What is home to you? This is a question posed to the public, and you might get tons of responses. A Danish energy company might just have the answer for you, in Mad-Lib style, insert what you think a home is for you and you will get a personalised video in return.
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.
With the rain still coming down, we headed off towards Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. This iconic bluish building was built in the 1890s, but was fully restored only in the late 90s before earning an UNESCO award in 2000. If you want to have an insight into how the rich used to live back in those days, this is the place to visit. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed and there are only tours at certain hours. The other alternative, is to stay a night in one of the rooms.
We woke up to a gloomy and cloudy weather. A slight drizzle greeted us, but we shrugged it off, this was Malaysia after all. Nothing would deter us since we were doing mostly indoor stuffs today. First up, breakfast.
Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng
When planning an itinerary, I would plot out the places that I would like to visit and then try to find good food around the area. Lucky for me, Georgetown Penang was an easy place to plan it to perfection. To start it off, we had Mee Goreng at Bangkok Lane. Parking might not be easy around here, but be patient and get yourself the parking permits. You don’t want to get a summons for illegal parking or for not paying the parking fees.
Tip: Get the parking permits early, if you plan on driving and parking around Georgetown.
Most Penangites would swear by this particular stall that sells mee goreng. Think of it as a fried version with thick ramen and covered with a special seafood (squid) sauce and you will not go wrong.
I visited this stall when I came here for holidays back in 2002 and it’s still the same owner till today. He’s an Indian but as with all Penangites, they do speak Hokkien (local Chinese dialect) perfectly. Heck, even better than I do.
You can have the spicy version if you want, but we were traveling with kids, so with had to do with the non-spicy type. The noodle is cooked perfectly, leaving it marinated with the sauce and to top it off with potatoes and fried tou-fu. A plate might not be enough but don’t worry, there’s another stall around here that will cover that up.
Located further down the road is the St George’s Church. Unfortunately for us, it was raining at that time and we could only take photos of it from the outside.
The church was built way back in 1816 and is the oldest Anglican church in South East Asia.
We headed to Fort Cornwallis which is now a paid museum, but since the weather was acting up, we decided not to pay a visit, however, we did drop by the War Memorial located next to the park, at the edge of the river.
The plaque commemorates the dead veterans of World War I and II, the Siam-Burmese Railway, the Malayan Emergency and the Re-Insurgency.
Since I have a week of free time on my hands, we decided to bring the boys to Penang to enjoy the street art and to eat some good food. As you all know, Georgetown Penang was awarded UNESCO Heritage status almost 7-8 years ago but we as locals, haven’t actually made a visit there yet but have been to a few UNESCO Heritage worldwide. Shame.
Georgetown Penang is a UNESCO Heritage Site
It took us 6 hours of driving to reach Penang and when we were crossing the Penang Bridge, it started to rain. Rain is the enemy of all travels. Luckily, the gods answered our prayers and by the time we pulled up at our first stop, the sun was shining.
Cafe Heng Huat (Lorong Selamat CKT)
If you have done your research prior to your visit here in Penang, you would have read about this famous Char Koay Teow stall with the Santa Claus Hat auntie and her fiery temper. Although many would swear that it is a tourist trap nowadays, but it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
The thing about Penang food is that there will be lovers and there will be haters. For every stall/food that you suggest, there will be people with other opinions about it, but since this was one of my old haunts when I used to travel to Penang during my University days, it was a visit that I had to make again. Just for old times’ sakes.
A word of warning, if you don’t intend to order drinks, don’t be surprised that there will be a surcharge per head. Applicable to almost all restaurants in Penang. Sad.
When I last had the same dish about 5 years ago, it was RM7.50 per plate. Now, it is RM10 per plate. For that price, this is what you will get:
It doesn’t seem like much and definitely not a stomach filler but you do get 3 very huge prawns, comparatively to the other CKT stalls dotted around this little island. It appears oily but not sticky and it still retain the charcoal smell in which the auntie uses to fry her Char Koay Teow.
I would not put it as a must try because of the price, but if ever you are in the vicinity of this shop then by all means, do give it a try. Char Koay Teow stalls are a dime a dozen in Penang, and you could say that once you have tasted one or two, you have tasted all. But hey, for authenticity sake, try it at least once at whichever stall that you prefer. Even the least famous ones.
Sungai Palas BOH Plantation
Cameron Highlands is not complete without a visit to the famous BOH Tea Plantation at Sungai Palas. To complete the tourist walk of fame. Anyhow, there is a lesser known and easily accessed Tea Plantation, if you want to give it an authentic try.
The one at Sungai Palas is located deep in the mountains and the only way to travel is on a one-way narrow strip of road. This will become grid-locked in a matter of hours. So be there early.
The only ‘wow’ factor is the overhanging eating/dining area which is sometimes closed off for special functions. If not, you will get to stand at the edge of the overhang and take photos to your heart’s content.
Breakfast is served based on a menu which will be accompanied by any of BOH’s array of teas. From the thick to the thin, to the diversely flavoured ones. You make your choice. These are accompanied by scones and cakes.
The price is a little steeper here as compared to those in town but you do get these views:
You can hike here if you want to or cycle. And you get follow their tour guide which will give you a detailed insight into the production of tea. You could also go down into the plantations and touch the tea leaves or take some home with you (secretly).
This concludes our tour of Cameron Highlands.
You might be wondering why I didn’t mention the strawberries. The month that I was visiting (May) is not their season yet although you still get to buy them from the stalls, they aren’t the sweet and juicy ones. So do your homework before traveling if you intend on harvesting your own strawberries for consumption.
Following our hot and sunny outing at the MARDI Research Centre, we decided to retire for some scones and tea at the Smokehouse. The Smokehouse is a British-era remnant, built in the same way that most British houses were built back in those days, you can’t find anything similar nowadays. It might not be the best place or the most affordable but the ambience and setting is next to nothing. Do note, that you could also stay here if you want to. They have hotel services too.
Finally, we were able to go on a trip, albeit a local one. We had a long weekend and decided to go to Cameron Highlands, 300km away from our hometown.
Cameron Highlands is famous for its tea and vegetable/fruit plantations, although unscrupulous developers and farmers are fast ruining the pristine ecological system there, and yet locals still flock there during the hot summer months.
Tip: Try to stay around Brinchang and Tanah Rata areas
There are plenty of hotels, B&Bs and inns to choose from so there is no lacking of place to stay. All you need to research is, where you want to stay at. Cameron Highlands in the name of the whole place, much like the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland.
We ushered in the Year of the Monkey with a sumptuous reunion dinner. May the new year bring you prosperity, wealth and a healthy being.