Unlike many travel destinations where visiting once is enough, Penang gives me all the reasons to return again and again. A large proportion of population in Penang are made up of Penangite Chinese and this makes it even easier to communicate with the locals and travel around.
When I arrived at Penang airport, my first task was to purchase a local SIM card (1GB for RM$26). Knowing that there would be lots of traveling, transport cost was one of the major factors to take into consideration. With a SIM card, I would be able to get connected to local network and more importantly, explore Penang by Grab service instead of hailing normal taxis which could charge you exorbitant fees. I figured out that using Grab service would end up saving about 50% to 60% in transportation cost.
My first stop was the Penang Snake Temple. It made sense to have this attraction in my initial itinerary as it was just three km from the airport in Sungai Kluang, Bayan Lepas. Built in honour of Chor Soo Kong at about 1850, legend has it that he was also a healer and sometimes gave shelter to the snakes of jungle.
Being a tourist attraction, the snake temple has attracted locals to set up shops selling touristy items.
Penang is well known for its street art. I was given a glimpse of some of the masterpieces at the entrance.
The temple is filled with the smoke of burning incense and a variety of pit vipers. The vipers are believed to be rendered harmless by the sacred smoke, but as a safety precaution, the snakes have also been de-venomed but still have their fangs intact.
I skipped the altar section and went straight to the snake exhibit.
I was encouraged by the staff to feel the python and most probably, he would be asking me to carry the snake and take pictures for a fee which I declined politely.
The snake farm was situated inside the temple. This was the spot to go if you were looking to get near to any kind of snakes.
Venomous vipers, huge pythons and different types of cobras were found here.
It was a worthwhile experience visiting the snake farm. I was a tad surprise that the snakes were quite active instead of coiling at a corner sleeping away.
Another active cobra spitting its venom. I learnt that cobras which do not have “eyes” on the back of their hoods are usually able to spit venoms.
The snake handler invited me inside the King Cobra’s house.
He said this king cobra only dine on snakes. The king cobra was captured in Indonesia.
Trying to get closer to this 3m long king cobra to snap a picture.
Other residents in the snake farm included quails.
An over 100 year old land tortoise.
And many geckos. I thought the snake temple was worth paying a visit though one should not spend more than an hour inside.
Outside the snake temple, there were 2 coffeeshops selling Chinese roasted delights and Indian dishes.
Opening Hours: 06:00 – 19:00
Location: Bayan Lepas
Price Range: For Temple: FREE
Snake Farm: Adults – RM8, Kids – RM6
Lee Clan Jetty (姓李桥) Georgetown
Visiting the clan jetty is one of my checklist items. I have always wanted to visit these waterfront settlement housings located along the main road of Pengkalan Weld.
While many visitors chose to flock to Chew Jetty (pretty touristy), I decided to pay Lee Jetty a visit first.
As I stepped foot onto Lee Jetty, I paused on a corner observing the traditional houses built on stilts that made them looked as if they were forever stuck in a time capsule. Nevermind that I had to battle with the sweltering heat. It was an experience exploring these heritage buildings.
The Clan Jetties are unique Chinese settlements that have been around since the 19th century. There are eight different clans that still reside here, with each individual jetty named after their surname. Look at the villages on stilts that house the descendants of Chinese immigrants.
A girl returning to her jetty house after school.
Various types of houses.
An elderly resident stood at his gate and beckoned me to try out the ice cream. I did not try though.
I reckoned if the owner turned this residence which was situated next to the sea into an Airbnb, there would be many bookings.
Unfinished construction of bridge crossing.
After Lee Jetty, I moved on. My next destination was the popular Chew Jetty which was about 5 mins walk from the Lee’s. Along the way, I snapped pictures of the streets.
A local coffeeshop outside the Tan Jetty selling cold beverages. What a perfect respite after soaking in the afternoon heat!
A bicycle rental shop.
Chew Clan Jetty 姓周桥 Georgetown
As I mentioned, Chew Jetty is a touristy spot where you could see some of the wooden houses transformed into shops selling souvenirs and eateries.
Hey, Ahmah and Ahsoon (Grandma and Grandson) at the entrance of the Chew Jetty. One of the factors contributing to the popularity of the Chew Jetty was due to the movie of Ice Kacang Puppy Love ( 初恋红豆冰).
When you are tired from walking, renting a bicycle is an option.
More houses were built inside. While these traditional jetty houses were pleasing to the eyes, visitors would need to take note that some of them belonged to the locals and taking pictures of their residence were prohibited.
As you delved into Chew Jetty, these touristy shops became a common sight.
Street art souvenir post cards and apparels on sale.
Note books with street art imprinted on the covers.
Penang white coffee – I think you can find these in NTUC over in Singapore though you have to pay a premium for them.
Back to old school days! Have you tried these ice sticks before? 🙂
A hip café opened by youngsters selling fruity beverages.
A street dog lazing in the afternoon.
On the right of this picture was a restaurant selling big bowls of ramen.
It did seem ironic to me that this restaurant was selling Japanese ramen instead of local cuisines. After all, visitors wanted to visit Penang to try its famous local dishes right?
So huge! Don’t think of trying it if you are not travelling with a food buddy.
Boats lining up along the Chew jetty. It is a nice place to enjoy the scenery as well.
As I completed my tour of the Chew Jetty, I popped by the coffeeshop near the entrance to try out their coffee.
The smell of aroma coffee for RM1.10.
Address: Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendol & Joo Hooi Cafe
Just directly opposite the Chew Jetty are the streets to spot all kinds of street art. As such, you would not need to travel by car. Just walk across the road will do.
However, I decided to visit Joo Hooi Cafe for my lunch and chendol. The Penang Road Famous Teochew Chedol and Jooi Hooi Café are located at Lebuh Keng Kwee.
I was snapping some pictures and in a matter of few minutes, the queue started to form again. You have the option to dine inside the café (or I called it as a coffeeshop as it was not air-conditioned) instead of standing under the unforgiving heat. I chose the former.
Joo Hooi Café packed with customers on a typical weekday. If you are intending to visit Joo Hooi Café, you would have the chance to taste most Penang famous dishes such as Assam Laksa, Char Koay Teow, Lor Bak, famous Chendol and Ice Kacang.
Whipping up many dishes of irresistible char koay teow, I am sure she had won many fans.
I ordered these 2 dishes – enough to fill up my empty stomach.
The prawns tasted juicy and nice!
Choose to gulp it down or savour at your own pace. On a fair note, I wouldn’t say the best Penang food are found here but Joo Hooi Café certainly provides a one-stop location for you to get a taste of local delights.
There was this stall also selling char koay teow outside Joo Hooi Café. The owner plied his trade using his left hand.
Each plate of char koay teow cost RM6, cheaper than that from the stall at Joo Hooi Café which cost RM7. A downside was that you would need to stand on the roadside to eat.
Address: 475 Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 5pm daily
Ming Xiang Tai Pastry 名香泰餅家 @ Penang Road
Stepped through the old shophouses (just beside Joo Hooi Café) you would find Ming Xiang Tai authentic Cantonese-style pastries.
Fresh pastries of different flavours on display.
Some notable pastries on sale include Trishaw Egg Tart, Salted Egg Tart, Salted Egg Pastry, Pandan Kaya Puff, Wife Pastry, Wutaro Yaki and Wedding Cookies.
The most popular item at Ming Xiang Tai has to be the Ko-Cha Siew Bao which is selling at RM2.20 per piece.
Take a bite on these Golden Pillows (stuffed with chicken meat). Each piece sells for RM2.20.
I bought a few pieces and tried. Even after I left them overnight, they still tasted as nice!
More than just eating, this trip to Penang presented the chance for me to explore pictorial worthy ambience. I took my time in Ming Xiang Tai and feasted my eyes on its rich interiors, decorated with traditional household items dating back to 1940s.
There were many more places I covered which would be shared in subsequent blogs. If you think its good, share it!
Address: 475-A , Jalan Penang George Town, Malaysia (beside Joo Hooi Café)
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