January 28, 2013

Superstar Virgo : Penang shore excursion

Docked at Penang Cruise Center
We continue our Star Cruise Escapade with shore excursions. See our earlier posts.
Superstar Virgo Review
Superstar Virgo Restaurants


Land Ahoy!
Superstar Virgo reached Penang after a 16 hour cruise from Singapore. We were docked at the Penang Cruise Center. The disembarkation was rather smooth as we depart in groups allocated according to our excursion groups. There is no need to change our passport as our access cards act as passports for our trip.

Do note the 'Cruise Center' is more like a pier. It's quite unlike Harbourfront with shops around the cruise center, so do not expect to do shopping here.

Selamat Datang De Pulau Pinang
Being a typical safe Singaporean family, we decided to play safe and take the Shore excursion organise by Superstar Virgo. For the more adventurous, there are numerous transport options waiting on shore ( i.e. taxi drivers) . You can negotiate with them on a day rate (recommended) and they will take you around Penang. As we did not hear anyone missing the boat, this option is rather safe.

The total time the ship docked in Penang was about 6 hours.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Our shore excursion starts with the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion which is about 20 minutes from the pier.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
We took the heritage and temple shore excursion ( lunch excluded). If you are taking anything excursion without lunch, do eat your fill onboard as you may not have time to eat during the excursion. Daddy wanted to try the Penang Fried Kway Teow, but unluckily for him, time was not on his side. At least he does not have to feel guilty after eating oily food...


Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

Back to our excursion, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is one of the world's greatest top 10 mansion. I is also known as the blue mansion. The blue hues were quite striking in person. The mansion is a 2 storey Chinese mansion built by Cheong Fatt Tze. The mansion is huge by today's standard and is restored only in recent times.


Blue mansion
We could not take pictures indoors, but trust us when we said the inside looks authentic to its era. We learnt abit of history as well as we found out that Mr Cheong has been rather busy with 7 wives and this house was purposely build for housing the 7th wife and their son.


Blue Mansion
It can get a bit eerie with the artefacts from the previous owners in the house. There is even a hotel within the house for those who like to have a taste of grand living in the 19th century.



Kek Lok Si Temple
Our next stop is Kek Lok Si temple build on a hilltop.

Kek Lok Si Temple
We had to climb to the temple. Thankfully the climb was not as bad as we expected as it took less than 15 minutes of brisk walk to the top. Halfway through we saw one of Louis favourite animals - tortoise. We bought a RM 5 bunch of vegetables to feed the swamp of tortoises.

Turtles
Standing on a hilltop at Air Itam, near Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. The complex is divided into three zones while the temple grounds comprise the hill entrance, souvenir, food and drinks stalls and the turtle liberation pond. The mid section of the temple houses temples, gardens, the pagoda and the four heavenly kings pavilion; meanwhile the hilltop plays host to an enormous statue of the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin as well as more gardens and temples.


Huge Temple complex
The views of the temple was quite an eye opener. As we do not visit temple often, it is more a learning experience for me.


View of the Temple
Our local guide was rather experience and gave good commentary. However he did ask for tips at the end of the trip which we thought was blatant given that it was only a 6 hours tour.

Guide
The view from the temple is quite interesting. Apparently far away on the horizon, stood a singular tall building that lights up at night. From afar, it looks like a joss stick burning infront of the Budda structure seated on the hillside. (Can you spot it?)

The view
We spend about 30 minutes in the temple and it is time to set off to another destination.



Plaza Gurney
Our last stop for the day is at Plaza Gurney. We had stop at one of the local shops selling local delicacies before Plaza Gurney.

Plaza Gurney
Plaza Gurney is your typical shopping mall found in most countries. We took a walk around the mall but found nothing much to buy. On the contrary, we bought more stuff from the local shop earlier on.


Plaza Gurney
The shore excursion was rather short, however I did felt tired during the trip. The excursion is focus more on sightseeing and shopping. Good for adults, not so great for kids.

There are other options available and the itineraries varies. Do book early as there are limited slots for each excursion.




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