shanlung (shanlung) wrote,

Penang and Langkawi


More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi

I continued to check out places in Malaysia to see if they fit my idea of a place to retire into.
So a few days after I got back from Taiwan to see Tinkerbell and my friends there, I made plans to go to Penang and Langkawi, two islands in the Northern part of Malaysia.

I was a bit hesistent. My last retirement recce trip to Pulau Pangkor and Cameron Highland did not augur well. I freaked out of P Pangkor after 3-4 days and was not happy with Cameron Highland either.
Pulau Pangkor // Cameron Highlands

On top of that, the trip started off with very ill omens. Luckily you know me as one who would act against the advice of gods even such as that telling me yuan feng tse tau tser li , that my karmic affinity with Tinkerbell ended and I should not continue to search for her.
Tinkerbell - Yuan Fen Tse Tau Tser Li

I was to leave on the evening bus of July 15 reaching Penang on early morning of July 16 with 3 nights booked into Hotel Regal Malaysia, definately not the high end side, and a level off the lowest end.

I normally procrastinate until about the last hour to pack. But for some reason, I decided to pack at noon instead. I travel light and just 5 t shirts and a couple of shorts, enough for me to wear until laundry got my clothing done again.

I started by doing the easy things first such as getting my passport. To my surprise, I could not find that. And after an hour, I was no closer to finding my passport which got me worried. Another half hour later, I got paranoid enough to call my wife and asked her to come back from her office as sometimes I do have blind spot and I did need that passport. She was hesitant to come back, but after another hour of searching on my part, I called her to get back home. I went on looking for that passport even in places where that passport should not be in. Then I noticed a corner sticking out from between two boxes. To my relief, that was the passport. Sieben must have pushed that passport off the table and it landed between two boxes. I quickly called my wife to let her know I finally found it and she need not leave her office. She was going to send me off from the bus station at Beach Road. There was this collection of Thai restaurants there and we would have dinner before my bus leave at 9pm.

So eventually she was there and we had our dinner of Thai food. I then reached for my wallet. To my horror, I found I had not taken my wallet with me from home. No credit card and emergency cash and driving license.
My back pack had enough malaysian currency and enough emergency cash. I thought a bad trip would be coming up with 2 such unfavourable omens. But as said, even gods did not deter me. I kissed my wife goodbye and went on up the bus.

I was going on a trip to the island of Penang, a place that gave me much pleasure in my school days. The focus of many hitchhiking trips done in those innocent times. And focus of trips done with my friends in school days. In present days where young kids will fly halfway around the world, in my time, going 400 miles away was a huge adventure and very enjoyable adventure.

The last time I was in Penang was in early 1980s , for a windsurfing regatta. That time, we thought nothing ofr strapping windsurfers on top of car and rush off a few hundred miles away.

It was early morning , so early that the sun was not out when the bus dropped me in Penang. I was in a bus station Sungai Nibong in middle of nowhere even if my Nexus told me with Google map where I was. Worse was no coffee shop around to get a cup of coffee to wake up my mind. I thought I would get here at 8 am where with dawn light, I would be able to get around. I freaked out and decided I get a cab to my hotel in Georgetown, the old colonial Penang. I was probably hustled when I accepted the demand of 30 MYR . I accepted that almost always at the beginning of a trip, I be hustled as the normal run of things.

I got to my hotel and to my nice surprise, the hotel allowed me to check into my room. I was told by them a traditional coffee shop around the corner. I had my coffee and curry beef and rice. The curry fish ordered by the table next to me looked so good that I ordered curry fish and curry chicken as well. Which came to about 10 MYR, a fraction of what that would be in Singapore. And the curry beef, curry chicken and curry fish were heavenly, and the coffee something to shout home about.

I went back to the hotel

First photo taken from my hotel window. Showing very much the kind of Penang I remembered.


I asked my hotel where to rent motorbike and was directed towards Chulia Street or Lebuh Chulia which meant the same thing. I saw a book seller cum ticket seller cum renter of motorbike and mountain bikes.

This was in the UNESCO World Heritage part of Georgetown which seemed frozen in time of my earlier years I knew Penang with my friends. The trips I made with them such as John , Cyrus and Lawrence kind of blend into one another. How we rented a cheap room and found we were staying in a brothel with thin wood boardings where plenty of holes were made by others to view others. We made use of those holes with the excitement of 15-16 years old.
We rented another room bargaining down the price and without air condition with the power switch locked up. We then went out to buy a screw driver to open the power point to turn on the air con.

Of meeting local penang people who invited us to stay with them in a bungalow on Penang hill. One of them will remain forever young in my heart. A year or so after that trip that got to know her, heard of her jumping over a tennis net after a game, trip on that net and went to a better world.

(15 hours or so after I wrote this, had an email from Lawrence that girl who remain forever young and never will age like the rest of us is Margie. A week earlier I was talking with John and we could not recall her name. Lawrence with heart of a giant and with memory of an elephant recalled Margie, and her sister Judy who is growing old like the rest of us)

Obviously Penang changed from when I was there. Except Penang was so big, that changes could not be compared. And enough of the early heritage that was Penang

Photos of Chulia street and about it





I rented a small bike for 25MYR a day for a couple of days as I was not sure how long I would stay in Penang.

I decided to do a round of the island of Penang on that bike. I headed towards Batu Ferringhi. I passed by a very changed Penang. Where there were stately homes like you seen in the first photos, huge beautiful condominiums were now built. Probably a quarter, or a fraction even, of the price in Singapore.


I recalled Batu Ferringhi when there were just a couple of hotels, Lone Pine and Golden Sands with kilometers of beaches. When I went there, I found Lone Pine was not so lonely now with loads of hotels on both side od the road. I cannot even see the beach unless I park and walked around the hotels there.

A bit pass Batu Ferringhi was Pantai Acheh, their National Park
Towards Pantai Acheh

More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi


Jetties of Pantai Acheh

A bit after that was Teluk Bahang, where Penang butterfly farm was at. I loved butterflies and spend many hours in my schooldays in search of and catching butterflies. Unlike now where I used my camera to hunt butterflies, in those days, butterflies were caught, placed in killing jars and pin up.

If you are in Penang, do try to go to the butterfly farm.

chrysalis about to be butterflies


tree nymph

Malay lacewings & clipper


The quide asked if anyone was from Singapore and I raised my hand. He then told me that the clipper was now extinct in Singapore. I known that together with many other beautiful butterflies. My memories of clippers and other butterflies in Singapre when I was young were poignant.

clippers feeding on pineapple


A ceramic froggie with a tiny froggie on it. Looked like the froggie of my friend Phillip Little


A Taiwanese tourist with a newly emerged butterfly

More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi

People interested in butterflies of Singapore and Malaysia should go

The road then went behind Penang hill. I came to a place where I could see the Western side of Penang island as a plain below the mountain road.


The strange part was that was in my mind that I felt was part of a dream or fantasy. Not realising that was real memories of Penang buried somehow in my mind. It was haunting to see that scene again, that it was real and not figment of my imagination. Rain started to fall. I had no raincoat. It was not that cold, and more of a heavy drizzle. The road was windy all the way back until George Town. The rain cleared the air and another photo taken from my room window with the mountains of mainland Malaysia not seen in earlier photo.


I went about to some other places in Penang. I knew I was at their Botanical Gardens before, except all my memories of this place faded.



Leaf eating monkey at Botanical garden



I checked out the wonderful hawker food of Penang. I went to the Internet and found what was recommended and can say the food was absolutely wonderful. In my rambling about there, I also being to hawker centers which were not listed at all. I was happily surprised that the food in those unmentioned places was very good as well. Such as this Penang laksa I had from roadside hawker near the circle before Penang hill.

Very good delicious Penang laksa



And then to the cable car and up Penang hill






I was at Air Hitam, where the Kek Lok Si temple complex was. That could be seen a long long way away because of the gigantic 30 meter statue of Kuan Yin and the roof over Kuan Yin


More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi

Their famous pagoda of 10,000 buddhas paled in comparison.

Before that temple complex is the Air Hitam market. Alongside on the pavement next to the road will be the very famous Penang laksa stand. Absolutely delicious laksa




More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi

You then pass a row of statues of Buddhist monks and abbots to get into the complex














More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi

I realised my couple of days in Penang would not be enough. I had thought of getting a couple of nights there first and then changing hotels after that. I decided not to go for the high end hotels as you then be given a dream and I was there to check out if Penang can be considered a place to retire in, not a dream which is not reality. I extended my stay in the hotel for a couple more nights. I would go to different hawker centers to try their food. I also been in a restaurant. I realised my mistake as you could not order different dishes as a single diner.

I found Penang like an enlarged Taiping town, much bigger than Taiping town and with a lot of charm. I stayed in Penang for a week, extending my stay in Regal Malaysia yet again. And extending that rental bike every 2 days. If I decided early enough, I could have the bike even cheaper.

I decided to go to Langkai and got myself a ferry ticket. My friendly hotel sold me that ferry ticket.

Leaving the ferry terminal at George Town 22 July 2013

It was a long 3 1/2 hour boat ride for the ferry to reach Pulau Langkawi at Kuah Town terminal.
I booked a 2 night stay in Amara Motel. I soon hired a motorbike as well.

Penang was a largely Chinese city. Which meant during the Muslim fasting month, food can always be found regardless of the hour.

Langkawi was a bit different, and I had not known the area well yet.

I rode off on the bike. The country side was beautiful . Very peaceful and little traffic and very green. It was a pleasure to ride the bike there. Until I got hungry. And found most of the villages were muslim and food not readily found until evening.

More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi




I liked riding the bike on the Langkawi roads.
I saw that there was a mountian Gunung Raya and I decided to ride up that mountain.


I should have checked my petrol in the tank first. When I was 3/4 up, I saw the needle at E. I was riding on a bike on the fumes and prayers. Just managed to get down to a petrol station where I filled the tank with a vengence, all 5MYR worth of petrol.

I got to understand Langkawi better. Kuah town had a triving chinese community I only found out after a couple of days of near starvation just 2 street corner from where I lived where I could get all the breakfast and lunch that I needed.

Langkawi have this legendary princess Mahsuri, a maiden of outstanding beauty. The village chief wife was a very jealous woman and plotted the death of Mahsuri. Mahsuri was killed not before she swore a curse on Langkawi for 7 generations.
The legend below with lots of details





More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi

Langkawi meant a brown eagle in Malay language


I found Langkawi to be very pleasant to be in. I extended my stay in Amara motel a few times.

I decided to try that high mountain again. I bought a very nice packet lunch for that day and I made sure of a full petrol tank.






More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi

On that evening, I found a big evening market where delicious muslim food was sold for the muslims to break their fast. I took to buying the food and taking back to my motel for my dinner





The guy above sold fruit juice and one of the most delicious drink I ever had. Some kind of fermented lime drink brown in color. Every night I was in Kuah town, I would buy and drink 3 baggies of the fermented lime drink at 2 MYR a baggie. I still would have bought that for double the price.

Langkawi has 2 Geoparks listed by UNESCO as World Heritage site.

One of the park had a cable car to bring visitors to the top






After about a week in Kuah town, I decided to shift to Cenang beach area.
By chance roaming around, I came across a tiny motel with a Japanese name ran by a Japanese lady. I forgot the name of the motel and lost the card I was given. I tried searching on the Internet for an hour. One night was 40MYR, or 25 MYR cheaper then Amara Motel in Kuah Town. Which you all realised was off the horizon in Tripadvisor or Agoda or others and cannot be found. So if my photos ring a bell in you, please let me know the name of this Japanese motel.

(5 hours after I wrote this, I found in Google Earth a photo that I stayed in Shirin Guest house, even with photo here

The price was one minor reason why I decided on the shift. I was not keen on tourist beach ghetto as I was not there to enjoy the beach but finding in retirement there would be plausible.

When I went to that motel, I was struck by the cats in the premise, which decided for me I would stay there.

I was welcomed into my room by a ginger


My yellow unit


next to me



More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi

I signed up for a tour in Langkawi mangrove swamps, another of their UNESCO Heritage Geopark.

Guide and breeder of sugar gliders


One of the two teachers from China taking that tour


Archer fishes shooting bits of bread with pellets of water from their mouth


feeding eagles with bits of chicken skin



video of eagles feeding

I and the guide sugar glider. If I am settled and not moving about, I would love to have sugar gliders





More photos in Flickr collection Penang and Langkawi

I decided not to subject myself to 3 1/2 hour ferry ride. I took a flight via AirAsia on 30th July Tuesday to Kuala Lumpur. And then took the bus down to Singapore.

I have a flight on 17th Aug 2013 to Xining China to be with Taiwanese friends. It was with regret I could not join Cyrus in Jogjarkarta and Borobudor even if that was before my trip to China. It would have been great to go there with him. I needed some time to recover from Penang and Langkawi and prepare for that China trip mentally.

14 Aug 2013

I have kicked Old Nic for One miraculous year, six incredible months, two wonderful weeks, three luvly days, 20 bloody hours, 41 misc minutes and 51 odd seconds. of cold turkey after about 45++ years of smoking. 28807 cigarettes not smoked, saving $15,124.18. Life saved: 14 weeks, 2 days, 35 minutes.

LiBai mash making.
About 300 grams of beef mince, with 200 grams of chicken mince and 150 grams of dried anchovies(for the calcium). That was all done up to the kitty mash formula I wrote about in
Pakistan//Tinkerbell Kitty Mash//Dommie at the beach Ramadhan 2010 //Villa walkabout 2
Instead of the almond and brazil nuts, about 100 grams of human grade groundnuts(peanuts) were used.

Making of Tinkerbell Mash
Morning with Harry & the decision// Sultan of Oman Palace// Tinkerbell Mash Batch 7

suri - Read "Conditioning clicker day 3 - and some tips on suris"

milli - read "Found the perfect treat and Yingshiong first "step up""

if you forgotten about clicker training

Tinkerbell Legacy - VH parrot and Clicker Training Rant 06

Some thoughts on clicker - The initial experience with Tinkerbell

Clicker training and bonding with Tinkerbell

To Shanlung-Charlie and clicker training

Charlie and clicker training - beyond touch target //LiBai on finger and in slow motion videos —

Tinkerbell Legacy - - Rant 03 (a flighted parrot mentality) & Understanding the mind of your grey
Above is probably the most important of all I have written, and the foundation to all that I have done.


(edited on 4th November 2011 to include below)

To Shanlung - How to do Free Flight Outside

If what I wrote help you and you like to help, give a thought
for the wildlife sharing our planet.
Do write that cheque to Gerald Durrell wildlife trust

I am a life member of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Do join us to do
whatever we can for the wildlife that shared our planet.

Durrell-life member
or to any wildlife conservation body of your choice

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