Saturday, November 26, 2011

REDISCOVERING THE PENANG OF OLD

Penang is always worth a visit. If you don't want to drive up from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, take the Aeroline bus. It's a cheaper and faster option than taking the day or night train. The fare from KL is Rm60. The service is good with hot drinks and snacks served enroute. The journey takes five hours with a 20-minute rest stop mid-way.

But once you are in Penang, getting around can be a pain. Taxi drivers here don't use the meter, so fares quoted are arbitrary and on the high end. I paid Rm30 for the 10-minute ride from the bus terminal at Sungei Nibong to Evergreen Laurel Hotel along Persiaran Gurney. Although public transportation has improved tremendously with the introduction of RapidPenang buses, you have to be familiar with the bus routes and schedules to enjoy exploring Penang by bus.

The skyline has changed drastically over the past few years. There are now more high rise luxury condominiums and shopping malls that can rival those in KL. Thankfully, visitors can still find the old Penang behind the modern facade of the island city of Georgetown.

A stroll along Penang Street takes one back to the old days when mama and
papa shops like this one were a ubiquitous sight. The wide assortment of
products sold in these shops boggles the mind.
Itinerant street vendors like this rojak (Malaysian salad) man above are a
dying breed in the cities. He was actually taking a nap when I photographed
him. Business must be slow in the hot afternoon.
The famous Penang 'char kwei teow' or fried white noodles with 
bean sprouts and prawns.A real culinary treat at only Rm4 a plate. 
This place was highly recommended by our taxi driver.
Making coffee and toasting bread the old-fashioned way at a kopitiam in one of the alleys.
The last time I saw a scene like this was in the 1950s during my primary school days!
THIS is the genuine black coffee and toast, served the original old town kopitiam style.
Only Rm4 for all - real value for money.
Dinner at Gurney Drive is a must. A haven for food-lovers who enjoy hawker fare.
Stall selling boiled squid and clams with water convolbus (kangkong) and served 
with chilly sauce if you like it spicy.
Indian rojak - a mouth-watering selection, just pick what you like.
A police patrol van passing by. A whole kilometre of parked cars along  Gurney Drive.
And not one jaga kereta boy in sight! Penangites say they now enjoy a new 
 sense of peace and security going for evening walks after dinner..
The state government under Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has earned praise for
his efforts in cleaning up the city, including fighting graft and corruption.
All the taxi drivers and the locals I spoke to had only good things to say about him.
They keep telling me not to believe the negative reports in the mainstream media.
One thing I've learned on my first day here - never ask a local how far Place A is from Place B. Their answer is invariably 'Very far. Can't walk there'. Not true. I have discovered at the end of Day 1 that many of the places I wanted to visit were within a 15-20 minute walk from my hotel. Just think of all that taxi fare I could have saved!

3 comments:

foodbin said...

Penang's CKT are the best.

Judy said...

can u pls tell me where u had that ckt?

el-f said...

Judy, the taxi driver dropped us off at a corner coffee shop along Penang Street. Sorry I can't remember the name. Other stalls there sold cendol, rojak, wantan mee, Penang laksa, etc. The place was packed even though it was close to 4pm.