Saturday, 21 September 2013

Penang, a foodie haunt

In the top bunk with teddy

Having enjoyed the journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by overnight sleeper so much we decided to go from KL to Butterworth (for Penang) on the sleeper too. So off to the station for a 21.30 departure, onto the train, to find the beds already made up, which was fine, but nowhere really to put the luggage, so we clipped the rucksacks to my ladder to the top bunk and drew our curtains and settled in for the night. I still enjoyed the journey, but with an arrival time of 05.30 and 10 stops, sleeping didn’t go too well, probably better than we thought, but we are now used to ridiculous amounts of sleep – 9hrs plus a night, that the 5 I regularly used to exist on when on earlies is just not enough! 
The carriage with its upper and lower bunks
Still we made it onto the ferry, found the free bus, worked out where to get off and walked to the hotel. Only because B couldn’t see any taxis, he wanted to take the easy option! I saved us 18 ringetts - £3.60!! Sadly the hotel was full so we couldn’t have an early check in, so left the bags and wandered off, through a very interesting market, finally deciding to get back on the bus to do the full circuit in preparation for our adventures! 

Great old colonial buildings, the Town Hall and City Hall
We got off at some interesting looking Colonial buildings at the sea front, had a look at them, found the tourist info and arrived at the gates to Fort Cornwallis just as they were opening at 09.00. By the time we’d looked round and I’d been bitten by my first Penang mossie we decided to get back on the bus, finish the circuit before finding a lovely bakery and heading back to the hotel. 

Fort Cornwallis
Choice of 2 rooms, smaller with balcony or bigger and quieter with no balcony? We are in a very nice, big quiet room. By this time we were both feeling decidedly jaded! Ate, showered and felt a lot better, so had to go out for lunch! Not my idea but I think he’s worried about fading away!

The lighthouse at the fort
One of the cannons at Fort Cornwallis. The fort was erected by the British after Francis Light took possession of Penang in 1786 on behalf of the East India Company as a free trading port on the strategic Melaka Strait between Malaysia and Sumatra

Pussy cats by the lighthouse, but its out of bounds!

I’d spoken to the young man in the hotel in KL before we left as I started looking at the food on Penang – Tripadvisor talks about it a lot! He got really excited, it’s where all his childhood holidays were, so lots of good advice on what to eat and where to eat it. One of the maps we picked up in the Tourist info was a map of the best places to eat various local delicacies, so we thought we’d try Char Koay Teow, a garlicky noodle dish with beansprouts, chives, eggs, cockles and prawns. Asked directions from the frontdesk to a stall from the leaflet, “no no, I’ll show you where to go” so the bossman took us down the road and ordered our dinner before wandering off. Jolly lovely it was too, plus it was a licensed stall, so that was good. It wasn’t a huge serving though, so we wandered off till we came to a roadside barrow with samosa and bhaji just to round off a lovely dinner, off to bed feeling decidedly ‘jetlagged’

Dim Sum anyone?
After a solid 10 hours sleep we woke up raring to eat, so over the road because we’d seen the teapots and decided lots of fluid would be good for us, so Chinese tea, which you can refill with water as often as you like in the most amazing Dim Sum cafĂ©. I’ve never seen anything like it, huge steamers on trollies trundling up and down from which you just take a small plate of all sorts of things (we didn't have chickens feet, but it might be the ideal time to try them as it’s a very small plate, so it will no doubt be cheap). 

And plenty of Chinese tea
Bearing in mind how much I dislike normal breakfast foods I loved it!, prawny things and porky things, big stuffed buns…… rounded off with a little egg custard tart! Fortified we came back to the room to cool off before heading off to the museum and the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. I really enjoyed the ‘blue mansion’ a huge building one of 14 houses belonging to a man with 8 wives, said to be richer than all the rest of China put together! A real eclectic mixture of oriental and western – Art deco stained glass windows with a vague leaning to the orient, lovely.

They wheel these steamers right up to your table for an amazing selection
Its a busy place!

Cheong Fatt Tze's Mansion

Tonights restaurant
Dinner tonight was in an alley way between two buildings – it was described to me by the boy in KL, he even found pictures of the shop next door for me to look out for. It looked most unlikely, but it was also listed in the gourmet guide, so we went for it. Nasi Kandar – a plate of rice, with a splash of all sorts of curries, I had a huge prawn and some eggy onion bhaji thing, and B had fried chicken (he knew I’d share, and he didn’t want to get mucky!) It was delicious, and a huge portion – no stopping at roadside barrows tonight! 

A motorbike on it's way through the restaurant!
We did have to breathe in though as someone brought their barrow home for the night, down the alley, followed shortly after by a man on a moped! Not what you normally get passing through as you are eating dinner!

Cats have been identified in Georgetown – not too many to stroke yet, but lots we say hello to – the mum and 2 kittens, who are far too big to be still suckling and the windscreen repair shop with the big woofy dog, who I completely ignored as I went in to see the mum and her 7 kittens! Been there twice now, the owner doesn’t seem to mind, just thinks I’m a little odd!

1 comment:

  1. All the pussy cats are saying "Quick, it's Jackie! Jackie is here!" Some of that food looks fantastic.... some of it scary. You two will find English food so dull when you return! Will have to ask Jay to make you specially hot curry next time. xx