For the third day, we had to wake up early. Not because we had a lot of things to do but because we wanted to try the famous Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak. For those of you who don’t know — Nasi Lemak is a local dish in which the rice is cooked with coconut shavings, giving it an oily look and it is usually paired with eggs, salted nuts, sambal (chili paste) and anchovies. To have a fuller experience, you can also order the curry chicken or beef or any other meaty add-ons that will be offered to you on top of your nasi lemak.
A word of warning, nasi lemak is an unhealthy food to start the day off with.
This famous roadside stall (5.380154, 100.274847) sells out pretty quickly if you are not there early. When I was queuing up for the food, people were coming and ordering 5-10 packets each of this delicious breakfast. A word of warning though, this is an exceptionally unhealthy food. You need the GPS coordinates to find the shop, although I think they do have a permanent shop that sells the same thing all day long, but this roadside is the authentic version.
And to make the whole sojourn better, we went to another stall to get a really long fried dough, called You Tiao. You need to see it to believe it! It is at least the length of your forearm. Two of these and you have reached your trans fat quota for the week!
These were only half the battle as we made our way to the foot of Penang Hill. We were there early and the funicular tram ride was not opened yet. Nothing to fret about, there is a newly built storied parking lot with stalls, so we could sit in the shade and enjoy our freshly cooked breakfast, albeit an unhealthy one.
Be at the Penang Hill early! And do check their website as the service is prone to suffer from breakdowns and maintenance works.
It is advisable to be at the Penang Hill early before the tour buses arrive as the tram is limited in its sitting space. A tour bus or two and it would have filled the tram up. And the service is numbingly slow.
Be aware that they are certain times in the year when the tram service is closed for maintenance works. For the adventurous type, you can hike or even drive up the hill. For the half adventurous type, you can stop halfway and get off for a short hike.
Penang Hill is basically a place to escape from the heat of the city below, although there isn’t any difference nowadays. Besides a few museums at the top, there is nothing much a family with small children could do. But if you have some teenagers, I suggest that you go for a short walk around the area and admire the residential buildings built during the Colonial Era.
That being said, we spend about an hour there before heading to our next destination before the sun becomes unbearable.
Kek Lok Si Temple
Located near to the Penang Hill is another famous must-see sight — Kek Lok Si Temple. Just a half hour drive, and you could see it while driving from Penang Hill towards the direction of Ayer Hitam. Also located on a hill top, this Buddhist temple courted a lot of controversies in a Muslim-dominated country but it still held strong.
The temple is divided into two parts, the old one which is located halfway on the hill, is where the original temple lies and where the great prayer hall is. Further up, in which you could choose to drive or take a smaller funicular tram, lies the newer portion of the temple including an under-construction statue of the Goddess of Mercy — Kuan Yin.
Since the statue is still under-construction, you could purchase roof tiles of various denominations and sizes, let the monk write your name on it so that it could be placed as one of the roof pieces of the structure that is housing the Goddess of Mercy.
Unless you want to experience a really jam-packed temple, do not come on Buddhist celebration days, such as Wesak Day.
(to be continued)