Georgetown – Just keep eating – Days 200-206

Family with children standing in front of historic hotel in Georgetown

Another week, another new place. This time it would be Penang for the 7 days preceding Chinese New Year. Paigey knocked it out of the park by finding a restored hotel smack dab in the historic centre. The kids enjoyed the full week in the comfortable surroundings, and the weather continued to be in our favour, with temperatures above 30 degrees and no rain. Laundry, school, history and food were all on the docket.

Getting to Penang involved a bus from Cameron Highlands which sold out soon after we purchased tickets. When we got on the bus, all the seats were occupied except for 4 randomly dispersed seats. It was funny as everyone got to ride with a stranger. Julie actually threw up on the bus, but no one noticed as she did it discreetly. In fact, she would spend the second half of her journey playing with her seatmate. She would randomly bump into this seatmate over the next few days in the city.

I rarely talk about the accommodations, but we were pleasantly surprised upon arrival. The Yeng Keng Hotel is an older building that’s been restored and doesn’t have a scrap of Ikea furniture anywhere (sorry Airbnb). It just felt great to be in a place that had an authentic air about it. The “family” room was a tight fit, but we made it work by spending time in the outdoor seating in the front courtyard, restaurant and hallway. A big win was the small pool that we would spend an hour in each night to cool down after a day of sweltering heat. I finally cracked and purchased a pool toy and we put that beach ball to good use.

Outside of our hotel, food was once again the story during our time in Georgetown. I finally even got to drink out of a bag! Yes, they fill a plastic bag with liquid (in this case, tea mixed with condensed milk) and stick a straw out the top. The plastic bag might give you pause from an environmental standpoint, but how much worse is a plastic cup? As for foodstuffs, we dined at markets, restaurants, street stalls, street vendors and hawker centres. We ate Indian, Chinese, Malay and the occasional charcuterie plate. We would look for places with enormous queues and arrive early the next day to get a seat. Paigey and I inhaled our meal at the Chinese restaurant Teksen. We were worried about how much food we ordered, but the children helped us devour the authentic Hokkien food. No french fries were consumed during our 7 days in the city!

After being in town for 5 days (and putting on 5 lbs), we opted for a tour to better understand the different cultures and religions in the city. We arranged a tour with the Penang Heritage Trust, and the next day “Uncle David” was showing us around town. With Uncle David guiding us, we visited both Hindu and Tao temples. He also explained the history of clan houses in the city, a new concept for me. The children took notes and drew pictures of the key moments of the three-hour tour. They were keen to highlight the differences between male and female dragon statues at the front of each temple. And they still talk about the history of Ganesh. It was a great tour as we gained a deeper appreciation of Colonial Georgetown.

On our last day, we played a game with the kids to test their navigational skills. We gave them a tourist map highlighting the wire sculptures scattered throughout the historic centre. The kids have come a long way reading a map and successfully navigated us to about half of the sites before we called it a day due to the heat. Isabella was keen to use the free CAT bus whenever possible to minimize the amount of walking. She must have navigated us to five bus stops! Once we were confident in her navigation abilities, we made her find our way to the laundromat as we wanted some clean clothes for the next leg.

Up next is a vacation from our vacation as we fly to Langkawi (yes, that is ridiculous as the ferry we planned on taking never reopened after covid).

Where we stayed:

By the numbers:

  • Oranges gifted to us by strangers for Chinese New Year: 5 – also candies and cookies
  • Cost for the beachball: 10 Ringgit – about $3 – beats Walmart
  • Monkeys we saw at Penang Hill: 2 – Julie positioned me between her and them even though they were 50ft up a tree
  • Number of Robots we saw: 1 – It was programmed to serve drinks in an Indian restaurant
  • Number of times we visited the Indian restaurant: 2 – See above! The restaurant had a robot that served drinks!

Ciao for now


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