beer watch

All you can drink beer in Penang

Tree Bar, behind the G Hotel.

Tree Bar, behind the G Hotel.

I imagine once a few expats find this the management will remove the offer. But today I spotted this at the Tree Bar in the Gurney Al Fresco area.

the offer

the offer

Post-GST alcohol prices are much higher and one is charged somewhat over RM20 per pint.  To break even you’d have to drink five pints.  So it’s not for me, but it could be good for some people.

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Penang Oktoberfest 2014 is this weekend

The biggest Oktoberfest in Penang is the one held by the Malaysian German Society.  This year it is being held this coming Friday and Saturday nights, October 17th and 18th.  I just picked up my ticket for Saturday night.

MGS magazine, ticket and voucher

MGS magazine, ticket and voucher

Beforehand tickets cost RM10 for members and RM25 for non-members. At the door they are RM30 for all. Tickets come with a voucher for one can of Carlsberg or soft drink.

Oktoberfest information

Oktoberfest information

Oktoberfest information

Oktoberfest information

Last Saturday they were setting up the venue:

setup Saturday 11th

setup Saturday 11th

setup Saturday 11th

setup Saturday 11th

setup Saturday 11th

setup Saturday 11th

And by today they had made some progress:

Thursday 15th

Thursday 15th

24 hours on Pangkor Island in 2014

Coral Bay beach

Coral Bay beach, Pangkor Island

For me – 24 hours was enough. Going to Pangkor Island or to Langkawi by car seems about the same amount of effort from Penang, so if you want to stay somewhere longer, Langkawi has much more to do, a bigger variety of accommodation and food, and is duty free. Nevertheless, I wanted to go to Pangkor to see it. We went mid-February 2014, which is not a tourist season, not school holidays, and not during a weekend, public holiday or festival, so it wasn’t crowded.  We have seen photos of it crowded, and I wouldn’t like it.

DETAILS:

  • Around a two hour 40 minute drive from Penang to Lumut, depending on your route.
  • Around RM11 in road tolls on the E1 motorway going south.
  • Parking in Lumut cost RM10 per day near the ferry terminal.  That’s not for 24 hours, but for each day, so Tuesday and Wednesday would be RM20.
  • They refused to give a receipt for the payment, which they want when you park – but it wasn’t a problem.
  • Lumut is quite nice, and has a lot of eating places.
  • There is a friendly tourist office near the jetty, and they can give you maps etc.
  • Next to and attached to the tourist office is a nice toilet. It costs 50 sen to enter, and there are also showers included in the price. It is clean and airy, and even has an aviary. It is not at all like typical public toilets in Malaysia.
  • There is a ferry every half hour or 45 minutes, depending on the time of day.
  • The ferry takes about half an hour.
  • A ferry ticket costs RM10 return.
  • Some people take motorbikes onto the ferry, but generally it’s a passenger ferry.
  • The first stop on the ferry on Pangkor  is Sungai Penang. For the busiest part of town and cheap accommodation you can alight here. Otherwise you should alight at the second stop, the main terminal.
  • You can rent cars, motorbikes or bicycles from touts at the main Pangkor Island terminal.
  • There is little traffic, so a motorbike wouldn’t be particularly dangerous, unless you are.  A bicycle would be hot.  Of course, there are taxis, too.
  • We paid RM70 for a manual Proton – possibly the worst maintained car in the world.
  • There was no paperwork for the car – he asks for a contact number and gives you a piece of paper with his number on it and asks you to ring him when you return the car.  He doesn’t ask your name, or for a licence etc.
  • He refused to give a receipt for the payment, which he wants immediately – but again it wasn’t a problem
  • The guy we used was Mr. Ching: 010-5636954 or 016-5554794
  • The tank is empty and so he says to put RM20 in the tank immediately from a petrol station which is very close.
  • Trip Advisor posts condemn pretty much all the hotels, so do your own research.  But there are also hostels, possibly in China town.
  • There is not much to see.  The mini-Great Wall of China was fun. We also saw the Dutch Fort.
  • It takes around 40 minutes to drive around the island.
  • The best beaches are on the other side of the island to the port – that is, the north-west.
  • The beaches on the east of the island are not nice.
  • The north of the island has the Pangkor Island Beach Resort, with its private beach.  Even if you are staying there you can’t drive in, but you can park just outside.  You can walk in.  There is a RM50 charge for non-guests to use the beach, but I hear they usually don’t charge it. However the staff will come around and ask for your drink orders.
  • We could swim – I didn’t see any jellyfish
  • I saw some wild hornbills in the evening and in the morning – I love hornbills.
  • From the jetty to the best beach – Coral Bay – and our hotel was 15 minutes drive
  • Monkeys rampaged around stealing things, so one had to keep the balcony doors closed and locked at the hotel.  My favourite story from the boss at the hotel is that he noticed his mobile had been stolen.  He rang his number to see if he could locate it,and heard the phone ringingup in a tree. This so startled the monkey that had stolen the phone that he dropped it, and it fell onto the grass undamaged.
  • Monkeys will also steal your things from the beach, so don’t leave anything you care about unattended.
  • Food prices in the little restaurants are very reasonable and cheaper than Langkawi.  A similar price to Penang.
  • Some places and some mini-markets sell beer, and some don’t. It’s around RM6 per can of Tiger.

HOTEL

  • We stayed at the Anjungan Beach Resort and Spa, which according to Mrs. Tropical Expat is the best mid-range hotel in Pangkor, where most Trip Advisor reviews for almost all hotels are dreadful.  We stayed in the larger delux room for RM180 per night, and booked it on the Internet.
  • It’s about 15 minutes drive from the jetty
  • It is across the road from a beach – Nipah Bay, and a nicer beach – Coral Bay – is a few minutes walk down the road.
  • From Nipah Bay you can get a RM20 snorkelling trip – they take you on a boat across to Giam island – a five minute ride.  You can stay as long as you like, and when you wish to return you call the guy to pick you up – or ask another boat that is returning to ask him to pick you up.
  • There is no car parking in the hotel – you can park on the scrub next to the side road, though. They have bike parking.
  • The hotel is quite new and clean.
  • But there are a few flies and mosquitoes in the room. They leave a can of insect spray, so spray the room and go out for a while.
  • There is only one towel each, and poor amenities, so take your own soap, shampoo,  etc. if you wish.
  • I mentioned the monkey problem above – keep the balcony doors closed and locked at the hotel.
  • Everything worked, including importantly the air-con.
  • At reception there are notices of charges for various things.
  • There is no safety box in room.
  • There is no lift in the hotel.
  • The hotel has a pleasant pool, which was popular with guests.  The water was quite warm in the afternoon.
  • The hotel was on a tourist stretch, with most shops shut during the day.  A couple of mini markets and one restaurant was open.  And it was very hot.
  • Hotel food was expensive, and the coffee awful.
  • Swimming at the beach at Coral Bay was the best thing.  The water in the morning is refreshing, but by the afternoon like a warm bath.
  • The hotel had Internet in the lobby at a speed so glacial that even a global warmist would renounce his religion.  My Yes 4G modem wouldn’t deliver Internet either.  But my Maxis phone would provide Internet through tethering. The Maxis speed was good.
  • Reception staff seemed to have little idea of what they were doing.
  • If you intend to spend a lot of time in the room during the day don’t accept a room on the south side of the hotel as it will get sun all day and be hot, despite the air-con – at least according to some tourists who were complaining.

IN PHOTOS

The bus station at Lumut - very close to the jetty

The bus station at Lumut – very close to the jetty

jetty at Lumut

jetty at Lumut

a ferry ticket

a ferry ticket

one of the ferries

one of the ferries

on the deck of the ferry

on the deck of the ferry

arrival at Pangkor Island main ferry terminal

arrival at Pangkor Island main ferry terminal

rental Proton

rental Proton

main street at the beach

main street at the beach

the hotel

the hotel

hotel rules

hotel rules

a delux room

a delux room

the pool

the pool

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monkeys hanging around

a nice cat at the hotel

a nice cat at the hotel

driving clockwise around the island

driving clockwise around the island

Chinese temple which has the Great Wall

Chinese temple which has the Great Wall

the Great Wall of China

the Great Wall of China

at the temple

at the temple

the Dutch Fort

the Dutch Fort

view of Giam Island seen from Nipah  Beach - where you can catch a boat to to snorkel

view of Giam Island seen from Nipah Beach – where you can catch a boat to to snorkel

Giam Island

Giam Island zoomed up

Coral Bay beach

Coral Bay beach

fresh fish

fresh fish – ocean caught so reasonable price for the quality

they have nice sunsets

they have nice sunsets

hornbill

wild hornbill

hornbill flying

hornbill flying

our rental

our rental parked in the side street

back at the jetty

back at the jetty

a motorbike being loaded

a motorbike being loaded onto the ferry

Buy more, pay more – Tesco beer bargain?

In Tesco currently you can buy a 12 can pack of Carlsberg beer (with free glass) for RM45.88.

Three tables further on in the store you can buy a 24 can slab of Carlsberg for RM112.88.

Out of curiosity you return to the first table to check the number of cans again, and then consider if you have time to hang around and watch if anyone actually buys the 24 can slab.

Gurney Plaza Beer Watch – 15th January, 2013 – drink beer more cheaply

Feel like a couple of drinks? In the Al Fresco area between Gurney Plaza and the G Hotel one finds bars, restaurants, coffee shops and other food and beverage establishments. In the evening, and especially on weekend evenings, it is very busy here, but weekdays it is quiet. Of course, you are more likely to get a better deal at quiet times.

The price of beer is quite high, but several bars have a better deal for some brands of beer.  For now, this is a rough guide to what is available at this moment, at least when the establishments aren’t busy.

And please note government tax of 6%, and service charge of 10% will be added to these prices on payment – otherwise known in Malaysia as ++ (pronounced “plus plus”, unsurprisingly).

Euro-Deli:

12PM – 9PM

Buy 1 get 2 free – RM36 pint – Carlsberg or Conners

Buy 1 get 1 free – RM36 pint – Asahi Dry

Buy 1 get 1 free – RM42 pint – Franziskaner; Erdinger; Konig Ludwig

* The Carlsberg/Conners here appears to be the best deal of all the establishments

From 9PM to closing the deal is not nearly so good.

Chicago:

From Monday to Friday, 11AM – 9PM except public holidays

RM9.90 a mug of about 330ml Carlsberg

Buy 1 get 1 free – RM39.90 pint – Hoegaarden; Franziskaner

Michelangelo’s:

Buy 1 get 1 free – RM15 a mug of about 330ml Tiger

Buy 2 get 1 free – RM34 1/2 pint Guinness

Buy 2 get 1 free – RM54 pint Guinness

Chillis:

They don’t seem to have any particular deals. Beer starts at RM11.00 for a bottle of Anchor, or RM20.90 for a draft Tiger.  Between 3PM and 8PM they have Happy Hour, where many drinks are 35% off.

Segafredos:

They also sell beer, but no special promotions, and no longer do they sell Guinness. They can be found on the Kelawei Road side of Gurney Plaza.

Gurney Paragon:

A few minutes walk down Gurney Drive is Gurney Paragon – where Morganfield’s can be found. This January, they advertise a promotional rate of RM10 for a pint of Carlsberg draft beer online.

Brussels Beer Cafe can also be found here – but  I am not really covering Paragon in this blog, anyway.

G Spot at G Hotel
G Hotel is next to the Gurney Alfresco area.  At G Spot, their jazz club, between 8PM and 10PM every day they are selling Tiger Beer for RM30++ on a buy one, get two free basis. I gather, though, that this is only around a 330ml glass.

A trip from Penang to Siem Reap, Cambodia

Tropical Expat is just back from Siem Reap in Cambodia, the aim being mainly to see Angkor Wat.

From Penang we flew on Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur – around 40 minutes by air, spent about three hours there in transit, comfortably ensconced in a lounge, and then another two and a half hours on Malaysian Airlines to Siem Reap.

The worst experience of the trip was simply arriving – Immigration is very unfriendly, and then they fingerprint and thumbprint you. There goes your privacy for the rest of your life. I wasn’t aware of this beforehand. Er, excuse the pun.

The government gouges you, with a $20 visa. And charges for non-locals to visit the museum or the temples are quite high, and many times the charges for locals. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation sent my wife a birthday email, as her birthday was a day after we returned from our trip. That was a nice thought.

From the airport to town is about 20 minutes. You can travel by tuk-tuk for about $5, or car for about $7.

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a tuk-tuk

They all drive very slowly, so even if there is no seat belt it’s not particularly worrying. Thereafter, a tuk-tuk to anywhere in town would be $1. They may ask for $2, but most will settle for $1. And if they don’t, there are plenty of others. Oh yes, they drive on the right side of the road – like the French.  But it’s easy to get by with the English language.

Basically you use USD as the currency, but if anything is not a whole dollar, you will get change in Riel.  Conversely, if you are paying a fraction of a dollar, you too can pay in Riel. 1,000 Riel are about 25c. So don’t worry if you are given some, they are easy to use.

Much has been written online about visiting the temples, so there is little point me repeating it. And there is plenty of accommodation, from very cheap to expensive, and it is easily researched, and details changing, so I won’t cover this either. There are free maps and booklets on Siem Reap you can pick up at the tourist office or many cafes or restaurants.

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free maps and booklets from tourist office or cafes and restaurants

There is Pub Street in the centre of town…

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er – street with lots of pubs etc.

– actually not one pub street but a  few streets with lots of restaurants and they are really jumping – restaurants are quite full, but you’ll still get a table, everyone is happy, beer is cheaper than water (sometimes beer 50c, water $1), food is lovely, portions are big; and there are no prohibitive taxes on alcohol, so cocktails and spirits are cheap. Wine is not so cheap, however. In the few days we were there we lived on either Cambodian food, or Mexican food. But there are many ethnic restaurants.  And a great many have Wi-Fi.

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Viva Mexican Restaurant

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typical sign board

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one page of a comprehensive drink and food menu

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frozen margarita

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One of the many nice Cambodian restaurants – I loved the curry and spring rolls here

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spring rolls

The Cambodian people are calm and friendly. And time passes very slowly. You look at the time and you think – it’s still early, yet we’ve done so much. Some parts of the town are dusty, but it’s clean, with very little litter.

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The countryside is also clean and nice.

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rice fields

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Ancient Kymer Restaurant

Mrs Tropical Expat noticed a lot of young gay couples around. The town and temple area has a great many tourists from all over the world – I heard Italian, French, German, American, English, New Zealand, Australian, Spanish, Japanese, Russian,  and plenty of languages I couldn’t recognise.

Our basic game plan was to visit the museum on the day we arrived to get an idea of the history. $12 per person, or $3 for locals.

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Angkor National Museum

The museum is an impressive building, but unless you have a photographic memory, after a while all the stories and myths explained get muddled in your mind, and if you are anything like me you give up and just browse thereafter, until you reach the final exhibit. If you can get Brahim, Vishnu, Shiva, Garuda and the snakes sorted, it’s a good start.  It did help visiting the museum before heading off to the temples the next day. I liked the scale model of Angkor wat in the ground floor exhibition room.

It does get hot during the day climbing stairs at the temples, so the earlier in the morning you are able to start, the better.  And I would recommend hiring a car and guide.  It costs more per day, but you can probably see in two days what otherwise would take you three, and actually then not cost you more. And the car has air-conditioning, and the dust will not affect you so much, so your stamina will be so much better. And, by the way, the toilets in the heritage area are very clean and pleasant.

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Angkor Wat

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Bridge over river – lots of statues on either side

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We visited the Butterfly Garden Cafe, and were greatly disappointed.  It had a small, nice garden, but only a few scruffy black butterflies in residence.  We didn’t stay long.

Another popular visit is to the Artisan Centre which gives a free tour, which is quite interesting, if you like arts and crafts.

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The products in the shop are quite expensive, though. They also provide a free tour to their silk farm, which departs currently at 11.30, and returns to town at 1.30; or departs at 1.30 and returns at 3.30.  The actual time of the tour is about 20 minutes, and it is interesting.  It takes 30 minutes by bus each way to the silk farm. The balance of the one hour there is spent in their shop  – which has the same products as the town shop, at probably the same prices. So, for the 20 minutes of interest, do you want to spend two hours? It’s up to you.

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At the silk farm

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The markets are good for Cambodian produce.  For spices, lotus seeds and nuts. Again they are in the centre of town, not far from the restaurants. There are day and night markets.

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Our guide told us they had eliminated mosquitoes, and malaria and dengue fever in this area.  And indeed I had no problems with mosquitoes even walking though the jungle. I did test this to the extreme, by spending dusk at the hotel by the pool in the garden in just my swimming costume – and I got two mosquito bites. Avoid dawn and dusk or cover yourself up, and you are likely to be all right.

Our guide also told us that the police and military have basically locked down the area so there is no crime – and it did feel very safe, although they didn’t seem so much in evidence. And, apparently “Siem” means “Siam” = Thailand, and “Reap” means “defeat” – so the town was named after Thai forces lost the area to Cambodian forces.

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Siem Reap River, near the night market

You might want to read this blog about Cambodia, also: Things to do in Cambodia