I realize that I hardly do any travel posts on Penang, probably because we mainly go up to visit the in-laws, and the places we visit tend to be rather off the beaten track. Also, most of the food we eat is located on the mainland and not the island, so I thought there was no point doing food recommendations since visitors usually stay on the island.
However, while I've not written much about the hubby's hometown, it is very much part of our family's life. Penang is a messy mix that sometimes borders into cultural chaos: it has its own charm, it has all that good food, it has a rich history, but you can see how parts of it are slowly falling into decay. The new shopping malls tend towards uniformity, and have been springing up like mushrooms, and you get the feeling like you've been transported back to Singapore when you venture inside. The old malls are left to slowly die off, and you see empty, abandoned houses, some in ruins, around the town. But mess and decay aside, there is so much to love: the variety of food, the old shops nestling amidst new up and coming cafes, the murals and art that dot the corners of the town. And of course, we love it because it was where the hubby grew up. I realize I should write more, about this Penang that we know and love, because it is not what you really read about.
Anyway, for this trip, we spent most of the time staying with the in-laws, but we moved to a hotel in Batu Ferringhi to join a friend and her kid who were visiting. Batu Ferringhi reminds me of Sentosa in a sense: the beaches, the touristy vibe, the expensive food. It is a great place to stay if you have kids and want them to have time at the beach or by the pool, however, the food there isn't fantastic. It does have a huge pasar malaam (night market), which we love to explore, as not only does it sell the usual imitation goods, but also paintings and reproductions. We love the butterfly farm that is nearby too.
Most of the good food is based in town, so we headed down to town one morning sans kids (except the baby), and had a nice time walking around. We had laksa and cendol, in the cafe at Armenian street opposite the bicycle mural, and both dishes were pretty good. We explored the old shops, admiring the pretty colours and tiles gracing the front of the shops. One of the places we love to visit (my friend included) are the old householdware shops, that stock everything from plastic buckets to all manner of kitchenware, and it's interesting (at least for us) to wander through these shops looking at the stuff they sell. (A side point: have you noticed how deep some of these shops are? I love how some of them have these tiny little courtyards in the middle, and how high their ceilings soar.) We popped into Chin Seng Leong on Armenian street, which stocks all manner of vintage findings, from old telephones, toys to clocks and bicycles. We also browsed at various shops selling various pretty things.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by Him Heang at Burma Road to pick up some tau sa piah for friends, and had to queue for that. And we also had to queue for apong (malay pancake) on the opposite side of the road (more on apong over here). The apong was good, but the wait was crazy! (Apparently the two stalls selling the pancakes are run by brothers, who no longer talk to each other.)
Anyway, will blog more about Penang in another post, and all our previous posts about Penang can be found here. Meanwhile, have a great week!