My Significant Other (SO) and I arrived in Penang late Friday afternoon following just a thirty-minute flight from Kuala Lumpur; in fact, it took longer to crawl through the Penang rush hour traffic to our hotel than the flight itself. The only vehicles moving were the dozens of mopeds and scooters weaving precariously in and out of the stationary cars, trucks and buses.
The Eastern and Oriental Hotel was our destination; established in 1885 by the Sarkies brothers and very much in the style of their other familiar hotel Raffles in Singapore. As our time in Penang was limited to two days SO and I decided that taking the city Hop-On-Hope-Off bus was our best option for an instant feel for George Town. For a Saturday morning, the George Town traffic was particularly heavy (we found out later it was a day of public holiday). We sat atop the double-decker allowing us great views of the streets below – the beautiful whitewashed colonial mansions still making their presence known, their colonial past very much in evidence today.
Hopping off the bus at the foot of Penang Hill we took Asia’s longest funicular to 830m above sea level through the world’s steepest tunnel (according to our map that is.)
At the summit, the views were hazy, nevertheless clear enough to see George Town below us. There was an oddment of attractions at the summit; a temple, an owl museum and the Penang Hill Lovelock. Loved up couples are lured into the tourist trap of expensive padlocks and plastic hearts – write a note of undying love for each other and padlock it to the railings for……..for ever I guess!
Once back on the Hop-on-Hop-off bus, which was running 45 minutes late, it was clear we were going to spending the afternoon sitting in traffic so we decided to abandon the bus in favour of a walk.