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Published: March 19th 2020
We were so fortunate to book a Home Exchange at 8 Gurney in Penang. We had the entire 6000 sq. ft. 17th
floor penthouse to ourselves! Lazy days spent at the pool, soaking the sun up at Batu Ferringhi Beach and exploring Georgetown, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our apartment was like a museum; Buddha statues inside and on the wrap around balcony, gorgeous Chinese pottery, Art pieces everywhere and Asian Bric Brac scattered throughout.
In Penang, we are introduced to Grab, the company that put Uber out of business in Malaysia. Our condo is centrally located so grab fares to Batu Ferringhi beach is about $6 Can/18 RM and Georgetown $2 Can/6 RM. What a foodie paradise. So many restaurants and street food markets. We rarely spent more than $30 Can/90 RM for a dinner that usually include 2 to 4 drinks! Such a range of international foods; Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Irish and we even tried a Syrian restaurant. Love Lane was a favourite "go to" (in Georgetown) as they had live music and so many restaurants – a popular destination for the backpack crowd. One meal that we loved and was very unusual was
at the Wheeler coffee bar and restaurant: Expresso Chicken. A nicely cooked breaded boneless chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes and covered with asparagus and carrot spears. The plate was swimming in a yummy sauce of heavy cream, milk with a touch of sugar. It was served with a cup of expresso that you poured over it for a delicious and unique flavoured sauce. To die for! I also discovered and love Mango sticky rice (warm mango over a bed of rice and drenched in coconut milk).
Georgetown was interesting to explore: from Fort Cornwallis to the pier restaurants and Ferry docks to Little India and the art streets painted with unique murals. Architecture ranged from old colonial homes to Mosques and Temples – always something to see as you wandered through the streets.
A trip to the top of Penang Hill with the Habitat - Langur Way Canopy Walk giving you a feel for what the original jungle was like before the British clear cut the hill. The Walk included the nest and viewpoints that had large swings to enjoy – a perfect 1 hour saunter! The top of the hill had
a lot of historic buildings including a Mosque and a Buddhist Temple.
A highlight was the Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple sprawling at the base of Penang Hill. Penang Hill is actually a range of hills and the Kek Lok Si Temple had the original verticle train that took you up to the huge statue of Kek Lok Si.
Batu Ferringhi Beach was our regular beach with a Night Market in the streets and beach restaurants along its 4 km stretch. Our favourites were Bora Bora and Frandy's at the far end of the beach. Both had tables for dinner right on the beach and food was delicious. The Blue Cheese steak at Frandy's another to die for dinner!
Monkey Beach was a lovely quiet and clean beach that you could hike to (in 2 to 3 hours through the jungle in the National Park) or take a boat to from the National Park Gate (only 50 RM each way for the 2 of us about $33 Can return). We brought our own picnic lunch but there were restaurants on the beach and of course lots of monkeys!
We ended our time in Penang visiting the Reclining Buddha at the Wat Chayamangkalaram Thai Temple on our last day after a night celebrating St. Patrick's day (celebrated from March 5th
) at the Healy Mac Irish Pub at Straight Quay. We had fun drinking and dancing to an Irish Elvis Impersonator with Jennifer and her friends! Jennifer was the housekeeper who worked for the owners of our Home Exchange and she was delightful. She advised us as our tour guide during our 3 week stay and we soon became friends. It was a nice perk at this home exchange since she came 3 times a week to clean. We only had to clean up after ourselves!
PS When we left Penang there were no cases of COVID-19. We spoke with Jennifer on March 18th and she and many others are now isolating themselves and Penang now has recorded cases. As this is the major issue on all of our minds, we have been diligently watching as the world pandemic unfolds. Darold and I have now booked a flight to return to Canada from Phuket, Thailand, cutting our Asia Adventure short. Watch for my travel blog
of our time in Thailand. It may be written as we are in self (and government recommended) Quarantine in Canada!!!
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