Pearl of the Orient

Friday, August 06, 2010

Pardon me for the lack of updates lately. Despite the hectic schedule & coming home exhausted every evening, I kept telling myself to find time to blog in order to de-stress myself. But somehow I can't seem to push myself to do anything cuz it's as if blogging has become a stressful chore. Lucky thing I've disregard that notion & decided to get the ball rolling again.

This post about my travel up north is long overdue but I definitely would want to document it as part of my life journey. Here it goes...I was still in primary school when I set foot in Penang. I could vaguely remember that the only place my family hung around back then was at Batu Ferringi. Sadly, we didn't travel to town to enjoy the good food that Penang was known for. And back then, Batu Ferringi is pretty much a quiet beach town with nothing much to offer. Perhaps this was the reason why my parents never wanted to return there for another visit.

Fast forward more than 10 years later, here I am in the Pearl of the Orient but this time with a different purpose - a gastronomic feat. The typical food excursion would include the first stop at Ipoh. Knowingly Foh San Restaurant is supposedly popular for its dim sum, we decided to give it a try. I'd have to say it's one of the worse dim sum I've ever eaten in my life. Whoever it said it was good, you seriously have taste bud problems. It was obvious that the restaurant has boomed over the years through recommendations from local & foreign tourists that the food has become the victim of commercialisation. What puzzles me is that people still flock to that restaurant -.-"

After our brief stop, we continued our journey with occasional toilet breaks along the way. Finally, we arrived the Penang bridge. It was Friday therefore it wasn't surprising to see the traffic slowing to a halt at the bridge as cars, trucks, bikes (you name it) enters the island. What's more, road works are in progress. It's like queueing for entry to Singapore. :/

Something caught our eye as our car crawled slowly across the bridge. Some creature with a fairly pink butt with its head bobbing up & down in the truck ahead of us. Guess what? These are PIGS XD. No wonder. That explains the pink, big butt. LOL.

We arrived at Gurney Hotel at 1pm but the room wasn't ready yet as the housekeeper is working on getting everything prim & proper after the previous guest left. While waiting, we headed to the nearest coffee shop along Gurney Drive for lunch. Hoping to try the prawn mee that Penangites rave about, I thought any stall that serves prawn mee would be delicious. I was wrong. The soup was lukewarm, not as steaming hot as it should be. It wasn't fragrant at all; not to mention the prawns turning bad & tasted weird. The noodles were pricey too -.-" I was already tired from the travelling & I had to endure such horrendous food =(. Yuck! I gobbled up whatever is left & thankfully, the hotel receptionist called to inform that our room is ready.

We checked in to our suite which is at the 16th floor (I think...can't remember) & was quite delighted to see a two-bedroom suite with a decent kitchen & a spacious living room. It's a little old but cleanliness is okay. The master bedroom faces the direction of a scenic view, overlooking Gurney Drive. It's quite annoying that the faulty ceiling bulb was not replaced & the air cond in the master bedroom drips occasionally when it de-frost. :/

I didn't take much pictures during this trip cuz I was easily tired from frustration that we got lost countless times. Penang's road system is awesomely confusing & congested. Somehow, we still managed to find our way through but it was a total waste of time & left us starving most of the time. On our first night, we headed to McCalister Road which is situated nearby Sunway Hotel. One peculiar thing about Penang stalls is that different hawkers are allowed to sell similar food. For instance, you can find at least 2 or 3 hawkers selling fried kuay teow.

The next morning, we left after breakfast to Kek Lok Si Temple for sightseeing. I read somewhere in the papers last year that a new monumental size Kuan Yin statue was built at the peak of the hill. We were curious to see the scale of the project. The statue was no doubt tall & huge, visible from the foothill.

Upon reaching the peak, the statue was right in front of our eyes - so magnificently tall & beautiful that it made us looked like dwarfs.

As you can see, the statue is not completed yet. Donations are welcomed from visitors who are generous enough to contribute towards the statue's completion. As a token of goodwill & here's to good health & prosperity to all my loved ones, I contributed a piece of roof tile which costs only RM30. Someday, this piece will be somewhere on the pavilion to shelter the statue. Or perhaps be an object of display if there are enough roof tiles for construction.

More beautiful pictures taken at the temple. =)

It as lunch time when we descended the hill. For convenience, we drove to another coffee shop nearby our hotel which is just next to where I ate that awful prawn noodle. This shop serves tastier food but we felt a little ripped off cuz the bill turned out to be expensive. Supposed most of the shops at Gurney Drive charges pretty high mainly to rake profits off tourists. *sighs*

Not wanting to return so quickly to the hotel after lunch, we went for another temple visit at Temple Road - with two temples facing each other. One Burmese, the other Thai. Both with almost similar beliefs, yet so different.

The Burmese temple has a little machine that upon inserting a 50 cent coin, will allow you to find out about luck in career, love & so forth. It's like tarot reading or palm reading. Tiger year is not so prosperous for everyone but being born in the Tiger sorta makes things worse & complicated, it seems. I've got a rather depressing read about my life. It said...not wise to for career move & someone at work is trying to harm me. My love life/marriage is not hopeful. Geez, I felt so demotivated after reading that. Can't they show me a road that has at least a glimpse of hope?

Since it was our last night at Penang, we thought of having a stroll along the pavement near the beach just like everyone else. While WL's parents stopped half way to listen to one of the singing performance at the coffee shops, we continued to our walk. Little did we realised that me & WL spent approx 15 minutes walking from Gurney Hotel until G Hotel. Thankfully, it was a nice hotel to stop by - a boutique hotel given a 5-star recognition.

Bright, groovy neon lights adorned the reception & cocktail bar at the lobby.

A snapshot of us before another long walk back to our hotel. XD

We left Penang on late Sunday morning. It was close to lunch time & stopping by at Bukit Tambun for seafood was one of our main activity. There are several seafood restaurants at this small village which is built on stilts at the river.

The river is a rich source of income for villagers & restaurant owners to serve exceptionally fresh seafood. Gosh...I'm so used to eating fresh tilapia back home but the ones served at Bukit Tambun was unmatchable. It tasted like it was only caught minutes ago. We also ordered this rather oddly shaped prawns (I've seen it before but I know nothing about its English name) which bear a resemblance of pre-historic sea creatures. Yes, it was indeed ugly & who would want to put those in the mouth. Surprisingly, it was so juicy & sweet just like a fresh tiger prawn. I'd say, it was unbelievably juicier than large prawns that I've eaten previously. The best part is the food was incredibly dirt cheap. Yummy & cheap~

I wouldn't mind purposely going to Bukit Tambun for another round of seafood fiesta in the future. Anyone who's up for it? XD Btw, we spotted this random vehicle carrying loadful of greens (veggies?) on the North-South Highway. So funny...XD

*gasps* Omg, it's a truck full of petai!!!