was just looking at me and smiled like that! Sooooo cute!

Penang Hill is really popular. This is a huge place and there’s also so much to see. Some people come here to exercise, cause there are a lot of hiking paths. There are also museums and restaurants. I personally enjoyed the gardens though. I just love flowers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really circle around the whole place cause it’s huge! I don’t know if they rent bicycles here but if they did, I would have rented once cause having a car by myself would be too expensive, I’m pretty satisfied with what I’ve seen so far though.

I left before 6pm as I need to take the bus back to the city. It’s pretty convenient actually cause they pick up passengers close to the lower station. I got off at the Jetty bus terminal and just walked back to Queen’s Hostel.

On my way, I saw this huge grocery and I absolutely had a blast just looking through what they were selling. I bought my dinner from there. I think my routine has been, I would have breakfast at a café or restaurant. I’d get lunch somewhere when I get hungry (but I usually don’t) and then just buy something for dinner and eat it at the hostel. It’s nice to spend a few hours at the hostel after a whole day out because you get acquainted with the other guests.

Day 3: Penang

It’s my last day in Penang and my itinerary was to go to places I wasn’t able to visit during the past few days.

My first stop was the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (or Blue Mansion). There are guided tours at 11am, 2pm, and 3:30pm. I thought you can go outside the guided tour hours but I think you can’t as the gate was closed when I got there. I think it’s because this mansion is also a hotel and there are guests who actually are staying there. That’s why the guided tour is also only limited to specific places. More on that in a bit.

Since I had time, I visited the Chocolate and Coffee Museum first because it’s really close to Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. The entrance is free and the “museum” area is just really small. It’s really more of a chocolate store. Buses of tourists come here thinking that it’s a museum but they actually lure you to buy chocolates from there. They provide free samples so you can get a try of their chocolates, but I think they are really pricey. It’s like one of those places in Bali where they take you to this place to try different kinds of coffee and in the end, they will make you purchase their expensive coffee. They don’t really force anyone but I had to sneak out while they were busy with other tourists.

The gate of the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion opens I think 15 minutes before the tour. The ticket is RM17. While waiting, I took some photos of the mansion from outside and then I waited in their lovely lobby. I was lucky enough to have the owner of the mansion as our tour guide today. She said she only does it every Friday so I’m happy I decided to do this on a Friday. The usual tour takes 45 minutes but she had tons of stories, it took us an hour and a half to finish. Her and her husband’s dedication to this restoration project is inspiring. It makes me want to renovate a house or something. LOL. Anyway, she and her husband run an architectural firm and this was their very first project back in 1989. They are now one of the largest firms in Penang, according to Madam Loh-Lim. I think more than the beautiful mansion, I really enjoyed listening to the stories behind the restoration, the life of Cheong Fatt Tze and Madam Loh-Lim’s passion for Penang. I wanted to hug her after. Seriously, I’m inspired by her. Now, the mansion is world-famous and they are totally deserving of everything.

Madam Loh-Lim!
Tried to panorama because it’s so beautiful!
Proof of attendance! I asked the security guard to take my photo.

I bought an iced coffee from a shop outside the Blue Mansion. It was super cheap and it was hot as usual. Also, I needed something to drink cause I was going to walk a lot again.

I bought a ticket for the Glass Museum from Klook as well, and it was only PHP255. I bought all of my museum tickets from Klook because they’re so much cheaper and it’s less troublesome. You just show the voucher and it’s done. I was not very satisfied with the staff here though. She was really bad at taking photos! They were mostly blurred. My phone is not the best I know, but I was able to take some really nice ones by myself. Thank goodness for my tripod. It’s nice though because they also let you participate in a glass crafting class and they let you take home your own creation. They also explain the process of making these glass creations.

From the Glass Museum, I walked to the Dark Mansion, which is a 3D Glow in the Dark museum. I got the ticket free from the Made in Penang Interactive Museum. It’s a pretty good deal because it’s 2 for 1. Each station has an employee that will assist you with what to do and take your photos. I wish I had a better phone though that takes nice photos in the dark. But I definitely enjoyed this more than the Glass Museum because it has a concept, just like the Made in Penang Interactive Museum. The Glass Museum was a mess.

I rested for a bit at a mall after the Dark Mansion to have lunch. I ended up eating McDonald’s. LOL. I always end up doing that during trips. I must say though that it is cheaper cause they automatically give you a large serving of fries and drinks.

I then went to the Hin Bus Depot, because I wanted to see the murals and art installation. But I went when it was too hot and I couldn’t enjoy it. I also think it would be nicer to come here with someone who can take your photos. I kind of felt stupid taking photos here by myself. I was too embarrassed to take my tripod out because it was too public. There are a lot of restaurants and bars here too so maybe it would be best to go later in the afternoon or during sunset.

My last stop of the day is Kau Keng Chu. It literally means “Nine Houses”. It’s this row of shops painted in really pretty colors. It was worth the long walk going here! From there, I took a bus going back to my favorite Jetty bus terminal again.

I really enjoyed walking on the streets of Penang. From the bus terminal, I would sometimes take different streets just to see something different each time. Some of the things I saw on the way:

More wall art!

KOMTAR! A famous landmark in Penang!

I was supposed to find Busy Bodhi Cafe on the first day but luckily, I accidentally passed by it on the way back to the hostel on my last day. I wanted to come here because of these umbrellas but they’re not as pretty as I thought.

There’s always something interesting to see on every wall, every corner. Lucky I went during Chinese New Year cause there were lanterns everywhere! (It was the last day of their celebration on my last day in Penang.) There was actually an event at the Esplanade that night but since I had my bus to Melaka booked at 10:45pm, I couldn’t go anymore.

I booked my ticket through busonlineticket.com and it was RM50. The travel agency I booked is located in Komtar, but I really had a hard time looking for it. The Uber driver said it could only be in two locations. Luckily, I found a student who was doing surveys and he helped me find it. I really appreciate that because he could have just left me alone but he went out of his way to ask people where it is and led me to the place. In exchange, I answered his survey. I really have good feelings about Malaysians, they are so nice, they would greet you good morning while you’re out walking in the streets. One time, there was a man who warned me to keep my bag closer to me because there are pickpockets in the area.

The bus terminal to Melaka is at Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal so from the Komtar Terminal, we took a van going there. They’re about 10km apart and is closer to the airport. From there, we were told what bus to take and then I was on my way to Melaka! Since Penang is an island separate from the mainland, we took the super long bridge! It was pretty amazing. After that, I went to sleep. It was a 6-hr bus ride to Melaka.

I would definitely want to go back to Penang because I have a lot of things on my itinerary that I didn’t get to visit like Snake Temple, Batu Ferringhi Beach and Night Market, Straits Quay, go inside Penang Peranakan Museum, Wat Chayamangkalaram, Dharmikarama Burmese Temple, and the Gurney area.

Talk to me~