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Penang – 7 new discoveries we’ve made this weekend

by on August 31, 2018
 

Penang island (there is a part of the state on the mainland as well) has many gems just waiting to be discovered. Whether you visit once, return many times or live in  the state, there’s always something to discover. We’ve just spent another happy weekend in George Town and decided to see what’s new, or different from before. Here are 7 discoveries we made.

1. Round Penang island by bus – a day trip.

  • From Komtar or the Jeti, catch a 501 bus to Balik Pulau.
  • You can also go via the airport, a longer ride and you’ll miss the fun ride over the hills.
  • The free Balik Pulau CAT bus is a good option to get to the village.
  • Balik Pulau CAT Download an app for schedule
  • There is not a lot to do in Balk Pulau without your own transport.
  • Go early for the market and then to town for Penang Laksa.
  • Kim Laksa is probably the best – choose either the Siam or Asam laksa. Wash it all down with fresh nutmeg juice.
  • The 502 bus takes you on a great drive up the west coast.
  • It can be a bit hairy as there’s a hilly section with some great views. Sit on the left side.
  • Get off at stop 21 if you’d like to visit Entopia, or stay put for Teluk Bahang.
  • The 101 route covers Batu Feringghi, Tanjung Tokong, Jln Burma and Jln Burma.
  • Hop off at the end of Tanjng Bungah for a Gurney open air foodstall dinner.
  • Stay on board until Jln Macalster for lots of diner choices closer to town.
  • Our discovery – tiring, but lots to see, make sure you wear good shoes and take a hat.

2. The old ‘Butterfly Farm’ has grown beautiful wings!

  • We’d visited the Penang Butterfly park in 1989 and again in 1991 and heard it was bigger and better now.
  • Entopia is the grown up version of the Butterfly Farm, popular since the 1980s.
  • We discovered that the range of butterfly species is impressive.
  • You can also check out the breeding programme and see them emerge from the chrysalis.
  • We spent nearly 3 hours with the butterflies, frogs spiders and even a couple of snakes.
  • Educational and fun for all ages.
  • From Entopia you need to walk north about 5 mins to catch the 101 bus to Jeti/Komtar

3. Chinese Opera on Burma Road

  • Now this one was a surprise discovery.
  • The prayer pavilion was as it usually is, with lots of joss sticks and a decorated altar.
  • The opera stage, however, had young scantily dressed girls belting out popular Chinese songs.
  • There’s a mostly middle aged male audience. No surprises there!
  • They did have great voices and presentation skills.
  • Traditional Chinese opera performances are more common, with traditional stories, makeup and costumes.

4. The Old Hin Bus Depot continues to grow

  • While the core group of shops and restaurants is open every day except Monday, the pop-up market is held on Sunday.
  • There are more food options, which now have their own space at the side of the covered market.
  • There are more food options, which now have their own space at the side of the covered market.
  • The range of craft items has grown, with most made by the sellers.
  • We loved the hand made jewellery and cloth bags.
  •  We will definitely be back for more of the air plants we discovered – mostly bromeliads sold by their collector and grower.

5. Eat and Walk – tracking down the traditional favourites

  • Eu Char Koay (Yu Tiau), is a long fried dough stick similar to a churro. We found this shop in Lebuh Cintra.
  • Buy a bag and eat as you walk.
  • Ming Xiang Tai Cantonese pastries originate from Kampar in Perak.
  • The shops were set up by the third generation of pastry makers.
  • Apart from their usual tasty offerings and drinks, at this time of the year (Aug/Sept) they also have delicious mooncakes.
  • They now have five outlets, one of which we discovered in Jln Penang, close to the Komtar roundabout.
  • Lunch at the E&O is definitely a treat.
  • The E&O hotel dates from 1885, thanks to the Sarkies brothers.
  • The brothers also set up Singapore’s Raffles and Yangon’s Strand.
  • There’s no dress code, so enjoy the range of eastern and western treats in comfort.
  • The restaurant, Sarkies, is in the hotel’s new wing and overlooks the sea.

6. Heritage buildings

  • We discovered the Loke family mansion along Gurney Drive, Beside Gurney Paragon shopping mall.
  • It’s a private residence, hidden behind high fences, but if you’re tall enough, you can admire the butterfly shape.
  • Gurney Paragon is the site of the old St Joseph’s Novitiate, new beautifully restored and incorporated into the mall.

7. George Town Festival

  • The George Town Festival has been held every August since 2012.
  • Enjoy a wide range of art, music and theatre performances, workshops and exhibitions.
  • We love to join the Liar’s Walk – choose between the Little India or Armenian St walks. Or do both!
  • Our discovery – you need to book GTF tickets early. If you leave it to the last minute, you will probably miss out.

images ©LL

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