Penang: The One Island That Dazzles
20 August 2013
Penang is colloquially known as the Pearl of the Orient. It doesn't take much to understand why. Sitting regal in the shimmering waters off the Malacca Straits, it contains a prized collection of heritage, culture and phenomenal food.
Penang Hill was particularly memorable. Accessible by funicular rail, the chilly temperatures at the peak contrasted with balmy weather at the foot. The temporal respite we enjoyed 700 metres above sea level was as refreshing as the views were breathtaking. We were on a metaphorical high, and that set the tone for the entire trip. We oohed at the well-maintained shophouses in Georgetown that offered glimpses of the yesteryear, and aahed as the Peranakan Museum provided insights to an unique culture with its exquisite selections.
On our last day at the Traders Hotel Penang, we bemoaned at the prospect of having to change hotels mid-trip. You see, we were booked in two hotels on this trip - The Traders Hotel, and the Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa. We're carrying countless boxes of the famed Tau Sar Pheah (mung-bean biscuits) Penang is known for, to be distributed to envious friends back home. I blame that on the Wife's incessant sharing of photos on Facebook. How will we manage?
"Don't worry, Mr. Chua, please leave everything to us."
Our concerns were quickly allayed with warm smiles and sincerity from the concierge. Besides, there isn't time to worry - we had an island to explore! We were told to head to Rasa Sayang at day's end. As it turns out, the Rasa Sayang, being a sister hotel of the Traders, accorded us a seamless experience, luggage and all, when switching between properties. You'd think that we were simply moved from one room to another!
Arriving at the Rasa Sayang on Batu Ferringi beach, we discovered we were in for a different treat. While the Traders was a convenient base to explore all historical charm that Penang definitely wasn't short of, the Rasa Sayang, located in a lush and tropical setting, was an oasis for relaxation. The open-concept placement of the soaking tubs meant that we had unparalleled views of the pristine beaches. No prizes for guessing where we spent the most time unwinding, as rhythmic crashes of the waves soothed our wearied minds. If we were still troubled over anything, it would be in deciding between lounging in the room that boasted panoramic views, or be pampered with luxurious massages the in-house spa, CHI, offers.
Staying at different locations in Penang, we had the best of both worlds. Our experiences were out of this world. Throughout the trip, we were made to feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. It could have been due to the generous hospitality that we were shown. Or, it could have been the bowls of piping-hot Penang Laksa that we ate to our hearts' content on Gurney Drive. Or, maybe, it was both. What I do know for sure, however, is that we'll definitely be back in this gem of a destination!