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Thứ Bảy, 25 tháng 2, 2012

Penang 2011 - Island Discovery Tour

We decided to book a half day Island Discovery Tour to venture out a bit from George Town. Booking through Viator - it was quite hassle free. You pay online, get a voucher with the local contacts - then call the local agent to confirm the tour. After we just landed in Penang, we got a call from the agent to remind us of the tour. Good service.

We were picked up from our hotel at 9.00 a.m. in a medium size van. Besides the four of us, there was a couple from Australia, and another couple from Japan - all very nice travel mates.

The tour starts with a drive to Batu Feringghi - and a visit to batik factory. It was a public holiday so the factory was only operating in holiday mode - with only 1 batik artist on hand to demonstrate the craft. It was interesting for the kids.

The shop had a lot of batik fabric on sale, and also some batik paintings. I was more interested in the batik blocks - and was very happy to be able to snatch 2 of them - the only ones they had at the moment.

Next was a drive up the hill at Teluk Bahang. We stopped at a small road side stall to see some local spices being processed - nutmeg and cloves. There was also a rubber tree right in front of the stall - so a little demonstration of rubber tapping. Frankly this part of the tour would have been more interesting if we had visited the actual spice plantations - but that was not to be.

Fresh nutmeg. You can actually eat the flesh which is a bit like a tart green apple.

View of the northern tip of Penang Island.

Next we drove through some Malay Kampungs in Balik Pulau (literally "back of the island") on the Western side of the island. This area is famous for durians and rice production. It is interesting to see that rice is still grown on this small island.

Our next stop was at the famous Snake Temple. Here is a sneak preview - I will have more pictures in a future post.

The final stop was to a German Jewelry factory. They produce mid to high-end jewelry - including some costing tens of thousands of ringgits. It was an interesting visit - but no pictures were allowed unfortunately.

All in all this was a relaxing drive around the whole island and you see some sights that you don’t normally see on a visit to Penang. The tour takes aroun 3 1/2 hours. Highly recommended if you have the time.
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