Wednesday, March 27, 2013

International Air Travel in 1958

I'm not the only one in my family who has the travel bug. My father also loves journeying around the world. Perhaps it was destiny since his Chinese name is "Pui Ping" which means "The Wanderer." For over a decade, he lived the expat life in Montreal, Paris, Southeast Asia and China, seizing each work holiday as an excuse to travel everywhere from New Zealand to Kashmir. Now in retirement, he and my mom recently returned from a trip to Brazil and Argentina.
 
Years before he was an expat, a husband, and a father, he was a young man growing up in the Philippines and graduating summa cum laude from university. Then, it was on to England for a graduate training program scholarship which happened to include money for air travel. How exciting this must have been for him! In my father's own words, here's the story of his first international airplane journey.


Getting ready to board the plane


On November 1958, I left Manila for London via Hong Kong.  In those days, very few people went overseas.  There were about 50 people consisting of relatives, friends and business associates who saw me off at the Manila Airport.  I stopped over in Hong Kong to get tailored suites and warm clothing,woollen underwear, gloves and other accessories before flying off to London, England. 

During that time “common people” travelled by ship to Europe and America.  Only the rich and senior executives could fly.  It was the era of propeller planes, with top speed of 250 miles per hour and carrying 60 passengers, with 15 rows of two seats on each side of the aisle.  This is in contrast to modern day jet planes with a cruise speed of over 600 miles per hour and a seating capacity of 450 passengers. In those days, there were no different classes. Seating was much like the economy class of today, except there was more leg room and the service was excellent. 

The propeller plane had a limited flying distance and had lengthy stop-overs for re-fuelling and picking up passengers. To get to London from Hong Kong the airplane made numerous stops.  From my recollection -- starting from Hong Kong, we stopped at Saigon, Bangkok, Rangoon, Bombay, New Delhi, Cairo, Beirut, Bahrain, Rome and finally London.  It was exciting to visit all these places.  It was like my geography class coming alive.  The flight time was very long, maybe 36 hours in the air.  In contrast today’s commercial flight for the same route would take 16 hours.  All I remember was after lunch we had a snack, then dinner, then breakfast and then lunch again. We flew past so many time zones in that trip. 

All the airports we stopped by were small and austere, not the large, multi-level complex of today’s international airports that require trains and long hallways to move from one terminal to another.  There were no shopping mall inside the airports, and neither were there restaurants or fast-food outlets. 

Most of the passengers were Caucasian businessmen.  The passenger next to me was a young Chinese from Hong Kong on his way to England to be trained as merchant marine.  It was good that I had somebody to chat with during the very lengthy flight. 

I remember two things about that long trip.  There were U.S. marines carrying guns in the Beirut airport to intervene in the 1958 Lebanon conflict between Christians and Muslims.  It was quite scary as I had flashbacks to the horrors during the World War II in Manila when I was a child. 

The other incident was an announcement by the airplane captain for us to look down as we flew over Athens.  We saw the ruins of the arena of ancient Greece.  Half a century later, my wife and I were on a cruise of the Greek Isles and went to that arena where we posed as if we were in a race.


A crowd showed up to see my dad (center, in the suit and tie) off at the Manila Airport.


My father has been on hundreds of international flights since this first trip. Before returning to the Philippines three years later, he toured much of Europe by train as well as flying to the U.S.A. to visit New York City, see John F. Kennedy's inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., then continuing on to San Francisco. I wonder if, at the time, he realized what great world travelers his grandchildren would become.

Would you have minded the small planes and long flight times of late 1950's air travel?


This post is part of Travel Photo Thursdays on Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-word travel inspiration.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Please Remove Your Shoes

"Ummm... Do you mind taking off your shoes?"
 
Growing up in Houston, Texas, those words always seemed strange and awkward coming out of my mouth. My parents' house is strictly No Shoes Allowed, and as a child, this always seemed to set us apart. Sure, my aunts and uncles had the same rule. My parents' Filipino friends did, too. Grown-up parties with my folks were always marked by a huge pile of shoes at the door. But none of my friends ever made this request. I only realized this custom extended way beyond my family's circle of influence when I first entered the home of my Taiwanese friend in high school. She was surprised that I didn't automatically remove my shoes. "You're Chinese," she said, "you should know to take them off."

After I was married and had my own home, I instigated the No Shoes rule, too. When we visited Hawaii, I considered buying a plaque that said, "Please remove your shoes. It's the Hawaiian way." Except that a) I'm not Hawaiian; and b) I don't live in Hawaii. So, I couldn't figure out how I would justify that reasoning.

By the time I became a mother, non-Asians seemed to be jumping on the No Shoes bandwagon. Baby playgroup discussions covered concerns with thimerosal in vaccinations and phthalates in plastics. Leaving our shoes at the door was a way to keep environmental toxins out of the home. And of course, it's de rigueur for the kiddos to go shoeless at almost any indoor playscape.

Then, I moved to Malaysia.

Suddenly, the world flipped and what seems awkward in the United States is the norm here. When we came for our exploratory trip and looked at a bazillion rentals, we had to remove our shoes a bazillion times. Take my advice. Wear slip-on shoes when house hunting.

Everyone automatically takes off their shoes without asking. Some homes have the most beautiful, ornately carved, wooden shoe chests. If you're dressing up to attend a party at someone's home, the pressure is off to find just the right shoes for your outfit. No more standing around in heels all night! However, I do seem to get pedicures more frequently. Thank goodness they're cheap.

What's interesting is that the whole No Shoes custom extends beyond homes in Malaysia. When we visit our pediatrician, we leave our shoes on the doorstep before walking into the building. Frankly, this would have completely freaked me out in Texas because I would have been convinced that there was some highly contagious foot disease (Warts! Fungus!) ready to leap off the floor and burrow into my child's precious foot. But I just go with the flow here and take them off without worrying.

At a store called SSF, all customers must remove their shoes before heading to the 2nd story of the shop. It would be like browsing around a Crate and Barrel in America and then having to take off your shoes partway through the store. I always seem to go down a different set of stairs than the ones I head up, so I have to walk back to the first stairs to retrieve my footwear.

Of course, the No Shoes policy spreads all throughout Asia. I was impressed in Kyoto, Japan, by the highly organized system of numbered shelves to store the shoes for hundreds of visitors to the Sanjusangen Buddhist shrine. It was comparable to remembering where you parked your car in a large lot. They even had special shoe storage sections set aside for tour groups!


At Penang's Reclining Buddha Thai Temple
You are required to remove shoes, so perhaps someone is to stand guard while others tour.

Luckily, no one has ever made off with my shoes like when Sex and the City's Carrie finds her pricey Manolo Blahniks missing after leaving them at a friend's door. There's also that scene in Slumdog Millionaire where the kids steal shoes at the the Taj Mahal. This may be due to the cruddy taste in footwear that set in after Pregnancy #3 made my feet too-wide-for-regular-width but too-narrow-for-wide-width.

Back in Texas, we almost accidentally stole some other kids' brown Crocs when we were leaving the Chik-fil-A play area. Can you blame us? They are so common, and when you're waging the "No, you cannot go down the slide just one more time" battle, you grab the shoes that look right without inspecting them too closely. Good thing the mama of the rightful owner noticed.

In summary, the good thing about Malaysia is that I am now Normal! (Well, in that one aspect.) Yippee! No more awkward requests occasionally followed by the stink eye for asking guests to Please Remove Your Shoes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kangaroo Island's Koala Walk

 
Such a sweet, sleeping koala

One of the best places to see koala bears on Australia's Kangaroo Island is at Hanson Bay Sanctuary's Koala Walk. Feral cats have had a detrimental effect on the population of small mammals on the island, so this area of 250 acres is fully fenced to protect the animals.

We took our time strolling along the avenue of gum and eucalyptus trees peering up through the leaves and branches in search of the cuddly animals. Hubby was the best at spotting them with my girl also proving herself to have keen eyes. The boys were too busy trying to poke each other with long sticks.


50% of the people in this group are looking for koalas.


Seek and ye shall find.


All in all, we saw 9 koalas, 4 wallabies, 5 kangaroos and a few colorful birds. The sign out front stated that 23 koalas had been found that day. All were free to roam wherever they liked, not confined to pens. These animals didn't seem to consider us dangerous. They certainly weren't motivated to move whenever we approached. Most of them were asleep. In fact, we decided that the easy life of a koala spent up in the trees napping all day combined two of my oldest son's favorite pastimes.

I finally identified this Crimson Rosella when I saw a stuffed animal version at a gift shop.


Tiny Tammar Wallabies are the size of large rabbits.


We spent about an hour here, taking our time to slowly wander around and look for animals. A big tour bus pulled up while we were at the sanctuary. They were in and out in 15 minutes once they had "See a Koala" checked off their To-Do list. Take as long or short as you like.


Eucalyptus acorns


Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to go on the Nocturnal Tour which starts at sunset and lasts 90 minutes. I bet it would have been quite fascinating.

What happens when I vaguely suggest, "Why don't you pet it?"


The Sacred Dwelling Space exhibit by Evette Sunset, an environmental sculptor, caught our eye from afar. The five teepee-like structures were formed from woven branches with a line of stones curving out from the base.


Sacred Dwelling Space
Although I'm not quite sure who dwelled here. Probably not koalas.


There's also a cafe on site with a yummy looking dessert case as well as baguette sandwiches, schnitzel, fish'n'chips, cheeseburgers, vegetarian food and espresso. Staples like water, milk and bread are also available — handy since the nearest grocery store is an hour away.

As we drove off on the main South Coast Road, lots more wallabies hopped across the road in front of our car. Drive slowly!


Kangaroo Crossing


Where on Kangaroo Island
South Coast Road, Karatta, South Australia
7 km before Flinders Chase National Park

When
Open 7 days a week, opening at 8 a.m.
Reservations required for the Nocturnal Tour.
During the day, you are welcome to stroll Koala Walk yourself, taking as long or short as you like.
Cafe open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Cost in AUD
Self-guided Koala Walk
Ages 12 years and up      $6
Children under 12 years  $3

Guided Nocturnal Walk
Ages 19 years and up      $24
Ages 12-18 years            $19
Children under 12 years  $14

See Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary website for more information on tours.



Related Posts:
It's the Great Penguin, Charlie Brown (Hanson Bay)
Major Fail: Sitting Together on the Airplane
Kangaroo Island Highlights
Why My Kids Love the Sydney Opera House
The Allure of Uluru (Ayers Rock)



This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wishes Made at Kyoto's Kiyomizu Temple

The veranda and 3-story pagoda of Kyoto's legendary Kiyomizu Temple
 
One of the most popular places to visit in Kyoto is Kiyomizu Temple (Kiyomizu-dera), especially during cherry blossom season. Even though I realized this when planning the trip, I didn't fully appreciate the magnitude of the crowd. Our first clue was the extremely long queue at Kyoto Station to board a bus to the temple. After calculating that we wouldn't get on the first two buses to come by, we opted for a taxi. The driver ran into traffic along the way, and we ended up taking a winding detour through back alley streets to get there. The kids took this as an opportunity to zonk out and nap, and I thought this was a good way to see a part of the city that's off the tourist track. Almost an hour went by, and we were just beginning to very slowly creep up the road leading to the temple entrance. Finally, the cab driver told us it would be faster to  walk, so we hopped out and jumped into the crowd, tightly gripping our kids' hands. We strolled through the busy, narrow market street of the Higashiyama District taking time to ply the young ones with a few snacks to raise their flagging spirits since I really wanted to see this one last place before calling it quits for the day. In the end, it turned out to be worthy of all the hoopla and praise heaped on this scenic site.

Enter by the Deva Gate with the 3-Story Pagoda behind it


Many Japanese tourists enjoyed this national treasure and UNESCO Cultural World Heritage site along with us. Some were bundled up against the chill weather while others were dressed in traditional kimonos.

Dressed for a day of picture taking and sightseeing


One of the iconic buildings of the temple grounds is the Main Hall and the veranda of its Kiyomizu stage. Its 12 meter high (36 feet) support pillars were constructed without using a single nail, and
the floor was assembled from more than 410 cypress boards. The view of Kyoto from up here is spectacular. This place inspired the Japanese idiom "jumping from the veranda of Kiyomizu Temple" to mean that someone is about to take a bold or daring adventure. Supposedly, you would be granted your wish if you survived the jump. In the Edo era, 234 jumps were recorded, and 85.4% survived. The others were not so lucky. I decided not to test it out.

Looking up at the veranda. No way would I jump from there!


Another tradition at Kiyomizu temple is walking between the Love Stones at Jishu Shrine. This Shinto shrine behind the Main Hall is the dwelling place of Okuninushi, the god of love and matchmaking. According to the sign, "If you walk safely from this stone to the other with your eyes closed, for once, your wish will be granted soon. If you can't, it will be long before your love is realized." The greatest challenge of crossing the 6 meters (18 feet) between the two stones was avoiding the numerous people wandering across your path and being deflected off course. I'm sure it's easier to stay straight on less busy days. My daughter failed in her attempt, but since she was only 6 years old, I was hoping it would be a long, long, very long time before her love is realized, anyways.

Walking between the Love-fortune-telling Stones


Kiyomizu-dera means "Temple of the Clear Water" and is named after Otowa Falls. Water from a mountain spring has been falling her since before it was originally built back in 778. Many visitors drink the sacred spring water from a ladle since it's supposed to have wish granting powers. In retrospect, I really should have done it and asked for quick transport back to our hotel after a long day.

I think drinking spring water from Otowa Falls seems like a better option for gaining luck than jumping off the veranda.

The cherry blossoms were indeed beautiful, and I can see why so many people flock to this site in the springtime. When we were there, the temple was going to have one of its rare night openings, but we were too tuckered out to last much past sunset.

Cherry Blossoms blooming over the pond by the 3-Story Pagoda

We eventually left and began walking back down the hill through the shopping street. It's been catering to temple tourists for centuries and have used that time well to hone their skills at offering tempting wares.  I really could have done some damage to my wallet here, but all of us just wanted to get home. (Or perhaps my hubby drank from the Otowa Falls when I wasn't looking and wished for me to have an uncharacteristic lack of interest in shopping.) Eventually, we made it to the main street where we caught a bus back to Kyoto Station. Kiyomuzi Temple is an Ancient Kyoto icon and a must-see when visiting this town.

Oddly, I wasn't at all inclined to shop despite the gorgeous wares displayed in the shops.
Perhaps strange forces were at work.


Click here to view the Visitor's Guide with Admission fees, Operating Hours, and an Access Guide for Kiyomizu Temple.

Related Posts:
Kyoto Station is Enchanted
The 10,000 Torii Gates of Kyoto's Fushimi-Inari Shrine


This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Malaysian Dining in Houston, Texas

While I'm living in Penang, I constantly long for good Tex-Mex and Texas BBQ and dedicate my home visits to getting my fill. After I move back to Austin for good, I know that I'll start craving all the delicious Malaysian food that I've tasted since I landed here. Luckily for me, there's an authentic Malaysian restaurant in Houston's Chinatown called Banana Leaf. It's popular enough that they opened up a second location across the street from the first one. Last summer, a group of my younger cousins, my kids, and I dined at Banana Leaf so they could sample the cuisine.

The kids and I agreed that the flavor was very authentic and representative of the hawker centre food you can get in Penang. The downside was that the prices were definitely American, not the ridiculously cheap US$2-3 meals I get in Malaysia. We went for a very late lunch, so the restaurant wasn't busy at all. My daughter was excited by the sections named after various Malaysian towns like Ipoh. My sons thought the place was different from a typical hawker center in that this restaurant had a) air conditioning; b) good quality napkins; c) clean bathrooms; and d) no stray animals running through.  All plusses in my book!

My favorite dish, Char Kway Teow, was spot on. Yay!! I'm so glad that it won't be exiting my life once I'm back in Texas.


Stir-fried Flat Noodle (Chow Kueh Teow)
Malaysian famous stir fried flat noodle with shrimp, calamari, bean sprouts, egg, soy sauce and chili paste.


When the Roti Canai came out, one of my cousins the same age as my kid bit in and started saying, "Mmmmm... this is soooo good."  She'd dined here a few times before and was quite eager to accompany us there this summer day. It was a little bit more buttery than what I am accustomed to in Penang, but I'm a butter lover, so I won't complain.


Indian Pancake (Roti Canai)
All time Malaysian favorite, crispy style pancake served with curry dipping sauce

My picky-eater daughter gobbled up the Sweet and Sour Chicken. I like to think of it as her broadening her horizons from just the Chinese-American version of this dish to trying the Malaysian style, too.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

My oldest boy ordered his hawker centre standard, Curry Mee, and gave it a thumbs up.

Curry Seafood Noodle
Egg noodle served in curry broth with seafood and bean sprouts


Banana Leaf Curry Chicken
Chicken cooked over low heat with lemongrass and chili paste and simmered in thick coconut gravy


Malaysian Shredded Roasted Duck
Very similar to Peking Duck



Singapore Fried Rice
Fried rice served with shrimp, calamari, BBQ pork and vegetables


Water Spinach (Kang Kung) Belacan
Sauteed convolvulus with spicy Malaysian shrimp paste sauce
(Note that the menu says "convulse" but this is a misspelling and no convulsions should occur.)

The menu at Banana Leaf is quite extensive and representative of typical Malaysian cuisine. Despite the name, this isn't true banana leaf dining since everything was eaten off of plates with cutlery.

There's another Malaysian restaurant in the same strip called Mamak which I'm sure I'll enjoy, too, when I get back to Texas for good. Asam Laksa on the north side of Houston is another place I'll have to try.


Banana Leaf I
9889 Bellaire Boulevard, Suite 311
Houston, Texas

Banana Leaf II
9896 Bellaire Boulevard, Suite A
Houston, Texas

Click here for the website for both Banana Leaf restaurants.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Major Fail: Sitting Together on the Airplane

Do you prefer to sit with your kids on flights? Except for that one time when I ditched everyone and grabbed hubby's business class upgrade, I will do almost anything to get all of us together. That's why I didn't like the news as we checked in at Regional Express airline on Kangaroo Island. The kids weren't sitting with us. In fact, THE KIDS DID NOT HAVE SEATS ON OUR FLIGHT.

Whaaaaa????

My youngest one is 7 years old. The oldest one is taller than me. We are way past Lap Baby stage. Of course, I had bought them seats!

I double checked the date and time to make sure I had not goofed up. "Look here!" I said as I showed them the printout of our confirmation email. There were the names of all three kids, and it clearly showed that they were supposed to be on the flight. When we changed our itinerary a few weeks earlier, hubby and I were put under one booking number, and the kids were mysteriously changed to a different one. I suppose that's when our troubles must have begun.

The agent clicked around on her computer some more. Nope, not on the flight. No parties of three either, so it wasn't a name mix-up. Unfortunately, the teeny, tiny, 36-passenger plane was completely full. 

It was the opposite of Unaccompanied Minors on airplanes. Instead, the adults had the tickets to get on and wave bye-bye to the kiddos staying behind at the airport. How much extra do you suppose airlines should charge for that?

Could we wait until the next day to fly out? No, then we'd miss our once-a-day international flight out of Adelaide back to Malaysia. Plus, Kangaroo Island doesn't exactly strike me as a place where you can drive around hoping to find last minute lodging. We'd have better luck convincing the pleasant airline counter staff to let us sleep in their homes. They were so nice and helpful that we probably could have guilt tripped them into it.

Our only real option was to take the SeaLink ferry back to the mainland and get on a bus to take us to Adelaide. Instead of a 30-minute flight, we were now looking at a 45-minute ferry ride plus more than 2 hours on the bus. And spending an unexpected $330, too! The last boat of the day departed in an hour. The drive to the wharf in Penneshaw takes 40 minutes. We didn't have time to standby at the airport and hope that 3 people would be No Shows so that our entire family could get on the flight that we had already paid for.

While hubby worked out the details of the ferry and bus with the airline staff, I ran over to the Hertz car hire counter to see if we could get back the SUV we had just returned. It was already reserved for someone else, but we could use another identical SUV for the short drive. Whatever. Fine. She'd add it on our original contract. The extra partial hour rolled it over from a 3-day to a 4-day rental. Normally, I'd be mad about the extra day, but it actually made the total cheaper.

Then came the weird part. (Yes, weirder than the fact that renting a car for 4 days costs less than for 3.) Whenever I've returned a hired car in the past, they usually hand me a printed map with the Car Return clearly marked.  Not on Kangaroo Island. The lady whipped out her iPhone and showed me a picture of a pizza joint. "Drive past the ferry building and then up the hill. You'll see Isola Pizza in a blue building on the left."


Isola Pizza -- Photo by Home Hound


I'm thinking, "I'm in a hurry. Why is she showing me a restaurant?"

She continues, "Walk down the alleyway on the left side of the building. There's a Hertz office at the back, but it will be closed. Drop your keys in the unmarked mailbox by the door."

Then, she showed me a picturesque dead-end street lined with tall trees. "This is where you leave the car. There's no sign. When you're at the pizza place, turn to the left and you'll see it. Just park it on the side of the road."

I flashed back to my kids' Dora the Explorer days. Pizza parlor! Mystery mailbox! Pretty street! Why use a map when you can simply show people picture clues on how to return a vehicle?

We loaded everything into the car, buckled in the booster seat, and set off for our new destination. Surprisingly, we got there without any problems despite our lack of GPS or iPhone coverage for Maps apps. When packing, I had taken an uncharacteristically Luddite approach to the whole navigation thing and decided to rock printed maps. How 19th century of me.

The car hire lady's picture clues turned out to be perfect, and we were able to return the car without a problem. I'm sure the credit card charge for an unreturned vehicle would be quite sizeable and not easily overlooked.

The ferry started loading a few minutes after we arrived. We boarded and staked out a claim on comfy seats with a view out the front window. I gazed longingly at the beach beside us, a known Penguin Rookery, in hopes of catching a glimpse of a wild penguin. As with many other things that day... denied!

SeaLink Ferry with Cape Jervis in the distance.

The ferry turned out to be a nice way to travel with its cushy lounge, cafe, and meat pies. The SeaLink bus picked us up right outside the Cape Jervis wharf. Even though I was now very tired, I enjoyed peering out the window to see the Australian suburbs whizzing past. We'd been on the continent for 2 weeks, but most of our time was in cities or vacation areas, so I didn't have any idea where regular folks lived. It reminded me of home (the Texas one, not the Malaysian one) with its tidy expanse of family homes, chain restaurants, grocery stores and large retailers. The kids liked that Burger King is called Hungry Jack. Thank goodness the bus driver dropped us off at our hotel! That was a touch of convenience I wasn't expecting.

After I returned to Malaysia, I contacted Regional Express through their handy online feedback form. Interestingly, "Need a Refund" was one of the choices on the pull-down menus. How often do they get that query? After a few weeks, they replied that it was a system error and that the specifics had been forwarded to their IT department. They refunded the cost of the unused flights for our entire family, even the ones for hubby and I that we voluntarily gave up figuring that they'd prefer for us to not leave our kids behind at the airport. I didn't even have to throw a fit to get what I requested. So yeah, it was a major screw up, but Regional Express did everything to remedy the situation short of kicking others off the flight and thus igniting those people's fury.


Related Post:
YouTube: Kangaroo Island Highlights
Kangaroo Island's Koala Walk
It's the Great Penguin, Charlie Brown (Hanson Bay)

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.






Monday, March 4, 2013

Swim Parties at the ParkRoyal Resort

My son attended a fun birthday party at The Parkroyal Penang Resort Hotel in Batu Ferringhi a few months ago. The kids were entertained the whole time, the food at Cool Bananas was plentiful, and best of all, the host didn't have to open her house to hordes of crazy children. If you have a hankering to visit, you don't need to wait for a party since day passes are available.

All the kids had fun splashing in the pool. The big waterslides drew a lot of their attention, but games of water volleyball and cannonball splash contests also kept them occupied. A lifeguard on duty prevented the action from getting too wild. A ping-pong table by the restaurant was another activity the children could enjoy.

Super fun, slippery slides

I especially liked having the swimming pool right by the Cool Bananas restaurant with its shady porch. That way, the parents could relax out of the hot sun while keeping the kids close by. We couldn't see the entire pool area, but it's one of the better layouts in Penang.

All the food was already laid out on the buffet table when the party started in case if the children were hungry right away. I thought the party hats, balloons, and colorful tablecloths and napkins gave the space a very festive atmosphere.

Dining al fresco on the shady veranda of Cool Bananas
 
 
If the pool isn't enough to keep the kids busy, a stretch of Batu Ferringhi beach borders the hotel grounds.
 
Want to have fun on the beach?
 
The party got rave reviews from my son. All the kids seemed to be exhausted but happy and full of food by the time 2 hours was up. So, if you're looking for a place to hold your own child's party, consider The Parkroyal Penang.
 
For party reservations and enquiries, call 04-886-2288, extension 8207.
 
 
 
 
Cool Bananas Day Pass Membership
Weekdays
Adult - RM40.60 (entitle to F&B credit worth RM23.00)
Child - RM29.00 (entitle to F&B credit worth RM11.50)
Weekends & Public Holidays
Adult - RM52.20 (entitle to F&B credit worth RM34.50)
Child - RM40.60 (entitle to F&B credit worth RM23.00)
 
To enjoy this offer, speak to an associate at the Cool Bananas Poolside Café.
 
 
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