Gurney Drive Escapade – Day 2

We were awoken by Wuan’s phone ringing. It was her colleague calling to find out about our room booking mix-up. Wuan explained that apart from not having the room that was booked, we had to pay for the room that we were staying in now. She advised us not to pay anything and that we could move to the two-room suite immediately. It was a hassle having to pack and lug our belongings to another room but we were elated when we saw how spacious and luxurious the other room was. The master bedroom had an attached bathroom with a Jacuzzi that looked out to the entire Gurney Drive. We could actually be soaking in the tub and watch people walking by below. How sexy! There was a kitchenette with a washing machine and a microwave oven. In the living room was a sofa bed, a sofa and a dining table.

We did not spend much time enjoying our room as our tummies were rumbling in protest. We had a look at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf menu. It is located just beside the Gurney Hotel. That was convenient but we did not like what they were serving for breakfast. So on we went to Gurney Plaza again. We had actually planned to have breakfast there anyway. The heat of the morning sun on my skin was a refreshing change. I seldom get to bask in morning sunlight as I tend to wake up late most of the time.

Wuan and I never had Domino’s Pizza before and she had heard that it is better most of the others. We ordered the Value Meal which came with one regular-sized hand-tossed Chicken Classic pizza, breadstix and two cans of Coca Cola. We agreed that the pizza was “different” from the others but we liked the breadstix better. Having had our fill, we went scampering around the shopping complex. As it was still early, the place was rather deserted.

As classy as it may look, Gurney Plaza’s disabled toilets gets a one star rating out of five. One was too small; one without a wash basin and another was under repair. I have never been to a shopping complex with toilets that I cannot use except here. I had no choice but to put my diaper’s absorbency to the test. This is one of the complexes that I will not be frequenting often.

The battery life of my mobile phone was nearing its end. When we passed by a phone shop, Wuan dragged me in and made me choose one as an early birthday present. I liked the Nokia 3120 for its simple functions and nice shape. The shop accepted a trade-in of my old phone for a miserable RM80. We left the shop with a spanking new phone that will hopefully last longer than the two years I had with the previous one. We did not bring the charger for the old phone along. Wuan had to walk back to the hotel to get it as that was part of the trade-in deal.

After what felt like hours, Wuan came back with the charger for the shop. She had stopped halfway on the walk back to the hotel to snap some shots of a docked cruise ship that was visible from Gurney Drive. On her way back, she was distracted by a monitor lizard scuttling by the rocks. It had probably swam along the coast looking for food.

We had dinner at the basement food court where we shared a bowl of Taiwanese-style rice with salted vegetable, minced chicken and lotus root soup. I did not have a good appetite then as I was still coughing. We had wanted to go back after the dinner but were hampered by heavy rain. Unable to go back and too lazy for another round of window shopping again, we waited for the rain to stop while sharing a glass of hot chocolate. When the rain finally stopped, we quickly made our way back. They sky was still dark and threatened to pour again soon.

When we thought we could get a good rest upon arriving back at the room, one of the lamps blew a bulb and we had to wait for one hour before the technician came replace the bulb. In the darkness, we watched the replay of the Copa America finals between Brazil and Argentina while eating the leftover pizza from breakfast. That was not my idea of a relaxing holiday, eating scrap in the darkness. We had intended to have a nice dinner in a romantic setting but we too pooped out. We did not sleep well again that night with my persistent coughing every few hours.

Gurney Drive Escapade – Day 1

Gurney Drive Penang

When I was a kid, every trip to Gurney Drive with my parents was a treat. Dad would park his car at the stretch where the casuarina trees were. We would then look for the ice cream man, either on his bicycle or cart. We would order ice cream on wafer cones which would either be vanilla, chocolate or corn. We would sit on the sea wall, licking on the ice cream as it began to melt in the sea breeze. Afterwards, we would play around on the white sandy beach, digging for siputs that we took back to fry with soy sauce and chilli.

Gurney Hotel Penang

Wuan, through her office, had booked a two-room suite for two nights at The Gurney Hotel beginning last Sunday. The hotel overlooks the stretch of casuarina trees where I used to frantically lick the ice cream as it dripped down the cone onto my hand and clothes. The ice cream man is no longer there. The beach is no longer there too, being replaced with huge rocks that were dumped there to prevent further erosion of the beach.

The hotel messed up the booking and we were left without a room. Since it was a Sunday, Wuan could not get her office to sort out the mix-up. After much arguing the hotel refused to budge and suggested that we pay for the first night for a studio suite at RM150 nett and then get Wuan’s office to clear up the booking on Monday. All flustered and hungry, we went looking for lunch first before deciding on the next course of action.

The hotel’s coffee house was serving Sunday buffet brunch for RM38 per person. We thought it was rather expensive for the limited amount that was on the buffet train. The waiter there offered to give us a 50% discount. Being the bargain suckers that we were, we decided to eat there. Still, I have tasted better buffet at much cheaper prices and serving more food that I care to eat.

View of Northam Road from Gurney Hotel Penang

Having come all the way already, Wuan decided to stay one night at her own expense and then get her office to sort it out the next day. As usual, we asked for higher floors. Surprisingly, we were given the highest floor which is the thirty sixth floor. The room window overlooked the Penang harbour, the entire old city and the Penang Bridge. The room had all the usual amenities one would find in other hotel rooms with the exception of a Jacuzzi. We rested a while and then decided to have our dinner at Gurney Plaza, which is at the other extreme end of Gurney Drive.

Gurney Drive Penang

The casuarina trees provided some shade from the sun which was still shinning brightly. I remember that fishermen and fishmongers used to sell their freshly caught fishes, prawns and crabs by the promenade. Now, there are mostly loafers and courting couples, people exercising and some who were fishing by the rocks just beside where the waves gently lapped. The view is still remarkable despite the changes but all this will soon change again when sea is reclaimed for commercial intents. When Gurney Drive is no longer there, I still will have these images to remind me when it was such a popular spot among the locals and tourists alike. Among others, Gurney Drive is synonymous with Penang. I cannot imagine a Penang without a Gurney Drive as it is today.

Loke Villa, Gurney Drive Penang

As we neared Gurney Plaza, we could see cars being parked haphazardly. This is a usual sight, especially during weekends. The unique building style of the Loke Villa caught Wuan’s attention and she took a few quick shots from outside the fence. When we reached Gurney Plaza, it was crowded. There was an auto exhibition outside and at the main atrium of the complex. We skirted around the exhibition area and checked out some of the clothes that were on sale at Parkson.

After buying bottled water and some buns from Cold Storage, we surveyed the food outlets that lined the walkway of the complex called the Gurney Place. We settled on La Manila for a wedge of chocolate cake and a grilled salmon set meal with mushroom soup, tea and ice cream. After dinner, it was a leisurely walk back to the hotel as a slight breeze was blowing and the night sight of Gurney Drive was a total transformation from the day with all the fairy lights strung across the road and the many food shops decking out their outlets with dainty lights to attract customers. We did not sleep that well that evening as I was consistently coughing throughout the night which woke Wuan up.