Thursday, July 30, 2009

Places to Visit in Penang

I was in Singapore for a few days and was chatting with one of the taxi drivers there. He was asking where I was from, and upon knowing that I was from Penang, he was asking what to do there if he's there for 2-3 days, or what are the attractions there. I told him immmediately to try the Penang Hawker fare but didn't give him an answer on what are the places that he could visit. Now that I am back, a few things that I shld have told him to do when he is here is probably to go for a trip round Penang Island, and stop over at a few places e.g Balik Pulau ( for its famous Laksa, and durian if in season), visit Pulau Betong beach, and the fruit farm and dam near Teluk Bahang. At night, a visit to Gurney Drive and/or Penang Hill will be worth a visit. A walk around historical downtown Penang is also worth a visit with free Penang bus ride that takes you to all the historical sites.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Haze is Back with a Vengeance

Woke up on Sunday morning and lo and behold, can't see most of Penang. The haze is back in Penang. Malaysians are suffering due to so called "dry season hot spots"; more like man's greed trying to clear the forest for the palm oil plantation across Sumatra which, I hear belongs to a number of Malaysian companies. Checking the govt haze index, it is showing 57 + ( I think it is lower than that) See the picture and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Diving at Sipadan

Just returned from a 5 days/ 4nights stay at Sipadan Water Village (SWV) on Mabul Island ( pic.) The journey from Mabul to Sipadan for the dive normally takes 15 mins but took 45 minutes instead as the seas were rough and choppy due to a typhoon that passed by Philippines. Weather was cloudy for some of the days. It was also just after the full moon and according to the manager usually the sea was a bit rough. The diving at Sipadan as usual was great, and managed to see the school of barracuda and trevally. However, missed the Bumphead Parrot Fish school. I noticed there were not that many turtles this round compared to my previous trip. We only went for 1 day to Sipadan as there is a strict quota of max. 120 divers per day allowed at Sipadan. Each resort is allocated about 12/day. With so many divers wanting to go to Sipadan,most divers only get to go once esp. when it is peak season. Accomodation at Sipadan Water Village (SWV)Resort on Mabul overall was good with friendly smiles from the staffs. Food was overall good but it was better the last time I visited with more variety. On one of the days a police chopper actually landed on the resort. It was one of their rare visits by chopper. Normally, there will be patrol boats surrounding the area so security is good.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Off to Sipadan to visit the fishes

I shall be off to Sipadan, taking the direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau, Sabah onto the van for about 50 minutes ride and spend the night at Seafest Hotel at Semporna by the coast. Next morning will take the boat ride to Mabul island at the dive resort. Sipadan island is about 10-15 minutes boat ride away from Mabul Island. This will be my 3rd trip, and looking forward to see my old buddies underwater.
Video attached is a school of barracuda taken at Sipadan a few years back.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Authentic Indian Food in Penang

Authentic, in this case Southern India cuisine is one of my favourites. And Penang is blessed with some great and authentic mainly South Indian cuisine. Just go to the section of Penang known as Little India which is at Market / Queen St Area, and you get the feeling u are in India where there are shops which sells spices and food products direct from India. Some of my Indian friends shop here as according to them the taste of authentic Indian food requires these spices e.g. shallots,that will affect the outcome of the flavour of the final product. Can't argue with them. One of the many restaurants, which I was introduced is located at Market Street, called " Karaikudi". They have some of the best banana leaf servings. They also have a branch at Tanjong Tokong near Pearl Hill.
If you are there some of the other famous and popular restaurants are Achi, Kaliammans, and Woodlands at Penang Street.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Went to the MATTA Travel Fair in Penang. The crowd wasn't that big on a Saturday evening. Must be the economic situation. There were some pretty good deals for most destinations. The Australia Tourism Booth had lots of great brochures and holiday tips that they gave for free, for those interested to visit. I was looking around for tours to Europe, and there was one tour to Italy & Swiss 10days/7 nights costs ~ $5988 from Hong Thai Travels, under their Smart Holidays Packages. AirAsia, MAS had some pretty good deals too e.g. Australian Free n Easy Package in Melbourne for 4D/3N at $1769 and Perth at $1639. Most of the deals are valid only during the fair period. Depending on your persuasion power, u might be able to get the same rate after the fair since I presume that less people are travelling due to the economy and H1N1 concerns.