Chinese New Year: Trip to Penang via Kuala Lumpur – Part 3

So far we have : Part 1 and Part 2

After soaking in on all those mesmerizing scenes, we returned from the nature walk and crossed to the other side of the ticket office. This is where there are many ferries and other smaller powered motor boats. They also have more adventurous boats which are not really circumvented with enough support. You need to book a boat if you wish to see the turtle sanctuary, the spot in the waterbody where they say that salt water and fresh water meet and they form two distinct layers that can be seen by the naked eye and also explore the monkey beach.

So we hired a boat (for lack of a better term). When we booked the “cruise”, we realized that there were 2 elderly women (they were related to each other) looking around for someone who would let them accompany them. They’d have to pay a very high amount if they had to hire an entire jetty just for the 2 of them. And no one wanted to let them join in because one of the ladies was quite old and no one wanted to take a risk. Oh well, we did not have any problem. We were a bit wary of how she would get on the jetty though but with 3 strong men, we didn’t have too much to worry about. They just lifted her and put her on the seat. K gave me a victorious smile and I beamed, all proud that my better half had just lifted Mt. Everest with his little finger.

For the first time in my life, I wore a life jacket. We all very much did.  And I am thankful to God that I did. No no, I did not fall off or anything but I definitely felt a bit scared (sheepish grin) as the engine roared to life and sped way too fast. I was expecting a guided and slow on kinetic energy motion but that was not to be. The gentleman who took us on the ride (no pun) seemed like he was in a hurry to show us all of Penang before Penang closed down to tourists or something.

We soon realized why. Finagling through the high wavy waters, he had only meant good. Moreover, there was a lot to to be covered in 2 hours and he did not want us to waste time on the jetty.

The tranquility that the entire environ exuded had us in very high spirits. We thoroughly enjoyed the jaunty ride what with the our engine-man indulging in a lot of “Penanag-is-beautiful-and-I-am-a-Penangite” pride, the younger of the 2 elderly ladies chatting away telling us of her Professor husband in UK and about the long awaited wedding of her daughter (a UK born Malay) with her Punjabi boyfriend (She pronounced Punjabi in a very cute way), me gushing about Indian weddings and talking of the masti I had in Punjabi weddings, L clicking some beautiful snaps, K soaking in on the miniscule drops of water trying to get them to land on his nose and refusing to take his hand away from water even when I screamed about possible crocodiles and O standing at the deck, K and O doing the Titanic pose *rolls eyes* with each other when they had their better halves with them- I loved this ride! We did take snaps of all of that.

Very soon, our guide was pointing us to rocks saying “Can you see the rabbit? Can you see the hippo?” and so on. I looked far and near desperately trying to spot them, pulling K’s shirt and asking him to show me. After a few seconds, everyone was like,”Ah, there! There!”, much to my annoyance. I am always bad at spotting things when anyone points it to me from a distance. But missing a hippo?  This was too much.

K finally showed some mercy and soon cleared my confusion. He said that we are near the rock island and what he is showing are rocks shaped like animals. Pooh! Okay Sir, I am interested in rock shaped animals but I don’t have the tour pamphlets like others. Please can you be more specific and say, “Can you see ROCK hippo? Can you see ROCK rabbit?”. I pretended to have seen them but am sure I had just imagined and given my own form to the rocks. The picture bears testimony to my miscontrued form recognition.

We then reached the turtle sanctuary. They breed baby turtles which are like the cutest things on earth after baby donkeys. Really, baby anything is cute actually!

As we approached the turtle island –

Don’t miss the greenish hues.

Such cuteness, I tell you ! And they seemed to love K, rather K’s hand. I think they found his hand adorable or something because when we each put our hand inside to touch them, they got scared or huddled away from the hand. But when K put his hand in, they all wanted to come close, as if K was the Saviour they were waiting for, to rescue them from this treacherous prison of sorts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When he put his finger in first time, you can see a couple of them close in. He was just so happy that he kept putting his finger in at each corner to see where he gets a majority 🙂

There were on display, some of the skeletons of turtles and other vertebrates but honestly, I did not look in very closely. I was too fascinated by the baby turtles. Now, I see you nodding vigorously!

After dawdling around for a while, we left for the monkey beach. On the way to the monkey beach, we saw the place where they said that fresh and salt water form 2 distinct layers. Honestly, we couldn’t see much. It was more of a nice bridge that caught our view than the layered waters.

When we reached the monkey beach, we did not really see many monekys.

Once we reached into the interiors, we instantly knew why it was called so. More monkeys than people ! The monkeys were having their sun baths with people. We saw people feeding them anything and everything right from groundnuts to cheezles to curry puffs to ice creams. They were all hanging on the trees, camouflaged with only their bright eyes giving them away and that thrust of hand to take what was offered to them. What a sight!

We had prepared ourselves to feed them and so had taken a couple of packets of groundnuts. They would come down cutely and take the groundnuts. All the photos I have are those with L, O, X, K and others. I wish I could show them to you. Those monkeys were literally taking groundnuts off our hand.

I started feeding them and soon people around told us that the ones who come down the trees and take groundnuts were all males. The females were on trees, fear in their eyes, afraid of the male monkeys (their husbands). They refused to come and take the food because the male monkeys would scratch or fight with them for having taken their share. Sounds familiar? 😛

Anyways, I being me, refused to allow this kind of dominance. Whether males or females, each of them owed the other equal share of profit. This was inequality, right? So, I concentrated on feeding my tree-friends.

We then returned to the shore. after an amazing journey on water, we were super hungry. We went to the hotel, changed and looked around for some restaurants that had something vegetarian. Ofcourse, right opposite our hotel we found —

Okay, now don’t ask me why we had Indian food in Penang. We were really hungry and in my defence, the Indian food had so much of Malay influence on it as well.

In the evening, we went to meet another Indian family, a couple and the cute boys – twin set. The husband was K and O’s colleague who had brought his family to Penang for vacation as well. We met up and had the typical local food.

The next day saw us indulging in a 2.5 hour spa ! Yes yes my friends from Venus and Mars ! It is exactly at this point that I want you to feel jealous. It was the most amazing aromatherapy and pedicure I have been through. Even the thought of it makes me want to cuddle off on the table right here, right now. we went to the resort spa for lack of time. Though a bit on the higher side, the service was amazing. Plus, we got some yummy green tea.

While L and I were having our spa, O was sleeping. K and X were exploring the townside. We joined them later for lunch in the only Chinese restaurant that was open. The restaurant was all in red.

There was such amazing food.

And the most delectable lychee drink.

And as we went on long drives to explore the town –

exploring the streets,

reaching narrow lanes reminiscent of sweet childhood,

looking at barbers (don’t ask me why, all for local touch), we fell in love with Penang.

Soemtimes, I am just so curious to know how people will be like. Don’t laugh at me. I know I know – homo sapiens and all. But you get what I mean? The outfits, the smiles, the noses, the attitudes, the warmth, the food, the festivals, how they go to school, how many schools, how they laze around on Sunday afternoons – all this means a lot to me !

By the end of it, we ended up totally exhausted and hungry. There is also a fruit farm where they grow lots of varieties organically. We went there to buy some fresh fruits but just as we zoomed in, the lady waved to us and said that they are closing for CNY. We felt really sad and all that sadness turned to hunger. So what if we did not get some local fruits, we could always go for local food!

These two girls played for about 2 hours at a stretch without a hint of boredom. You should have seen them indulge in pretend play, manipulative play, constructive play, solitary play – sigh!

And as we walked along the streets one more time, we saw a huge restaurant of sorts that had big big aquariums with all kinds of sea creatures in them. You could just choose which one you would like on your plate and that would be served to you. Ofcourse, they are super expensive!

I wish I had clicked more snaps without us in it. It would have been easier to share. Next time, I will remember to.

Over the past few months, I have surprised myself. I have showed myself how I can get to love certain things with so much ease; how I have learnt to acquire tastes so easily. Thank you K !

A couple of years back, the local bakery was the closest I could get to street food. Or an occassional gobi, panipuri or masala puri when I go to B’lore. I loved street food. But I was so low on immunity since childhood that I just couldn’t get used to it.

When we first went to Malaysia, to Port Dickson, I was eating at “safe” places and trying local food in big hotels just to be safe about food. I can travel, explore, sleep, read in any any place but food had to be safe, always.

Ask me now. And you will find a whole new Kismitoffeebar 🙂

With that, we come to the end of Penang tales. After 4 great days, K and I just dashed to our bed, sweet bed at home.

Folks, travel travel travel travel (short trips, long trips anything)! You won’t ever have enough of it, as long as you come back to your coffee machine, book shelves, favourite window and bed at home often enough 🙂


  1. greenboochi · July 4, 2012

    Kismi…. 🙂 🙂 totally totally totally loved this series… why should it have to get over soon……… 😦

    You write so beautifully… I felt like being in every place you mentioned here.. 🙂

    And those turtles are so so cute… I strongly accept… anything baby is very very cute… also agree with you on baby donkey ha ha 😀 😀

    It felt great seeing some places in your pics that looked familiar to me where I had spent time 2 yrs back.. brought back good memories…
    Anandha Bhawan was the first place I went for dinner on my first day at Penang… (had been starving for a full day and my frnd was kind enough to take me there seeing my pitiable condition).. any Indain food would have malay influence there…

    and Ditto on the playing safe with food… I should have known.. we have so many similarities… 😀 When I was with parents in Chennai.. I hardly touched outside food.. mom would cook all the delicacies or I would try my hand sometimes… Even after coming Bangalore for work.. I would rather starve than have outside food.. so was my immunity.. things have changed so much now…. thanks to S 😀 😀 my dad looked at me in awe last week seeing me hogging outside food 😛

    • kismitoffeebar · July 4, 2012

      Hey Gbieeeeeeeee 🙂

      Awwwwwwww 🙂 I have so many other travel tales to tell yet Gb 🙂 Thanks so much for saying such nice things dearie. They put me on top of the world, really! 🙂 I love travelling and it is always delightful to know that someone shares that enthusiasm with you 🙂
      Turtles are so cute, hai na?
      It reminded you of your trip – very very nice! Oh yes! Every food has malay influence 😛
      Really, you too? all that playing safe with food? me threeeeeeeeeeeeeee ! Thanks to K in my case. How similar can we get? Sigh!
      Your dad looking at you in awe – priceless 🙂

  2. Destination Infinity · July 4, 2012

    I wonder why are Chinese restaurants are so red? I do admire the dash of a strong colour, but their red-prominence is too noticeable. You were lucky that the monkeys in that beach were behaving well. Near to Coimbatore, there is one Monkey falls and these monkeys don’t take, but snatch things from visitors. I kept idly/sambar/vada in my bike and by the time I was back, they were gone!

    You have an interesting style of writing travelogues. Your enthusiasm shows in your words 🙂

    Destination Infinity

    • kismitoffeebar · July 4, 2012

      Hi DI !

      Chinese consider red to be a symbol of prosperity and good luck. So, during CNY, everything is red. Just about about everything. and there are oranges everywhere because that symbolises propesperity and abundance as well 🙂

      hehehehehehe – Ya we were lucky with the monkeys. They have become part of tourism there. 😛
      Had a good laugh reading your incident with monkeys!

      Thanks DI 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind words and appreciation. I do love travelling! 🙂

  3. lifesong · July 4, 2012

    That was one lovely travelogue 🙂 thoroughly enjoyed reading it 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this 🙂
    Penang seems to be such a nice place and your lovely description added so much charm to it 🙂
    Loved your last para “travel travel travel!… ”
    That is exactly how I feel about traveling and exploring new places 🙂 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · July 4, 2012

      Thanks so much lifesong 🙂
      You are most welcome 🙂
      Am so glad you liked Penang !
      You are a travelbeeee too 🙂 Yay !

  4. Visha · July 4, 2012

    Yahooo….am now able to see the pics… 😀 😀 😀

    Whatay travelogue eh 🙂

    Lovely words accentuated with trademark Toffee flavour and pictures to feel jealous about!

    Where to next 😉

    • kismitoffeebar · July 4, 2012

      Vishaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ! Yay ! You could see the pics yay!
      he he toffee flavour! 😛
      I still have a few more travelogues pending Visha 🙂 will put them up eventually. Have a food post and so on to do first 🙂 Oopoooh, I am hooked to blogging!
      Thanks so much dearie 🙂

  5. techie2mom · July 4, 2012

    Hey, your travel tale is very beautiful at the same time entertaining 🙂
    LOL at “all proud that my better half had just lifted Mt. Everest with his little finger.” & the rock island incident 🙂
    “This was inequality, right? So, I concentrated on feeding my tree-friends” I am so proud of you 🙂
    All the pics are so great!!! i can’t choose my favorite…

    • kismitoffeebar · July 4, 2012

      Thanks so much dearie t2m ( another abbreviation for you) 🙂

      I did feel all proud hehe 🙂
      Am so glad you are with me on inequality 😛
      I hope you get to visit it someday with zini 🙂

  6. The Girl Next Door · July 4, 2012

    Loved the travelogue, Kismi. Felt as if I was visiting all these places with you. 🙂 Penang sounds like a lovely place.

    Those baby turtles are oh-so-cute!!

    So proud of you for travelling with the elderly ladies, and for not giving in to male-female inequality! 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · July 4, 2012

      Thanks so much TGND :))
      We left out so many places. I think I would go again 🙂 someday, pls do visit it TGND 🙂
      Ya baby turtles are awwwwwwww 🙂 I wanted to bring a few home 😦
      Thankee dear 🙂

  7. Jas · July 4, 2012

    Wonderful summation. I loved the ship pic and the food ofcourse.. 🙂 and those cutie turtles…. that must be a treat for the eyes…

    • kismitoffeebar · July 4, 2012

      All the cutie turtles were a real treat jas :)) thanks so much ! 🙂
      Hehe ya we love our plate and palate , don’t we ?

      • Jas · July 4, 2012

        oh yes 🙂 food is what makes any place my favorite… and I guess it is the same for you.

  8. KP · July 4, 2012

    I must confess I haven’t read the earlier parts but this one gave the feel of the place.The narrow lane,the roadside saloon,the restaurents are very much like ours in small towns.The write up was lively…True however interesting the places travelled are,the return back to home is always much welcome.Thanks

  9. kismitoffeebar · July 4, 2012

    Thanks so much KP :)) yes it is a small place with amazing amazing sights 🙂
    Is it not true, to each his home !!!!! 🙂

  10. Privy Trifles · July 4, 2012

    Oh this series was so much fun…it felt as if I had virtually gone on a tour there myself 🙂

    The narration was so intrigue that it had me hooked onto it as I waited for the nxet part to on soon!

    Loved the picture of the clouds and the sea the most. It is just tooooo beautiful.

    • kismitoffeebar · July 5, 2012

      Thanks Privy! 🙂 Very happpy to know you had fun 🙂
      Ya, the clouds and the sea, the vast expanse – was quite overwhelming, to say the least 🙂

  11. Bikramjit Singh Mann · July 4, 2012

    Beautiful pictures , you can still share the pics just morph your faces. Don’t worry I will still say that you both look lovely .. pakka promise….
    Ooooh that lychee drink looks yummmyy and you know I like that driving to explore Ido that always.. hire a car and go exploring beat way to find places…

    And after reading all this I am aowanting to go there myselfffff

    • kismitoffeebar · July 5, 2012

      Thanks Bikram 🙂 Ya, I must remember to morph the faces next time. Thanks so much ! 🙂

      Hehe – you will call morphed faces lovely 😛 I will say thanks as well 😛

      Ya lychee was yum ! Ya “beat” is always a great experience 😛
      I do hope you plan a trip there sometime! 🙂

  12. Srinivas Sundaram · July 5, 2012

    Too cool, and this is almost publishable in a small travel magazine or something. I almost feel like I have seen some part of Penang through your articles now :-).

    Btw…just a suspicion…please don’t take this question in a wrong way. Did K’s hand have some sugar or something that is pleasing / tasty to young turtles ???

    • kismitoffeebar · July 5, 2012

      Thanks Srinivas 🙂 humbled. I would reco this visit to you 🙂
      He he. No K’s hand had no sugar. Can I be cheesy and say that him being a sweet guy had a role to play ? :))

  13. shaktii · July 7, 2012


    iam here first time.. iam from singapore and recently been to penang.. i just loved Ananda bhavan food.. too good than one at spore.. i guess you stayed in hotel rainbow paradise rite?? we were there and every day breakfast and dinner of ours was there at Ananda bhavan.. first time iam seeing non veg there..also the rainbow paradise was good.

    • kismitoffeebar · July 7, 2012

      Hi Shaktii ! 🙂
      Welcome here ! Ya Ananda Bhavan was a good experience. We went there only once though ! We were eager to try the other cuisines. We stayed at Paradise Sandy Beach Resort 🙂 I think Rainbow Paradise was also closeby 🙂

  14. My Era · July 7, 2012

    Brilliant narration to go with some fantastic shots 😀

    Wow! a 2.5 hour spa 😀 and those baby turtles reminded me of my visit to Malaysia….they are soooper cute 🙂

    As far those restaurants with big aquariums, I had actually got very nauseous by the kind of smell you get in these places (it’s not that the places aren’t clean and am a hard core non-vegetarian) but still I couldn’t eat at those places.

    Loved the way you added pictures of local barber, streets with kids playing, they added so much to the feel that you actually visited the heart of the place 😀

    • kismitoffeebar · July 8, 2012

      Thanks so much ME 🙂 Oh, I totally get what you mean by the smell. I took a long while to get used to it as well. and there are some smells like crocodile meat that i am finding hard to deal with yet. But, Singapore food courts smell pretty much like that and so I have gotten used to it 🙂
      I loved the spa 😛
      Thanks so much. You just nailed it ! – visiting the heart of the place 🙂

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