As an active traveler with intense wanderlust, I have made many journeys to other countries. I love the idea of being in another place where you can experience a different kind of weather, a different kind of system, a different way of doing things in a land that’s foreign to you. While I identify as a passionate traveler, admittedly, a lot of my passion stem primarily from the things I shop for and the good eats I find. I realized though, after my last travel to the wonderful country of Malaysia, paticularly in the state of Penang, that the whole experience of traveling should never be concentrated on just food to taste and things to buy. There is so much more to explore in a place that ultimately benefits you as a person–mentally, psychologically, even emotionally.
I was one of the lucky few to be invited by Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia’s official tourism board, to an Eco Fam trip in Penang State, which is considered as the Silicon Valley of the east. This was in conjunction with the Malaysia Mega Familiarization programme and was designed by the Mega Fam Secretariat under Tourism Malaysia’s Corporate Communication Division. It was an opportunity for me to see Malaysia for what it truly is–a precious gem in the Southeast Asian region.
We flew to Malaysia on January 14, 2018, arriving safely at Penang International Airport via Air Asia. We were transfered to our hotel, which became our residence for the remainder of our stay–the very beautiful, four-star Olive Tree Hotel in Penang. The Olive Tree Hotel is a chic one with probably the most convenient location in Penang, as it is considerably near Snake Temple, Queensbay Mall, and Penang International Sports Arena. We settled and had our good night’s rest here in preparation for the 5-day packed exploration of Malaysia’s hidden spots and facets of its culture.
Our itinerary to Malaysia was crafted so as to bring us closer to nature, which started on our second day in Penang. We went to the Penang National Park, which is considered to be the world’s smallest national park. Within such a small, undisturbed land area are 410 species of flora and fauna safely contained and taken care of amidst the hectic city life it is in. We went to interestingly-named Malaysian beaches, particularly the Monkey Beach and the Turtle Beach, the latter being the nesting place of turtles in the area. We were taught about the country’s Turtle Conservation Programme, which is a good effort to undertake to conserve the turtle population in Penang. Before retreating to the Olive Tree Hotel for our night’s rest, we were first treated to a sumptuous dinner at Pen Mutiara Restaurant.
Our third day in Penang was spent visiting the Penang Butterfly Farm, a beautiful eight-hectare land that is home to more than 15,000 butterflies and is one of Penang’s main tourist attractions, and Escape Adventureplay, Penang Malaysia’s outdoor theme park and a playful respite from the usual beach sceneries. We also visited George Town in Penang, wherein we learned more about the rich cultural and religious heritage of Malaysia.
On our fourth day in Penang, Malaysia, we visited the very interesting Homestay Mengkuang Titi. A village with quite the curious name, Mengkuang Titi Homestay was discovered lined with pine trees. Here, we were given a warm welcome, Mengkuang Titi Homestay style. We were shown their traditional dance, and we were toured around the Bahulu/Muruku Industry Cottage. We also visited their Kelulut Bee Farm, and were given the time to experience their traditional games, performances, as we ll as their own kind of reflexology. Day 5 True to our nature-centric itinerary, we went on a Mangrove River Cruise on our fifth day in Penang. We were introduced to their Mangrove planting project, which aims to protect the Mangrove sanctuary in Penang. We were also given time to shop and explore other wonders of Penang.
What struck me most about the whole trip was that even right smack in the middle of a busy metropolis, Malaysia still finds ways to let tourists experience the kind of idyllic life and rich traditions that most urban dwellers crave for. If you’re looking for a quiet getaway with aspects of tradition, culture, and history but with all the convenience a city has to offer, Penang, Malaysia has all the right stops for the free-spirited wanderer in you.
Contributed by Minnie Reyes.
Get to know more about tourism in Malaysia! Visit their booth, booth number 66-68 and 83-85 in Function Room 5 at the Travel Tour Exhibition at the second level of SMX Convention Center in Mall of Asia from February 9 to 11, 2018.