Thursday, 1 April 2010

Penang trip - Prologue

Once I got hold of 2010 calendar, I started to plan for my holiday trips. I did not want to decide on the last minute and end up paying exorbitant airtickets. As we did not make any travel plan for CNY as the airtickets are too expensive, the next earliest public holiday is Good Friday.

I was considering which destination is suitable for a 3 day 2 night trip without applying for annual leave and Penang seems to be a suitable choice. My mom wanted to visit Penang long time ago but the expensive airticket and long bus journey deterred her from going. Since there are cheap flights to Penang now, I asked my mom whether she is interested or not. We decided to include my father in the trip by booking the airticket without telling him first. He is the "spoiler" cos he told us that he went to Penang before and doesn't want to go again. But hey, that's more than a decade ago. YQ will also be joining us for this trip.

The airticket cost S$109 (inclusive of facility fees) with Jetstar Asia for return trip from 2 - 4 April over the Good Friday weekend. The morning flight departs at 7am and arrives in Penang at 8.25am and the evening return flight departs Penang at 5.10pm and reaches Singapore at 6.35pm. This means we have almost 2 1/2 day in Penang. Currently the 3 budget airlines, Jetstar Asia, Tiger Airway and Air Asia operates 2 daily flights each to Penang.
Map of Penang (Source: Lonely Planet)

A brief introduction about Penang. The name Penang comes from the Malay word Pinang, the betel nut tree (槟榔). Penang is the 2nd smallest state in Malaysia after Perlis and the 8th most populous state in Malaysia. It is the only non-Malay dominated state in Malaysia which its chief ministership has been continuously held by a non-Malay enthic Chinese since Malaysia's Independence . Penang is also known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’. Resident of Penang is colloquially known as a Penangite.

Unlike Selangor and KL where Cantonese is widely spoken, Hokkien is the common language here. Amazingly, many Penangites who are not ethnically Chinese are also able to speak in Hokkien, including some Penang non-Chinese police officers who undergo Hokkien language courses (extracted from Wikipedia).

We booked 2 nights accomodation with Tune Hotel Downtown Penang at RM91.26 ~ S$38 (inclusive of taxes). It is considered a new hotel as it was opened in Apr 2009. After doing some comparison, Tune Hotel is the cheapest, even among budget accommodation. It is a NO FRILL hotel which means it is a room with bed and ensuite bathroom, everything else such as aircon, towels, hair dryer are chargeable. The air-conditioning comes in either 12-hours or 24-hours credit units for RM13.50 and RM21 respectively and can be spread over the period of stay. My sis stayed in Tune Hotel Downtown KL before and she said that the ceiling fan is strong enough to cool the room. Other than Tune Hotel, most Singaporean stayed at either Sunway Hotel which is within walking distance to the New Lane Hawker Centre or the boutique hotel G Hotel at Gurney drive.

Itinerary for 3 days:
Day 1: Arrive @ 8.25am, Explore Georgetown
Day 2: Dharmikarama Burmese Temple, Wat Chaiyamangalaram, Tropical Fruit Farm, Snake Temple and Kek Lok Si
Day 3: Explore places in Georgetown which were not visited on day 1. Depart @ 5.10pm

I booked a cab for Day 2 with a taxi driver, Vincent Yeap, whom was recommended by forummers in tripadvisor. As there are 5 of us travelling, we couldn't squeeze into a normal cab which can only accomodate 4 people. I tried calling few taxi drivers and most said that we had to rent a van except two drivers. One of them is Vincent who told me that he could use a MPV to bring us around and the charge is RM30/hr. I found this rate reasonable as the normal taxi charge is RM25/hr and for van is RM40/hr. His contact no. is: +6 012 531 3250

My budget is S$200 ~ RM480 with the breakdown as follows:
- RM70 for admission charges
- RM60 for transport
- RM80 for meals
- RM270 for shopping & souvenirs

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