Penang was haphazard and dirty then, as it had been for many, many years. I had re-visited Penang as a visitor numerous times since I left in 1992 and recently on 26 December 2011, I went there again. We spent three nights at a newly-opened budget inn on Macalister Road. The streets of Penang are much nicer to walk on now with less rubbish strewn about or clogging up drains. The weather is still uniquely Penang, when it's hot in general elsewhere outside the island, it feels much hotter there. And there seems to be a more orderly feel. The Prangin Road bus terminal looks brighter without its walls coated with the black soot from bus/vehicle fumes and the air seems more breathable. However, I forgot to check if the Yellow Bus company is still operating there! I believe the opposition party has been making a difference ever since they took control of that state.
We made a spontaneous decision at Butterworth to take the ferry across. While the queue was long, we finally got our car onto the ferry and got out for some 'fresh' sea air and take in the view during the 20-minute ride. Unfortunately, the sea air was tainted with the ferry's diesel fumes, but C got to experience for the first time riding on a ferry with our car onboard (her first ferry ride was in August to Pangkor Island).
The ramp for cars to get onto the ferry
Oncoming ferry similar to the one we took, lower deck for vehicles, upper deck for passengers
On the island, we ate to our hearts content and devoured seafood, local hawker fare, Thai food, durians, restaurant and foodcourt fare. We also became tourists and visited the Tropical Spice Garden, Bukit Genting and the Cheong Fatt Sze Mansion (also known as the Blue Mansion).
The Spice Garden was an easy and good introduction to the many different species of tropical plants, some used as garnishes and spices in cooking.
Pandanus sp. by a pond
Bukit Genting is a novelty place for a hilltop view of the south-western coast of the island. The roads uphil and downhill are paved/tarred but rather uneven, narrow, and windy (especially downhill). On the way to Bukit Genting, we did a half round-island drive, stopping at Balik Pulau for some good durians.
The Blue Mansion tour was very interesting with the house guide giving a detailed story behind this mansion -- how this 17-year-old Hakka young man came from China and became a celebrated entrepreneur among the Dutch and British, the special feng shui features of his mansion and how the mansion was restored. The colourful story and exhibits were good enough that it managed to hold C's attention for a whole hour....haha....
This picture does not do justice to the actual grandeur of the mansionWe also visited a mega aquarium store on Burma Road, CTY Aquarium, touted to be the largest live fish store in Southeast Asia...Besides, fish, they also have birds, cats, dogs, rodents, reptiles and pet supplies.
After checking out of the hotel on the last day, we stopped at the famous Ghee Hiang 'tau sar pneah' place and got some of their goodies before heading for Ipoh, this time via the Penang Bridge.
The places we ate at in Penang (not in chronological order):
Ocean Green seafood restaurant
New World Park foodcourt
First Avenue mall foodcourt
McDonald's (ugh...) at Prangin Mall
End of the World seafood restaurant
Sisters char kway teow and yam cake on Macalister Road
Durian Cap Kaki, Balik Pulau
Bukit Genting Thai food restaurant
Song River cafe kopitiam on Gurney Drive
Cendol stall on Penang Road
Other local fruits at Durian Cap Kaki
Thai-style stuffed crabs at Bukit Genting
Garlic steamed prawns at Ocean Green
Sisters char kway teow and yam cake
Lala (clams) in herbal soup at End of the World
Ice kacang at New World Park