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THURS DAY J ULY 16, 2009


Test of the 10kg


T ! " # journalist takes up challenge of travelling with only a carry-on bag CHOI PEI SAN I’VE always enjoyed travelling light. Whether it’s a long trip to Europe, a w eek in an Asian city or a w eekend get aw ay to an exot ic islan d , I’ve alw ays p acke d few er item s t h an m y t ravel m ates b ecau se I d on ’t w an t to be bogg ed do wn by bulky lugg ag e. Travellin g ligh t reduces h assle and str ess, and gives you peace of m in d becau se you on ly h ave on e b ag t o m in d . Be sid e s, t rave llin g with jus t car ry-on bagg ag e eliminat es the chance of it getting los t in tr ansit. Th e b e st t h in g a b ou t ca r r ying all your possessions with you, t h ou gh , is t h at you can exit t h e airp ort as soon as you h ave you r

passpor t stam ped, ins tead of h aving to w ait for your chec k-in luggage t o b e loade d ont o t he b elt s. So, w hen I was given the chance to take up Jetstar Asia’s Penang JetSaver Light Challenge, I w as pretty sure I could nail it, no sw eat. Jet Saver Light is a cat eg or y of fare lau n ch ed by t h e bu d get carrier in April. It gives custom ers th e ch an ce to save $15 on th eir on ew ay tickets when the y tr avel with onl y car ry-on bagg ag e. Most airlin es allow on ly 7kg of carry-on baggage per passenger. Jetstar has bum pe d the allo w an ce up to 10k g and that’s plenty for a shor t tr ip t o a des tination nearb y. Jetstar Asia’s Sin gap ore-Pen a n g a ll- in clu sive , Je t Save r Ligh t fares are priced from $48 on e w ay. That’s less than half of th e Sing apore-Pen an g fares offered by m ost full-service car riers. For th e trip, I pac ked a chang e of clot h es for each d ay, a p en , a no tebook , a camer a and a char ger ,

and some basic toile trie s. The las t w ere in 10 0ml plas tic bo ttles, arran ged sn ugg ly in a Ziploc bag to m eet th e requirem en t for carry-on liq uids. An d off I w en t on Jetstar Asia’s in augural Sin gapore-Pen an g fligh t on Jul y 1. Th e fligh t w as p le asan t an d shor t at jus t over an h our . With no ch eck-in bagg ag e to collect, I w as able to beat the crow d an d mak e a q uic k e xit. Being out and about in Penang w as fu n . Th e w e at h e r w as good an d th e p eop le w ere h elp fu l an d friendl y. My itiner ar y allo w ed for a free-and-easy da y to explor e the Herit ag e Trail in Geor getown. Na m e d a ft e r Br it a in ’s Kin g George III, Georgetow n is th e capital of th e state of Pen an g. Foun ded in 1786 by Captain Fran cis Ligh t, a tr ader for the British East India Co m p a n y, t h is cit y w it h m o r e than tw o centuries of h istory w as n am e d a Un e sco World Cu lt u ral He r it a ge sit e la st year.

Th e Herit age Trail is d ivid e d in to t an gible h erit age (sit es an d structures) and intangible heritage (cu ltu re, social p ractices, cu isin e, cos tumes and cr afts). My tr avel mat es and I visit ed t h e Pe n a n g St at e Mu se u m (Farqu h ar St reet ). Bu ilt in 1816, t h is m useum is rich in history. For RM1 (40 cent s), I tr avelle d bac k in time to t race Pen an g’s t ran sform at ion from a sw am py frontier to a bust lin g t rad in g p ost . For an in sigh t in to Pen an g’s p ast , a visit to t h is museum is a mus t. An o t h e r r e c o m m e n d e d h e r it a ge s it e is t h e Pe n a n g Pe r a n a k a n M a n s io n ( 2 9 , Le b u h Ge r e ja . Ad m is s io n fe e , RM10, inclusi ve of a guide d tour), wher e the popula r Me diaCorp TV Ch an n el 8 series, The Little Nyonya, w as par tl y filme d. Bu ilt at t h e e n d of t h e 19 t h centur y, this tw o-s tor ey mansion incorporates Chinese carved-w ood panels with Eng lish floor tiles and Scottish iron-w or ks. It sho w s the typical home of a rich Strait s-born

A traditional signboard engraver in Penang (top) and the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.

Chinese and offers a glim pse int o t h e m a ny cu st om s of t h e Bab as an d Nyonyas. From t h e exqu isite bedroom of a new ly-w ed couple, to the dining room wher e lavish dinners w er e once held, the opulent lifes ty le of these locall y accultu rat ed Chinese w as evident. Also on display w ere several sets of Nyonya cost u m es, d elicat e crocker y an d o r n a m e n t s, a s w e ll a s a n t iq u e paintings and pho tographs. Other sites w orth visiting are the Goddess of Mercy Tem ple (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling) —one of the oldest Chinese tem ples in Penang; Kh oo Kon gsi (18, Can n on Squ are. Adm ission fee, RM5) — an ornate clan tem ple; and Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (14, Lebur Leith. Adm ission fee, RM12) — a grand and intricate estate built by one of the w ealthiest tycoons at the turn of the 20th century. To experience Penang’s intangible h e rit age , w e visit e d a t rad it ion al sign board e n grave r (41, Lebuh Queen). Watching the m aster skilfully engrave Chinese nam e

The Penang Peranakan Mansion, where the drama serialThe Little Nyonya was partly filmed, incorporates Chinese with English and Scottish features.

plaques by hand w as an eye-opening experience. We also visited a tau sa piah factory (Ghee Hiang at 216, MacAlister Road) to see how the popular pastry w ith m ung bean filling was m ade. After sam pling them at the end of the tour, we each decided to buy a few boxes of tau sa piah (RM9.50 per box) and beh teh saw (flaky pastry w ith m elted m olasses and sesam e seeds, RM8.50 per box). There are m ore sites on the heritage trail that w e did not have tim e to cover. To be practical, get a heritage m ap from the airport, shortlist th e p laces you w an t to visit , an d allocate one to tw o full days for the t rail so t h at you can exp lore t h e sites at a com fortable pace. No t r ip t o Pe n a n g w ill b e co m p le t e w it h o u t in d u lgin g in scru m ptiou s h aw ker fare su ch as Pen an g laksa, Pen an g ch ar kw ay t e ow , Pe n a n g Hokkie n m e e a n d oh chien (frie d oyster). Tw o popular feast in g sp ots are t h e Gu rn ey Haw ker Centre along Gurney Drive an d t h e New Lan e h aw ker st alls (of f MacAlis ter Road).

At t h e e n d of m y t rip , I w as sure I w ould bust the 10kg carry-on allo w anc e wi th the sho pp ing that I’d done. He nce , I pac ked m y pu rch ases int o a car ton an d chec ked them in a t the airp or t. If you ’ve bou gh t th e Jet Saver Ligh t fares an d later d ecid e t h at you need to check-in your baggage, call Jetstar tel eph one res erv atio ns toll free at 80 0 6161 977 a da y before the flight to do a far e up gr ade to JetSaver (20kg check-in and 10kg carry-on allow an ce). Th is w ill cost $3 0 . Up grad in g you r fa re at t h e airpor t will cos t y ou $60. If you’re travelling w ith friends or famil y, it ma y be a goo d idea for some of you to fly on the Jet Saver Ligh t fares an d th e rest on Jet Saver fares. This w ay, you’ll save on the airfares an d get to sh are th e ch eckin bagg ag e a llow ance . After all, the re’s so muc h that Pen ang has to offer th at I’m pretty su re you ’ll take h om e m ore th an jus t s w eet me mo rie s. This trip was made possible by Jetstar Asia and the Penang Tourism Board.




Delicious snacks to go (from top ): Tau sa piah from the factory , Penang chendol at the New World Park Food Centre and Penang durian, famous for its flavour.

They ate their way through Penang, blogged about their culinary adventures and won a holiday to Hong Kong, inclusive of accommodation, on Jetstar Asia. On July 1, Melissa Tang Min Hui and Derrick Leow Junxiang (picture), both 25, joined nine other teams of two in Jetstar Asia’s Jetsaver Light Challenge. The contest ground was Penang; the stipulation, that the y fly with no more than carry-on baggage weighing less than 10kg. All teams were given a RM60 allowance to spend in Penang. (The sum was the money they had saved on their fares by jetting light.) The team that produced the best blog of their experiences would win a trip to Hong Kong on the budget carrier. Said a Jetstar Asia spokesman about Melissa and Derrick’s winning online journal: “What’s distinctive is that with their RM60 allowance, the y managed to cover food, sight seeing and even shopping in their itinerary. Their photos showed the many sights of Penang and it certainly helps with a good star jump by Melissa!” T    speaks to the team about their trip.

How did you spend your RM60 allowance? The first thing we thought of was food, because that’s what Penang is famous

for! Plus, we are food lovers. We ate and ate in our three days there. Besides that, we took advantage of the public buses to visit some must-see attractions.

Any tips for Singaporeans going there? Just travel light and go there with an empty stomach! Also, be prepared to walk a lot but it’s also the best way to digest all the food that you’ve eaten. Bring a good pair of shoes and slippers.

When it was time to leave, did you have to check in any luggage? No. Our carry-ons only weighed about 7kg and we had enough space to carry tau sar piah back for our family and friends. Read about Melissa and Derrick’s adventures at

TODAY July 16, 2009 - Traveller