Monday, April 20, 2009

Penang Trip - Day 1

I travelled north to Penang 2 weeks ago. It was a 4 days 3 nights trip. All of us decided to stay in this small and cosy budget hotel on the edge of George Town, the island's only large city.

I was shocked by the hallway after i checked-in the Hotel... C.R.E.E.P.Y...

The island of Penang is one of the strongholds of Malaysia's ethnic Chinese community in Malaysia, which account for some 1/3 of the total residents, and is famous for its lip-smacking hawker food.

Wai Kee Char Siew @ Chulia Street

My friend and i arrived in Penang in the afternoon and had our lunch at Wai Kee Char Siew Restaurant.

This old kopitiam is located below Sky Hotel, near Fujifilm building. It was said to be one of the best Char Siew & Siew Bak (Siew Yuk) rice in Penang and only opened for lunch (11.30am-2.30pm).

We were there during lunch hour and it was very packed. Luckily we were able to get a table. We can see that the Char Siew and Siew Bak sold out very fast.

Although they also sell chicken rice, the rice served is normal white rice, not the typical chicken rice. The skin of the Siew Bak is slightly burnt (some even heavily burnt) and the slices is thinly cut (way too thin actually).

The Siew Bak were just average and quite salty but the cress soup was very nice. The Chicken Rice with Siew Bak for 2 pax including soup cost us RM12. Quite expensive if you ask me, considering the small portion.

The only thing that bothers me is that there is a big furry dog walking in and out and around the old kopitiam. Not sure how much the health dept likes that, but it's quite scary and not hygienic to me.

After lunch, my friend and i proceeded to explore George Town by foot. We decided to walk along Chulia Street from the start till the end. We managed to walk all the way to Pengkalan Weld, near the Clan Jetties (traditional Chinese waterfront settlement).

Along the way, we came across Sri Maha Mariamman Temple (Hindu Temple), Kapitan Keling Mosque (Tamil Muslim Mosque), Han Jiang Ancestral Temple (Chinese Temple) and Nagore Shrine (Tamil Muslim Shrine). The places of worship for Malay, Chinese and Indian were actually situated on the same street!

Apart from that, we also came across Goddess of Mercy Temple (Chinese Temple), St. George's Church (Anglican Church), Penang Museum (the State museum), Church of the Assumption (Catholic Church) and Supreme Court Building (easily recognisable Court Building architecture).

Random Snapshots...

Supreme Court Building (Built in 1905).

St. George's Church (Anglican Church built in 1818).

Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower (completed in 1902).

Tian Hou Temple (Chinese Temple built in 1895).

Campbell Street Market (Bustling aged-old-but-still-operating wet market in the mornings).

Walking along Chulia Street was a nightmare. I have to look to the left (to avoid being hit by motorcycle) and right (to avoid being hit by motorcar), up (to avoid hitting onto old fuse box hanging on the wall of those narrow kaki lima + to avoid water from air-cond compressor dropped onto my head) and down (to avoid stepping onto dog shit or rubbish).

I just don't understand how come those people can put their goods ON the kaki lima (antiques, rattan furniture, light metal, groceries etc). I also don't understand how come people can park their motorcycle ON the kaki lima (as if there's a parking lot on the kaki lima). I also don't understand how come a tiny room made of concrete can be built ON the kaki lima (for your info, it's a money changer "counter").

We were really having difficulty walking along the kaki lima because people tend to block the kaki lima in front of their shop with goods, motorcycle, iron gate or concrete wall. This is absurd! That is why we were forced to walk along the narrow street and constantly on the lookout.

Chulia Street in Georgetown is definitely not a safe place to walk around. It's simply energy-consuming and strenuous!

Ho Ping @ Kampung Malabar

The rest of our teammate arrived in Penang in the evening. All of us had our dinner at this old restaurant which is located at the junction of Kampung Malabar (also known as Japanese Street) and Penang Road.

Ho Ping Restaurant was full of people when we were there. We were so fortunate to get a table as we have to secure 5 seats for all of us. We ordered Char Hor Fun and Yee Fu Mee.

For the Char Hor Fun, hor fun (flat rice noodles cut in smaller strips) are fried together over high heat first, then served with gravy which is cooked in pork or fish meat, pig's liver, Char Siew, prawns, squids, vegetables and thicken with tapioca flour.

For the Yee Fu Mee, the same ingredients is used, except that it is substituted with deep-fried yee mee (egg noodles) instead of hor fun.

Both the Char Hor Fun and Yee Fu Mee were just average. They were RM4.00 respectively.

There is a myth about Penang Char Hor Fun: you can win your girlfriend's heart with this delicacy. But i seriously doubt whether the one that i had is able do the same. Maybe this is not the best place to have those dish. We went to this shop because all of us were very tired and this shop seems to be the nearest to our Hotel.

We returned to the Hotel right after the dinner. Need to take a good rest and prepare ourselves for Day 2.

[Disclaimer: The opinion expressed here are based entirely on personal taste buds, view and preference and may vary from others.]

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