I have chosen to tour around Penang Island which is the place where I was born during my last semester break. Penang Island might be small but it is definitely one of the hottest tourist site for tourist around the world. I have grew up in the island’s capital, Georgetown but, even as a true Penangnite, I have to admit that there is so much more to learn about this town. Other than travelling around the town, I took part in some interesting nature activity like jungle trekking and visiting parks and farms too. Penang is also very famous for its delicious gourmet.
As to complete this tour, I took the opportunity to taste a few of these Penang delights in between the stops. I was born in Penang island. However, like almost all the other Penangnites, I have never travel around the island before. I am well aware that this island has been internationally recognized for its beautiful landscape and historical value. Georgetown has been voted by Asiaweek magazine as one of the best cities in Asia. This city has also been ranked as the 9th most livable city in Asia. Georgetown was also declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique architectural and cultural townscape.
All this recognition made Penang island one of the hottest and most visited island by tourist all over the world. Through this trip, I have learnt a lot bout Georgetown which I have never found out in my entire life living in the town. My first stop was to the Fort Cornwallis. This fort was the first British settlement in Penang. It is also the oldest British structure in the island. After that, I went to the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi or better known as Khoo Kongsi. This Kongsi is one of the most distinctive clan association in Malaysia and its magnificent clan house is really stunning.
I also went to Pinang Peranakan Mansion to have a glimpse on the lifestyle and custom of the unique and prominent Babas and Nyonyas community. The Peranakans are famous for their adoption of selected local Malays culture and then blended them with the culture of the colonial British. I was introduced to thousands of breathtaking antiques and collectibles of that era in this mansion. I, then, visited the Wat Chayamangkalaram Thai Buddhist Temple which was a Siamese temple that stood in Penang for almost a century. This temple houses a gold plated statue of eclining Buddha, Pra Buddhachaiya Mongkul which was 180-foot long. This statue was also said to be the longest in the world. The interior of the temple is decorated with the images and legends of Buddha which was drawn by leading Thai artists. After sight-seeing around the town, I decided to break away from the polluted city and stepped into the serene natural environment. My nature tour started with hiking to the unpolluted and undisturbed Kerachut beach. I hiked along the Penang National Park for almost an hour before stepping into the astounding Pantai Kerachut.
My hiking journey did not just end at the Kerachut beach. I also hiked up to the Penang Hill. Although there is train provided to get to the peak of the hill, my friends and I decided to reach the summit using the challenging hiking trail. After all the adventurous hiking experience, I continued my close to nature journey with visiting the Butterfly Farm which was located at Teluk Bahang. There is uncountable species of butterflies and moths in the farm. After that, I stopped by the Tropical Spice Garden which was located just a few kilometers before the Butterfly Farm.
In this garden, I took the chance to explore all the three available trails namely the spice trail, ornamental trail and jungle trail. Within the garden, there are hundred varieties of spices and herbs as well as exotic floral, ferns and wild orchids. Visitors do not just walk around the garden, there are also services such as spa treatment and dine-in restaurant. I also witnessed a couple shooting their wedding pictures in the garden during my visit. Tropical Spice Garden is nevertheless the perfect place with breezy environment and beautiful landscape.
The first thing that crossed most people’s minds when I asked about Penang will be none other than food. Penang is the heaven of food. I have a bite, or maybe more that just one, of different cuisines at every meal break. Never should anyone miss Penang’s “Char Koay Teow”. Nor should “Laksa” be forgotten. Both these meals are prepared by locals with their own unique recipes. Penang is also famous for “Chee Cheong Fun” which was different from the one usually found in Kuala Lumpur or other states.
The gravy for Penang “Chee Cheong Fun” is usually a mixture of shrimp paste, sweetening sauce and peanut butter. Pouring the gravy onto the rice noodle roll with some chili and sesame seed makes “Chee Cheong Fun” a true sensation. “Hokkien Mee” is also another must try when visit to Penang. I did not just stop by Gurney Drive to try all these food. I took the effort to visit Pulau Tikus, Ayer Itam and a few more places to find the best of all these food. This trip around Penang was done during my semester break which took place about a month.
I had a lot of fun getting to these places with friends of my own from Penang and even some course mates from other states. Getting to know and tour Penang just like other tourist is something new and unforgettable to me. Like most of the other undergraduates, I was sent far away from home to pursue my tertiary education. I finally had the chance to go back to my hometown during this semester break after departing to a foreign land for so long. Getting back to the hometown, Penang during this semester break made me realized how much I really miss this beautiful island and the marvel of everything about it.