Budget Luxury Trip – Episode 1

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Beaches, nature, great food, night markets and a myriad of dazzling shopping options are what makes Penang an affordable luxurious getaway. The colorful Georgetown, the beaches at Batu Ferringhi, the skyscape overlooking from Penang Hill, mystifying Kek Lok Si….. make Penang one of the ideal choices for photographers who just need a budget trip to make fascinating sunset and landscape shoots.

Shopping in Penang and Cost of entire trip (inclusive of accommodation and travel fares)
A 3-day tour of Penang can cost as low as S$250 provided if you are careful with your wallet. Learn to bargain whenever you are shopping and are tempted to make any purchases, you can expect to be quoted any price for certain items – so do not look desperate. Some vendors may jack up the price if the tourist demonstrates a sense of urgency in buying the item especially electronics goods like film or battery for his/her camera or phone.

Gastronomic Delights Exceeding Expectations
Foodwise…..you can expect to be spoilt for choices of good food. During my first trip to Penang, food there exceeded my expectations if I compare that in terms of taste with the food I had in Thailand, England, Paris and Zurich. Of course, my definition of Penang food being more delicious can be very subjective. This could be perhaps relates to my 33 years of growing up with the South East Asian cuisines in Singapore – Penang offers a different version of laksa, char kway teow, dim sum, wanton mee, etc. What had fascinated me about the food in Penang is that their tastes are not so generic. Penangers tend to be creative in adjusting the taste of their food, in contrast to the similar, bland kind of taste you can get in Singapore where many different stalls can produce the same generic taste of laksa. And if you are a coffee lover, you’d be very delighted by the taste of Penang coffee which tends to leave your tastebuds wanting more. Generally, coffee is a must-try in Penang whether you are a frequent coffee drinker – Penang is well known for good coffee.

The Fascinating Aroma of Roadside Stall Penang Coffee

Penangers seem to love drinking coffee. Coffee is served almost everywhere in Penang and at anytime of the day. Good quality Penang coffee can often be found at small roadside stalls, mobile hawker centres, coffee shops, clubs, hotels and even at fine dining establishments. Coffee is drunk to wake up, to get a lift during the day, before and after meals, and also during the wee hours of the day at numerous 24 hours cafes and restaurants.Due to the unique roasting process, the type of coffee popular with Penang coffee drinkers can only be found in Malaysia, Singapore, and parts of Southern Thailand. Traditionally, the coffee beans are roasted over a wood fire roaster. The combined roasting and caramelizing process produces a special aroma with the right degree of bitterness and body much revered by the local coffee drinkers.

As cited by a Wikipedia source that Penang is situated amidst the greatest Robusta coffee producing regions in the world, namely Sumatra and Vietnam, Penang coffee is naturally primarily Robusta based. The quality of Robusta beans does vary tremendously over the regions, and the best Robusta beans, feeding upon the enriched volcanic soil near the Krakatoa volcano, can be found in the Lamphong District of Sumatra. It is also the same area where Kopi Luwak (reputed to be the most expensive coffee in the world) originates.

If you are looking for a good time to visit Penang, I would recommend Chinese New Year which is the only time of every year when Kek Lok Si lights up and looks colourful.

Penang Hill
Another attraction to visit is Penang Hill – this one was very memorable due to my experience of going up to the mount of the hill which is really very high above the sea level. Kek Lok Si, Penang Hill, Botanical Garden and Batu Ferringhi are within a rather close proximity to one another – and they are must-visit places in my opinion. I’d spend more time in Batu Ferringhi and Penang Hill if I get to go to Penang again. I have to admit that my tour of Kek Lok Si was the most exhausting one, since it is the largest temple in South East Asia and did took me and my friends the whole day exploring it and taking photos of the decorative lights till 11:30pm when all the public transport stopped operating and we had to get help from a police station to find us a taxi to send us back to our accomodation in the Hutton Lodge.

Batu Ferringhi
(Description coming up)

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About cindychak

Cindy Chak is a professional writer currently based in Singapore, with 3 years of working experience in a publishing firm. Her field of work has largely involved copywriting, journalism and sub-editing. The activities she usually does during her leisure have included nature photography, writing poems, drawing, painting and going to the movies. Some of her works can be reviewed here http://www.flickr.com/photos/cindychak/.

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