As we had said in our earlier posts on Street Food and Street Art, Penang is full of things to see and places to explore. We spent much of our time walking the streets of Georgetown, but also got out to see other parts of the island by way of the city bus. This is a cheep alternative to taking a taxi as long as you give yourself ample time to get somewhere.
As we said in our earlier post on Street Food, our hotel was perfect. We stayed at the Apollo Inn just down the street from the main bus depot and not even a half block away from Kimberley Street which is one of the biggest areas for street food. We were within walking distance to everything that Georgetown had to offer, but location alone isn’t what made our stay great. The staff and owners of this hotel are among the nicest and most accommodating hospitality crew we’ve ever come across. With Simone being a vegetarian in a place that eats meat at every meal and includes fish sauce in everything but their coffee, it was hard to find meals that she could eat, except here. Every morning she was happily provided her own special vegetarian breakfast either made by the owner or picked up by her on her way to the hotel! This woman and her staff were so thoughtful and caring, we felt like we had known them forever. The breakfasts were delicious and the afternoon tea/coffee and traditional Chinese sweets were great. With only being ten square meters, the room was definitely cozy, luckily there was a roof top terrace where we could enjoy a conversation with our new friends or have a beer overlooking the busy streets below during the night. The size of the room did not bother us one bit, because of how comfortable we felt while staying there. Some of the rooms don’t even have windows and ours didn’t have much of one, but that’s because the hotel is within the Unesco World Heritage Site of Georgetown and none of the owners are able to change the look of their buildings, not even the paint on the facade. So if you’re thinking of staying around Georgetown, we highly recommend staying at the Apollo Inn, and if they’re booked, just ask if they have any room at one of their other two hotels. That’s right, they’re opening two more hotels in the area of Georgetown in the near future and if they run them anything like they do the Apollo, you’ll really enjoy your stay. We can’t wait to go back and stay with them at one of their new places!
Our first adventure took us to the Tropical Fruit Farm on the north end of the island for a tour of an organic fruit farm with an all you can eat fruit buffet tasting and two fruit drinks. The tour was really interesting and we learned about so many new fruits and facts like there are at least twenty-two different varieties of bananas and they had all of them. The fruit buffet was incredible and the fruit drinks were wonderful, especially the pineapple and nutmeg concoction that was out of this world.
We also took a trip out to Kek Lok Si Temple, which is the biggest Buddhist Temple in all of Southeast Asia and has an enormous statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, standing over one hundred feet tall. On the opposite side of the Temple stands a giant seven story Pagoda and beautiful gardens line the entire property which is decorated in various styles from Burmese to Chinese to Thai. We were lucky enough to see some of the Chinese New Year decorations that covered all of the structures just before they would be taken down. There were many wishing ribbon trees on the property, so we chose the “Coming and Going Safely” ribbon to place on one of the trees since we felt that best suited the journey we were on. Hopefully we are granted safe passage from here on out. With all of the ornate decorations and carvings, it was a great place to visit, just maybe not on a day of such heat, like the one when we visited.
We tagged along on a walk visiting a few more temples, historic buildings, places of interest and looking at street art with our new friends Max and Marjan who we met at the guesthouse in Cameron Highlands . We all enjoyed telling travel stories over dinner and drinks afterwards and have created yet another bond with people we’ve met on this trip. Max is from Germany and Marjan is from Belgium where the two live now. They took a leave from their jobs (as most Europeans do) and are traveling around for five months experiencing the world. Meeting new people from all over the world is truly special and one of the best parts of the trip. When we get to Europe we hope to catch up with them in Belgium!
We have also been following a family from Texas that have a blog called Four Over The Edge. They left the U.S. just over a month ago and we heard about them from the family of Taking The Big Break who we met up with in Singapore. One night while on Facebook, Simone saw a picture of the two young boys and said “Isn’t that the roof of our hotel ”. Sure enough they were not only in Penang at the same time as us, but they were staying at the same hotel. What a small world it is. Simone sent them a message via Facebook and after spotting them in the lobby, we were introduced to one another. We enjoyed conversations about travel and life on the run and even ran into each other around town while we were out. Just like so many others we’ve met, they are also going to some of the same places as us and we will try to get together in the upcoming months.