For some years, smartphone cameras have gotten so good that most times I don’t bring along my proper digital camera. This has been especially so since the first generation Google Pixel smartphones. Smartphones are not only just easier to bring along, but also easier to shoot photos and videos at any moment.
This post is about my recent trip to Penang Island in December 2018. It features a selection of photos shot on a Google Pixel 3 XL. All photos below are unedited, apart from cropping, and downsized for web. I’ll post a link to original resolution photos at the end of this post.
I’m not a travel photographer, but I was surprised that my post on Khai Yai in 2017 attracted a lot of visits. Maybe, there might just be some interest in my Penang posts too, although I imagine, comparatively, Penang is a less interesting holiday destination than Khao Yai.
The last time I visited Penang was so long ago that I mostly don’t remember anything about it, except perhaps that I had driven up, and also going on Penang Hill. We made an attempt to go to Penang Hill this time, but we gave up.
The crowd at the Penang Hill Lower Station was just completely insane. In fact, the Grab ride from Batu Ferringhi to Penang Hill took over 1.5 hours. The car’s air-conditioning system had given up, and we felt like we were being cooked in the car under the sweltering heat from the sun.
To make up for not getting to Penang Hill, we did get to visit an off-beat hilltop. It’s nowhere as high as Penang Hill, but it does offer an excellent view of the western side of Penang Island. This is the Bukit Genting Hill Leisure Park and Restaurant. The view is magnificent.
According to the GPS tool on my Pixel 3 XL, the elevation at this point is 270 metres. This is only about a third of the height of Penang Hill, whose peak stands at 833 metres, but certainly higher than our Bukit Timah Hill in Singapore by a good margin.
The land on this hill is private property. There is a restaurant, as the name of the place implies, and we had our lunch there. They specialise in Thai seafood, though they also have other local cuisine on the menu. Food is good, and despite the somewhat exclusive location of this restaurant, prices are very reasonable.
You do need some kind of transportation to get up to this hill since it’s like in the middle of nowhere. Rent a car, best with a driver, as the steep roads going up this hill is a little scary.
This hill looks like an excellent place spend a night or two, and I wondered if they have accommodations. They don’t. However, the next hill has some resort chalets. Check out Malihom.
One of newer attractions in Penang is the Penang Avatar Secret Garden. Opened in mid 2017 at Tanjung Tokong, behind the Thai Pak Koong Temple, this place attempts to mimic the Pandora world of the 2009 blockbuster Avatar.
This place, of course, should be visit after dusk, because only then the garden comes alive with coloured lights decorating the trees and ground. This means you should plan to arrive not earlier than 8 pm. You’ll find yourself immersed in a magical world of lights as you stroll through the garden.
The forest-like walk is tranquil and the view is fascinating. There are a number of steps to walk up and down, so visitors should be able to do a little bit of stair climbing.
We had our share of the famed Penang street food. Our first Char Kway Teow in Penang was at the hotel restaurant, after our arrive on the first day. That was really disappointing. The street hawkers cook up a far better serving.
The above local fare were savoured at the Sin Guat Keong Coffee Shop, at the corner of Lebuh Cintra and Lebuh Kimberley. Food was served fast, but more importantly, they tasted great.
Breakfast one of the mornings was at a dim sum eatery, Fu Er Dai, located at 7 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.
One of the cool places we dined at, or rather, had our morning coffee break, was at Coffee On The Table. This was requested by my daughter after seeing the nice coffee art in one of local guide maps we picked up at our hotel. The shop is located at 164 Lebuh Pantai in George Town.
The highlight of the place is the coffee art. This is not just ordinary 2D coffee art. Every creation is in 3D. They serve cake, desserts, and other food too. Food and drinks are good, but be prepared to wait for your coffee art if there’s a crowd.
We visit a bunch of typical touristy places, including the Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion and Penang Pernakan Mansion.
Guided tours in the Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion and Penang Peranakan Mansion are conducted at specific times, so you should check their schedule before you go. You can roam around the latter place on your own, but the former one admits entry only with the guided tour.
One less touristy place we visited, and which is also perhaps less urban, is a visit to the Saanen Dairy Goat Farm.
You can come up close the goats and feed them. There’re also ostriches and chickens on the farm. The former can be quite aggressive, so keep a safe distance. My older son is quite keen to interact with the animals, especially after his stay at the UK Farm during a Gunung Lambak trip organised by the parents support group in his school.
This farm is a little out of the way, like with the Bukit Genting Hill, you’ll need your own transportation. Google Maps makes navigation a breeze. When you’re in the city, or tourist areas like Batu Ferringhi, it’s probably more convenient to just call a Grab car.
On this trip, we spent stayed two nights at Batu Ferringhi, and two nights in George Town. We get both experience both the beach and city life on Penang Island.
All photos in this post were shot with a Google Pixel 3 XL provided by Google. Except for the first photo, all others are unedited, apart from cropping (to 3:2 aspect ratio) and downsizing for use on the web. You can view the full-sized images in this Flickr album.
Google offers free original quality Google Photos backup of photos shot on the 3rd generation Pixel smartphones until January 2022. These photos are not counted against your Google storage quota. After January 2022, you’ll still have access to all previously uploaded photos.