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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Day 2 : Penang Hill & Kek Lok Si Temple

We woke up bright and early. Our first destination was the stalls behind the Chowrasta Market. My colleague AL who is a local Penangite recommended the pig innards or intestines porridge there. The locals called it 猪肠粥 / Chee Cheung Chok.

We jumped into the CAT shuttle from Komtar. Inside the bus, we asked an old lady where we should get down for Chowrasta. She was kind enough to tell us. Even as we alighted, we needed directions to the porridge stall ... and another middle-aged lady directed us there.

Pig Innards Porridge, RM5.00
Smooth porridge, with intestines, spleen, liver, coagulated blood, char siew, and crispy fried intestines. Sounds like there's a lot to stomach, eh? Lol .... but the porridge was fragrant ... and the innards do not smell. This dish was even featured in the TV show, John Torode's Malaysian Adventure!

Some sights behind the Chowrasta Market .... 

Fresh vegetables ...

Makeshift stalls on the left and right, selling fresh produce, seafood, household items, clothes, trinkets and cooked food

We did venture into the Chowrasta Market itself! But it was a bad idea .... we saw huge rats criss-crossing the market which was wet and smelled really foul! Actually, I was looking for preserved nutmegs to buy, and was directed to go into the market. But I did not find any nutmegs here .....

Behind he bus stop however was a stall which sold in bulk.... and here I managed to buy 500g of preserved and sweetened nutmeg wedges for only RM6.00 .... yummy. After that, we jumped into Bus no. 204; The ride to Air Itam was RM2.00; we would get down at the last stop where we would go to Penang Hill. 

Yay! Bukit Bendera beckons ....
This is the lower station, where we purchased our return ticket; with MyKad, we paid only RM10.00 per pax for the funicular ride up to the top - about 735 ft above sea level. Our short ride up the steep slopes were but a few minutes long .....

The climate wasn't much cooler up here ...... 

View from the top! Love it! Though it seemed a bit hazy down there ....

View of the other side ....

Beautiful blooms at the top

Cafe & an owl museum is located here ...

A Love Lock platform


Love Locks
Well, actually, I do not like this - I think of it as litter and spoiling the natural scenery

The old coach used from 1923 to 1927

Penang is also known as the Pearl of the Orient

There is an Indian temple at the top 

We took a bus from the Lower Station to Air Itam market, where we lighted. From there, we walked to Kek Lok Si Temple. The route to the temple was still undergoing renovation, .... there were numerous narrow steps to climb, ventilation was poor. Along the way were shops selling local products, souvenirs, religious items, clothing and so on .... 

Passing the Tortoise Liberation Pond .... so many tortoises here! 
The Chinese believe that the act of capturing and freeing a turtle is a symbol of spiritual liberation, because the turtle is seen as a symbol of longevity, strength and endurance.

By the time we reached the entrance of the temple, we were hot and sweaty and panting ....  

Our first view of the infamous pagoda, just before we entered the temple complex 

Kek Lok Si translates to be the Temple of Supreme Bliss, and is the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, located on Crane Hill here at Air Itam. 




Images of Buddha at this Pavillion

On the elevator to go up .... RM3.00 per pax per trip

The elevator brought us uphill - where there are a few more temples, sprawling gardens, a fish pond, and the towering statue of the Goddess of Mercy ..... 

99-feet Bonze statue of the Goddess of Mercy, one of the tallest in the world; the pavillion is still under construction, however 

We had to pay a nominal fee of RM2.00 to access the pagoda .... 

The seven-story pagoda of Rama VI
The Pagoda boasts 3 architectural styles - Chinese, Thai and Burmese; We climbed up to the top of the pagoda and the view was splendid from here ! 

After the pagoda, we left the temple complex and made a descent. On the way down, we dropped by a shop named Cheong Kim Chuan and bought a couple of boxes of Liquorice Nutmegs slices .... a 180g box cost RM5.30. So I guess the ones I bought in the morning were cheaper .... 

 .... at the bottom of the temple was a cafe called Kim Hai Thong .....  

Fresh coconut, RM5.00
We badly needed to quench our thirst ....

Penang Laksa, RM4.50
Very yummy! What I loved the most was the smoothness of the noodles ..... it makes it very pleasant to slurp!

We also bought some pastries at a shop named Seng Seng Hiang (成成香) at the market .... 

There's BBQ Pork siew bao, BBQ Pork squares, a lotus and salted egg pastry, and a coconut pastry

Of the four, we liked the siew bao and the coconut pastry; the other two were a bit dry. After that we took bus no. 204 back to Komtar. We walked back to our hotel to rest. It had been a fruitful morning.

In the evening, we went out in search of food. The first thing to eat on our list was the famous Penang Road Teochew Chendul. We walked there from our hotel .... and had to ask for directions for at least 3 times. But we found it. There was a queue but service was fast. Just state how many bowls you want and pay up. 

Famous Penang Road Teochew Chendul, RM2.50

Everyone stood around and ate their chendul with gusto. Well ... it was delicious, really. No wonder it had such a huge following. The red beans were sweet, the chendul smooth and light and not quite bouncy, the coconut syrup was light, and yet rich in flavour .... and slightly salty. So the play of the sweet and the salty made this a very pleasant dessert! Yummy! 

Then we took the CAT shuttle to the jetty and back. We just wanted to survey where to get off the bus for our ferry tomorrow ..... and on the way back, the bus drove past Lineclear Nasi Kandar, so we got off the bus. Lineclear was recommended by my friend AL, and is considered as one of the top best nasi kandar vendors here. 

Briyani rice, fried chicken and mixed curry sauce, RM8.50

White rice, squid, chicken, brinjal and mixed curry sauce, RM17.50

Teh Tarik, RM1.20 per glass

Lineclear was recommended by my colleague AL .... and it is situated along a narrow alleyway, at a backlane. We found the food to be good, but S was shocked by her RM17.50 platter. Lol ..... I liked the play of the spices and the indescribable flavours created by the mixed curry sauce .... the fried chicken was crispy and yummy. :))

Together with a 6% GST, our meal cost us RM30.10. The cashier gave us a discount of 10 cents. So we paid RM30.00 in our meal. Lol.

A short walk away was Ban Heang ... so I bought 2 boxes of Tambun Pheah - each box had 16 pieces and was RM5.20; and 1 packet of Heong Pheah for only RM3.80. I also bought 4 packets of instant Assam Laksa Paste - each packet was RM5.90.

Tambun Pheah
Quite yummy, as the mung bean filling had a rich taste. Mom liked it a lot. She did not like the Heong Pheah though.

The instant Assam Laksa paste was at the top of my to-buy list. Last time, my former colleague L had given me 2 packets ... and I had liked it so much even though my ingredients were lacking. :))

After we were done with the shopping, we went back to the hotel to rest. 

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