While deciding on a hotel to stay, we went back and forth between Georgetown which is the administrative capital of the island and Batu Ferringhi, which is the beach stretch of the island. I used Google Maps and Trip Advisor a lot to check for restaurants in both areas. Since we are vegetarians and can’t eat anywhere, this is a step I take every time we travel, so that we have meal options which are a short walk or drive away. Georgetown offered the most in terms of food options since the city’s Little India district was a short 10 minute walk away. Also we are not big beach and sun worshippers and the beach stretch of Batu Ferringhi didn’t really have much going for it other than the beach. Georgetown is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and had lots of interesting places to sightsee within it, so eventually it became a no brainer to choose to stay in Gorgetown rather than Batu Ferringhi.
We stayed at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, which is an old-school luxury hotel, and one of the oldest in Penang. This hotel harks back to a time when travel was a luxury and people lived a gentler, slower life. We booked the hotel through Agoda and got it for a decent price. We stayed in the Victory Annexe, the cheaper part I guess, which is fairly new, having opened only in 2013. All rooms were huge with balconies which had sea views of the Andaman Sea. Every room had a double ensuite bathroom which was probably as big as the room itself. The bathroom was divided into two with the dry and wet areas. The dry areas had his and her sinks on two sides with the gigantic tub, shower in the wet area which was inside.
Both BB & GG loved the hotel, so much that BB at one point commented that he’d love to come back to this hotel again when he is older! Being the usual Asian/Indian parent that I am, I quickly retorted that if he studies hard and does well in life, he will be able to afford to come here and stay at the Heritage Wing, which is more posh one and he can also bring his parents with him the next time he comes here! Both GG & BB had sheepish smiles at this comment.
The rooms were sectioned into two facing rooms, which had a smaller corridor with a door which led to the bigger corridor and the lifts. We thus got very private rooms and we would close the door leading to our rooms at night, which gave us more privacy and we could let the doors between the rooms open while getting ready for the day. GG, BB and my helper shared one room while S and I shared the other. The rate included breakfast daily as well as all day coffee in the lounge. We didn’t visit the pool this time, even though we had our swimming costumes because for some reason both BB & GG ‘didn’t feel like it’. We did visit the pool and it had the same sea views as our rooms and is something I’d love to cuddle up with a book and some hot coffee!
I was quite eager for the sea views but the haze played spoil sport! The views were quite bad due to the haze and we could hardly see a few meters. I love the sea and was looking forward to sitting in the balcony with a book, but didn’t spend much time there! Though the haze was there, we didn’t really feel it as we were either in the room, in the car or at an attraction. Guess if we were in the road more, it would have hit us harder!
We reached the hotel around 12 noon, after taking a longer route from the airport (we missed a turn and had to take the longer route) and entered from the Heritage wing. We mistakenly thought that was the entrance, but the receptionist there corrected our misconception and took us to the right reception. We checked in, but the room was not yet ready, so we decided to head out for lunch. This was our first look at Penang. I used Google maps again and took a bit of wrong walking plus a long walk plus asking people before we reached our lunch destination. The kids were tired and cranky by the time we reached Woodlands, where we planned to eat. What I didn’t really realise was that I took a long and convoluted route to get there. The return was half the distance and time. I guess we didn’t feel that tired because we were hydrated and had full bellies when we came back. Back at the hotel, our rooms were ready and we quickly went up to the hotel. The time was around 1:30 by then and once settled in our rooms, everyone wanted to nap for a while as we had woken up early that day (think 5 am on a Sunday morning!) to get ready and catch the 9 am flight!
After a good nap, we decided to go to the Planters Lounge which was free for guests to have some coffee and hot chocolate for the kids. There, we decided on where to go next. My initial plan of going to the museums nearby was shot down and we decided to drive to Penang Hill and the Kok Lok Si Temple.
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