12th Aug 2016
Photo of A TRYST WITH PENANG 1/5 by Rajasree Nair
A view of the funicular railway tracks from one of the coaches
Photo of A TRYST WITH PENANG 2/5 by Rajasree Nair
Innumerable tricycles dot the roads of Georgetown
Photo of A TRYST WITH PENANG 3/5 by Rajasree Nair
An aerial view from atop Penang hill
Photo of A TRYST WITH PENANG 4/5 by Rajasree Nair
Wrought Iron sculpted Caricatures
Photo of A TRYST WITH PENANG 5/5 by Rajasree Nair
Umpteen Food hawkers in and around Georgetown

We decided to travel to Penang from Kuala Lumpur by bus as it was said to be the most comfortable, convenient and economical option and so we booked online one of the best luxury bus operators in KL, Aeroliner which offered meals-on-board and personal TV for each passenger.

We got a first hand experience of the punctuality of the transportation system at Kuala Lumpur, when we missed the coach departing for Penang by a few seconds and our pleas fell on deaf ears as the bus operators did not permit us to board the coach en-route. We rushed to TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan), the main long distance Transport terminal operating in Kuala Lumpur from where we caught the Express Bus which was less luxurious but comfortable nevertheless. The journey took six hours at the end of which we passed the Penang Second Bridge which is a cable-stayed bridge linking Penang island to the mainland across the South Channel of Penang, Malaysia. This 24 km bridge named Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge (E28), is one of the longest bridges in Malaysia and Southeast Asia and has contributed in making the once outlying island into a key tourism, logistics and transportation hub. The peculiar curvy design is said to be deliberately chosen to avoid accidents.

Penang, with its captivating blend of east and west and intriguing contrasts is an island situated on the north western coast of peninsular Malaysia.

It carries a natural beauty and splendour where every year, thousands of tourists come to experience the unique cultural heritage and scenic beauty. Its name comes from the Malay translation of betel nut or 'Pinang'. It is a cosmopolitan city, perhaps the second busiest in the country after Kuala Lumpur.

The island of Penang is a tropical paradise that offers something for everyone, the historical buffs, nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts or people who just want to relax on a sun-drenched beach.

Penang beaches, the more famous being Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah, are breathtaking with golden sands and tranquil waters and are crowded throughout the year by tourists and locals alike.

Our two day stay at Copethorne Hotel located on the Tanjung Bungah beach proved to be like a home away from home. The rooms were warm, spacious and comfortable with a balcony overlooking the bay and a private beach.

Our first visit was to Penang Hill, which is a popular attraction among tourists and the locals alike. The small hill resort also known as Bukit Bendera is located at a distance of 6 km from the capital, George Town.

We boarded the Penang Hill train from Air Itam to take us to the summit which is at a height of 800 metres above sea level. It is one of the oldest Swiss made funicular railway systems in the world which first opened in 1923. The ride to the top took about 10 minutes and the train chugging along amidst the natural lush green landscape was an exhilarating experience in itself.

The summit offers a panoramic view of the Penang coastline, bridge and the mainland. A sudden downpour did not dampen our spirits and we were all gaily posing and clicking selfies galore. The rains brought a freshness to the misty landscape and it looked surreal.

There are various souvenir stalls, restaurants and tea kiosks on the top from where we can relax and enjoy the majestic view. People come in hordes to enjoy the cooler temperatures and the nature lovers get a chance to explore the numerous jungle trails up the hill surrounded by the exotic flora and fauna.

Our next destination was the capital, Georgetown which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 2008.It is a quaint, historical city with a multitude of attractions. The city boasts of some of Penang’s best heritage architectures influenced by its European colonisers.

Visiting Georgetown was like entering a different world altogether, with an old world charm that will make one fall in love with the city. Its rich, vibrant culture, the quaint colonial style heritage buildings, natural landscape, the variety in the street food and the warm hospitality of

the local people will make us want to visit the place again and again.

George Town is also famous for its street art and wall mural art scattered all over the city.These wall paintings created by the talented Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic represents characters and everyday lifestyle in a humorous and witty way. The tourists hop from one street to the other looking for the beautiful works of art which were part of the Mirrors George Town project in 2012. Penang has another series of installation art or wrought iron caricatures that is a must-see for every tourist. This historic town is best enjoyed on foot or trishaw as we can take in the sights and sounds of the city at our own leisurely pace.

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