Sunday, 22 July 2012

GTF : Our first road trip!

Everyone was eager for the day to load our stuff and head up to Penang to be part of George Town Festival 2012.

Meet up at 1Utama bus terminal (near Rapid KL bus-stand) 7am.  Ziton & Billie stayed the night at my place so that we can be up bright & early. Set the alarm for 5.30am!!  Mom was up way b4 that. I was still a bit drowsy, having just finished packing & touching up the ACG banner. We had soooo many bags & boxes because we were bring stuff that i requested from members who could not make it. I wanted to show Penang our diversity, create awareness for our members. So we collected works from those who could not attend -metal sculptures (Cindy Koh), re-purposed craft (Fid & Anny), ceramic necklaces (Fauzi Tahir) and gold & red wooden clogs (Frank Woo). Two car loads! Thanks, Billie for ferrying these items.

Some of the stuff we were bringing
 All the other members were prompt at the meeting point. So the bus cargo area was loaded almost to the brim!  

By 8.30am, we were off.. Everyone was still a little lethargic. Then Jiuan said "Coffee...I need coffee" and everyone shout YES! Breakfast, but where?  So we asked Kana, our driver to stop at the nearest R&R to load up on 'fuel'.

Then we're off again down the straight & never winding, so boring highway. Wonder how Kana does this day in & day out. Mom was wide awake 'helping' the driver drive. (at the end of our trip, she gave him an 'A' for driving skills. We gave him an 'A' for patience for were...u'll read about it later on)

It's a been ages since some of us had a bus ride.. After another 2 hours, i was getting restless.. Next R&R pls... Kana chose Sg. Perak R & R. Lovely place!

12.30am and we see the first sign that reads --> PENANG BRIDGE!  Yay..we're almost there. I have been to Penang many times but this is the first time i'm driving through the bridge, yes the same bridge they have the annual Penang Bridge Marathon!  My original plan was to take the members by ferry & go nostalgic! But alas, Kana gave me the bad news - no express buses allowed in the ferry, only people, motorbikes & cars. And our bus was HUGE - a 44-seater well-maintained, beautiful bus from Discover Global Travel & Tours  for 14 of us! Ha ha :)

What a let down to my plans. He suggested an alternative - drop us at Butterworth to take the ferry by ourselves and he will drive through the bridge & meet us on the other side. But, the sun was HOT, the time was SHORT and so the bridge it is!

So, as we cross the bridge, i texted Darren of GTF to say that we're coming!!  He said - Yay, you're finally HERE!
First sign of Penang!

Lunch was at Padang Kota (next to Fort Cornwallis). The Padang Kota food stalls were not many and the stone tables REALLY were aged. Here, u got to shout for your food. The mee rebus & drink stalls were the most popular. Everyone was eager for their first taste of the famed Penang FOOD!  So we had, mee rebus special, ice-kacang & coconut shake (coconut water blended with vanilla ice-cream).

A short stroll into Fort Cornwallis for the 'young' ones while the 'ah kaks' made their way back to the bus, panting - HOT, HOT!. Our passenger age ranged from 23-82!

Check-in time... 6 rooms at Chulia Heritage Hotel and 1 room at Banana Boutique Hotel (down the road) cos at booking time, there were not enough rooms. As Chulia Street is part of the heritage area, the roads were narrow and so the bus had to just drop us off & park in another street until we call him again to fetch us to our intended venue - YAP TEMPLE HALL @Armenian Street.

Yet again, a hiccup. The bus was too large & could only park at a bus-stop, one road before Armenian St. So everyone unloaded. Luckily for trolleys, we rolled our wares to the hall. It was already buzzling with people. Now the craziness begins!! 

I'll let the photos tell the tale!

Where's my barang??
Calm before the storm..

Ready for business, Mas

Eco crafts by ACG members

Billie's plush Malaysian icons
Shutterbug's favourite!

This is how u start your tatting!

Kak Siti's embroidery creations
Ziton showing off mom's blanket

Floor plan

The crowd.. kept coming..even after 10pm closing time
And what was going on outside?  The Handmade Market was part of The Armenian Street Project where for one night, the street comes alive with street performances - traditional, contemporary.. art galleries opened they doors to visitors, shutterbugs had a field day shooting from the upper floor of the Yap Temple, lion dancers, bharata natyam dancers, gamelan performances...
The lion dance troupe made up of visually-impaired youths!

Only complain by visitors was the lack of street hawker food (ah..we Malaysians). The ice-cream man on bike, who had the good sense to turn up, rake in lots of RMs that night.  Joe Sidek, festival director was seen passing around pamphlets and talking to the visitors, local & caucasion. Talk about management by example. His wonderful, energetic, young staff & volunteers were busy tending to the business of running the event, yet could always muster a tired smile. Kudos to all of them!!

Coincidentally,  the Khoo Kongsi (a clan house) celebrated the birthday of their patron and so access to it was free, there were Wayang (Chinese opera in Hokkien) shows, a few mobile stall selling prawn mee, CKT (char kuey teow) and satay. On regular days, visitors to the temple pay RM10 per head, accept if u r a Khoo descendant, then u go in for free, like me (he he). It has a museum that traces the lineage and also a replica of life during the early settlement years.

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