Penang, 2 travellers and a baby

12 Dec

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Anyone who’s been bitten by the travel bug, should visit Malaysia: Not just for the beautiful beaches and cultural cities but for Air Asia and their amazing specials.

We booked a trip for the beginning of November from KL to Penang island: 2 adults return, 3 nights accommodation with breakfast for only RM300 total! That’s less than R1000 for everything! Jack’s infant plane ticket cost more than our flights.

We left Springhill early on Saturday morning with the school van. I was a little nervous at check in because Jack doesn’t have a passport yet but I’d been told that he would be allowed to fly on his Malaysian birth certificate. During the flight, I tucked Jack into the sling, gave him the dummy and left him to sleep. He fell asleep before take off and didn’t wake until we landed. We arrived at Penang early and took a local bus to Komtar station for only RM5 instead of the RM88 for a taxi. Luckily the bus was quiet and there was space to store the pram. There were a few hairy moments when the bus suddenly stopped and Jack and his pram rolled towards the door. From Komtar station, we didn’t know exactly how to get to our hotel so we took a taxi for RM10.

We’d booked into Paramount hotel which was old and gorgeous. It had high ceilings, wooden staircases, old-window bars and we had a view of the sea! Similar to Port Dickson, the sea is pretty dirty because it forms part of the Meleka strait which is the most ship-travelled ocean in the world. But the view looking over the fishing village was pretty. The wooden staircase made me feel like Mary from Downtown Abbey (a TV series Baden and I just love) and we spent half the weekend speaking in posh English accents. Unfortunately with the ‘old’ also came a few cracks. One night there was a terrible storm and the ceiling started to fall on us. Literally, little specks of paint fell onto the floor and bed. The toilet also needed ‘pumping’ before it flushed and there was a crack in the window which meant wet floors after the storm. However, considering it was close to free and it was deliciously full of character, we didn’t complain.

We took the weekend slowly, giving us all lots of time to rest. The first night we walked to Gurney drive. Baden had to put the pram into 4×4 gear as we navigated the tiny pedestrian path alongside a very very busy street. He literally rammed over broken tree branches, tiny bridges over the gutters and pavement steps. It was much nicer when we actually reached Gurney drive because of the pretty promenade which looked over the pretty ocean. Gurney drive is a shopping district with street side vendors, selling some of the best food in Malaysia. We joined the food market where hundreds of locals had set up food stalls and it was so busy that we struggled to find a free table. Baden went in search of food while I guarded our plastic chairs. He returned with a spicy seafood dish (which had pig’s blood in it apparently) and Chinese vegetable noodles for me, which I ate with my chopsticks (my Korean skill). We really enjoyed the busy atmosphere and left with stomachs full of banana pancakes.

On the way home we stopped for a cup of coffee. Baden spilt his all over the table by accident while instructing the waiter how to take a picture of us – and he lost his ice cream. Sadly, Mr Pot didn’t offer him a refill.

The following day, we ventured into Georgetown, the main reason for our visit to Penang. We were in search of the artist. Penang is particularly well-known for its street art. Most notably, the work of Ernest Zacharevic who creates works with paint and real-life objects to depict scenes of Malaysian life. We managed to find a few of them. We had a nice lunch before returning to the hotel for a quiet afternoon. Sleep and hydration are the most important aspects of travelling with a baby, in my opinion.

Our second evening was spent at Burma square, an upmarket district where people have built restaurants in old homes. (Including a KFC which operates out of a huge colonial house). We found a local eatery. Baden’s food looked great but mine was a disappointing slosh of greasy noodles which tasted exactly the same bite after bite. I didn’t finish it and we ended up buying nuts and dried fruit at the 7-eleven before home. The next day we returned to Burma square and sat for 3 hours at “The Little Wine Bar”, eating and drinking and playing scrabble. Before Jack fell asleep on the chair, I attempted to feed him quietly in the corner. The problem is he’s such a noisy eater. He gulps at milk like we gulp down a Coke on a hot day. It’s almost impossible to be discreet about it.

A few days previously I’d spotted TGIFridays which is the closest we have to Spur here. So we went back to Gurney drive for a nice dinner out. Instead we found Nandos – what a treat to have a taste from home! We thought it was a little strange that we felt so at home eating Portuguese food at a South African restaurant in Malaysia.

When we returned to Springhill the following day, I felt quite low. We’d had such an adventure as a family that it was difficult to settle back into the normal routine of washing dishes and killing spiders.

Gurney drive food vendors

Gurney drive food vendors


The place where Baden lost his icecream

The place where Baden lost his icecream

Street art by Ernest Zacherevic.

Street art by Ernest Zacherevic.

Street art by Ernest Zacharevic

Street art by Ernest Zacharevic

Fishing village outside our hotel

Fishing village outside our hotel


3 Responses to “Penang, 2 travellers and a baby”

  1. Calvin December 12, 2013 at 1:28 am #

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. Jack looks very content in the family picture.

    • thedowiestravel December 12, 2013 at 2:15 am #

      Thanks Calvin. Jack is a pleasure to travel with. We are lucky parents!

  2. Just A Simple Guy December 12, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    Nice write up. Glad you enjoy yourselves in Penang. Actually you could also stay in the Chew Jetty where they have homestay and enjoy the view from there. =)

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