In Penang we made sure that we spent a lot of time at the pool and tried to make sure the boys were able to play in between sightseeing so that they enjoyed our time there. We had a driver take us to the Penang Butterfly Garden who then convinced us that he would be our tour guide for the rest of our time in Penang. We’re not very good negotiators so I’m sure we probably paid him a lot more than what he would have been happy with but he had an air conditioned car, told lots of interesting stories and was happy to wait for us so it worked out well. The highlight of the butterfly garden for the boys was the Malaysian scorpion which glows under UV light. We went to the night market (and again had a haggling fail).
We visited the Tropical Spice Garden which was very cool. It had a giant swing, lots of wildlife (monkeys, giant ants, giant snails, bats and geckos) and we had a super interesting tour. I had no idea that turmeric was a form of ginger before going, or that spices were used for food and water safety. Hearing about their medicinal properties was interesting too and the boys got to taste, smell and try grinding the spices which kept them happy and entertained. We took a cable car up Penang Hill which was cool, but couldn’t really get very good pictures at the top because of the smog.
Recommended for kids: the swing at the Tropical Spice Garden, finding giant bugs and keeping your food away from the monkeys
We went to a park where the boys played and spent some time swimming. We decided to go for a walk up the hill but changed our minds as we weren’t wearing appropriate shoes and heard there were cobras up the hill. The Botanic Gardens was pretty with lots to see and our first experience with monkeys up close. The boys had their ice creams stolen by two naughty monkeys that stalked them until they threw their ice creams at the monkeys in fright. They eventually saw the funny side and figured out how to keep the monkeys away.
Recommended for adults: the Tropical Spice Garden tour and Chew Jetty
Our driver took us to Fort Cornwallis which was involved in preventing the French invasion. The boys enjoyed exploring and looking at the cannons for a while but then were very ready to leave. He then took us to Chew Jetty which was amazing. It was my favourite part of our time in Penang because it was like stepping into another world. There were shops, hanging lanterns, Chinese writing, bikes, alleys and Chinese boats at the end of it. My youngest was hot and bothered and went to sit at the end of the jetty watching the boats while I carried on looking. We then went around Georgetown in search of street art. This was hot. To get the kids through we had to bribe them with cold drinks and have very frequent stops in air conditioned shops or cafes. They were happy to pose for photos but we only made it to about half so bought fridge magnets for the rest. As a break we stopped at a Batik art gallery which was quite interesting and the kids were just happy to be somewhere cool.