Relaxing at the beach, Diamond Factory, Snake Temple, and fishing village in Penang

We began our day at the hotel beach after breakfast. The weather was windy, and the sky was a bit cloudy. Just relaxing was perfect with that weather. We played catching coins in the pool and ping-pong on the beach, and some of us read books.

At lunchtime, we visited the mini-market across the street from our hotel, and the food was excellent, although even cheaper than what we have had so far. We ordered the famous Tom Yam soup, which was hot.

Having had a good lunch, the minivan waited for us to explore the island again. We still had several things to see and explore.

We started with a diamond factory. As it was Saturday, the factory itself was closed, but the shop was open. The jewelry sold there was exquisite, and the diamonds shone perfectly. This was a chance for ladies to try on the most expensive rings. We also heard that a day before, there were also Estonians, and they had bought jewelry.

After the diamond factory, we visited Snake Temple. The legend says that when they started building that temple, a lot of snakes came to that place and inhabited it. The temple is dedicated to Chor Soo Kong, a Buddhist priest, and healer. It was built in 1850. When the temple was built, it was in the middle of the rainforest; now, it is on a noisy street. Admission to the temple (and all the others) is technically free, but donations are expected. Inside the temple, we also saw snakes lying in different places. They were well hidden, so we did not notice them at first.

As we also wanted to see what real life in Penang looks like, the driver took us next to the fishing village. This was real, what we saw there. Here we also saw some damage caused by the tsunami, but it seemed like life was already back to normal. Men looked after fishing nets, children running and laughing, etc. We also decided to have the famous Penang Laksa in the village restaurant. The Laksa was tasty. Here we also had the smallest restaurant bill—15 ringgits for eight people. Okay, this included one Laksa and drinks for everybody. We took several pictures of village life. It seems that locals like to take photos of them.

That evening, we had dinner in Georgetown. We found an excellent Chinese restaurant called May Garden Palace, and the meal was delicious. The total bill for eight people was about 300 ringgits.

Orang Utan Island and Ecopark

We had already planned before we arrived in Penang that we would go to see orangutans in Malaysia. The place we picked up, Orang Utan Island, was not even mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide, so we were slightly suspicious. The driver knew that the island was in the resort and that there was an Ecopark and a waterpark. 

The minivan took us to the Malaysian mainland, out of Penang. We drove over the famous Penang Bridge. The bridge is 13.5 km long, stretching from Seberang Prai on the mainland to Gelugor on the island. It is the third largest bridge in the world. Penang Bridge is called a unique architectural wonder. It was officially opened in September 1988, offering a beautiful view of the open sea, ships, and a sprawling coastline.

At the Laketown Resort, there was the possibility to buy a ticket to Orang Utan Island separately or a combo ticket, including Ecopark or/and Waterworld. As the weather was perfect, we decided to take the combo ticket and spend the day there.

We started our tour at Orang Utan Island. The island is different from the usual zoo. Orang Utan Island is home to free-range orangutans; for a change, it’s the humans in a reinforced cage. We saw monkey boys and girls; we especially loved three-year-old Carlos and Pauline. They were allowed to come to the cell, making us laugh when they touched our legs or jumped on the ropes. We also saw a king named May. This was a huge orangutan. We took a lot of fantastic pictures of those animals.

After the island, we visited Ecopark. We could not read from the name what to expect there. But this was a small tropical zoo where visitors could feed the animals. The food is sold here. The tour of Ecopark started with a funny monorail ride, where we had to crank it ourselves. From this monorail, we saw some animals, but most of them we saw walking. We first encountered very friendly parrots and birds of all kinds when walking in the park. Many were tame enough to hand feed.

In the park, there are many things to see and do here, and different paths to take. Then, while walking in the zoo, we tried to wear a giant snake and an iguana. We also saw a parrot show, where the birds rode bicycles, played basketball, and did other interesting things. The best was the monkey section. Here we were assaulted by heaps of gorgeous spider monkeys who clambered all over us to get the peanuts we bought when entering the park. Tip: Buy a lot of peanuts because these adorable creatures will almost climb into your pockets to get to the nuts!

As the weather was scorching, it was time for the water park. The water here was not very clear. After being there for some time, we started to suspect that the water was muddy because Muslim and Hindu women swim in full clothes, the same clothes they wear on the streets. Our children (aged 13–19) had fun on water slides; we just enjoyed the sun and the water. Finally, we could say that we had a perfect day at Laketown Resort. We ended the day with dinner at Mini Market, just across the street from our hotel. This mini market was a small shop with some tables for eating. The place did not look fabulous, but the food was just excellent.

Winter vacation in Pulau Penang, Malaysia

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