RealGunners Round Island Tour @ Penang

In case you have been wondering why no new posts for 2 days after the daily posts, well… I’ve been sort of, busy.

I was playing semi host / semi tour guide to a lady traveler from overseas. I know you guys will be interested, but I am not going to go into detail on how we knew each other, let’s just say that this revamped blog played a minor part. No, she does not have a blog, nor does she wants to appear in any blogs, so forget seeing a picture of her as well.

What I meant about semi host is that, I was not able to provide free accommodation because I myself is staying in a rented room. So I settled for picking her up from the airport over the weekend, showed her around for a bit, and dropped her at the hostel that she booked.

So yesterday I played the semi tour guide part. I actually took one day leave for that. So I arrived at her hostel at 9.30 AM and picked her up, and asked: “So, what have you been up to yesterday?

“Oh, nothing much, I just walked around town for a bit and ate a lot of oily and yummy food.”

Really? What did you eat?

“I found that char kuay teow place that you mentioned, then I packed some of those loh bak thing to go, oh and I also had that fishy sour noodle soup thingy and the cendol dessert in a tiny shop in some sort of an alley.” (laksa and Penang Road cendol, I guess) 

What? So you’ve had them all! What am I supposed to feed you with today??

“I don’t know, you’re the local expert here! Maybe you can show me something healthier that the locals eat.”

Okay… So… show me the photos you’ve taken, I don’t want to bring you to the same places.

I spent 10 minutes flipping through her camera screen at her photos of the clan jetties, the Esplanade, Khoo Kongsi, Little India, Love Lane, Armenian Street and Komtar.

Seems like you’ve already covered most of Georgetown by yourself. Maybe we can go to Kek Lok Si and Penang Hill then.

“Kek Lok Si? Is it that big temple on top of a hill? I booked a tour from the hostel last night. I’m going there tomorrow!”

You’ve got everything covered then! OMG, what else are we gonna do?

Just then, an idea struck me…

Okay, I know, this is nothing touristy, in fact it might even be boring. What say you to a driving tour round the island? There’s nothing much on the other side of the island, so tourists don’t go there. In fact I’ve never driven on that other side before.

“A road trip to the unknown? Sounds great, let’s go!”


Straights Quay

On our way, as we approached the Gurney Drive area, I realized we could make a stop at that Reclining Buddha temple (what’s it called), but before I could open my mouth, she spotted the temple and said: “Hey, I thought I recognized this temple. I walked here too yesterday!”

Oh.. okay… no, wait, you what? Walked here?? From the jetties??

“Yeah, what’s wrong?”

That’s like… 3 kilometers, or 2 miles!

“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”

Nothing…

Soon we arrived. It was late morning, and we were hungry, so first things first. I can’t possibly bring her to any of these, can I?

So we went to the only place that resembles a Malaysian eatery. Yes, Papparich. But I think it’s not bad actually, although not street food, you do get some semblance of local food, and the taste is not too bad.

Glutinous Rice – We usually get this in dim sum restaurants, they call it lor mai kai 糯米鸡, Papparich serves vegetarian version where they replaced chicken with vegetarian meat. But the taste is still there.

White Coffee – I am quite positive that this is a drink unique to Malaysia, the coffee beans are roasted with margarine to produce this. I know my American and Japanese work counterparts usually buy these coffee powders back home in boxes.

Roti Bakar – Toasted bread, served with butter and kaya (coconut jam). Not many foreign visitors can get used to its flavor, so I requested that they leave the spread ingredients on the side.

Half-boiled egg – it means what it means literally, egg boiled halfway instead of fully cooked, then cracked open into a bowl. Add a bit of soy sauce and a pinch of pepper and you got yourself a heavenly taste.

My guest loved all of them (thank God), and she was surprised that she has never seen these stuff featured in the travel blogs. I’m not sure why myself, the American / European travel bloggers who come to Malaysia almost only rave about the char kuay teownasi lemak and roti canai (which they love to call the rotee).

Anyway, stomach filled, time to stroll around and take photos…

We kind of lucked out on coming here today. Notice the long stretch of batik cloth along the railing? Apparently there’s something going on.

Straights Quay
They’re trying to break some record in conjunction with the Cultural Festival thing going on. [Budaya = Culture, Cabaran Pecah Rekod = Challenge to Break Record]
Straights Quay
The batik was there  2 days ago, so it means we managed to unknowingly just catch it before it is taken off!
Straights Quay
More batik!
Straights Quay
Eventually it ended here!
Straights Quay
Surprised to see a street art here. I wonder if it is Ernest’s work or someone else’s.
Straights Quay
I showed her my boat too. I mean, soon-to-be my boat. Maybe in 5 years time. Or 50…

I learnt that my guest is a bit… different from other tourists. She shows more interest in seemingly pointless details.

Straights Quay
Like, there’s so many nice boats there, but she spotted this gate and immediately entered.
Straights Quay
It’s just a bicycle and pedestrian path.

“Do you know where this leads to?”

I don’t know, probably Narnia..

“Let’s go find out!”

Actually I know where it leads to. It goes straight to Island Plaza, which is a pointless shopping mall and more than 1 kilometer away! So…

No no no, I’m just kidding! It leads to a dead end! It’s just a path they built for the rich people living in this area to come here. The housing area is walled up, there’s nothing for us to see, let’s go back!

Library @ Straights Quay
Then she spotted this shop, and when I told her it is actually a bar, she asked if we could come back later tonight.

We spent more time than I expected here, but I guess it is understandable. Straights Quay is a very comfortable place to stroll around and lepak, because it is so clean and tranquil. Especially on a weekday when practically nobody comes here except for the occasional tourists (like us).


Teluk Bahang

We skipped past Batu Ferringhi, because according to my guest, she already registered for another tour with the hostel (again) for Thursday. Apparently there are tours that will bring you hotel / beach hopping in this area. Not that Penang’s beaches are worth anything anyway (just my personal opinion).

We also skipped past the Teluk Bahang National Park, because she will be spending a few days in the bigger National Park in Pahang.

Basically, I had no more idea what to do, except continue driving. And then we arrived at a semi interesting place.

“Wow! There’s a lake here! Why isn’t there any tourists here?”

It’s not a lake, it’s a dam, a water catchment area. Like a mini Hoover Dam.


Balik Pulau

So when we were making our way back to the car, she sprang this question to me.

“The roads from here on out, will it be similar to that twisty road that we took when we left the Straights Quay?”

Yeah, I think so. In fact, it’s quite remote here, so I think it will get worse. Why? Are you sick? I’ll go slower.

“No, I mean, I’m wondering if you can let me drive?”

I don’t know what possessed me, but I somehow agreed after 3 seconds of deep thought.

What a big freakin’ mistake!

Jalan Teluk Bahang
Jalan Teluk Bahang – 15 kilometers of twisty winding mountain pass.

I thought she was sick with my driving, turns out that was not the case at all!

She took a while to get up to speed, and then, she turned all out into Sabine Schmitz! Shouting and cheering when turning every tight corners! For a while, I was hanging on for dear life!

It was during this drive that I finally learnt that when she was studying in the US, she bought a second hand Mustang and once drove it from Colorado to San Francisco and back. I had to constantly remind her that my car has less than 100 horsepower and cannot be compared to her ‘Stang! (If you want to know what car I drive, click here).

Bloody hell…

Anyway, we came across a durian stall as we were descending the mountain pass. I told her that this will be another Malaysian experience. So we stopped by the road side, she unwound the window, took a whiff, and immediately wound the window back up.

“OMG OMG! What’s that smell?? I’m going to faint!”

That’s the durian…

She did not hesitate for one moment, immediately stepped on the gas pedal and just drove off without giving me any chance to persuade her for a try.

When we made our way into the Balik Pulau town, it was almost 3 PM, all the food shops were already closed. So we did not stop and kept going. After all, Balik Pulau is only good for durians and the laksa (good for her, she can’t stand the former, and she already had a taste of the latter).

She was fascinated with the township though. She said the shops and houses architecture are nice. Really? Ah I forgot, she is someone who is interested in the minor details.


Queensbay Mall

I was out of idea on what else to do. So, we did the un-touristy thing of catching a movie in Queensbay Mall. Surprisingly, I somehow gave her another eye opening experience.

We were queuing up for snacks, and when she eyed the popcorns, she got pretty excited.

Caramel popcorn
Caramel popcorn

“I’ve never seen caramel corns on sale in movie theaters! I love them! What a great treat for movie goers in this country!” Ah… I recall this now, I’ve been to the Metrolux 14 in Loveland, the only popcorn they sell are the lightly salted ones..

She was also surprised that we do not need to queue up for the tickets.

GSC
I bought the tickets using my smartphone apps when she was busy doing her Sabine Schmitz impersonation.
GSC
Special VIP lane, no need to queue!

To make it even better, we have numbered seats here. You have to know that in most parts of the US, and England (and I suspect Europe for that matter), their cinemas are free seating. If you are in a big group and go in late, you might not be able to be seated together. Cinemas in Malaysia FTW!

We had a light dinner in Porridge Time 丰衣粥食 before we left the mall.

Porridge
Pork Innards Porridge

When I ordered this, she did not know what those crunchy thing was. I asked her if she wants to know what it is before eating, or after eating. She chose the after option. Very well.

Fish cake
Fishcake

She was complaining about wanting to have healthier, less oily food today. LOL! Out of this pile, I had a grand total of 1 piece of fish cake. She polished everything else.

After we paid and left the restaurant, I made the big reveal.

That crunchy thing that came with the porridge just now? That’s deep fried pig’s intestines.


I’m not sure what to make of my tour guiding skills. I was mostly (I mean totally) unprepared. I hope she enjoyed her day…

 

 

 

25 Comments

  1. It sounds like you had a fun time exploring with your lady visitor. Always great fun discovering things with someone.

    I do like her approach though of when first arriving somewhere you go on a nice long walk around to see what you discover.

    I like the look of your future boat. Let me know when you get it, I’d love to drive it.

  2. So how did she react after knowing that those are deep fried pig’s intestines? Actually may I know what ethnicity is she from?

    Wah, you are so brave to let her drive. You don’t sayang your Toyota Myvi kah? Simply let stranger handle her.

    • She’s European (don’t ask any more details LOL). Actually, she did not react with disgust. Apparently, she’s already tried haggis (minced innards) and the Polish kielbasa (blood sausage) before.
      I don’t know what possessed me to agree to letting her drive, to be honest. Oh well…

  3. I have never succeeded in doing round island penang when living there for 4 years. Good to know you did it. Hope I can round island one day.

    • You don’t have to, unless you are a driving enthusiast. From Teluk Bahang to Balik Pulau is just basically 15 km of twisty windy mountain pass.

      • We attempted once from USM with me riding pillion on a motorcycle and somewhere along the stretch from Batu Maung to Balik Pulau, the road was so steep that I almost slided / dropped off the motorcycle so we turned back to USM. My face was black from all the dust. So dangerous with the famous Penang yellow bus passing us on the way! Hahaha! Luckily we did not ride off the side of the road into the valley below.

        • That stretch of narrow twisty road with a traffic light in the middle? It’s gone now, they built a bigger road to accommodate the traffic and boost Balik Pulau’s housing prices. It’s easy driving now from Batu Maung to Balik Pulau.

    • On normal days, it is rather tranquil. Although it is called a town, it is basically just a few rows of shops in the main township.
      However, on durian season, the tranquility is gone, the place will be super crowded.

  4. Wow this is a very long post!
    Semi tour guide, now only I know got such thing, hehehe!

    Anyway, Penang is a lovely place to go, I don’t mind going there often 😉

  5. Isn’t that supposed to be Straits Quay? Ah yes…it is! I see that in your photo.

    Wahhhh!!! Going to the cinema/cineplex here, everything is so old school. Queue (which is usually not necessary as not many people) to get the tickets, pick you seats from the floor plan, get the ticket, the number will be written in red pencil at the back…just like in the good old days – only the price is different, very very very different.

    My daughter went top see that movie last week – loved the songs, all the oldies.

    Ok, I’ll book you way ahead of time should I happen to hop over – you can be my guide too…but we can skip Quuensbay, no, thank you. 😀

    • P.S.
      You should see my car…and watch me go…at 40 kmph!!! Small town, no hurry….we’ll get to where we want to go before the song on the radio ends. Muahahahahaha!!!!!

      • Most of the cinemas in the US and UK are exactly like what you described, except they don’t even have numbered seats.
        I liked that movie, some say it is better than the Avengers, I disagree though, I still prefer Ironman/The Hulk more LOL!
        Bear in mind, I am for the most part, a lousy tour guide 😀

  6. Wow, very detailed post.. Purposely took leave and became her tour guide wor.. She must be somebody, heh.. I wonder if I go to meet you one day, will you take leave to meet me or not..

  7. Just like that day, my parents and my kids made me to be their tour guide in Penang. That was my first time bringing them there and explore most of the tourist places lar… But still there are still many places to visit. If is not because of them, I’ll ended in shopping area only. Hehehe.

    • Actually there’s not that many tourist places in Penang. Kek Lok Si, Penang Hill (this one optional only), Georgetown walking tour, finish. One day can cover. Go shopping is much better 😀

Comments are closed.