Our spontaneous trip to Froghill was memorable to say the least. Since then, my friends and I had been talking about exploring more of the island, we just didn’t know where to start – there is so much to see! I’ve been living here for over a decade and during this time I’ve done plenty of touristy adventures, but it’s never quite felt like enough. I was going to write this article about how we’re being tourists in our own home, but I realised most of our stops would not be on the standard ‘Penang Must Visit’ lists that you find on popular tourism sites. Several of these were just places we’d discovered through word-of-mouth, which makes this all the more interesting!
Sunrise at Queensbay
I can feel a tradition forming in this, once again we met at sunrise. I still don’t know why we are continuously doing this to ourselves, not one of us actually enjoys waking up early. Our sunrise spot this time was the sea side opposite Queensbay Mall, overlooking Pulau Jerejak. As much as we wanted to catch this sun peeking out, the sun did not seem to want to see us (hence the lack of colour in the photo). Our hopes of capturing picturesque insta-worthy shots were crushed because the weather was too cloudy (should have taken this as a warning for what happened later in the day). Nevertheless, we managed to entertain ourselves through early morning chatter and skipping rocks along the water. Is it too cheesy to say nothing’s boring with the right company?
Another small (and unhealthy) tradition is to get McDonlds breakfast, so that’s what we did before making our way to Penang Hill. I know I mentioned this as being a ‘typical’ spot in my other post, but I haven’t been there in a while and I have heard of the many changes they have made to this attraction. The most impressive has to be the train itself. In the past it used to be an open air train which VERY slowly rode up the hill and took ages to reach the top. Now it basically glides up, seems a lot cleaner and bonus- it has aircon!
It was a weekend, so the hill was bustling with locals and tourists. Side note for foreigners, the ticket price is RM30 as opposed to the RM10 for Malaysians, so please note this when you visit. You will also need to provide some sort of identification, I used my driving license for this. It is well worth it though, so don’t worry about wasting your budget. I am very glad to have visited Penang Hill again and captured these breathtaking views. As someone who spends a lot of time driving around (due to working and living on two opposite ends), looking down at the island was fascinating. Weird how easy it is to forget the beauty of something when you see it every day.
Side note about this love lock bridge, we noticed couples have also used keys to carve their names into the railings. My friend and I decided to carve out our Instagram IDs for our art accounts – you can see where our priorities lie.
Penang Avatar Garden
After this we headed up to our next destination, the Penang Avatar Garden. Pictures of it had gone viral among Penangites and it had become rather popular since it opened. A lot of my friends had already checked it out, and although they didn’t say it was anything amazing, I was really curious to see for myself. But things started to go wrong at this point. All the movies have taught me one thing – no road trip is complete without some bad decisions made along the way. Well this was ours.
Remember when I said the weather was cloudy? We forgot to take that into account at our next destination because when we were at Penang Hill, it was rather perfect and sunny. We squeezed the car into a tiny spot on the open land outside the garden. Before heading in we saw this rocky path and of course, we wanted to get up on it and walk towards the sea (to get those insta-worthy shots – again, notice the priorities here?). We were so excited, happily (and very carefully) skipping from one rock to another until we were half way in. I’m not sure if it shows in the photos, but this path was quite long and took a while to even go half the distance. We managed to take some photos before things got complicated.
It started raining HEAVILY. It wasn’t a gradual increase, one second it was drizzling and the next it’s pouring down on us. So there we were: panicking, trying to walk back steadily and quickly without slipping, getting drenched, and laughing. It was a bizarre sight. We could see people on the land looking at us, probably wondering who are these idiots as we stepped off the rocks and ran along the beach towards the shelter of the car.
The rain continued as we made our way to the closest restaurant we could think of, Sri Ananda Bahwan, to dry off. As we sat there eating out butter chicken, we knew there was a decision to be made. Here we were on a sight seeing road trip and there was a rain storm outside. Should we ditch the trip, or should we continue? It took us a while, but as soon as we noticed the rain had slowed down a bit, we decided to continue on our journey.
Balik Pulau Paddy Fields
We drove all the way up the hillside to Balik Pulau, stopping in between at this sight seeing spot for the stunning view. By this time the weather was still a bit dark but at least it wasn’t pouring, so we had high hopes for the rest of the trip.
We went on to see check out the paddy field. I’ve never been to one before so it was pretty cool. I have to admit though, all we did here was take dramatic photos in the middle of the path.
We didn’t want to leave this place but we had to drive a long way to get to our next destination.
Approximately half an hour later we managed to find this spot, the Gertak Sanggul sea side. It’s more quiet and secluded as compared to other beaches in Penang – you won’t find a string of tourists or large families here! This was the perfect spot to end our day on. Once again, the sunset itself wasn’t so spectacular. The weather was still very cloudy so we couldn’t see much. But nevertheless, it was a very pleasant way to conclude this trip- in such a serene and peaceful environment.
Lastly, here’s a map of the places we went to. You can see how much of the island we covered. I would definitely encourage people to try this out, steer away from the general tourist adventures and try something like this instead!