Updated: Oct 19, 2018
by Nina Sabin - Travel
After 12 days in Thailand, we were ready to move onto our next country. We boarded Thai Air and flew south to Malaysia. There was no direct flight from Phuket to Penang so we had to stop over in Bangkok. In total, we traveled almost 4 hours, but then we started our Malaysian journey.
Before I get into the details about our experiences in Penang. I wanted to share why we decided Penang would be the only city we visited in Malaysia. Most people go to the capital, Kuala Lumpur, but we chose Penang.
In 1999, just before the new millennium, people were afraid of Y2K. During that time John was offered a position in Penang, Malaysia. At the time we were preparing to take the positon. Doing research about living as an expat we learned it takes over nine months to get acclimated to living overseas, so we were apprehensive about going. On top of that, the concern of what would happen to the computers at midnight January 1, 2000. In the end, we did not get to move to Penang due to a mix up with John’s identity being stolen (but that is another story in itself). Little did we know, we would move 19 months later to Saudi Arabia to live the expat life.
Now back to our excursion through Penang. Penang is a smaller city than Kuala Lumpur and very different from our experiences in Thailand. Our journey started on the funicular rail. It was a 30 minute ride on the rail. Our daughters took in the scenery as we rode up the steep rail to the summit of Flagstaff Hill of Bukit Bendera which we saw exquisite views of Georgetown and the mainland. The views were truly breathtaking.
We thought about taking the walking trail to the top. The information says it takes 4 hours to reach the top and recommended for the more energetic people. However, after our trekking experience in Thailand we decide the rail was a much better option.
Next on our journey was visiting the Botanical Gardens. One of our favorite things to do as a family is take pictures of flowers. I would say this trip started that tradition. My husband’s father is the leader of the flower photography. Not only did we take pictures of plants and flowers, but there were also waterfalls and monkeys in the garden. Such a cool thing to see is a monkey hanging in a tree above you as you walk along the path.
After the Botanical Gardens, we had the Snake Temple on our itinerary. The Snake Temple was built in 1850 and dedicated to the deity Chor Soo Kong, it is also known as the Temple of The Azure Cloud. It is a sanctuary for pit-vipers said to be the 'servants' of the deity. The poisonous snakes, seen coiled round the pillars, beams and potted plants within the temple are believed to be rendered harmless by the smoke of the burning incense. Our youngest daughter works with a snake research project now. I wonder if visiting this temple was the start of her love for reptiles and amphibians.
One way to get around Penang is riding on a trishaw. It is the most authentic experience to have in Penang besides trying the street food. Speaking of street food, we were afraid to try some of the street food as we watched them clean the bowls on the street and then reuse them for the next customer without soap or clean water. Later on, we learned that is normal all over the world, and from that time on we have tried street food on our travels. That is how you experience the taste of the culture.
On the second day of our Penang Tour, we did a self-guided walking tour of the city and saw the main sites recommend for tourists. We all love to walk, especially when it is not in the jungle of Thailand and we can stop in place to take in the culture. Read Thailand Excitement – Chang Mai if you don’t know why I mentioned the above.
We only spent two days in Penang. We did not visit any other cities in Malaysia because we still had four more countries to go on our Infamous Asia Tour.
Look forward to our next blog as we journey to Singapore.