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Island Plaza (Luxfort 118) -> Penang Hill -> Kek Lok Si temple -> Waterdrop Teahouse (滴水坊) -> Kuan Yin Temple -> Chew Jetty -> Penang Bridge -> Burmese / Thai Temple -> Lim Wah Thai Local products store -> Gurney Hawker and Plaza

Greeted by the semi sunrise at 7.30am in the morning. What a perfect start to the day!

surroundings of our accomodation
We could see many working adults leaving their houses (those one storey houses as seen in the picture above) as early as 6am. They could be heading out for breakfast before going to work. We will be exploring the nearby breakfast place on Day 3.

My family has the practice of having vegetarian food on the day we go to temples. As such, we had the Ciabatta bread and Gingerbread man for breakfast before commencing our day trip with our tour guide cum driver of the day - Norman!

We agreed to meet @ 9am at our lobby drop off point. When we came down at 9am, he was already there waiting for us. Thumbs up for his punctuality!

We have discussed with him on the places we want to visit the day before when he drove us to Luxfort 118 from airport. We would like our day trip to comprise of:

- Penang Hill
- Kek Lok Si Temple
- Di Shui Fang ( Lunch eating place )
- Cross over to butterworth
- street arts in Georgetown
- Clan jetty
- burmese/thai temples in Georgetown
- Kuan Yin Temple in Georgetown
- and drop us off at the end of the day at Gurney

We left the route planning to him. Our original pre-trip plan was to take the rapid Penang bus to navigate to the places mentioned above. However we took into consideration of the waiting time, journey time of the bus and the amount of time we are available, we thought we might not be able to cover all places in one day. And just nice, Norman casually mentioned if we are interested on having him as our driver cum tour guide for day 2. Thus we agreed. His company charged us RM$300 (SGD $118.11) for 8 hours of tour, excluding any toll fee. It should be $320 instead but we managed to bargain with him to less $20, this comes to an average of RM $37.5 ( SGD $14.76/hour). Our lesson learnt here is to make these bookings earlier, just like what we did in Taiwan. Previously on the internet we saw many drivers offering at a price of RM$25/hour (SGD $9.84/hour). If we had booked earlier online, like at least 1 wk before, we could have saved around RM100 (SGD $ 39.37)!

So, Pre-trip planning is VERY important for F&E trips!

Off we go on his passenger van to our first destination - Penang Hill.

Our half day route
Basically as seen on the google map, A is where we stay - Luxfort 118, and we will be going down to B (Penang hill) followed by Kek Lok Si temple at C and we will go to D in georgetown for our lunch. D may seem a little out of place but it is near where we are going in the latter part of the day. Georgetown is quite small so going anywhere within georgetown is quite convenient.

Penang Hill Entrance

We reached penang hill in about 20 minutes time. Despite being just 9+am, there's a lot of people queuing for the furnicular tram already - mostly foreigners.

ticket pricing @ Penang hill
Prior to the trip, we were aware that there's price discrimination for Malaysians and foreigners. Malayians with a 'mykad' will be able to get the tram tickets at a very low price. However for us foreigners, we will be paying more than thrice of their normal fare. Norman advised us to tell the counter that we want family package ( 2 adults 2 children) though we do not look like children, but adults. We tried that tactic but failed. However hope is not lost, they have discount for foreign students too at half price! You just got to show them a valid student id card and it will suffice.

We waited for around 15 minutes before we are able to board the tram. Its considered fast, and the tram comes at a frequency of 15 minutes.

many people!

Inside the tram
There's limited seats inside the tram but its fully air-conditioned and the journey throughout was smooth. The whole ride took around 4-5mins only. As compared to the past before they invest in better system, it took 30 mins.

Along the ride
Overall the tram ride, which is considered one of the highlight of penang hill attraction is quite disappointing considering the price paid. The whole journey is pretty fast and everything just pass by in a whiz. You see blurs of brown (rocks) and green (grasses/trees). Dont expect to see great scenary during the ride.

However, I must say the scenary at the penang hill after you alight from the tram isn't too bad.

birds eye view of penang
Clear view of the long penang bridge
mountain in view too

Despite being a weekday morning, theres still many people embracing nature. The air at the top is quite refreshing too!

A lot of tourists took photo with the huge billboard - Bukit Bendera, to mark their presence at the penang hill.
There is also a small cafeteria "David Brown".

If you were to walk further by following the path you will come to a parade square where there's performances going on. The paid admission - Owl Museum is there too.

animal show going on

kachang putih ~
They do offer buggy rides to visitors who wish to visit the other attractions at penang hill which include Monkeycup ( fruit farm), aviary ginger garden.. However they will only start the ride when theres at least 6 people. The whole ride will last around 1/2-1 hour.

Buggy ride
path towards Belluvue
We took the path up to visit the only hotel at Penang Hill - Bellevue. The hotel rates per night is very costly! But it does offer free buggy rides down penang hill to its hotel guests. And whats more, the most rewarding part of staying at penang hill should be its tranquility and magnificent view at night.
spotted the police station along the way
front entrance of the hotel

We did not stay long as there's nothing much else to do at Penang hill and keeping in mind we have a whole day of activities to carry out, we left at around 10.25am.

When we were leaving, we saw some mascot/cute character being led around. People approached it for pictures too!

some mascot/characters walking around
The tram was already there, however it did not move off as its kinda empty. It departed 5 minutes later.

journey back - tracks

The tracks are normally at close proximity to the rocks and walls.

Overall, we find Penang Hill is worth going for just once. The ticket pricing for foreigners is too costly!

When we are at the base (carpark) of Penang Hill, Norman was already there waiting for us. We then set off to our next destination - Kek Lok Si Temple which is very near to Penang Hill. Prior to this trip, we researched on various blogs and found out that its actually walking distance from penang Hill to Kek Lok Si Temple! But of course, you must be very familiar with the directions there!
Kek Lok Si is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, and arguably one of the most famous in Penang. Located in Air Itam, the hills in that area (called “He San” or Crane Hill) have traditionally been regarded as geomantically significant, having all the right “feng shui” for a temple. In fact, they are extremely popular as a retreat for monks and Taoists striving for immortality.

Norman offered to drive us up to the middle portion where the 30.2m bronze statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy is situated at. This is one of the popular highlight of Kek Lok Si Temple!

We reached Kek Lok Si Temple at around 10.50am.

carpark where Norman drop us off
He will wait for us at the ground level carpark after we took the incline lift down.

the impressive magnificent bronze statue of Goddess of Mercy standing at 30.2m!

Theres another statue of kuan yin to the left of the bronze statue. And this half bodied statue of Kuan yin was said to be the remains of a fire incident.

There's a pavillion surrounded by fish pond. The abundance of fish and lotus flower makes the whole place looks lively! Visitors will be able to buy fish food for the koi fishes.

We made our offerings to a few altars in that area before we proceed to take the incline lift down. There's directions around that guide you to the boarding area.

paper ticket!
Looks like the pricing of the incline lift has increased. We saw on the web previously and it is supposed to be priced at RM2. However at the time when we purchase, its RM2.50/pax for 1 way. But oh well, the cash will be put to good use - for the temple development and maintenance, so you may consider that as doing a good deed too!

This incline lift is really like a normal lift, where you operate it yourself by pressing the buttons at the side of the lift.

buttons in the lift
There wasnt anyone else waiting for the lift when we were there so it is just ferrying my family down hill.
off we go down!
It is definitely slower than the tram at Penang hill but the travelling distance is pretty short, do not expect more than 2 minutes.

sights along the way - temple buildings
There are more altars at the base and we proceed to give them our offerings again. The weather was pretty hot that day. We are very lucky that it wasn't a rainy weather as most of it ( like travelling from one place to another in Kek Lok Si) is outdoor.

temples within Kek Lok Si

The best time to visit Kek Lok Si is during the Chinese New Year celebrations, when the temple is adorned with thousands of bright hanging lanterns. At other times, there is still much to see, with prayer halls, pagodas, bell towers and a tortoise pond topping the list.

base of the hill - towards carpark
We spent lightly more than 1hr in Kek Lok Si Temple. When we leave the place, it was 12pm, just nice for lunch. We did not have our lunch there as we decided to try out this vegetarian place called " 滴水坊". We tried it before at its branch in Taiwan during our trip last year and we really like their food. We weren't very sure of the exact location however thankfully Norman know of the place.

Along the way, we spotted the Penang City-Hop on(CAT) bus. It is a free shuttle bus that travels around Georgetown and is Free of Charge. They are served by Raapid Penang buses. Do note, this is our first and last time seeing it. Looks like there's not a lot  of CAT buses roaming along the road!

We experienced a mild traffic jam ( yes, you see many many many cars in Penang. Since there's no COE, buying a car in malaysia is considered more affordable than in Singapore). As such we reached the place in slightly more than half hour time.


Prosperity Bao
We ordered the prosperity pau as a side dish since this is their most famous dish. And yes, it did not disappoint us, rather it surpasses our expectation. The heavenly taste of the pau is mostly due to the fact that the pau is made specially by the volunteers at 滴水坊. Do you know that the helpers ( waiter/waitresses) at the restaurant are volunteers? 滴水坊( Waterdrop Teahouse ) is the creation of Venerable Master Hsing Yun.

There is free wifi in house!
Lotus flower tea - unique!
Prosperity Soup noodle ( 吉祥面)RM 8
It is a little bland but good for people who is taking a break from oily food.

Veg Mince Mee (RM 8)
The Veg mince mee is a little spicy. It is quite flavourful once you mix all the ingredients well and evenly!

Bak Kut Teh rice (RM 10.80)
The bak kut teh rice is one of their special dish too! We invited Norman to have his lunch with us there and he ordered bak kut teh rice!

Hor Fun with Gravy (RM 8)
Hor fun with gravy was good!Be sure to catch it if you are there on a Thursday!

We stayed there for around 45mins before we left at 1.25pm. Norman arranged for us to head to the Kuan Yin Temple first. It is just a 5 minutes drive away from Waterdrop Teahouse. It could have been faster if not for the traffic jam :(

Kuan Yin Temple
We alighted and made our offerings there.
The Kuan Yin Temple was built in the 1800s by early Chinese settlers of the Hokkien and Cantonese communities. The temple was originally named Kong Hock Keong temple (Cantonese-Hokkien Temple) and was once used not only for religious but also for social functions within the Chinese community. The Goddess of Mercy Temple, or Kuan Yin Temple, is the first temple ever built in Georgetown, Penang, by Chinese settlers.
It was known that this temple survived the bombings during the Japanese Invasion in World War II. INCREDIBLE. The temple isn't very well maintained and its kinda run down.

street sights near the temple
The Kuan Yin Temple is located at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (previously known as Pitts street) and its near a mosque.

mosque near the temple
After that Norman drove us around to look at the street murals. One of the reasons why we hired a driver is because we aren't exactly sure where the street murals are located at since they are all over georgetown.

old shophouses in Georgetown
The first street art that we saw is the one where it depicts a young boy reaching for a wall outlet while standing on a chair. 

a little boy following the action depicted by the street art
Following up, we went to visit the most famous street art in Penang - 2 children on a bicycle.

famous street art in Penang - 2 kids on a bicycle
Honestly, we dont quite get why this street art is so famous. We waited for awhile before we managed to get a clear pic of it, since there were a lot of tourists posing with it. The bicycle is not a painting but a real bicycle fixed to the wall.

We saw another street art - ginger cat painting!

huge ginger cat
And its kittens...

small cats beside that huge ginger cat painting
but the kittens are not painting, its some figurines added on!

All street arts are just a short drive away, they are actually within walking distance of like ( 5-10minutes) away from each other. Our last street art is a grey cat painting.

taken from the car
Next up, we are headed to the clan jetty! The Chew Jetty is the most famous one out of all the other jetties. There are many clan jetties: Lim, Chew, Tan and Yeoh jetties are the oldest and the Koay, Lee and Mixed Surname jetties were built afterward. Along the way we passed by Lim Jetty but Norman alighted us at Chew Jetty. Lim Jetty is just before Chew Jetty but they are not both linked to each other. As we thought we might not have sufficient time, thus we did not ask him to drive us back to Lim Jetty.

Chew Jetty

Chew Jetty UNESCO World Heritage site
Chew Jetty Kongsi - main entrance
The Chew Jetty is actually a whole settlement of wooden houses built on silts. Families with the surname " chew " stay at the area in the past. 


It has been a little more commercialise with the increasing number of tourists visiting the place. There are shops selling souvenir items and they provide rental of bicycles too. However it still house the residential area of a few. So be sure to exercise caution - like avoid talking too loudly, when you are there.

shop houses
narrow walking space
living area
TV/movie scene
houses on stilts
Looks like they lead a very relaxing life with 2 arm chairs at the extended platform overlooking the sea...
And at the end is the jetty overlooking the sea...

The yellow ship is believed to be the ferry between butterworth and penang mainland
While we were there, we saw a few traders unloading goods from their sampan boats to the platform.

dried fish left out to dry

We took a few photos and left since there's nothing much to do at Chew Jetty other than peeping into the lives of the early migrants to Penang that live on houses built on stilts.

We left at around 2.15pm and we head to the penang bridge first as we are afraid that there will be heavy traffic if we go there in the evening when its the rush hour. We decided to cross the 13.5km bridge to see whats on the other island before making a u-turn back to mainland Penang. The Penang bridge is the second longest bridge in Malaysia and is the 5th longest in SEA.

view on the penang bridge

the other island - houses many factories
We aren't exactly sure if that island is called Butterworth, but they should be near. It took about 8 minutes to drive from one end of the bridge to the other. The island is like Singapore's Tua/jurong island where it houses the industrial estates

Petronas Oil Refinery
many telcomm overhead wires
Norman drove us around the place for awhile before we head back to mainland Penang. Our original plan before we decided to hire Norman, was to take the ferry to butterworth since it is very cheap too. We also wanted to take the ferry to the island and when we return to mainland penang, we will take Norman's car. However he said that the ferry place and the entrance of the bridge is located at different place. Thus it will be very inconvenient and time consuming to do so. 

As such he drove us there and back to mainland Penang. They do not charge toll for the 'to' journey but charged RM 12 toll fee for the return trip.

toll fee receipt
Our day tour fee does not include toll charges, as such we need to pay for this toll fee. 

Overall we feel a one time visit to Penang bridge is sufficient. It would be even better if you are able to take the ferry there instead. And be sure not to crash with their peak traffic periods ( morning and evening).
By the time we return to Mainland Penang, its already around 3.15pm. Our whole day tour is supposed to finish at 5pm. We head to the two burmese temples in Georgetown which are just opposite each other then we will visit a souvenir (dry products) store recommended by Norman before ending the day tour at Gurney.

Thai Buddhist Temple
Burma Road, Georgetown Penang, Malaysia
This temple is a Thai temple and it is well known due to the gold plated reclining Buddha that is as long as 33meters. This made it one of the largest available in the whole wide world. The temple was built in the year of 1845 on the five acres land given by Queen Victoria to the Thai's community 

carpark area of the temple
33m reclining buddha statue
tourists offering prayers and there's maintenance work going on at where the buddha is
Directly opposite the Thai buddhist temple is a burmese temple, that is also very famous in Penang. They are both separated by a road only.

Entrance of  Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple
   Being one of the earliest and the only Burmese Temple in Malaysia and featuring the historical pagoda, the temple's well and Sima hall, the temple was designated in 1988 as one of the state's historical sites to be preserved as a tourist attraction.
Main buddha statue in the hall

surroundings of the temple
The temple is always managed by a Chief Monk to facilitate and complement the practice of Buddhism, the temple has a main shrine hall, a sima hall, a dining hall, monk's quarters, preceptee's lodge, Sunday school, a library and a lecture hall. The first Chief Monk of the temple was Venerable U. Nandamala

We saw a convenience store in the temple and as the weather was sweltering hot, we bought 'ais krim ' ! We bought the very classic cornetto and cup ice cream ( la cremeria ). 

cup ice cream. looks classy
Each ice cream ( cornetto/cup ice cream) cost less than SGD 2. Around SGD $1.5 each. which is definitely cheaper than having it in SG!

We left at around 4.20pm and Norman was waiting for us at the carpark. He drove us to the souvenir ( local dry products store ) - Lim Wah Thai. Along the way, we passed by Pulau Tikus Night Market. Lim Wah Thai Native products company is located near Gurney.

 Image courtesy of Lim Wah Thai Local food Products SDN BHD
We thought that it would be just another local food products store that tour guides normally bring tourists too where prices are hiked up so as to cover the commission cost. However surprisingly the price are still reasonable and the food is good. 

We saw a tour bus parked outside. I guess the people in the store at the moment are from that tour group. 

They provide free sampling for their tambun ( mini Tau Sar Piah ). We find it not bad and we bought two boxes.
Original flavour - RM 9 ( after 5% disc) - 28 pieces/box
Yes. It is a little 'chao tar'. We weren't aware of that until when we wanted to consume it. We can feel that its freshly baked since the box still feel a little warm when we get it. There's no preservatives as such it last for only 3weeks.

Another Tau Sar Pheah ( Tambun) that we bought is the assorted flavour.
Assorted flavours - 16 pieces @ RM 7.80 ( after 5% disc )
The assorted flavours are: original, pandan, coffee, sambal shrimp. We prefer the pandan flavour out of all the other flavours. Overall, we believed we can get better Tau Sar Pheah in Georgetown. However if you are rushing for time, I guess a stop by Lim Wah Tai Dry products store will be good enough to get all the famous local products of Penang. 

We were given a free chinese calendar too.
Free chinese calendar
Receipt @ Lim Wah Thai
Norman was very hospitable and he offered to drive us back to Island Plaza (Luxfort 118) to put down our goods before dropping us at Gurney. It is only then, we realised Gurney and Island plaza is very near to each other.

Norman has been very hospitable and we believed he can be a very successful tour guide after he successfully passed his tour guide exams. It would be better if his fees can be cheaper since there are plentiful of other cheaper alternatives that charge at RM 25/hour instead of his at RM40/hour.

Norman's Namecard
So he drop us off at Gurney as per our request. We thank him for his day tour. 

We wanted to have dinner at the Gurney Hawker ( da pai dang ) which is near Gurney Plaza. I guess we were a little early and most stalls are still preparing the dishes. It was 5.15pm then. We decided to just have dinner at that time since we read reviews before and people often say the place is very very packed at around 6+ to 7pm. 

overlooking the sea 
Gurney Hawker
empty seats

There are many penang delicacies on sale and it is often hard to know which are the better ones. Do note that "lor bak" in Penang is Ngoh Hiang, not Braised pork.

It is so called our first meal trying Penang famous local delicacies, and we ordered a few plates to try. We practically ordered from those stores that are open.

sugar cane drink
Have absolutely no idea, why is the sugar cane in this colour and not green as per what we see in Singapore.

RM 5
This might be what they called " Monkey see, monkey do". Honestly, we were very disappointed by the taste of the Char Kway Teow. It is very salty and there's no 'fragrant' in the dish. It seems like they just cook for the sake of cooking. There's other stores that sell Char Kway Teow however we chose this stall because there seem to be quite a few tourists queuing for it, and there's always never ending plates of Char Kway Teow to cook. 

Char Kway Teow Stall
I guess people are attracted to it, because its stall name is clearly evident even from far. Good Marketing skills heh! The picture shows big prawns, but all we get are small frozen prawns. We believed there are other better Char Kway Teows out there in Penang given the price.

We ordered Wanton Mee too from a random store. Both the fried and cooked wanton are good.

And.. Whats penang without Asam Laksa!

Assam Laksa
Laksa in Penang is different from that in Singapore. Their's is a little more sour and for people that already dislike the fishy smell from sardines alike, may not like Penang Laksa. For this particular asam laksa that we got, they used tengirri fish for the soup base. It is very flavourful though we suspect they must have not scrimp on MSG to get that flavourful taste.Pineapple chunks added too, to give the sour taste. A must try for the experience!

We left Gurney Hawker at around 5.45pm and head to Gurney Plaza.

Gurney Plaza
Haha, spot the familiar logo of "capitamall Asia" in the picture above! We were shocked when we realised Queensbay mall (Penang) is also under Capitamall. We were even shocked when more and more major malls in Bukit Bintang (KL) are also under Capitamall Trust/Asia when we visit KL on Day 4 of our trip.

interior of Gurney plaza
Gurney plaza is known to be a popular place for tourists especially Singaporeans. Not too sure whats the attractive feature in there. After wandering through the 6 storeys high shopping area, we come to the conclusion that basically whats in Gurney Plaza, we have it over in Singapore's shopping malls too. Doesn't seem to be very unique. Prices wise they might be a little more competitive than Singapore's. But just by a little.

There is a cinema (Golden Screen Cinemas) at Gurney Plaza however we couldn't find it. It is supposedly at level 7 of the mall, but despite taking the elevator and escalator we always end up at the carpark area. The carpark shares the same level as the cinema. We gave up in the end and decided to ask the customer service (information counter) to satisfy our curiosity, its only then we realised we need to take another escalator. Not just any escalator. So if you are interested in visiting the Golden Screen Cinemas, be sure, and it is your first time at Gurney Plaza, be sure to ask the receptionist on directions first!

We didn't really find shopping at Gurney Plaza enjoyable and we left at around 6.45pm. The shopping mall was actually not very crowded despite being Friday evening.

We wanted to go Tesco which is near our Island Plaza, however a dark clouds were gathering, and for fear of a heavy thunderstorm, we decided to take a cab back.

There is a taxi stand in front of Gurney Plaza, cab fare from Gurney Plaza back to Island Plaza is just a short drive (10mins). It cost us RM 12 (SGD $4.72).

bus stop
We stop by cold Storage supermarket at Island Plaza to grab some supplies before heading back to Luxfort 118 and end our day adventure. Do you know, in Malaysia, Cold Storage practise - no plastic bag everyday. So don't expect them to provide you with a plastic bag for your purchases! Always carry a bag with you!


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