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Leaving Tanah Rata behind us we took the 5-hour coach trip to Penang for RM35 each (around £7). We had the option to get off at Butterworth (and take the ferry to Georgetown) or remain on the bus and cross the bridge. The second option would leave us south of Georgetown, however we thought it would be less hassle with the kids to take a taxi from there so we remained on the coach.
The taxi ride wasn’t too bad and we were soon dropped off at our guesthouse – The Silver Shine Guesthouse. We had seen Silver Shine on AirBnB and had opted for the family room. This was in old heritage style with a split floor room. Bunk beds were downstairs for the kids, and up some steep stairs were a double bed and bathroom/shower. There were, however, no windows so the room seemed very dark most of the time, even with lights on. We couldn’t complain about the location, close to Little India and a short walk from most things.
Once we had dumped our bags in the room and got organised we set off walking to find somewhere to eat. We had wanted to take the kids to the Toys Café while in Penang, and this was only a couple of blocks from the guesthouse. The Toys Café is a small café with lots of toy collections (mainly superheroes) on display. We had drinks there as there was nothing suitable for Mum to eat with her coeliac disease but not too far away was ViaPre, an Italian which served gluten free pasta! Mum was very happy to be eating pasta again and the kids were happy as they had pizza! With full stomachs we headed to the Esplanade Park and let the kids have fun before taking a walk around Fort Cornwallis to the Queen Victoria Clock Tower and back to the guesthouse.
We were up early the next day to wander the fascinating streets of Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in search of famous street art. The kids enjoyed finding the artwork on the sides of walls and buildings and we ended up a Chew Jetty where a string of shops sold items from cheap toys to food. To get out of the mid-day sun we headed to the 1st Avenue shopping centre for lunch and a cinema visit to watch ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’. During the film Mum had started to feel ill, and this worsened back at the guesthouse in the afternoon. Dad and the kids left her in bed in the evening and walked to Lebuh Chulia for dinner along the street famous for its street food and hawker stalls.
As Mum was still feeling ill the next day Dad took the kids to the 3D Trick Art Museum where they had lots of fun posing in front of the pictures for photos. A short walk took them to the ferry terminal where Dad purchased the onward ferry tickets to Langkawi in preparation for our departure the following week. After some schooling Mum was feeling a little better and we got a taxi to the Penang Municipal Park (formally Youth Park) where the kids could play in the park, but more importantly they could cool down in the free splash pools! They both attracted the attention of local children and all the kids played in the pools together well. While there a troop of monkeys came along and invaded some poor families picnic, stealing their food and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Out of the pool and dry the kids had fun running and climbing in the skate park. Getting a taxi home proved to be an adventure. The GrabCab app didn’t bring any results so we found ourselves walking a distance out of the park to a main road where we spend a while trying to hail a cab down. Eventually we managed to get a taxi and the man driving was full of knowledge on Georgetown and was keen to share.
The taxi driver recommended a visit to the Penang Museum since it was so close to our guesthouse and that is exactly where we went the next morning. It was a little boring for the kids but provided a great insight into the history of Penang and the influence of the Malaysian, Chinese, Indian and British all had in shaping the island. We had a lazy afternoon following the museum before hopping on the free CAT bus to see where it stopped around Georgetown. We managed a full loop before heading to the Esplanade Park again in the evening. This time there was a night bazar in progress and dinner was a mixture of items from some of the food stalls at the bazar.
The next day consisted of a visit to the Gold Museum. The kids learnt about where gold was found and had fun trying to pan for gold (bits of rock painted gold!). There was a room where they could touch a 30kg bar of silver and a 50kg bar of gold. No photos were allowed in this room as it would set off the alarm. The man said that obviously the gold and silver was worth a lot of money – but good luck to any thief trying to pick up 50kg of solid gold and trying to make off with it! Finally, we were treated to a demonstration of melting silver and then reforming it into a bar. The kids were amazed at the metal in its liquid form and how quickly it cooled down once poured. Before long the bar was being passed around the audience for a feel.
Hopping on the CAT bus again we made our way to a shopping mall for lunch before taking a short walk to the Upside Down Museum. There was a bit of a queue to get into the museum which meant that our kids got on each other’s nerves while waiting but once in it was all fun. It’s not really a museum, instead it is a series of rooms that are upside down. The staff take your camera, tell you where and how to stand in each of the rooms and take a picture. Once the picture is turned upside down it creates the illusion that we are upside down within the room! We all had fun looking at the pictures taken here and it rounded the day off nicely for us all.
We had a lazy start to our final full day in Georgetown. Taking the short walk around the corner to a coffee shop we had wanted to check out we found ourselves staying there for two hours chilling out. Once the midday heat had subsided we ordered a taxi to take us to Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. The plan was to check the temple out for an hour before heading to the top of Penang Hill in the evening. However, we really did underestimate the size of Kek Lok Si. In the allocated hour we probably only saw a small portion of the temple, it was an impressive sight.
The same taxi driver had picked us up and took us the short distance to the Penang Hill funicular station. We found ourselves having to queue for a while to get onto the funicular but once on we were suitably impressed by the speed it shot up the hill to the top! We chilled out at the top of the hill, having dinner and drinks overlooking Georgetown before walking around and making friends from Malaysia, Iran and India – all charmed by the kids.