We have been to many places in Penang. It seems we have been the busiest we have ever been in this supposedly small Malaysian state. We have made friends, we have enjoyed beaches, played on playgrounds and had a “semi-normal” life… followed by an abnormal amount of things to do.
While I have written about some of them there is so much more. Each post in it’s own right deserves it’s own post, but for the benefit of not boring you with another 7 posts I’d like to give a quick overview on some of the other places we have visited in Penang.
The Golden Bay Sands is a luxurious resort in Batu Ferringhi. They have a kids club and attached to this club is a indoor playground complete with scary slides – drop slides, wave slides and slides to make you scream. While they cater to the older children (young adults) they also have a perfect toddler section where my son spent many an hour playing in the ball pit and climbing through the frames
Our first visit to Adventure Zone was with our new friend Mary. While we were there we met some folks from Argentina on holidays. They were absolutely delightful and soon the men were conquering the drop/death slide. A red slide that is a straight vertical drop. Completely vertical! You have to wear socks and long sleeves to prevent the friction burn and even then I saw a few holey socks from that one. We actually have videos on this!
Us ladies were more composed taking a wild, screaming race down the yellow waved slide.
Mia’s favorite slide is the blue one, which has a slight drop, one wave and ends in a ball pit. I cannot even count how many times she has been on this ride.
We have been several times with friends, including our group of travelling families, which resulted in many laughs and loads of fun.
Our other favourite time to go is on a Sunday. The Golden Bay Sands have the most delicious lunch buffet with fresh salads, roast meats, Asian food, Indian food, a kids corner filled with nuggets and chips & a teasing display of cakes and desserts, all for approx. $15 per adults, kids under 6 eat free.
Not only do they have this amazing cheap buffet (compared to Australian prices) they then provide free entry to Adventure Zone. It fast became a Sunday tradition and suffices to say my kids are still not bored of the wonderful Adventure Zone.
2. Parties & Festivals
Our first weekend in Penang a brand new friend invited us to an AFL party. How comforting to spend the ultimate Australian sporting match in Penang with other Australians… Well one other Australian. Other then our host Sara, we had several Americans and one Indian Malay.
The food was a generous mixture of Aussie meets Malay and the game had to be explained several times to the non-Aussies. Josh and I are not big on AFL but we enjoyed a friendly competition picking opposite teams. I can’t remember who won.
Shortly after this party there was the Mid Autumn Festival. This festival is a Chinese festival heavily reliant on the moon cake.
Mary’s family and mine decided to head to the festival in Georgetown. We enjoyed hawker food dinner on the streets of Chinatown and soon were caught up in the parade. Caught up and separated. While we were walking along with the parade around the surrounding areas of Georgetown I heard a "Bender!"
I look over my shoulder very perplexed to a repeated shout, "Travel with Bender!" A little unassuming Asian lady was standing outside a store with her children. She came over and gushed, “You’re Travel with Bender! I’ve been following your journey since you were in Hong Kong and Bangkok and now you are here… and I get to meet you… I can’t believe it."
I was in shock and then slightly elated at my newfound celebrity status. The gorgeous lady posed for a photo and we exchanged some conversation. I walked away with a revelation that Travel with Bender has taken on a life of its own and I felt a thread of destiny running through me.
During a drive with my beautiful friend Mary one day we spotted a playground set into some lush forest. We decide to head back with kids in tow.
What we discovered was another Travel With Bender secret. Known as the Penang Forest Museum, this seems to be a local’s hidden treasure. With free entry, free parking, we walked past flowing rivers and headed towards the playground.
Swings, seesaw, slides, the kids were busy running from one part to the other. While we pushed and pulled, caught and laughed we noticed the lush forest keeps going. We managed to convince the children to go for a walk and a little further into the ecological woodland we found several pools with a continuous natural water source. One of the pools had a concrete slide.
Mia and her friend Theo soon strip off and were playing in the pool. Caius wanted to join, but it was a little deep for him and he enjoyed splashing along the edge.
As we watched, admiring the scenery, we were repetitively bitten by mosquitos. It is the continuous drawing of blood that has us hurrying the kids out of the water to exit the park.
What a wonderful find, if but next time we bring the Aeroguard.
There is a little restaurant on the beach known as BBQ Nights. You can find it in our Penang Food post. The food is not the best in Penang by far, but the location is hard to beat.
Set between the Pirate Ship steak house and Long Beach, BBQ nights have prime location on the beach. It’s the best place for a family to have dinner. Every dinner there I have had in peace due to my kids being consistently entertained by sand castle building, paraglide watching, horse riding or puppy cuddling.
On our first night there we came across a delightful cross-lab midnight black puppy. Following him home, a little further down the beach we found he was one of many (29 puppies!). The owner encouraged us to take one home. These beautiful puppies soon became our adoptive pets as we visited BBQ Nights weekly to cuddle and watch them grow over the two months we spent in Penang – surrogate pets.
It was during one visit that Mia spotted the horses on the beach. There are about 4-5 offering rides to tourists along the beach. Mia convinced her Daddy she had to ride one and so my 3-year-old daughter and her 5-year-old friend started their romantic ride on the beach in the setting sun.
Caius got a turn too, but lasted mere seconds before wanting off and Mia continued on her own. Heart in my throat as my daughter rides a horse along the beach on her own, sometimes a man leading, often the horse trotting on his own. She could not have been happier, and fell in love with horses that day. The price was 20MYR.
We have denied her the experience since and one night while the tourists were low and we were busy eating dinner she fluttered her eyelids and charmed her way onto a horse for a free ride. She did not come down for half an hour.
Tucked away in a secluded location filled with ritzy houses and gorgeous landscaping is the Penang Youth Park.
An onion playground – that is a playground filled with multiple layers. Several different playgrounds for the kids to play all day. Public pools, which are not too deep, but packed on a weekend.
There is a small tuck shop with snacks and drinks.
We had a great morning here; it’s definitely worth a visit.
We decided to hit this temple early morning since it gets hot in Penang. While the temperature is currently only hitting 33°C, the weather places label it as “feels like 39°C”.
We picked up our new friends Stacie, Nick & their kids at 8:30am and all 8 of us drove to the temple in our mini 5-seater car. Going to miss the new road rules here in Asia.
It’s rather difficult to know where to go and we drove too far up and ended up coming back down to park the car outside the entrance of a small shopping area. We stumbled out of the car and then made our difficult way around the lower temple. It was filled with steps that our two strollers struggled with, but fascinating nevertheless.
To get to the top temple where a giant statue sits you can get a 4MYR ($1.30AUD) ride in a glass elevator come cable car up the mountain and back down. It’s like the glass elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the only aircon you get on this little visit. The kids loved it.
The temple up top is a concrete jungle, but pretty magnificent and the views are wonderful. There is also a little waterfall and pagoda to sit in, where we had fun taking lots of photos.
One thing that hit me about the temple is exactly how many gift shops there were. I must have stopped counting after 5, but you must walk through every one of them. They sell little Buddha’s and toys and even prayers.
I found it amusing how much harassment the churches in Australia receive from the media, because people give money willingly to a community they are a part of and yet they clearly have not been to this temple where even prayers have to be bought with money.
Back to the beginning and heading down instead of up is Liberation Pond. A dirty green pond with the most amount of turtles I have ever seen. Big ones, old ones, little ones and hungry ones. The kids had a riot buying the 30 cent green sticks to feed the turtles that clambered over each other’s backs in an effort to eat. I have never seen a turtle move so fast!
We spent about 2 hours at the temple and eventually the heat drove us back to the air-conditioned car.
From there we meet more friends at the Golden Bay Sands for a yummy lunch and then hit up Adventure Zone with our free tickets. The kids had a blast and everyone came home exhausted from our long day out. I had 11 hours sleep that night and it was wonderful!
7. Penang Hill
While my mum was visiting us here in Penang we managed to make time for a visit to Penang Hill. During a recent upgrade on my iPhone Apple utterly and completely destroyed my maps app. We used this app for everything and now we can use it for nothing. Proven again on this day where we ended up on the wrong side of the mountain.
Finally we found the location. It’s quite near the Kok Lok Si temple. We parked on the street, walked a little up the hill, purchased our tickets to ride the Funicular/Tram/Train-thingo and jumped on. Tickets were $10 per adult return, kids were free. This ride is similar to tram at the Peak in Hong Kong, except no one in running on board like it’s school time recess.
At the top there is a bit of a walk up hill, but the views are glorious. A lovely lady was taken by my mother at the top of the hill and could not believe she was my mother. A beautiful 52 year old who looks more like my sister. I can only pray I am as beautiful in the next 20 years.
We climbed some stairs and reached a playground that the kids enjoyed. Mia becomes the centre of attention to ladies in burkas. Caius fell off this playset and hit his head. He quickly fell into sleep and we feared concussion.
It was hot so we made our way to the food court where surprisingly meal for 3 adults and 2 kids cost us $8! Thank God it hasn’t turned into a tourist trap. Mia also got some henna done on her arm for $3, it looked so beautiful. Caius would not be left out and got some too.
Waking for a little while, Caius seemed to be coherent and formed words, but still very sleepy so we decided on a 45 minute buggy (golf cart) ride. The driver was a guide and pointed out different things along the journey and made stops for photos of the view and ice cream. It was so cool scooting around on the back of the golf cart beneath the thick, heavy trees on top of the world. Monkeys bouncing between branches, the view changing from city to beach to trees.
After our buggy ride we rode back down the mountain and headed home, not only because we were all hot and tired, but because my concussed son was in need of panadol and rest. It certainly was a memorable day.
There are so many great things to do in Penang, I am not sure we are going to have time to do them all. Hopefully our Top 10 Things to do with a Toddler in Penang will give you some ideas on what to cram in on your next holiday to the Pearl of the Orient.