This had been a highlight day of our cruise in 2018 so we were keen to spend a bit more time mooching around and seeing some of the sights we missed on that one day visit.
We booked to stay in an old Shophouse building now run as a guesthouse on Noordin st.
We had a warm welcome and our large room was well appointed and the furnishings were in keeping with the style of the property which retains much of its original charm.
It was a great location for seeing the city but with the heat and walking everywhere draining we booked a scooter after the first day and are keeping it till the end of our stay in Penang. This allows us to keep the walking around for places of interest not just as a way of getting there. We see so much more with the scooter.
Below is the shop we hired our scooter from. They were fantastic and easy to deal with and made sure they gave us rain coats due to the unpredictable weather. We used them several times.
We booked four nights at Noordin st House and it was quite easy to see that for the first three nights we were the only guests, though they tried to deny this. We didn’t see anybody, hear anybody and the dining room was set just for the two of us each morning.
On our last day quite a few guests checked in and of course there were more settings at breakfast and we could hear and see these totally Real people moving about the property.
Unfortunately maintenance was not their forte and a lot of the public areas were in need of repair, cleaning and tidy up, a shame as we particularly booked it as it had a pool but there was just too much green algae around the sides to contemplate a dip.
But! This was a great base to see all of the famous areas of Georgetown and surrounding areas, including the artwork on the shop houses, the clan ferry wharfs, little India etc etc.
A highlight was having Sen and Ana two sisters we met on our Cosmos Christmas tour in 2017 picking us up and taking us to little India for lunch on James birthday, they even bought a cake with a candle to sing happy birthday.
These two awesome girls have traveled themselves a lot over the last six years or so and constantly looking for new places to tour. Their personalities are infectious and we could spend hours talking to them about their lives and travel bucket lists.
Georgetown is great for the architecture of the Shophouses and the six different recognised styles depending on the era they were built. They give Penang a real sense of character and charm.
An English film company was in town filming scenes for a film based on earlier days in Singapore.
We booked after arrival in Penang our last six nights at the Copthorne orchid at Tanjung Bungah. A little out of the centre of Penang and coastal but an easy six or seven kilometres back in if we want to head there.
It’s quite a bit tired but we have a balcony with sea view, breakfast included, a massive pool and a great little village of restaurants, food markets and convenience stores just a five minute walk away.
We did enjoy the sunsets in the evening from the balcony.
We found a German style restaurant serving huge meals so shared one between us which we often do. Bought in some supplies and headed back to relax and enjoy the serenity.
Our first full day over in our new location we ventured out after breakfast on our scooter and went to places we wouldn’t have seen otherwise and this is exactly what we love. Just riding around wherever we happen to like the look of and discovering little pieces of local life away from the tourist trail, that’s not saying we don’t love ticking of the favourite spots, they’re favourites usually for a reason.
Late Lunch back at the German restaurant was a shared salad and iced tea. Then it was poolside to read and swim, finishing the day with a dinner of British style fish and chips.
There are a lot of great looking little beaches with clean sand along the coast but I’m not sure the water looks that inviting, and there was a sign we saw somewhere about toxic poisonous stingers, not sure if that’s seasonal or not.
As the days drew closer to our leaving date we had one full day not venturing out anywhere new and just going over to the local village shops for dinner and spending the day lounging around reading.
Another day we rode off after a lovely breakfast at a local cafe (breakfast at hotel not that great) and went to the Kek Lok Si Temple. WOWSERS! All I’m going to say is that’s it’s well worth the trip, it’s free and there is quite a lot to see. I’ll pop in some photos of this incredible Hindu temple for you to try and grasp the size and work involved in creating such a wonderful place.
The sheer workmanship alone is hard to take in. The most intricate sculpting in stone is breathtaking.
In one area they had stone statues of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. There was also quite a few other stone animals including the very adorable seats with dogs depicted at each end and also some rather strange ones of tortoises mating!
Having enjoyed our breakfast the day before we headed back to the same cafe the next day and met a couple we had spoken briefly with a few days before, as we were both just arriving at the same time we sat together and enjoyed a wonderful hour swapping life stories.
Brian and Sue are a couple about to move to Penang to live after living in Singapore for some years. Originally from the Uk and South Africa their life of moving and living in quite a few different countries was fascinating. Certainly hope we catch up again sometime somewhere.
From breakfast we took off on our scooter north up through the mountains and past the tropical fruit farms including Durian farms, which you smell as you get closer to the side stalls selling them.
The first photo below is a tree with Durians growing,they have been covered by newspapers to protect them before harvesting.
We stopped several times to take photos and put raincoats on and off as the weather changes very quickly here as in most of Asia. We rode into little villages on the flat and located next to rivers where the colourful boats were moored up, we sighted a large monitor lizard, wild monkeys swinging from branch to branch, as we rode around the winding roads up and down one mountain and the next, completing a circle ride of about half of the island before arriving back safely to our hotel to give our bums a rest.
Our last day began with breakfast with Ana and Sen in Georgetown, we ate like kings and queens for next to nothing and loved every minute spent with their exuberant personalities and zest for life.
We left them with promises to see them again and a possible road trip in Malaysia together or who knows maybe meet up overseas.
We drove into the centre and had a coffee and I purchased another pair of trousers from the lady on the Chin Jetty.
Not sure if I should have as two days later in Singapore I found the first pair had repairs needing where the fabric has pulled away.
This is becoming more of an ongoing joke as I bought two pairs in France they lasted less than a month, I bought two pairs in Bali one didn’t last a week. The other made it to two weeks.
Oh well that’s life…
After my quick purchase it was time to hand the scooter back and get back to our hotel for some packing and relaxing before heading out for our last meal in our local town.
The Copthorne Orchid hotel had a great pool and fairly comfortable room but it’s very tired and putting a bandaid on the problems as they come up isn’t satisfactory for either the guests or the staff.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNT ABOUT MALAYSIA.
It’s a great mix of cultures.
It’s pretty great value.
It’s countryside is cleaner than Bali.
English is pretty widespread.
The architecture is interesting.
The people are friendly.
There seems to be a lot of empty apartments.
Some families are living on the equivalent of $400 Aus a month.
As with a lot of Asia maintenance on properties including hotels doesn’t seem to be a priority.
The temples are incredible.
The countryside is beautiful.