10 April 2011

A Little Beaching at Batu Ferringhi

It wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t finish blogging about my trip to Penang. I know, it’s been awhile, but I really want to highlight how worthy it is to visit Penang – our very own UNESCO site. 

So, after visiting the beautiful Paranakan Mansion and the magnificent Kek Lok Si temple all in one day, there was at least one place that we wanted to visit before calling it a day.
Batu Feringhi used to be a household name in the Malaysian tourism industry. Growing up in the bitch-less (damn the auto-correct har har har) district of Keningau, I remember how the only beach that I knew back then was Batu Feringhi, simply because it was stated prominently in many of the school textbooks. I even knew about it LOOOONG before I learned about the existence of a beach called Tanjung Aru. LOL! 
Somehow somewhere along the way, Batu Feringhi seems to have lost a big chuck of its glory or even if it’s still there, it is not as glorious as it used to be back in those days. In fact, I had completely forgotten about its existence until I found it, thanks God, (still) stated in the list of Penang’s places of interest. And sure enough, it shows. 
Almost the whole stretch of the beach is hidden from the main road so it needed a little bit of ‘bitching’ sense to decide where to stop. In fact, I was craning my head out until I had cramps at the back of my neck and still the beach was nowhere to be seen. Of course I knew we were already there but (it was just that) we needed to be so sure. 
Jumping off the bus, I knew we were there when we saw the Hard Rock Café – probably the latest HCR to have been built most recently. You know how Hard Rock Café is sooooooooooooo picky when it comes to constructing a new branch.

When I first read about it on newspapers, I went ‘WHATT??? They built Hard Rock Café in Penang????? In Penang???? Out of so many places on earth?? 'SO – you know how special Penang is in the eyes of the share-holders. Of course, I wouldn’t let the opportunity to just slip by. 
So, we wandered along the walkway with rows of almost deserted shops flanking the road on both sides (sometimes one-sided). 

And a little stumble upon a narrow road had (finally) led us to the beach. 
You wouldn’t believe it but my first reaction was ‘HO MY FCUKING GOD!’. I mean, Batu Feringhi is like the animated version of a picture postcard. 
Whoever said Tanjung Aru is the most beautiful beach in Malaysia has never been to Batu Ferringhi. 
Forget about all these non-sense about glorious past, Batu Feringhi sure still has it. Not only it seems so perfect for a family picnic session, it has the vibrancy that most other beaches in Malaysia probably lack of. 
There are just so much movement and excitement and vibrancy both on and over the ground – probably too much that it had almost killed a tourist from China a couple of months ago. You see, too much fun will kill the fun. She was so traumatized by the incident she actually swore never to come back to Malaysia EVER again. 
Tourists come to Batu Feringhi and Penang as a whole for many reasons. This ‘Chinese Seafood’ restaurant is run wholly by Malays – the cooks, the waiters and waitresses are all Malay. As to whether they serve the haram thing, I’ll leave that for you to find out when you go there yourself. You see, it’s good to know that Sabah and Penang share at least something in common. 
By then, it was too dark to stay close to the Andaman Sea. Having a history of a tsunami strike, staying there was like walking on a railway with your eyes blindfolded. You’d never know when the train is coming. OK, I exaggerated. LOL. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything else but food. 
SO, we stopped at one of the tepi jalan restaurants and I promptly ordered a plate of Nasi Goreng Kampung for myself. Sylvia (my new-found friend from Belgium) scanned the menu for awhile before giving up and asking for Nasi Goreng Kampung for herself. Just to make at least a little bit of variation, I added in a bowl of Tom Yam soup. Unfortunatley, the taste isn’t even worth mentioning about. 
SO, waddling our way back to the main road again, we were delighted to see most of the shops (or rather stalls) were opening up. 
Batu Feringhi seems to take on a different face at night – a far cry from its silent and dead and pale and abandoned looks that it has in the daylight. Most of the roadside restaurants would be opened in sparkling neon lights – so inviting and yet alarmingly dangerous for a poor pocket like mine. 
The night market appeared to be larger than I had first thought. Each of the rows of stalls seems to diverge into more and more rows, making it appear more like a labyrinthine or something. 
Thinking that it was my very last evening in Penang and that I still had nothing to bring back to Sabah, I tried to initiate a negotiation with one of the hawker ladies. Quite naturally (ehem! Ehem! Excuse me..) my nego had always fared better with ladies than men so I was counting on that AGAIN when I was in Batu Feringhi’s pasar malam. Besides, bargaining has always been part of the fun. 

She was selling a pack of 3 fridge magnets for RM10 and I was hoping to drag the price down to at least RM8. It was a bitter attempt right from the beginning. ‘WE PUT IT NICELY IN PACKETS YOU KNOW’. And she was right, but who cares whether they were in packets or not? Who needs the damn plastic wrapper? The world is better off without them!

‘YOU SEE, THESE ARE NOT JUST ORDINARY FRIDGE MAGNETS’. I sensed lie in that. THEY WERE ORDINARY MAGNETS – exactly the same magnets that they sell at RM10 for 6 or 5 at the Kek Lok Si Temple. They all came from the same damn factory. And I told her that –which was much to her annoyance. 

“SUKA HATI AWAK LAHHH!” she said before grabbing the fridge magnets off my hands and put them back onto the table. “YA LOHH. MEMANGLAH SUKA HATI SAYA. SAYA PUNYA DUIT MAHHHH”, I said before walking away. I DID try to do at least one last attempt to negotiate with a guy hawker.

OH well, I don’t know but I think he wouldn’t even drag the price any lower even if you flash your boobs to him (if you are a girl laa..).I mean, that’s how fixated the price is. So – don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. IF YOU WANT TO BUY ANYTHING, BUY IT AT THE KEK LOK SI. 
Forget about those stupid chunks of porcelain that you call fridge magnet, I didn’t buy any. I REFUSED to be a loser har har har.

Finding a bus stop from where we could get onto a bus had proved to be a little bit of a problem. Forget about those classic drop-the-pants-down techniques, buses in Penang wouldn’t stop anywhere else than the bus stops.

The whole stretch of roadside walkway was fully-occupied by stalls so one of the lucky bastards hawkers must have turned the bus stop into his stall or something. WE asked at least 3 people and they did point out to somewhere but there was no bus stop to be seen. 

We must have walked at least a couple of kilometers off from the night market when we finally spotted a bus stop. Jeez. I’d rather have a bus stop then a whole market of stingy hawkers. 
So – back in George Town, there was one place that we, or rather, I wanted to drop by before calling it a day. 

NOW, this place has such an odd opening time. It wouldn’t be opened, not before 10 o’clock in the evening! Who would have thought that a restaurant would only be opened so late at night like that? The trick seemed to have played by itself on my group of friends.
They missed it and I was there to do them a favor – that at least I got to taste the Nasi Kandar for them. Heh.
Despite the odd hours, people still come flocking up into the restaurant to have a taste of its famous cuisine. Mind to tell you that they didn’t name it Restauran Nasi Kandar Beratur for nothing. You really have to line up (beratur) to get a plate of their nasi kandar! JEEZ.
So – just like any other nasi kandar restaurants, there was a choice of different foods and to tell the truth, I really had no idea which to pick. Since there was a long line of people right behind me, I needed a quick decision so I just asked for what the guy before me had taken. 
Oh well, it was nasi kandar then. I mean, I didn’t see anything so special about it, nor did I taste anything worth whoa-ing about. 
In fact, I was lucky to be having Sylvia finishing it for me. She seemed to be enjoying it probably because it was nearing midnight so she was already hungry. 
A good diet requires us not to eat anything after 8pm (some say 9pm). Now you know why Malaysia is ranked high in the Obesity Rates in Asia. Well done Malaysia! Well done!*clapping.

So, the Nasi Kandar beratur had been our last destination for the night. We walked our way back to the hostel and I had come to find out that the young lady from Melbourne had already left. Her bed was taken over by somebody else. It felt bad I didn’t get to say good bye to her but then that’s how travelers are. They come and they go. It was my turn to leave the next day.
Just to have my final 'goodbye wave' to George Town, I decided to drag my bag to the bus station instead of taking a taxi or something. 
I wanted to take in the charms of this old town til the very last minutes of my visit there. 
Sure enough, I left the beautiful city of George Town that day with something of a vow to myself - that I was gonna come back again some day
And I was not kidding. I am gonna come back for the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011 this year. Some crazy thoughts are already bugging me with some crazy idea - that I should go for the Full Marathon this time. If that is to be materialized, it's gonna be my very first full marathon. o.O Soo... should I say,*gasping..  see you at the starting line? 

Shit. Now I am having goosebumps. 


ken said...

i rarely go to batu ferringhi.. just stopped by once, didnt buy anything also.. haha.. and the restaurant beratur.. wah.. so cool ah the name.. lol :P

JIPP said...

Yaa, restaurant beratur. Worryingly cool. :-) Batu Ferrighi itself is worth visiting but may be because it was my first time there. :-D

thomas said...

Batu Feringgi is too commercialize,
everybody want a part of it.
I would prefer Penang National Park not far away.

JIPP said...

Yupp, that was what I thought when I first arrived there. Too commercialized. Luckily the beach itself it still well-kept so the charms are still there. I didn't get to go to National Park. Probably next time. :-)

Winston Tan said...

review nicely written:D
cya in this year's PBIM!

JIPP said...

Yupp yupp. Let's do it! :-)

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