Travel Penang

When you think of heritage in Malaysia or if you want to get the real feel of Malaysia, two places come in mind; Penang and Malacca. Both are famous historical states of Malaysia.
Penang is one of the artistic places I have ever been. We (8 friends) booked a car for 3 days tour to Penang. Must say the journey was very tiring because it took 9 hours for us to reach there including few stops we made while driving. That was a long weekend and for that reason we faced terrible traffic till IPOH. So, while returning back we took toll free road which was indeed very nice and no traffic at all. In fact, the whole road was full of greenery.
We booked Hutton Lodge in Georgetown. It was a tough decision to decide where to stay in Penang, Batu Feringhi vs Georgetown. Then at last we finalised on Georgetown. You must be careful if you go by car because there are many one ways in Georgetown. The lodge was really better-quality than what we expected in such a budget hotel. The rooms were very well maintained and the shared toilets were very clean and every necessary things were available. Free Wifi was accessible from lobby and even from the room. Complimentary breakfast was also provided by them and unlimited times of tea or coffee.
Next morning, after breakfast, we went to one of the famous attractions in Penang, the Penang Hill. The train ride to reach there was very amazing and you will get the best view if you sit at last while going up. That day, fog covered the place entirely. The view was very beautiful from top.
From there we went to the famous Buddhist temple, Kek Lok Si in Air Itam which has the very impressive Pagoda of Rama VI (opened in 1930). The Pagoda is one of the largest of its kind in whole Malaysia. It also contains attractive garden and a sacred turtle pond. We stayed there for some time and enjoyed the peaceful environment.
Then while coming down from the temple we found a good Chinese restaurant to have lunch. I tried Penang Asam Laksa for the first time and it’s good. After lunch, we roamed around the place and all of us shopped a lot. You can buy the Penang’s well-known Tambun biscuit from there. You can also get the handicrafts at cheaper price than KL Central Market. The shopkeepers are very well behaved and one can negotiate a lot on the items. The best buy was the street art magnets (10RM for 10).
After that, we went back to Georgetown and parked our car. Our next target was to walk and view all the street arts. While we started walking we found beautiful rickshaws. So, we booked rickshaw (1hr 40 RM) and I must say it was worth the value. You can take a walk also. I personally experienced the best street arts ever and all the arts were so very beautiful and alive. Then the rickshaw driver took us to the watch tower and then the town hall.  We had some snacks near the sea side area and then headed to find the best sea food restaurant in Penang. Finally, we found the Restaurant Teluk Kumber but a huge crowd was there. It was around 7pm. We waited for around 15-20 minutes and then we had lovely fishes (Tilapia, Pomfret, Shells) with rice and Chinese Tea. After food, we spent some time in the beach and then came back to the hotel.
We did not feel too sleepy and decided to go for a long drive. So, we went to Batu Feringgi and it was 10pm almost, very dark. We did not get down in the beach there and just drove. We were passing by a hill area and forest on a side. It was very exciting and adventurous. We thought we could find some animals but didn’t find any. After around 30km we found that we reached Georgetown. We didn’t have to take a u-turn and come back. We all liked the trip very much. We said enough for today and went to sleep.
Next day morning we again had our wonderful breakfast and started our journey to Gurney drive. The beach was good. Then we went to view the largest Sleeping Buddha nearby. There was also a very nice temple on the other side. We went to Batu Firinggi again and relaxed for some time in the beach. We found many monitor lizards of different sizes in one place. We had our lunch there.

Cherating Beach, a Beautiful Beach in the East Coast of Malaysia

Long time we did not visit any beach in Malaysia and we noticed that every time we travelled, we always neglected the beautiful East coast of Malaysia, where lies the most popular beaches in Malaysia. So this time we planned for the beaches around Kuantan. Due to monsoon, the exotic Redang and Perhentian Island were out of the league. We did a quick research on the popular beaches around Kuantan and Cherating beach seemed to be the nicest choice.

We started very early, around 4am and after a hundred kms on the boring expressway, decided to make a detour from Cherating towards lake Chini. Tasik Chini, as it is known locally, is a manmade lake in the heart of a rainforest and the narrow road to the lake passes through several Malay villages, Kampung as they say. So you can see some traditional Malay style wooden buildings, and also the lovely Sungai Chini flowing side by side. There is only one accommodation in Chini lake, Tasik Chini Resort just overlooking the lake. Advance booking is necessary as the two times I visited the place, I found it was full house. You can opt for a boat ride on the lake and there is a small restaurant serving food to outside guests as well.
After breakfast in the Chini lake resort, we drove towards Kuantan and crossing the town proceeded towards Cherating beach. We heard good review about MataHari Hut opposite to Little Bali, Cherating and decided to stay there.  

There are few other budget accommodations in Cherating, like Payung Guest House, coconut inn,Tanjung Inn, Ranting Beach Resort etc and you can choose any from these as all are mostly same. On average, the accommodations at the opposite side of the road are cheaper than the ones located by the beachside. In most chalets you have options for attached and shared washrooms and aircon or fan. There are options for four bedded and double or single bedded rooms as well. In MataHari Hut, Cherating we had the provision to use the kitchen and along with free tea coffee anytime, we can also cook simple meals if wish to. There is a minimarket few meters away. There was also a refrigerator to use for.

The Cherating Point Surfing training center is run by the same family and for your information, Cherating is pretty popular among beginner surfers. After checked in, we went for a swim. The South China Sea looked to be calm despite the monsoon season, and the water was comparatively clear. You can swim, but look out for jellyfishes because people were stung by jellyfish on this beach earlier. Well, we did not find any during our stay. There were like millions of hermit crabs throughout the beach and we also noticed plenty of shrimps and glass goby and crabs.

Popular Beaches around Kuantan

There are three main beaches around Kuantan. Teluk Chempedak, the nearest one, boasts a long stretch of casuarina and palm trees along the shore. There is also a jungle trek route nearby. The main hotel near the beach is the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Hotel.
The Batu Hitam beach (in Malay means “Black Stones”), 10 km from Kuantan, is having a stretch of black stones on white sandy beach and is famous among the locals. One must try food here is the Ikan Bakar or grilled fish with a little soury sauce locally called asam pedas. They usually grill the whole fish with skin wrapped in some leaf. Once done, you have to remove the burnt skin and inside lies a fantastic juicy fish meat.
Cherating beach, about 50 kms of Kuantan, is famous for the location of Asia’s first Club Med resort. The nearby Kampung Cherating offers an opportunity to learn batik print on clothes by skilled locals, the mangrove river tour in Cherating and the nighttime firefly tour in Cherating are two not to be missed things. There is a turtle sanctuary in Cherating near the Club Med Resort and a 3.5kms stretch of beach is protected for them to lay eggs. Olive Ridley, Green, Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles are usual visitors of the beach. You can see tiny baby turtles and few adult ones in the turtle center. There is also baby turtle release program during June-September and you may also get a chance to see adult turtles laying eggs on the Cherating beach during night accompanied by the rangers.
There are some basic Chalet accommodations in Cherating village for tourists. There are also few resorts in Cherating, like Suria Cherating, Legend Resort Cherating etc. For breakfast you can opt for the small café on the beach selling western foods along with nasi lemak and other local breakfasts and for lunch you have to depend on the local Malay foods mostly. Dinner time you have more options, from fresh seafoods in Cherating to various types of fried rice and noodles and lots more. One restaurant, Paksu Seafood, is very popular there, but usually crowded with tourists throughout.