The last time TCG went somewhere in a group, we had to chase down a huge bunch of supercars to the opposing tips of Malaysia; southwards to Johor Bahru (Part I, Part II, Part III, Special Feature), and northwards towards Penang (Part I, Part II) for the 2011 Shell Helix Invasion Tour. Since we weren’t provided any vehicles (two Evora’s would be nice, yes?), we had to use our old faithfuls (a BMW 328i and an Alfa Romeo 156).
For HIN2012, however, we were prepared.
The following is an accurate recollection of the entire trip to Penang through the highly inaccurate senses of TCG’s homo gasolinus, broken into a few parts; The Trip (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3), and The Cars.
Day 1 – 31st August, 2012
The day started in the wee hours of the morn’, at about 0400. Since the rendezvous point was at Andrew’s house, Jason, who stayed the farthest, had to head off from his place at 0330. Vernon, Jack and Jason met up at Andrew’s house, and after some packing, were off to fetch TCG’s unofficial hunny bunny, Melisa Yim from Ogilvy PR. Melisa was following us because she had some relatives on the island, and since TCG is comprised primarily of gentlemen, we welcomed her aboard. From Melisa’s place, we headed off to fetch Brian (pillow and all) from his place, and at 0500, were soon on the way out of KL via NKVE.
Regardless of how traffic during the pre-Merdeka kampung rush turned out, our strategy of sleep-deprivation-to-wake-up-early worked; the route up north was pretty clear. Our first stop was at Tapah R&R just before the break of dawn, at 0645 for breakfast.
Due to some unknown reason (possibly night blindness and/or total laziness), we ended up at a place called Pak Tam. That was to become one of the worst mistakes we ever made as a collective. A guy from Foursquare accurately sums it up.
Nevertheless, we had our caffeine and sugar fixes to power our drive towards our destination. Other than a few crackled radio conversations and retorts, the remainder of the journey to Penang was quite uneventful. As we passed the Juru toll plaza, Jack radioed Andrew, who was at helm of the Elantra, to head on straight towards Butterworth; we were going to be crossing the Penang Strait via ferry!
Since the ferry ride will take us a good 20 minutes, we got out of our cars and roamed around a bit.
The ferry ride was a new experience for most in the team, and the combination of fresh sea breezes and steady waves were relaxing… almost tranquil.
Before long, we reached the Weld Quay Jetty on the island side, started our engines, and were off for breakfast. There were some slight confusion with the route initially, because Beach Street and Light Street (and the Esplanade, no doubt) were blocked off for Merdeka celebrations.
However, thanks to the modern technology that is the GPS, we managed to get ourselves unstuck; via Union Street, Penang Street, and onto Chulia Street.
Since we had to pass our boutique hotel on the way towards Gurney Drive for breakfast, we happily dumped most of the luggage at the reception before heading off.
We reached Corner Club for some dimsum love at about 1030, and all of us were plenty hungry. An hour and approximately 4,000 calories later, we decided to drop Melisa off at her sister’s, and headed back to our hotel; Mango Tree Place.
Once we got ourselves settled in, Andrew went to shoot some interior shots of the suite while the rest took turns to refresh themselves.
Lunch was at Melisa’s sister’s place, Soul Kitchen, a trattoria smack dab in the centre of Georgetown.
Run by Michele and her husband, Tonio, the trattoria serves scrumptious Italian goodies, from pasta and grilled duck to stone oven pizze and tiramisu.
There, we were served some really glorious pizze, made with ridiculously fresh ingredients, and baked to perfection.
We also played with the hosts’ dogs, ogled at some locals, checked out the really cool bikes, ogled at more locals, and had some beer.
Knowing that the pizze would not be enough for the humongous tanks that make up our stomachs, we thanked our gracious hosts and went to look for more delectable treats.
Since we were in the city centre, we decided to head to Penang Road’s famous Cendol and Ais Kacang. We also took some Char Koay Teow, Penang Laksa, and Koay Teow Th’ng to wash our desserts down. After getting totally mushed on food, Jason wanted to have a look-see of the area around Penang Road, so we took a stroll around the place.
After the photo-op, we headed back to the hotel to rest before the night portion of the trip started (i.e. more food).
Dinner was at another awesome hawker joint in Chulia Street. This place serves one of the best food available in Penang. Of special mention is the Curry Mee, Wantan Mee and Hokkien Char, all made by hawkers with more than 10 years in the business.
After our umpteenth food session was done, we promptly headed north towards Tanjung Tokong for HIN2012’s pre-party. Brian, on the other hand, totally KO-ed in the hotel.
We found out that the pre-party was just an informal get-together for the guys prior to the main event the next day. We also met the illustrious Blue Jackets there, all warmed and cozy inside. After the pleasantries, we excused ourselves and headed to Straits Quay (where Melisa and her pal Sarah headed to) for some relaxation of our own.
NEXT UP: HIN2012 – TCG Goes To Penang! Travelogue Part I – The Trip, Day 2
Special Piece: The Place We Stayed
Mango Tree Place was an awesome find (Jack booked it via some discount site, heh!). Situated in the UNESCO heritage buffer zone, along Jalan Phuah Hin Leong (off Burma Road), this quaint and quirky 77 year-old pre-war houses were renovated and remade for lodging in 2008, a distinct standout over your “normal” hotels.
The generous amount of history in these parts of town has definitely added character to the place. Inside, we had the opportunity to meet Sze Wei and her line of pleasant and accommodating staff.
We got ourselves the terrace suite, which is located on the first floor of this blue house. The suites are infused with nostalgia and colonial panache in equal measure with a little bit of modernity added in. Interior design was clean and cozy, much to the delight of us weary travellers.
These factors, combined with the central location, would be why this hotel won the 2012 Traveller’s Choice Award by TripAdvisor. Also, to the delight of Vernon and Brian, the whole place has WIFI connection.
Day 1 Gallery