We planned to go outside for a quick retreat with nature on our second day in Penang so thank goodness, the Monkey was finally feeling better. Or at least, it was a good thing she was well enough to go outdoors, further and longer and we didn’t have to change or cancel our plans.
[Penang | Malaysia March 2019]
22 March 2019
CHEONG FATT TZE – THE BLUE MANSION AND THE STREETS & FOOD OF PENANG
Knowing that we will never make it for sunrise especially since the Monkey will need more rest, we took our time and made our way to Penang Hill Lower Station with a comfortable taxi ride from our hotel.
It was a Friday morning during our visit and, we were surprised to see a long line waiting to board the funicular when we arrived at the lower station. So, we quickly decided that we will pay extra to get Fast Lane tickets to skip the snaking line even though the funicular runs on a regular 15 minutes intervals to take visitors to the top of Penang Hill.
After arriving at the top, we wasted no time and went on our way around to see Penang Hill. We started off with the skywalks and viewing decks near the funicular station before we took on one of the hiking trails. There is also a platform where you can leave love locks with your significant other or get a view of Georgetown and the sea beyond.
Anyway, there are multiple trails at Penang Hill to take you around to see Mother Nature in its element. But, it seemed like a maze for some reason even though I am pretty good with my directions, and we kept finding ourselves lost or meeting dead ends or the trail breaking into a construction site regardless of how we followed the map.
Whatever it is, we had fun spotting flora and fauna on the trails while getting lost and feeding mosquitoes or seeing a giant snail as big as our hands!
The walk took us long enough, it was lunchtime already when we were done. And despite being up in the hills, we were spoilt with choices because there are Cliff Cafe (Astaka Bukit Bendera), a three-storey food court and many other bars and cafes offering a wide variety of options.
We picked David Brown eventually for its quaint and relaxing ambience as the restaurant is tucked away on top of Penang Hill in a long-forgotten garden, Strawberry Hill.
By the way, here’s a video of the 20 seconds funicular ride from the top of Penang Hill when we were leaving. Excited, ain’t it!
Hehe… Just kidding! We found ourselves a front seat in the tram when we were leaving Penang Hill so, we had the chance to take this time-lapse video of the 5-minutes slow and scenic ride back down to the lower station.
KEK LOK SI TEMPLE 極樂寺
Located on a hilltop at Air Itam, near Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple is the largest Buddhist Temple and the jewel in the crown of heritage temples in Malaysia.
It is so big, we literally spent most of our afternoon in the temple complex that comprises of three main zones. First of all, you will arrive at the hill entrance where the main hall and Pagoda of Rama VI are located. And as you go along towards the middle section, you will find the monasteries and prayer halls, gardens and more pagodas before arriving at the hilltop where a ginormous image of the Goddess of Mercy is located.
We started off with offering our prayers at the spacious Main Hill upon arriving and were in awe with all the colours and details inside out. There is also a wishing tree inside where we placed a wishing ribbon at a fair RM1.00 each. The different coloured tags signify different wishes like health and prosperity to peace and harmony or good progress academically or in one’s career.
The eye-catching structure in every photo of the Kek Lok Si Temple and also a must-see when you visit the temple complex combines a Chinese octagonal base with a middle tier of Thai design and a Burmese crown. There are seven storeys in all, with the stairway getting narrower and smaller as you go higher, and a different Buddha image on each floor. It also offers a superb view of the temple and cooling wind from the hills.
The construction of the Pagoda started in 1913 and completed in 1927 and, it was named Pagoda of Rama VI because King Rama VI of Thailand donated a large Buddha image and laid the foundation for the Pagoda.
Just a handful of shots from the rest of the halls, pagodas and gardens in the middle section as we follow the signs that lead us to the Goddess of Mercy. Or rather, the signs led us to a large souvenir store and a ticketing booth where you can buy a ticket to ride on the inclined elevator to get you to the hilltop.
I am pretty sure there is a long stair or route somewhere to take you to the hilltop but, we cannot afford to walk further after spending the morning on Penang Hill and were thankful for the elevator. Hahaha…
Alas, we are finally in front of the 99 feet tall Goddess of Mercy that sits inside a 200 feet tall three-tiered pavilion! As tall and magnificent the image is, the height of the overall structure is controlled so that it does not cast a shadow over the Penang State Mosque.
Anyway, some maintenance or repair works were happening during our visit, and the pavilion was out of bounds. So, we made a donation and left after a brief stop so that we can get a nice cold shower back at the hotel or else we will be burnt under the merciless afternoon sun.
GURNEY DRIVE HAWKER CENTRE
We managed to squeeze in a massage at Penaga Spa (located within Hotel Penaga) before we made our way to Gurney Drive Hawker Centre for dinner. We were famished when we got there but, no surprise we left after only one oyster omelette and one char kway teow because the food was expensive and hawkers were absolutely unfriendly.
It was such a horrible experience that we shifted to Gurney Plaza, the shopping mall right next to the hawker centre for some bubble tea to cheer ourselves up again. And on our way back to our hotel, the taxi uncle explained that business flourished when Gurney Drive Hawker Centre became a popular tourist destination in Penang. The stall vendors have already made their fortune and have no hoots about customer service anymore.
I vote to take this off your itinerary or head there with an open heart when in Penang. 😊
More posts from Penang | Malaysia March 2019 travelogue series:
- Chulia Street Night Hawker Stalls and Areca Hotel Penang | Penang, Malaysia
- Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion and the Streets & Food of Penang | Penang, Malaysia
- Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si and Gurney Drive Hawker Centre | Penang, Malaysia
- Tai Tong Restaurant, Sunday Market at Hin Bus Depot and Chulia Street Night Hawker Stalls | Penang, Malaysia (Coming soon~)
- Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Co and Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi | Penang, Malaysia (Coming soon~