Travel to Penang, Taiping and Bukit Larut

It was time to take a break. Everybody has been so busy for the past few weeks. So it was decided to make a trip and travel to Penang for a holiday getaway. Kenny was well verse with the Penang streets so he would be our travel guide. Along the way we decided to throw in a trip to Taiping and Bukit Larut since we have not visited this Malaysian Highland and it would be an interesting info addition to this website.

Old shop houses in Penang street.

It was a kill two birds with one stone kind of Penang trip. Not entirely a full vacation break but it was good enough. Kenny and Rebecca wanted to scout out some business opportunity while having a holiday getaway, while the rest of us, Lindy and my wife, Lena and I hop on for the ride. With Kenny showing us the Penang streets, what could go wrong? Well it did go wrong on the first day. The weather wasn't cooperating. Our fine sunny weather with clear blue skies in the afternoon ended up with very dark ominous clouds while passing by Taiping. By the time we reached the Penang Bridge it was raining heavily. The traffic slowed to a crawl and we made the mistake of driving through the traffic jam in Green Lane when we should have used the Jelutong highway which would have been quicker.

We arrived Paradise Sandy Bay Hotel Penang in Tanjung Bunga pretty late and after checking in and lazing around a bit in the hotel room we went to look for some Penang restaurants for our dinner. Kenny wanted to bring us to some special steamboat restaurant in Penang. However being already late and with rain drops pelting everywhere, visibility was not that good. It took us awhile to find that restaurant hidden in some bungalows. It was kind of interesting that there were so many Penang restaurant hiding out in some bungalow. It takes someone like Kenny who has stayed in Penang for many years or a resident of Penang to know where all these yummy little Penang restaurants were hiding out. Unfortunately when we arrived, the doorman greeted us in Hokkien and explained that there was no more food left! Much to our disappointment, we have to find some another place to eat.

Penang restaurant Thai food dish

It was dark and it was wet. So where did we end up eating? Dome Restaurant. The food was great but pricey and of course it was available in Kuala Lumpur. We were not stranger to such kind of fare. It was just another restaurant franchise. We should have gone out to look for some Penang hawker but with the heavy rain pelting down, we were not so keen to get ourselves wet. Besides we were somewhat tired after having driven for many hours so we just drove in to some shopping mall and grab any food we could find.

The next day, being a little tired, we took our sweet time to wake up. The first thing was of course breakfast! Nothing like some hot grub in your stomach. We head out for Penang dim sum. The dim sum restaurant in Penang was called the De Tai Tong Cafe. It was scrumptious and delicious and yes, it was crowded. A sure sign of great tasting food. We ordered quite a variety that we could actually skip lunch!

Our next plan in the itinerary was to head back south for a 1-1/2 hour drive down to Taiping to catch the land rover ride up to Bukit Larut (aka Maxwell Hill). Unfortunately, it was a Sunday weekend and many people had the same idea too. What we didn't know was that there was a crowd limit. Yep, Bukit Larut hill is small Malaysia highland and only able to accommodate a maximum of 150 persons at any one time. Looks like no choice but to try again the next day when we head back to Kuala Lumpur.

Still it was not a total lost. Since we were there, we may as well explore the famous Taiping Lake Garden. With its soothing greenery and tranquil lake, no wonder it was such a big draw for visitors. We could see many families having picnic around Taiping Lake Garden or just walking about enjoying the scenery. We too could not resist and decided to park our car there for awhile and take some photos. Of course with my Canon EOS DSLR in hand, I tried my hand at some landscape photography.

The beautiful Taiping Lake Garden with its majestic arching tree trunks.

Later we headed back to Komtar Penang where Kenny and Rebecca did whatever they needed to do for their business matter, while the rest of us, Penang shopping here we go! Komtar Penang wasn't a very big place for Penang shopping; it was an old place and not very well taken care of even though it was a famous Penang landmark. The management should renovate and upgrade the place, just like what Sungai Wang Plaza did to improve its interiors and draw in hoards of shoppers.

And later for the night, it was Kenny's suggestion for some Thai food in some Penang restaurant located in a bungalow. Cheery Sweet Restaurant was rather odd name for a Penang restaurant serving Thai food. Nevertheless it was very tasty. We ordered the usual Thai food fare like Tom Yam, chicken wrap in Pandan leaf, green curry chicken, and other assortment of Thai food. It seem the restaurateur also had a branch at Bukit Genting Hill Leisure Park (not to be confused with Genting Highlands, this one located in one of the Penang hills).

Having been out whole day, the next morning we were rather conked off and couldn't wake up early for our trip to Bukit Larut. May as well don't rush it. Besides it was time for some souvenirs. Food souvenirs that is. First stop was to tap au (pack away) some cha siew pau at the De Tai Tong Cafe. My missus just couldn't have enough of those steam buns with meat in it and just have to tap au back some! Next stop, Him Heang confectionary shop for some of their famous Tambun biscuits.

By the time we got underway it was nearly lunch time. So we decided to hop it to Taiping town itself. Lindy said the food court next to the taxi stand and Taiping wet market was popular for their hawker fare. We didn't know where it was and tried knocking around and see if we could find it. Taiping wasn't a big town but we still round the place a lot. Kenny's build in GPS map in his mobile phone wasn't helpful either. Probably Taiping town was too small or the food court was not recorded in the GPS map system. So much for reliance on advance technological device. They are only as good as whatever information was store in it. In the end we have to use human directional navigation. Nothing like a human contacts. Six degrees, as they say, six degrees, know a friend of a friend who might know a friend who knows something... So a quick call to a friend of Lindy's (Lindy's friend hometown was Taiping!) and we soon found the Food Court. And it was huge! Plenty of hawker variety here to try!

I think we enjoyed our hawker food too much because again we missed the 2 o'clock ride up to Maxwell Hill. The land rover service is available every hour but we must be there 15 minutes before the departure. No choice but to wait for the 3 o'clock ride. That didn't give us much time to explore Bukit Larut because the last ride down is at 4 o'clock. The ride up was really bumpy and reminded me of a roller coaster ride. With only 15-20 minutes, we couldn't explore much. Must try again next time.

Enjoying our Ipoh chicken rice meal with bean sprout.

Oh, well. With the Bukit Larut visit over, it was time to head back home. But it wasn't a straight drive back! We stop over several R'n'R along the PLUS highway buying local fruits and even stop over at Ipoh for some chicken rice and more food souvenirs! Trust Malaysians like us, nothing better to do than to eat, eat and eat! Haiah!

Hope you enjoy our travel to Penang, Taiping and Bukit Larut trip blog!
Cheers!
Jan

16-07-2009


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