This morning I woke up early, 5am local time. I was waiting for some daylight to go for a brisk morning walk. It was 7am. The sky was getting lighter. I put on a pair of shorts, a T-shirt and slipped into a pair of sandals. It was nice and quiet outside.
I have been to this area many times in the past – known as Queensbay. It is a multi-million dollars development with approximately seventy square metres on the eastern side of Penang island. I was very interested to explore the foreshore along the coast, and wonder what I may find.
I am staying at the Eastin Hotel. In my previous trips, I stayed at G-Hotel in Gurney Drive, a more populous area with a long stretch seaside promenade. Like G-Hotel, Eastin Hotel is located close to a seaside promenade. Gurney Drive is located on North East coast and Queensbay on South East coast of Penang. Some locals call the South East coast area “The New Gurney Drive”. I had to see why it deserves the name. The best time to explore the stretch of east coastline is in the early morning – watching the sunrise on a secluded sandy beach. The temperature is mild in the morning, typically in the low twenties with low humidity.
So off I go – out of the hotel. Quiet. Only the odd cars and motorcycles on the road. I walked towards the first destination, a short five minutes walk. There is a fishing village and a couple of rustic metal shacks running as seafood open air restaurants. One of the restaurant specialises in “Ikan Bakar” – a banana wrapped grilled fish cooked over a charcoal flame. Literally translated in English – it means “burnt” fish! I heard this place is good and fish fresh from the day’s catch, off local fishing trawlers.
I was delighted to see a group of elders doing their early routine morning exercise, as I approached the fishing village . They invited me to join them, which I did. I was quite amused by them and enjoyed a short “swinging” arms, wrists and elbows. Then, I politely asked to leave so I can continue my morning exploration of the area. The tiny fishing village is squeezed between by several modern high rise condominiums and villas. The old and new do co-exists in Penang.
Next, I continue to walk along the footpath towards a jetty – “Pulau Jerejak Jetty” – with a regular ferry ride to the nearby island. “Pulau” is Malay word for island. There is a resort on the island. I have never been there. It was once known as the Alcatraz of Malaysia, with a maximum security prison and rehabilitation centre. The island was also once used as a sanatorium for tuberculosis victims during WWII, and a quarantine centre for leprosy on the eastern side of the island. Personally, I have never step foot on the island “yet”. There are too many unhealthy memories on the island. Locals believe it is haunted with unrest spirits.
I continued with my walk. The sky was overcast with thick clouds. There is a nice sandy beach along the shore. I stepped down some big boulders piled along the side of the jetty terminal to prevent further soil erosion. It was low tide with a bit of rubbish littered around the beach; otherwise, it would be clean and spotless. Some locals, either unaware or “could not care less” about the damage they may cause to the beach, flora, fauna and native habitats along the foreshore. It is a real shame as the long stretch of foreshore has a nice charm of the sea overlooking distant mountains on the mainland, the Penang Bridge and Pulau Jerejak. I can understand why the locals call this place the “New Gurney Drive”. In my opinion, it is prettier with a city seaside feel and charm. It is quiet with a gentle breeze. Something that I fondly remember as a past of the real Gurney Drive.
I sat on a piece of broken wood on the beach waiting patiently for the sun to rise. It was peaceful. No traffic noise. Only me and another couple who sat a distant away. Waiting like me. Unfortunately the cloud was a bit thick. I didn’t mind. It was nice. Then time to leave. It was 8am. I am ready for another day of buffet breakfast at the Eastin Hotel. I wonder what they will be serving this time. I walked along the footpath for the change. It is lined with beautiful trees.
On my way back, I saw a hibiscus shrubs. Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia.
By this time, I am ready for a big breakfast. I had such a great experience yesterday that I am really looking forward to another good breakfast. It was busy. I was warmly greeted by Ms Noor at the front. She asked for my room number and wished me a happy meal. I saw one of the kitchen sous chef, Antony Lim, and asked if I can take a picture of him and Ms Noor. A true Malaysian warm smile and charm. I spoke to Anthony yesterday regarding the incorrect label for the fried buns, which he immediately corrected.
My first course was a typical western meal of eggs, hash brown, baked beans and grilled tomatoes. I ordered an omelette for my eggs.
The only interesting part of my western breakfast is the sausage – it is a tandoori flavoured chicken sausage.
Next, I got to try this – Roti Jala. The egg mixture is made from eggs, flour and a bit of sugar and spices. Then a special Roti Jala cup with small holes at the bottom is used. The cup is filled with a ladle full of egg mixture and gently swill over a medium heated plate. Flipped within a few seconds and folded into quarter. This is a traditional Malay breakfast dish. It is served with chicken curry. Absolutely beautiful! I would love to try this at home when I get back to Tasmania.
I was getting very full now. There were a few other Malaysian dishes that I would love to try, but I need to know my limit especially eating spicy food for breakfast. So, my third and final course is my usual favourite – a plateful of fresh papaya. I wish there is a slice of kasturi lime to go with my papaya.
I wonder what they will prepare for tomorrow’s buffet breakfast. Can’t wait!