Lost in Penang – Day 1

Jakarta, 24th Feb, 2011

05.30 AM – boarding lounge D5 – Terminal 2 CGK

This was my first trip in 2011. I only slept 3.5 hours. I woke up at 3 AM. Then I ordered Blue Bird Taxi – I wondered why my calls were rejected twice by the call center and when somebody finally picked up the call, he said that my phone number was not in their system – strange. Anyway, I ordered the taxi to pick me up at 4 AM.

I was ready at 3.30. Then I got nervous. I usually go to the airport 2.5 hours before flight time. The scarriest thing on the trip, for me, is being late for boarding.

At 3.40 I went down to the lobby and the taxi was not there yet. I got more nervous. I called the taxi hot line centre and the operator said that the taxi was already on the way.

At 3.50 the taxi finally arrived. I prayed that the trip would be smooth and fast.

At 4.20, I was already inside the airport ground – then I finally able to relax. I felt a bit silly because after travelling for thousands of km, I still tend to get nervous and usually arrive at the airport way too early.

Inside the check-in area, I walked up and down, looking for the booth to pay fiscal. I don’t have to pay because I have a tax payer ID but usually I still had to show my NPWP card to the booth. I couldn’t find the booth.

I already had a boarding pass because I used the web check-in service but the gate number was still blank. So I asked the airline ground officer and he told me to go to the self check-in booth to pay the airport tax and the officer there would tell me the gate number. I did that and I was surprised when the officer gave me the immigration form. That’s when I realized that government finally removed the fiscal. Wooohooo. Oh the airport tax was IDR 150,000 now (last year, it was IDR 100,000).

 At 4.50 I was already inside the boarding lounge area.  

 06.00 – ready to take off

I was glad that the flight was on time. The plane was almost full. Lucky me that my seat row had 1 empty seat so I moved to the window seat and slept for the whole 2 hours flight.

 08.15 – landing

The local time was 9.15 – Penang has the same time zone as S’pore. The airport was rather small and it reminds me of Surabaya’s airport. The air conditioner was set very low…my theeth were clattering…well…maybe because I was hungry….hehehe…

Btw, from this point onwards, time stamp would be in Penang local time.

 10.45 – on the bus to botanical garden (bus no 10)

Again….I was lost….wkwkwk….

I took a taxi from the airport to tune hotel. On every publication that I read about Penang, it’s written that taxi driver don’t use taxi meter so you have to negotiate the price before getting on it. It’s also written that there’s official taxi rate from the airport to the city. So when I walked out of the arrival gate, I only looked for the booth that sold official taxi coupon. It’s on the right side of the gate with a very big sign. The coupon cost me RM 44.7. After I bought the coupon, I passed an information booth and there’s information about Penang bus system: Rapid Penang…..danggggggg….

The taxi (btw, the coupon said limousine) ride to Tune hotel only took 30 minutes. In the hotel voucher, it’s written that check in time was at 2 PM. But I wanted to know whether I could check in earlier. Well it turned out that – couldn’t. I could storage my baggage first and it would cost me RM2 and since my luggage was not that heavy, I decided to carry it around.

Okay then, I thought, I would find something to eat first. I saw a food court sign, next to the hotel. But the sign was small. So I turned to the other side and started walking to Komtar.

Along the way, I saw several chicken rice restaurants but somehow I couldn’t bring my self to step into the restaurants. I said to myself that I wanted to eat pork rice and I until I reached Komtar, I couldn’t find one.

So, my breakfast for today was 2 packs WRP cookies and 1 pack of Soy Joy bar. Silly huh?

At the bus station, I saw information booth with several old ladies in front of it. I thought that’s the place to buy bus ticket to Penang Hill. Then one of the ladies asked me whether I was there to reedem bus card. I said no, I wanted to buy bus ticket and she looked at me with confused expression. Somehow I know that it’s not the place to buy bus ticket. Luckily, another officer stepped out of his booth and I went to him. He’s an Indian guy, tall, black and the most impressive feature was his mustache…hehehe….it reminded me of Pak Raden’s (a character in Unyil puppet show). I told him that I wanted to go to Penang Hill. He said that unfortunately the train to the hill was not operating today but I could go to the botanical garden and there’s a four-wheel car that could take me to the hill. He also told me to take bus no 10 and I could buy the ticket on the bus – I must have the exact RM 2 to buy it.

When the bus came and started it’s journey…I saw a familiar building…yup..the bus passed tune hotel – I could get on the bus from in front of the hotel….wkwkwk…

Another surprise, the food court next to the hotel was a big place….darn….my instinct always lead me to a more exhausting experience….kekeke…

13.05: on the bus no 10 back to Komtar.

I arrived at the garden at 11.30. The jeep service to Penang Hill would cost me RM 15. Somehow I wasn’t too interested to take the jeep. The 4WD cars were new but I was just not interested. So I walked to the garden. There’s a shooting club in front of the garden, so occasionally you would hear gun shots’ sound. The first time I heard it, I didn’t realize what sound was that. It’s not a sound that would be easily recognized by people who lives in a peaceful country.

There’s mini cart ride inside the botanical garden. The coupon fee was RM 2 for adult. By the time I arrived, the cart was full with western foreigners. I decided to take a hike to the waterfall.

Do you know what kind of bird is this one?

It’s sunny and hot, a nice weather to have picnic in the park. But there weren’t lots of visitors, maybe because it’s the middle of the week.

There were small monkeys running freely. Thankfully, there weren’t as many monkeys as in Bali and the monkeys sort of ignoring you. They’re busy picking fleas from each other’s body…wkwkwk…

Here, let mama clean your fleas....

Monkey Spa Spot @ Penang Botanical Garden

There are dark paths inside the garden and when I walked down the path, I kept reminding myself to be alert. The most frightening creatures in such places were not ghosts but people with bad intentions…hehehe…I watched too many detective movies where dead bodies were found at quiet-dark places.

I walked uphill but couldn’t found the waterfall. I saw a water treatment facility (the oldest one in Penang) that treated water from the waterfall. Maybe the waterfall was hidden because the creek that I found along the way was almost dried up.

Red Dragon, Green Turtle and Pink Lotus

After 1 hour walking around the garden, I finally arrived at the front gate again. Btw, the garden entrance fee was free but sadly, all of the special gardens (orchid house, etc) were locked.

My face hurts….it was sunburnt…hueee

16.05: relaxing in my tiny room at tune hotel.

The room size is about 2.6 m x 3.2 m. It’s small but decorated nicely with big mirrors. Very minimize but I like it. I was lucky that I got a room with big windows and a view to the street. There were rooms without windows and some with windows but the view was other bedroom windows.

The bed with big mirror as its headboard


There were 41 rooms on this 3rd floor. When I stepped outside the elevator, there’s a sign for room number 301 – 316 turn right and to the rest turn left. My room was 314, so I turned right. After a few turns, I finally found the room….and you know what….the route would be much shorter if I just turned left….wkwkwk….silly me.


The bath room door

After check-in to the hotel, I went to check the food court. It turned out that the small sign that I saw and the big food court that I saw from the bus were two different places but they’re located next to each other.

The big food court was called New World Park. There’re shops, Starbucks, restaurants, a performance stage, an art gallery, a beauty salon as well as big food court.

I was looking for pork meat there and found one stall at the corner that sold rice with pork sausages. Yummy. The pork sausages was salty and I really liked the soy bean sauce.

After the late lunch (it was around 3 PM), I went to search for a biscuit store. I saw the store from the bus on the way back from botanical garden (btw, the same bus didn’t pass in front of tune hotel on its way back because the road where the hotel was located was a one way road). The biscuit store claimed to be the oldest one in Penang. I thought that it would be the best present from Penang – authentic local food.

Again, I was lost….hehehe…I didn’t realize that I passed the store because from New World Park, I only saw the right side of the store which was very plain. Thr store was on Lorong Hutton Road and I walked to Nagor Road until I arrived at in front of Lorong Abu Siti road. I finally checked the map and back tracked to the right direction.

The Oldest Biscuit Store-Factory in Penang

At the biscuit store, I bought all the specialities of the store. The lady owner looked very happy with my purchase and I was happy too … Hehehe…p

Dragon Pearl

Green Bean Pia

Sesame Biscuits

A1 Biscuits

Milk Biscuits

Kapau Biscuits

21.00 – ready to sleep

This afternoon I went to Komtar, hoping to get a good dusk photo of Penang. Unfortunately, the security woman on 58th floor said that the area for tourist sight seeing was closed for renovation.

 Then I went to see the mall at Komtar. Well, I saw too many shopping mall in Jakarta and Komtar was small, it’s more like ITC.

Then I decided to have dinner at Upper Penang Street. I waited for the free bus to Georgetown area at Komtar bus station but after sitting at lane 3 for about 10 minutes, all the buses that came to the 5 lanes station were numbered. Then I walked to the information booth (where I met the indian guy with P Raden’s mustache), there I saw the CAT bus stop.

When the bus came, I hopped on it and saw that the bus also had a bus stop in front of the Komtar Mall (the other side of the information booth and I already walked there when I got out from the mall….but then again…I missed it and I walked the extra meters than necessary).

I saw most part of George Town by riding the bus. The town isn’t very big and it’s possible to walk around every corner of the town in a day.

I got off from the bus at Penang Street, in front of  Cititel Hotel. I guess I took the wrong way. Maybe I was supposed to walk to the way where the bus just past because I walked the opposite way and couldn’t find the bustling atmosphere. It was around 19.30 and almost all of the shops and restaurants along the street were closed.

In the end, I walked back to the hotel and bought wonton noodle at a restaurant near the New World Park. I asked to take away the food and when I was walking near the hotel, I realized that the seller didn’t give any chopsticks. Sooooo I ate the noodle using my fingers …euwwhhh….

The noodle was cheap, only RM 2.8 and the wonton tasted great.

Full stomach and tired, so let’s sleep….zzzz…..zzzz…..zzzz…..


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