My next trip to Penang was in 2011 for business. I was asked to come and conduct on-site training for an international company with offices in Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone. This area is in the south-eastern part of Pulau Pinang (that’s Malay for Penang Island). My flight from Singapore arrived the morning before the training so I had most of the day to explore a new part of Penang. I chose to check out the snake temple.
There are more than just snakes, and believe me, there are a lot of snakes; there are also monkeys, tortoises and turtles, as well as iguanas and other kinds of lizards.
For lunch, I went to Jaya Cater’s Corner, a nearby open-air Indian restaurant where I had roti prata. The irony of eating Indian food and visiting a Chinese temple in Malaysia is not completely lost on me but I also think it serves to prove that Malaysia is more multi-cultural than some might think.
Penang Island, in the Straits of Malacca, is my favourite part of Malaysia. In fact, it is one of my favourite places in South East Asia. Last month, I went to Penang for the fifth time and I decided it was time to write about it on this blog.
The first time I went to Penang was about 7 1/2 years ago. I wrote about it on The AFB and if you follow this link you can read about how Penang had been on my list for a long time.
That first trip was to George Town, the capital of Penang and it was love at first sight for me. I spent an entire day wandering around looking at the street art and I ended up at the Clan Jetties.
The next day I visited Penang Hill with its Kek Lok Si Temple which, according to Wikipedia “…is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia.” It is also home to a huge statue of the Goddess of Mercy.
Not only was that trip my first to Penang but it was also my first time staying in a Tune Hotel. I can recommend it for those whose budget falls between a hostel and the Eastern & Oriental Hotel.
My younger sister is coming to visit me in October and although she travels frequently, this will be the longest flight she has ever taken so she asked me for my advice. Here are my suggestions for surviving super long flights:
- Buy the highest class of seat you can afford. If you are like me and can only afford economy, choose the most comfortable seat available even if it means you have to pay a fee. I am a bit claustrophobic so I vividly remember the two flights where I did not have an aisle seat.
- In the old days, airlines provided pillows and blankets for all of their passengers. These days, economy passengers are lucky to get a seat belt! Getting as much sleep as possible will help to ward off jet lag and it is a lot easier to sleep when you feel cozy. If you are travelling to a cold climate, bring a cardigan or an overcoat which you can use as a blanket, on board. If you are travelling to a warm climate bring a pareo or beach towel either of which will double for a blanket, also bring an inflatable neck pillow.
- Drink a lot, preferably water 😉 Not only will this keep you hydrated in the Sahara-like on-board environment but will force you to make several trips to the toilet which leads us to tip number 4.
- Move!! Do those at your seat exercises (see the in-flight magazine) but also get up and walk. Big airplanes have miles (kilometers) of aisles that you can stroll up and down. You can easily get your 10,000 steps done, just ask any flight attendant.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You might think your jeans are comfortable until you have had to wear them for more than 24 hours and sleep in them. Also, metal buttons, zippers, and buckles could set off the security alarms at the airport so choose to wear something that more closely resembles pyjamas.
- Bring lip balm and hand lotion/ moisturizer (see tip 3).
- Bring a pen (sounds so simple but you’d be surprised how often I have had to lend mine to the person sitting next to me).
- View the hours you are forced to spend in airports and on planes as an opportunity to research your destination when you aren’t walking or sleeping.
- Bring a book, e-reader, or Ipad.
- If you have any food restrictions make sure to pre-order your meals.