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12 March 2014

Panic in Penang!

Three days of our two week trip to Singapore was spent in Penang, Malaysia. Keeping true to my "someone else will surely know what to do on this holiday" mentality, I did zero research on what to expect in Penang. Luckily, my husband is an expert researcher and came up with some of the top things to do in Penang. It was a perfect amount of sightseeing at a leisurly pace. And, if you get a chance to shop in Malaysia, then I strongly suggest you do, as the prices are so unbelievably cheap! 

By the waterfront.

The City Hall being renovated.

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion

This was a really unexpected surprise. The mansion belonged to a Peranakan family in Penang and it is now a museum that showcases what a wealthy family would have owned and the kind of life style they would have lived. It is full of interesting furniture, adorned with mother of pearl and stones and beautiful, beautiful designs. This intertwined with the colloquial English influences, such as the delicate tea sets made it a very interesting afternoon. There were vast displays of glassware, in every colour and translucency, shoes, clothes and artifacts.

Part of the mansion housed "some" of the jewellery that the women used to wear and o.m.g. the extent of the collection was breathtaking. We asked one of the tour guides there to give us a small tour around the jewellery section and I always find it interesting to hear about different cultures and lives gone by, so it was worth having him give us a tour (his name was "Happy" so if you're ever in Penang and happen to visit the Mansion, do ask him to give you a tour =]).

By the way, the term peranakan is used for the descendants of the Chinese immigrants to Malaysia and the surrounding areas, such as Singapore (15th - 17th century). They were normally wealthier than the locals but they did intermarry with them. 

Gorgeous glassware.

The outside temple.

A bridal suite.

The upstairs hall.

Gold anklets.

Intricate costumes.

Carrie Bradshaw would be jealous.

Kek Lok Se Temple

I am pretty lucky because the first Buddhist temple I ever visited just happened to be the largest Buddhist temple in all of South East Asia. The Kek Lok Se temple is spectacular, though somewhat tarnished by the number of commercial shops within the temple selling little nick-knacks and playing loud music. Having said that, it was still amazing visiting the many shrines within the temple and seeing the statue of Kuan Yin, which is absolutely gigantic (though you wouldn't tell from the photos I have below).

Bronze statue of Kuan Yin.

The Pagoda.

A laughing Buddha.


Inside one of the many temples.

Penang Hill

This is really where the panic occurred. Don't let anyone fool you into underestimating the "tram" on Penang "hill". Before our trip to Penang, some of Louis' family were telling us that we really need to visit Penang Hill. So off we headed to the Hill after visiting the Kek Lok Se temple. We bought our tickets and queued up with what felt like hundreds of people, waiting for the tram to arrive. The tram itself can best be described as one of the cars of a modern day train. It had seats and hand rails. (I kid you not, I am having heart palpitations as I try to describe this ride) So in we all crammed, and I was thinking, can this take it? (I've done some reading since going on the fenuculiar, apparently it can ride up to 100 people. 100.)

So off we go. And I'm there calming myself saying, it's nice and slow. Soon enough, we sped up. And we continued gaining speed. And it was climbing this monster of a hill. And we kept climbing. And you look down and it's just steep... During our journey up this mountain, the tram decided to take a couple of breaks...which is fine if it wasn't rocking back and forth *blink*. And I wish I was exaggerating, I really wish I was, but the ascent took, like, forever. When we got off, I checked how high we'd climbed - 712 meters. That's pretty high basically.

It's a shame it was a misty day, as on a clear day you would be able to see the mainland and the bridge connecting Penang to it. But, it's beautiful being surrounded by the mysterious Malayan hills and realise how small you are compared to it all.

Cable Car Penang Hill
Looking down...
View from the top.
The Spice Garden

Although the Spice Garden is not that bad, I almost forgot all about it...I think because something disagreed with the others' stomachs and so we were just ticking boxes until we decided it was time to bus it back to Penang city.

So that's how we spent three days in Penang. There is just so much more of South East Asia to explore, it's almost like spending 2 weeks there makes no mark on the canvas of the region at all!

Pond in Spice Garden.

Yallah next holiday hurry up!


*Thank you to Ms E O'Dea for some of the wonderful photos :)

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