Wednesday, 27 August 2014



BIKING AROUND PENANG ISLAND & HIKING TAMAN NEGARA PULAU PINANG


As per usual I grabbed a bike and went around the whole island 2 days ago, but before we barely got going, the clouds opened up and we had to hide from the rain in this weird little shop with many locals simply staring slack jawed at us.  

We waited for about 30 minutes before making the call that, since we were already wet and the rain looked like staying for another hour or more, we may as well go to Yeap Noodles and wait there!  So another dash in the rain and we gorged ourselves on those delicious noodles while drying out and waiting for the rain to clear!

The ride itself was fairly boring to be honest, I went south from Georgetown and did the circumnavigation clockwise, but most of it was just towns and industrial area.  It wasn’t until halfway around, the south western corner, that there was any decent scenery to look at and even that was simply OK. 
















Heading up the west coast and around the top was definitely the best part of the trip and although the riding at times was awesome, due to the tight, winding, hillside roads, it was still nothing special.






This waterfall was a nice little stop along the way though





Neither Noi or I had ever seen these 'flowers' before, pretty cool we thought..






The following day (yesterday) we rode back around the top to Taman Negara Pulau Pinang (Penang National Park) and spent a few hours hiking in the jungle.  We hiked across the park first to Pantai Kerachut, an ok little beach at the end of a good jungle track.  

Then I had organized a boat to pick us up and drop us around the corner at Monkey Beach to continue our hike back to the start, otherwise we would have to hike back through the same path too many times.  This way gave us a chance to see nearly everything without back tracking.

It was a little expensive though, I paid 70 myr ($23 au) for the whole boat, you can pick up other passengers on your hike or at the start of the journey to share the cost though.  We managed to find 2 other people on Pantai Kerachut looking for a boat, so they went halves with us. 

Monkey Beach was definitely the tourist spot, with all manner of things on sale or for rent.  You could get food, drinks, jet skis, 4 wheeler bikes, fishing trips etc.  Another proper hike through the jungle for an hour or so had us back at the entrance, my legs bloody aching as it has been a while since my last proper hike!  

Penang National Park provided a really good hike actually and was well worth doing, there is no entrance fee either, but they do make you sign in and out which is a great idea. 













Look at the pincers on these guy's as they battle it out.  These ants were about an inch and a half long, I reckon you would know all about it if they bit you.



After much internet searching and many dead ends, I stopped in at Park Royal Inn on the ride home and sure enough, they have AFL on tv.  I got to see the score of my Swans as they were giving St Kilda an absolute belting 74 – 16, and made plans to come back the next day to watch the Freo v Hawthorn game. 

That is today, Sunday 17th August so it’s time to get ready, go eat at Yeap Noodles, then off for a couple of cold beers and watch the footy.

Friday, 22 August 2014



OUT AND ABOUT IN GEORGETOWN, PENANG.  FOOD, ART AND MORE FOOD



I have been absolutely pleasantly surprised with Georgetown, Penang, what an amazingly vibrant little city, full of diverse culture, history, art, architecture, cuisine, walking around any corner can be fascinating, you never know what you may find.  



Angry man opera??!  Found this one night while out walking, no idea what was happening, but it was entertaining.. sort of!!


  
 Cool artwork around town













Throw in the enormous array of restaurants, street stalls, food carts and hole in the wall shops and the quality and range of food here is staggering.  I’m not sure I have seen more choice or such quality of dishes concentrated in one little ‘city’, most at ridiculously cheap prices.



One honourable mention is the Red Garden, touted as a ‘Food Paradise Night Market’ and it really is, the range and pricing here is phenomenal, there is nearly every kind of cuisine imaginable serving out of their little shops that all surround a huge area filled with tables and chairs for the patrons to eat at or drink large cold beers.

  We went again a couple of nights ago and they had a band on stage, this was around midnight and the place was happening, what a great venue - food, beer and entertainment.



This was only early, so very quiet, but it gets busy later on



But the standout, hands down winner in Penang is Kafe Yeap Noodles on Lebuh Chulia, in fact it is by far the best food I have had in Asia (ok I probably had better in China, but they were 5 star restaurants with price tags to match).  We have been eating there every day, sometimes twice!

  Yesterday’s meal included 4 dishes (we didn’t need 4, the portions are great.  Just being greedy!), 2 beers and a Langon drink and came in at just under $10, so the value is as amazing as the food.  Plus their beer is as cheap as I have found in town at only 6.50 myr for a can, with most places asking over 10. 


Do NOT miss Kafe Yeap Noodles while in Penang, we have been slowly working our way through the entire menu and will be heading there again in a couple of hours before riding over to Batu Ferringghi to watch the Aussie football!! 

Every dish is amazing, but you really must try the Loh Bak, the black pepper pork/chicken noodles, the sweet  & sour, the sesame and ginger, the curry…..  well, you get my point, but definitely try the Loh Bak, I had never seen it before and was amazing.  We seriously only stayed in Georgetown this long because we can’t bear to leave this restaurant behind!







  

  









Some other sights around town






A lot to love about this place,  my kind of museum!!


Monday, 18 August 2014


2 MOUNTAINS IN 2 DAYS, GUNUNG MAT CHINCHANG (WITH LANGKAWI CABLE CAR) & GUNUNG RAYA.
FOLLOWED BY 2 BUSES & 2 BOATS IN ONE DAY, LANGKAWI TO PENANG


As planned, the next morning we rode to the famous cable car and took it to the summit of Gunung (mountain) Mat Chinchang.  We really should have gone the previous day though as once atop the mountain, the heavy, low clouds left us blind to the amazing views I know were there, we could see most of it from the gravity defying cable car on the way up.  

To see it from right at the summit, a 360 degree view of the spectacular island of Langkawi, would have been really special I think.  The new skybridge is still being built though and will no doubt add even more wonderment to the whole experience.  Cable car ride to the summit cost 35 myr ($11.70 au).

A quick stop at Telaga Tujuh Waterfall nearby saw a lot of steps climbed but was only mildly worth visiting, though we did have some good food there at the shops by the car park.  We then followed the coast all the way round the west and southern sides of the island, with a few detours along the way, great tight, hilly, winding roads to ride is always fun, even on a scooter!

That night we stayed at Pantai Cenang, the beachside tourist town on the west coast boasting endless cafes, restaurants, guesthouses and shopping.  They even have an ‘Under Water World’ venue there.  We ended up at Delta Motel & Restaurant, way over budget at 155 myr ($52 au) a night, but it was right on the beach, literally 40 paces from our door and we were stepping on the sand. 

Not a spectacular beach by any means, but there was plenty of buzz about the place, with parasailers, jet skiers and holidaymakers all providing the entertainment.  Throw in a great sunset with a cold cider right on the sand and it was a great way to finish off the day, sometimes you have to spoil yourself! 

 As with the room, I blew budget on dinner also and we had a fairly decent pizza just up the beach later in the evening at Yellow CafĂ©.  These guys actually have bean bags right on the sand to relax on.

The prices are higher but so is the quality, plus the ambience is worth every cent.  Remember, when I talk about expensive, I simply mean a dish that may cost around $10, not exactly breaking the bank for the average holiday maker, but I am far too used to paying only a couple of dollars for a great meal and prefer to save that money for more important things….  like beer!!

The next morning we followed the highway up the center of Langkawi to the towering peak of Gunung Raya, now we finally got our 360 degree views over the island, almost free except for a 10 myr charge to go up the tower of the abandoned looking resort up there.  Well worth the time and a nice way to round out our road trip before heading back to Kuah town, where we changed rooms to a 50 myr a night place, Havana Guesthouse.  

Hmmm, let’s just say there were many reasons this place was cheaper, but the wifi was good!  More food from the markets later that night and a long wander around town before getting some rest, ready for the journey to Penang the next morning.

A taxi from Havana Guesthouse to Jetty Point was 12 myr ($4), ferry ticket 18 myr.  A 5 minute walk to the Kuala Perlis bus terminal had us boarding a bus to Alor Setar for another 15 myr.  Despite what I read online about getting a direct bus all the way to Butterworth from KP, the Plusliner Bus Company definitely does NOT have a ticket office there and don’t appear to be operational anymore.

 I wouldn’t plan on using them if you are visiting and it seems to be a better option to just head for Alor Setar  and then change buses for another 10.80 myr down to Butterworth.  A total travel time of around 3 – 3 ½ hours or more, plus we barely had to wait at either station.  The original plan was to take the train again, but at least this way we got to see more of the country.   

Once you disembark at Butterworth, if heading for Penang you will want the ferry.  Take a quick look around or ask somebody for the ferry terminal, I found a sign (in Malay, but still easily identifiable – ‘fery jeti’ or something like that)) in less than a minute and it took about 4 to walk there.  

It was quite funny actually, after going through a turnstile and paying the whole 1.20 myr fare to cross to Penang, we were waiting on what I thought was the jetty, that is until it started moving and I realized we were already on the ferry!  I’m a boat guy and even I didn’t realize we were standing on the thing until it pulled away from the pier!

When you reach The island of Penang, a 3 minute walk following all the exit signs will lead you straight to the taxi stand, once again just a set price, no bargaining possible.  I had booked at Hotel New Rope Walk and it was a 15 myr cab fare to get there, being a touristy town the price was a little steeper than it probably should have been.  If we knew the way it could have been walked in around 15 – 20 minutes.

Total cost, Langkawi to Penang, hotel to hotel - 117 myr, $39.84 au, $20 each.  Take out the cab fares if you're prepared to walk and you would be looking at $15 a person.

The only good thing I can say about New Hotel Rope Walk is the room size and large work desk, other than that it’s is fairly ordinary.  The wifi is slow when it actually does work and that nice looking ‘sofa’ you see in the Agoda pictures is an inflatable!  The owner was really friendly and helpful though and I talked him down to 70 myr per night, and then 65 myr on my last night..

 I have been too slack to move my gear again, so have ended up staying for 4 or 5 days, though have been checking out other accommodation options around town.  The price seems about standard, though I saw plenty of worse value rooms on the main street Lebuh Chulia, that most of the old town seems to center around. 

If you are a backpacker and just looking for dorm rooms, there are plenty of amazing value places around, especially down Love Lane.  Dorm rooms can be had, with free breakfast, for as little as 13 – 16 myr.  Sometimes I wonder why I don’t just stay in them sometimes, for a night or 2 maybe I’ll try again in the future.


View from the summit of Gunug Mat Chinchang... cloud






Telagah Tujuh





Beach directly out the front of Delta Motel












Cool patterns all over the beach, pretty sure they're from the crabs





Not my handiwork, but photo worthy anyway



Now that is a beer, my neighbour settling in for the afternnoon..





Views from the summit of Gunug Raya







Heading across to Penang 





The ferry that I mistook for the jetty!