Monday, June 17, 2013

S24O - Penang 27-28 April 2013 (Part 1)

This is one of many long over due entries. We didn't exactly go cycling nor camping. So, NO, we didn't exactly for a S24O. But we did go to Penang and stay overnight.

It all began when yours truly craved for a certain dish eaten in a state up north Peninsular Malaysia and chatted online about it with a friend. Then, as if on cue, at the corner of the screen an advert came 'flashing': Airasia Cheap Fare. One click led to another. Soon, yours truly and the friend, who from now on will be known as AJ, was booked on a return flight to Penang.

Penang is not where the dish was eaten. But it was the only destination with flights that suited our schedule. AJ, stressed out, needed a break away. I on the other hand, was itchy to travel again but due to work commitment, could not afford to take leave. My day off was only on Saturdays. So the plan was to take the first flight to Penang, go sight-seeing or other do other geeky-tourist stuff, spend the night there, then return on the first flight out of Penang and be in time for work on the following Sunday.

Day 1 – Saturday 27th April 2013
4.30 am – Woke up and got read. Had an early breakfast of a mug of hot Milo and a few cream crackers. By 5.15am, we were already on the expressway to Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier Terminal. About an hour later, we reached the terminal. But we missed the entrance to the car park.

6.20 am – We managed to get through the parking entrance. We frantically searched of an empty spot then made our way to the terminal building. Fortunately we've already check-in online and only needed to print our boarding pass at one of the self-service kiosk. Having no luggage to check-in, we breezed through the security check and was boarding the flight within fifteen minutes. The plane took off at 7.15am.

8.10 am – The plane landed safely at the Bayan Lepas International Airport. As soon as the plane landed, people unbuckled their seat belts and rushed to get their luggage from the overhead compartment. The flight attendants had come to the aisle and politely asked everyone to stay buckled in their respective seats until the plane got to a complete stop at the runaway.

AJ and I decided to wait out the mad rush. Once they we out of the plane, we took our bags and alighted the plane. We walked pass the mad crowd at the luggage carousel waiting for their bags. We headed to the bus stop near the airport entrance. The initial plan was to either take Rapid Penang's 401 or 401E bus to Balik Pulau. From then on, another bus number 501 to Tanjung Bungah and finally bus number 101 to George Town – essentially sight-seeing the whole Penang Island.

When we reached the bus stop. The bus number 102 was in front of the line. Bus 401 and 401E was there but there were no drivers on board. The JPEG map in my tablet seemed to show that the 102 bus to be going through both route 401/401E and 501 to Batu Feringgi. Thinking that it would save us from hopping on and off buses, I agreed to board the 102 bus.
Bus routes

I should have realized that the bus was going through opposite direction of my planned route when the bus driver / ticket conductor said Tanjung Bungah is further up from Batu Feringgi. I only realized it when the bus was navigating some sort of a morning rush in the city. I was disappointed. I really wanted to see at the other side of Penang Island, touted as the 'rural and rustic' part of the island before they are swallowed by development.

The bus continued on. AJ dozed off next to me while I drank the view that bus provided. I recognized the route that we were on. AJ and I had taken the route during our road trip last year. I had also taken the same route while vacationing with little Aizad (who is no longer little) and his family.

The bus then passed the touristy area of Batu Feringgi. By then, AJ was already awake. That morning, the area looked deserted. Very few shops was opened. Only a handful tourists were out and about. We were hungry. We needed a second breakfast. Batu Feringgi did not looked like it has any decent food to offer that morning. So we continued on to Teluk Bahang.

10.10 am - The bus reached the little town of Teluk Bahang. As little as it was, it was more lively than Batu Feringgi. Every one, except AJ and I, got off at the first stop. The bus traveled a few hundreds metres up the road till the last building on the road. The bus driver asked if we wanted to continue to Tanjung Bungah or get off at Teluk Bahang. Being hungry as we were, we decided to refuel first at Teluk Bahang before deciding our next step. The bus driver then made a u-turn and dropped us off opposite Teluk Bahang Market.

The market was a buzz with activities. Locals shopping for their fresh produce. Then there were some sort of carnival at the parking space next to the market. AJ and I made our way to the food court section of the market. We browsed through all the stalls at the food court before we finally picked a table. I ordered a plate of "char kuew teow" from a stall and a glass of "teh O" from another. AJ too ordered a plate of "char kuew teow". While waiting for her "char kuew teow", she bought some "kuih keria" from one of the stalls. The "kuih keria" tasted great, unlike the mostly "for-profit-only kuih" that you get in Kuala Lumpur. The "char kuew teow" was equally great. I was drinking my tea, when I spotted a lady frying "vadei" at the stall next to the drink stall. I had two of those freshly made hot vadei.
"Char kuey teow" and "teh O"

Before we knew it, an hour had passed. We finally left the food court and made our way to a bus stop nearby. We boarded the Rapid Penang number 101 to George Town. The bus departed at 11.40 am and took the same route we passed earlier that morning.

1.00 pm - We got off the bus near the iconic Komtar building.. We took a few minutes to get our bearings.
Getting our bearings

I poured over the JPEG map of Penang Street Art on my tablet. AJ switched on her GPS on her phone. We headed to the direction on the first item along the route - "Kopi-o". We walked and walked until AJ pointed out that we had reached a lane further up from the sculpture. We must have had passed it. We back-tracked. A few metres later, there it was, mounted on a second storey wall of a shop.
Penang Street Art map - can't remember which website this map came from

Excited with our first find, we made our way to the second item on the map. According to the map, it should be somewhere between Lebuh Tamil and Jalan Chowrasta. We bumped into a Eurasian lady. She too was looking for the sculpture. We agreed to give a shout if we see it. Neither of us could see it. AJ and I decided not waste our time. We continued to find the next item on our map. We found three more sculptures.

With dark clouds loomed over head, we took a more direct route to the guest house. We weren't sure how long we would have to walk to the guesthouse. At the corner of Lebuh Chulia and Love Lane we spotted our fifth sculpture. It was not in our map. We named it "5 Star Budget Hotel". Across the road not far from it, was the sculpture "Cheating Husband".

A short walk later, we arrive at number 55 Love Lane - the address for Red Inn Heritage. We went in and asked the lady at the reception counter. She explained that we were at Red Inn Penang and Red Inn Heritage was further up the road. I was relieved that we weren't at our guest house yet for next to Red Inn Penang was a pub. To have a room there might mean a sleepless night for noises would be expected from the pub.

Walking further up the road, we found Red Inn Heritage. In a "small-world" kind of wonder, the lady at the reception counter is a Filipinos from Cebu. She checked us in and showed us our room. She was delighted when I thanked her in her language: Salamat.

No comments: