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allrite
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Qantas, AirAsia, food and trains in Sydney, Singapore and Penang

Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:18 am

After arriving back home from Launceston I only had a week's rest (work) until the next trip. Even though I had vowed to never again fly to SE Asia in January we were heading for a week's food and fun in Singapore and Penang.

Eschewing the low cost options of Scoot and AirAsiaX we booked return flights with Qantas on the Airbus A332. The flight over was on VH-EBD, a domestically configured A332 with iPads instead of seatback screens. We used the Qantas lounges in Sydney and Singapore and experienced Changi's Terminal 4 for the first time.

After a night in Singapore we dodged storms on AirAsia to Penang Island in Malaysia.There we ate until we were sick of eating and enjoyed the facilities of the Golden Sands Resort. After three nights I was originally booked to fly with the other two back to Singapore on Jetstar Asia, but changed my mind had a very long day catching the trains down from Butterworth back to Singapore. It was interesting to see how much the service had changed in 22 years since I last did it.

In Singapore we visited Sentosa Island and the Zoo and tried to eat despite our (especially my) reduced appetites. Then it was back home to Australia on the internationally configured Qantas A332 VH-EBP. On the way back I watched th e dawn through smooth skies, but there were threatening clouds waiting in Sydney.

To find out more and see way more photos, please see my blog:

* Trip blog

Flight sections

* SYD-SIN
* SIN-PEN
* SIN-SYD

Small selection of photos:

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brucetiki
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Re: Qantas, AirAsia, food and trains in Sydney, Singapore and Penang

Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:50 am

I love the detail in your reports. I feel like I'm actually on the plane reading them.

I read your train blog too - I recommend everyone read this. This was fantastic, and probably my favourite part of your blogs.
 
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allrite
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Re: Qantas, AirAsia, food and trains in Sydney, Singapore and Penang

Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:11 pm

brucetiki wrote:
I love the detail in your reports. I feel like I'm actually on the plane reading them.

I read your train blog too - I recommend everyone read this. This was fantastic, and probably my favourite part of your blogs.


Thank you! The train post took me a while to write. I was so exhausted after the trip and was kept so busy in the days afterwards.
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lychemsa
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Re: Qantas, AirAsia, food and trains in Sydney, Singapore and Penang

Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:44 pm

Is Penang worth visiting?
 
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allrite
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Re: Qantas, AirAsia, food and trains in Sydney, Singapore and Penang

Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:27 pm

lychemsa wrote:
Is Penang worth visiting?


As always, that depends on what you like to do. I certainly prefer it to Kuala Lumpur. On Penang Island, Georgetown has some beautiful old areas that you can wander around. The food is fantastic and it is easier to find traditional hawker stalls around the streets and old style restaurants. There are some tourist attractions like Kek Lok Si temple, which I remember as being really impressive 22 years ago, and the funicular up the hill. I don't stay in resorts much, but those up near Batu Ferringhi seem nice. I preferred the Parkroyal to the Golden Sands out of the two I've been to. There are watersports available on the beaches, though I don't think much of the beaches themselves with grey water and warnings of jellyfish (Alex got stung last time). Many of the food outlets around the resorts are very touristy as well and not up to scratch (Long Beach Seafood anyone?). You will probably find nicer beaches and resorts elsewhere, but we are no experts about that. When we visit Malaysia it is more as returning locals than completely foreign tourists.
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rttlnsnk
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Re: Qantas, AirAsia, food and trains in Sydney, Singapore and Penang

Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:36 pm

I have quite an interest in Malaysian trains so the pictures of the KTM Class 24 and Class 93 instantly hooked me into reading your report. It must be an experience to ride the train all the way from Penang to Singapore. Personally never done that but it used to much more convenient without the need of train changes just 3-4 years ago. I personally find the seats on the ETS trains to be too hard and narrow for such a long journey. It seems that your trains are not much delayed which is common nowadays since there are major track rehabilitation works around Kuala Lumpur. From my memory, Gemas' train station is as large as the town itself.

I like your documentation of Penang too but I (as someone that stayed in Penang for a few months) personally find the New Lane Hawker Center to be underwhelming. Penang Times Square is kind of tacky for me but the McDonalds next door looks gorgeous. Your comparison of Malaysia and Singapore seems quite apt as even though Singapore is much more modern and sleek looking, there is a certain charm in Malaysia's more laid back style (I call it the "tidak apa" or "boleh" attitude). It is like the difference between MH and SQ in some respects.
 
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allrite
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Re: Qantas, AirAsia, food and trains in Sydney, Singapore and Penang

Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:10 pm

rttlnsnk wrote:
I personally find the seats on the ETS trains to be too hard and narrow for such a long journey. It seems that your trains are not much delayed which is common nowadays since there are major track rehabilitation works around Kuala Lumpur. From my memory, Gemas' train station is as large as the town itself.


Yes, the seats were rather hard and narrow. Those on the Gemas - JB Sentral train were certainly more comfortable. But having sat so frequently on Sydney commuter trains I didn't have that much of a problem with the ETS! :) The ETS train was on time into Gemas, though I could see various works being carried out, presumably to bring the speed up as there was only a short stretch south of KL where we did more than 100 km/h according to the indicator.

rttlnsnk wrote:
I like your documentation of Penang too but I (as someone that stayed in Penang for a few months) personally find the New Lane Hawker Center to be underwhelming.


Apart from the char kuey teow, which was the best I've eaten (and I've eaten a lot!), I would agree with you. The problem is finding a good hawker centre these days, especially without your own transport. My wife keeps looking stuff up on the internet, but it is polluted by clueless food bloggers and their pointless lists that are frequently culled from non-authoritative sources. The Jin Hooi Cafe was another disappointment, despite its popularity. In the end where New Lane won out was simply convenience, being right outside our hotel. Being so tired it was nice not to go far and there is plenty of worse food out there.

rttlnsnk wrote:
Penang Times Square is kind of tacky for me but the McDonalds next door looks gorgeous.


Totally tacky. High points: shelter from rain and airconditioning. :)

rttlnsnk wrote:
Your comparison of Malaysia and Singapore seems quite apt as even though Singapore is much more modern and sleek looking, there is a certain charm in Malaysia's more laid back style (I call it the "tidak apa" or "boleh" attitude). It is like the difference between MH and SQ in some respects.


I still remember the shock 22 years ago when, on my first overseas trip, I crossed the causeway from Singapore to Johor Bahru in Malaysia. JB was dirty and stinky and awfully rundown in comparison. But the beef rendang was incredible! However, my happiest memories were walking around Kulim (a peninsula town near Penang) in the evening, enjoying the peace and quiet and the local hawker foods. That's the aspect of Malaysia I like, away from the city centres. A relaxed meal somewhere that has a feeling of history and use, unlike Singapore's drive to sterilise absolutely everything. 22 years is too long ago to compare SQ and MH, but I've certainly been less than impressed with the service on the latter over the years, bar a couple of short flights. Something I noticed in Penang was the level of hospitality service was much better, much warmer, than in KL.
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RoySFlying
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Re: Qantas, AirAsia, food and trains in Sydney, Singapore and Penang

Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:29 am

Hi Andrew!

Once again, a great series of trip reports and some fantastic photos. I always enjoy seeing the shapes in the cloud and how the colours change, giving splashes of reds, yellows and blues. Mind you, I can see that they might become a bit much when you're hoping to see the wide expanses of the Australian coast and interior.

You can always tell that you're in Singapore by those "wonderful" carpets they choose to install. :wink: Had to laugh at the shop name. Now that orang utan stretching out has the right idea.

Thanks for sharing.
Roy
 
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allrite
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Re: Qantas, AirAsia, food and trains in Sydney, Singapore and Penang

Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:45 am

RoySFlying wrote:
Now that orang utan stretching out has the right idea.


Who are you calling an orang utan? That was a selfie! Just 'cause I had a bit of holiday stubble... :D
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