Where free equals 5 Malaysian Ringgit +\-
09.07.2013 - 16.07.2013
With one week before we head to Indonesia, Stets and I decided to head to another island in Malaysia, known as Penang. Penang is a melting pot of Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian people all meeting and sharing their cultures and food. The history here is extensive and according to the maps and tourist info, there seems to be a lot of free things to do and see. We gathered a list of must sees and set off to explore.
The guesthouse we were staying in was located right in the heart of historic Georgetown. Stets and I decided to walk the streets to see what history we could find. With such a blend of cultures, and also having a British influence from World War II, we were astonished by the mix of architecture, the blend of religions, and different smiling faces we saw along the way. We visited City Hall, Town Hall, The Penang State Museum, Fort Cornwallis, and walked along the Esplanade. We passed Churches, Mosques, and Temples all on the same street. The communities seem to mold together in such a happy and supportive way. We saw Little India and China Town. We were overwhelmed with what we saw in just our walking area that we decided to look into how we can move around this island in a cost effective way. Public busses! We see them everywhere. We did some research and set off to find a one week bus pass that would give us unlimited riding for a week. Perfect!
The following day, Having our bus passes in hand, we decided to head to the Penang Botanic Gardens. This 30 hectare garden was set up in 1884 to collect botanical specimens from the surrounding hills. The garden took a huge hit during World War II as it was not cared for and the majority of plants died. Although, looking at it today, one would not be able to guess at that devastation. We walked around for several hours looking at the beautiful jungle scenery, the Lilly pad pond, and, of course, the local lizards.
A major attraction in Penang is Penang Hill. The best way to access the top is by means of the funicular railway. The ride takes about 15 minutes and travels about 720 meters up the hill. Once at the top, you have access to views that encompass all of Georgetown, including the bridge that connects Penang to mainland Malaysia. This bridge is 13.5 kilometers long and the longest in Malaysia. Stets and I headed up, enjoyed the views, hiked for about two kilometers and then enjoyed some lunch. We then decided to head down the mountain in search of a temple we saw on the bus ride to Penang Hill.
Kek Lok Si Temple is the largest Buddhist Temple in Southeast Asia. Construction began in 1890 and it's 7-storey handcrafted "Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas" was completed in 1930, followed by a 30.2 meter tall statue of the Kuan Yin, The Goddess of Mercy and Compassion,in 2002. We were amazed by this temple. The feeling of peace cannot be described. Stets and I walked around in awe of what we saw and felt. We stumbled upon a tree overflowing with hanging ribbons. We took a look and saw that the ribbons symbolized wishes from visitors. We knew we had to add one to the mix. Stets picked it out and I wrote our wish on the back. We chose a spot and hung the ribbon carefully, hoping our wish will come true.
Our last big excursion on Penang led us to the National Park. We packed a lunch and loaded on the bus for our one hour ride to the park entrance. Even though everything we read about the park said "free", we arrived to find a fee of MR5(about 1.75usd) to walk through the jungle canopy. After grabbing our tickets, we headed out on our jungle trek. We hiked along the beach for about 500 meters and then headed into the jungle. After about a kilometer, we arrived at the start of the canopy walk. There was a series of about 5 walkways that led us through the jungle on the tops of trees! We felt like monkeys! Once through the canopy, we continued our trek through the muggy, humid, stunningly beautiful park. We walked through waterfalls, over rivers, and up and down the hills. After about 3 kilometers we arrived at a beach...the perfect lunch spot. We stopped for a while to eat and relax at a picnic table under a tree right on the beach. It was lovely. After about a half hour, we decided we should start our trek back, after all, we had worked up quite an appetite and were looking forward to dinner in Little India!
Penang is a beautiful place to visit; full of culture, amazingly delicious food, and history that would take more time than we have to fully understand.