Georgetown, Penang

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Asia, Malaysia, Play-by-plays | 0 comments


Out next stop was Georgetown, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, the capital of Penang and a beautiful little city. From the British Colonial buildings to Indian temples and Chinese temples and clan-houses, the architecture of this small city is very impressive.


We took a minibus (setup by our hostel) from the Cameron Highlands directly to Georgetown which is located in the province of Penang, Malaysia. While it should take about 4-5 hours on a windy mountainous road, it took 2 and a half because our driver was a bit crazy and drove well over 80mph on a road you probably should be going 50 or so. After we made it safely, we checked into our hostel and then grabbed motor bikes to explore. While you can shop around for bikes all along the main road, there is a man who has some bikes outside of Reggae Hostel and rents his bikes out for 25 ringgits a day, which is a steal at less than $10/day.


We took to the road wild hogs style and after doing a few loops around Georgetown to get acclimated to the bikes, we drove all the way up north towards Penang National Park (about 45min-1hr away from central Georgetown). From there you can find hiking trails, a number of beaches (which you can access through hiking or with local boats) and a number of canopy walkways. We choose to make our way to monkey beach, one of the more popular beaches, which is about an hour and a half hike from the entrance of the park. Well with the temperature feeling like it was 1000 degrees I didn’t make it the entire way but Heath took one for the team and said it was a pretty cool beach. Even though that day I wasn’t up for it, I’d say trek up to the beach and then take the short $5 boat back. If it’s a scorcher of a day, like it was for us bring lots of water and probably an extra T-Shirt because after the hour and 45min trek I was able to wring out my shirt (I know ewwww :) ).

After heading back to the city and freshening up we explored a bit and went to grab some food. We were both excited as Penang is known for being Malaysia’s food capital, so we were eager to grub. Like Kuala Lumpur, hawker centers are the best place to eat and Penang has a ton of them. The first night we just went to a center an ordered a few dishes, mainly by pointing at things we sort of could identify and since at this center no one really seemed to speak English, we were on our own. Given that I’m allergic to shellfish, I tried to steer away from seafood, but like many places in Asia, the food is usually mixed with or cooked with some form of shellfish (and those of you who know me well, know I often don’t have my epipen). This time though, I was safe.


The day after we decided that we wanted to explore Penang Hill which has beautiful views of both the city and the surrounding area.  You can catch a city bus (bus 204) that will take you to the bottom of the hill or take a taxi to the botanical gardens to start a trail up to the top. If you do take bus 204 you cannot walk to the top, but you can take the cable car up. Do Note: Heath and I waited for the bus for about 30min before deciding to take a cab, and once we got in we were told the bus driver often parks the bus and sleeps since this is not a very popular route. Only one bus runs along it and it seems like it’s at the driver’s discretion as to when it shows up or not. After about 15min in the cab, we did see the bus parked on the side of the road and the driver sitting having a conversation with a few others.

From the Botanical Gardens there’s more than one trail that leads up to the top of the hill. There is the a paved road for cars/bicycles, known as the “jeep track” which is about a 3mi hike up and then there is another trail which starts with straight shot up, what seemed like 500 steps, but then leads to a few pit stops where you can grab some tea with locals and then veer off some roads including some surveyed back in the 1800s. It’s a really fun scenic hike, but be a bit careful because the wrong turn may add another hour or so to your hike (speaking from experience), since some of the original roads (while cool) aren’t that well marked. It’s worth it when you get to the top though – check out these views.


Penang Hill View

The next few days we took it particularly easy. We continued to eat at hawker centers throughout the city and in little India, which you should definitely check out, and continued to explore the city on motorbikes.


For some more pictures of our time in Malaysia so far, check out our newly updated photos page or directly on the Malaysia Pictures page.

Off to Langkawi

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