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Top 3  Chinese Restaurants in Suzhou Industrial Park, (on a budget).

Top 3 Chinese Restaurants in Suzhou Industrial Park, (on a budget).

Within a two km radius of where we are based in Suzhou Industrial Park, there are many small restaurants, mainly noodle houses or hot pot places. Most are selling soupy noodle dishes, or variations on this theme. I would turn down Suzhou soupy noodles for a cheese sandwich any day but I have, after some investigation, discovered three wonderful little joints, serving a variety of tasty snacks and meals, all of which are frequented by locals and rarely by foreigners... 1. Jian Kang Ye Shi Location: Shicheng Road by Nanshi Park Best pit stop, (other than street food vendors), for a hearty breakfast. You will sample the nationwide, famous youtiao, (long savoury doughnuts), that you can dip into soy milk or rice porridge. You can also try chun tian, ( spring rolls which you buy from the freezer in Asda, but they're not quite the same), flakey pastries with sweet nutty/raisin paste filling and xiao long bao, (delicate steamed dumplings). All this would cost you approximately £ 3 . 2. Zhen Lao Shan; means: Very Traditional Northwestern (food). Located: Just outside the south side of Vanguard Shopping Mall, Fangzhou Road This little place has a rustic, homey feel, generated by the simple wooden style benches and long tables. The food is based on Xi'an, (where the terracotta warriors are), style cuisine, so tends to be more savoury than the local Suzhou style, which often is a little sweet. My favourite lunch bites are: The Rojiamo Succulent shredded beef or lamb incased in a flakey, buttery bun, (soooo yummy). Biang Biang Mian Thus called because of the sound created when the noodles are made from scratch, they are slapped on the table top to stretch them out. This dish's thick noodles in a hot tomato- based stew is super nourishing and warming for a cosy winter's day lunch. 3. Ga Kao Jiang- Chinese Barbeque Located: Just beyond Nanshi Park, half -way down Shicheng Road This place welcomes garlic and oil like an old friend, in equal quantities, and well, the food is rather satisfying as a result. I recommend this place for a post- run calorie top-up or a girls' (or boys') night out. I found peanut butter flavoured beer in bottles and it's given beer a whole new echelon of esteem and admiration in my mind. Must tries: spicy lamb kebabs (also non spicy) open grilled herby aubergine (oh my) corn on a kebab grilled, oily mushrooms potato kebabs grilled green beans mushroom kebabs A decent meal and a drink will cost you less than £ 10 . So; there we have a breakfast, lunch and dinner recommendation all within a 5-10 minute walk.

Oreo Brownies

Oreo Brownies

For the sweet tooths; this recipe is for you. My friend from Arkansas made this for a girls' night and boy is it sweet. Using lard in icing does take a bit of getting over, (only in America eh? and Suzhou Industrial Park), but the brownies turned out really well, more convincingly chewy and brownie like than the recipe I usually rely on, so I've upgraded to this one for future use. You might want to go for a run after consumption. FOR THE BROWNIES 1 c unsalted butter (or two sticks) 2 c granulated sugar ½ c chocolate chips (or your favourite chopped chocolate) 3 eggs 2 tsp vanilla extract ⅓ c unsweetened cocoa powder + 2 tbsp 2 Tbsp black cocoa powder (if you don’t have black cocoa powder, you can use dark cocoa or more regular, unsweetened cocoa powder instead) 1 c all purpose flour ½ tsp salt FOR THE OREO FROSTING ½ c unsalted butter (or 1 stick) ⅓ c lard 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 c icing sugar 1–2 Tbsp milk (more as needed to create fluffy, light frosting) 12 Oreos (crushed into coarse crumbs; leave some larger pieces) INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE BROWNIES Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray or a bit of canola/vegetable oil. In a large microwaveable bowl, heat the butter on high until fully melted. Remove from the microwave. Stir in sugar and chocolate chips until smooth and silky. The heat of the butter will melt everything together. Allow the butter mixture to cool slightly and come back to room temp. When ready, add eggs, then the vanilla extract to the butter/sugar/chocolate mixture and stir well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder(s), flour and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/chocolate chip mixture and gently fold & stir together until there are just a few small clumps in the batter. Do not over mix. The batter will be thick. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes. The top should have large cracks and if you insert a knife into the middle, it should be just about clean. Allow the brownies to cool completely. TO MAKE THE OREO FROSTING Mix the butter and lard until light and fluffy in a large bowl. Add the icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing slowly in between each addition until most of the sugar is mixed (the mixture may still be dry at this point). Add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of milk. Mix on medium speed. Add more milk slowly, enough for a frosting to come together. Mix on high speed until super light and fluffy. The frosting should be soft and light. Lastly, stir in the crushed Oreos by hand. Frost the brownies generously. Serve.

Easy Easter?

Easy Easter?

Easter was blessed by the arrival of a good friend's new baby boy who I had the privilege of being the first non-family visitor in hospital for cuddles. And he was blessed to narrowly miss being an 'April fool'- born at 8.30 pm on 31. March. We were looking after his older sisters while he was brought into the world, which was fun for Emily as she and Cora are tied at the hip and a challenge for Mike and I. Mike doesn't generally shout, and I rarely shout at children that aren't my own, but this proved to be one of our exceptions when at midnight the girls are still merrily chatting away, with the puppy joining them, enshrined on the duvet, despite a rule we have about no puppies on beds , keeping the two year old sister up despite missing her nap and having been asked to quiet down umpteen times as they have work and school in the morning. The two year old awoke several times crying 'Cora, my monkey, Cora my monkey' because she couldn't locate her monkey dummy. The bathroom was soaked in blood, which I learnt the following morning was due to Cora's tooth wobbling out and Emily's bed broke under the strain of it being transformed into a nest like that of the 'Croods' (an animated film family). But, three egg hunts later and despite the complaints and spaghetti food fights, we are all still friends and probably closer as a result. The first of the afore mentioned egg hunts took place in the park where we hold parkrun, and Suzhou Striders joined with Suzhou Family (a company running family activities) and Decathlon for a short run and egg hunt. Mike lead the warm up and got everyone hopping around the park and then it was everyone chasing the eater bunny and a Decathlon-ordained hopscotch and archery experience. The second egg hunt took place on the Sunday after a church celebration, which some of our Suzhou Strider friends also attended, which is a joy, and the third was in our compound garden, hosted by Cora's family. So despite the general absence of Cadbury's products, family members , roast beef and simnel cake, it was a memorable Easter and Jesus has still risen and is still very much alive. Praise Him!

Book Review: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book Review: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro Published in Uk by Faber and Faber Ltd; 1989 Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Japan but moved to England at the age of 6. He later studied at the University of Kent. The Remains of the Day was his third novel and won the Booker Prize in 1989. Ishiguro has also written two screen plays for channel 4. The Remains of the Day is written from the perspective of Stevens, the butler of Darlington Hall. It begins in 1956 with the protagonist deliberating about whether to go on a trip to visit the old housekeeper and his ex-colleague; Miss Kenton. The novel ends with them meeting up in Cornwall, having spanned 20 years. The story is about the private agonies of a man to whom propriety and dignity are the most prized attributes. It is about how his efforts to uphold these characteristics and his loyalty to his employer; Lord Darlington lead to a thwarted life, in which he becomes his own worst enemy. During his professional years at Darlington Hall, Stevens barely reacts to his father's death and is eventually enlightened to the fact that his master has lead the country to disgrace with his affiliations to the Nazi party and his antisemitism. It is not a political novel, this subplot merely serves to deepen the resonance of Steven's clouded outlook, thanks to his conscientious subservience. It becomes clear to the reader that he loves Miss Kenton but chapter after chapter become about his desperate attempt to hold back his feelings, through projection and denial. It is quite painful to read in parts, and as a Guardian writer notes; it may be that only the British would have the patience to grapple with a protagonist who takes four decades to fail to declare his feelings! It also seems that Miss Kenton would have preferred to have married Stevens, over her actual choice of husband. Although L absolutely love his name, I wouldn't necessarily look to read another of Kazuo's books tomorrow, but I enjoyed this story, partly because it was refreshing to dive into a very British social landscape and partly because I like books that explore their characters deeply. I felt it was such a sensitive and delicate read and could identify with the protagonist's struggle to keep a lid on his emotions!

Kung Pau Chicken

Kung Pau Chicken

Kung Pau chicken is a spicy chicken dish from the South-Western, Sichuan Province of China. I haven't travelled there yet. But the food is very different to the Suzhou and Shanghai style which tends to be a little sweet and not usually spicy. The name can also be pronounced: Gong Bao or Kung Po. I attended a cookery class hosted by More Fun Asia in Suzhou where we learnt to prepare this dish. Serves 4 Ingredients 3-4 diced chicken breasts 2 x fresh red chili, diced 2 x fresh green chili, diced 2 eggs 1 Tbsp chicken stock powder 1 cup oil 1 1/2 Tbsp corn flour 6 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or rice vinegar 2 spring onions finely chopped 1-2 inch piece of root ginger finely grated or minced 2 handfuls of peanuts chili sauce pinch of salt Method To make the marinade: In a bowl, add the salt, stock powder, 2 Tbsp rice wine and diced chicken. Mix together. Add the eggs to coat the chicken. Add the cornflour and mix. Leave to marinade for 10-20 minutes. In a wok or saucepan, deep fry the peanuts and then drain them, keeping a little oil in the pan. Ensuring the oil is still hot, add the chicken mixture to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Then remove the chicken mixture and drain it. Next, add the chopped chili, onion and ginger to the pan and stir fry for a few minutes. Add 3-4 tsp chili sauce. Add the chicken mixture back into the pan. Add a 3-4 Tbsp water and the remaining rice wine. Make a paste with the cornflour and 2 Tbsp water. Add it to the ingredients in the pan. Now add the peanuts. Drizzle over a little more water and it is ready to eat! It is best served with steamed, white rice.

Seaweed Rice Balls

Seaweed Rice Balls

This simple, savoury bite is from Korea. I was first offered them at a picnic, where my Korean friend had freshly prepared them. I have since tried to replicate them for various social functions and events as they are simple to make in large quantities. They also make a nutritious alternative to sandwiches in my children's lunch boxes. For this recipe you will need to have already cooked the rice and let it cool. Ingredients: (makes 20- 30 rice balls) 2 cups of steamed short-medium grain rice 3 sheets of seaweed, (or 1 cup of shredded seaweed) 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil Sesame seeds for garnish 1. Cut the seaweed sheets into small pieces with a scissor or put the seaweed sheets into a food processor and process until coarsely shredded. 2. In a large bowl; mix rice, shredded seaweed, soy sauce, and sesame oil until incorporated. 3. Put a plastic glove on one hand. Add a little bit of oil to the plastic glove so that the rice does not stick. When the rice is warm enough to handle (not cold), put 1- 2 tablespoons of rice on your palm and squeeze lightly until the rice sticks together. Shape it into a ball. 4. Repeat until the rice is finished. Garnish with sesame seeds Serve warm or at room temperature.

First- Timer's Guide to Phuket for Families

First- Timer's Guide to Phuket for Families

Top 10 things to do in Phuket for families We holidayed in Phuket during Chinese New Year. This article lays out from first hand experience, some of the best things to do on the island. In order to get to your accommodation from the airport, depending on your location, you can take a taxi, which would cost around 5 baht, (12p) for the first 2 km and 8 baht for km after that, or by airport shuttle. For a list of the bus stops please go here. For travelling around the island, car hire and motorbike hire is available, as are tuk tuks and taxis. We stayed in Kamala Beach and Mai Khao Beach. Although we enjoyed the contrast of the more rural, peaceful northern part of the island at Mai Khao, we found Kamala beach to be much better option for families. The ocean in the north of the island was more salty, and as a result slightly stung our skin. The water got deep, quite quickly compared to the long shallows at Kamala Beach and so it felt less safe for the kids to swim. There were more options for eating out and entertainment at Kamala Beach, such as beach massage and shopping. 1/ Sea swimming and sun bathing at Kamala beach, Karon Beach, Surin Beach, or Nai Harn Beach. We found the waters to be clearest and warmest at these beaches. We loved Nai Harn for its peaceful feel and Surin for the beach- side cocktails and Kamala and Karon Beach for the shopping and dining options! 2/Watch the sun set at Promthep Cape. You can get a grab taxi there, (once you have downloaded the grab app). Enjoy wandering the southern most hill of the island, have a seafood dinner at the Promthep Cape restaurant while watching the sun dip beneath the horizon. You will also have excellent views of Nai Harn Beach and Ya Nui Beach. 3/Visit Fantasea cultural theme park. This is an evening entertainment option including shopping streets, a 4000 seat dining facility and wonderful shows involving cultural stories, dancing and live performing elephants. It is advised that you book tickets in advance online. 4/ Snorkelling The clear waters of this part of the Andaman Ocean make for brilliant snorkelling. There are interesting things to see near to the shores of the beaches, but for a better experience, go on one of the boat trips out to the deeper seas! 5/ Boat trips to nearby islands The less commercial, almost paradise- like white sands and crystal clear waters of the some of the smaller islands near to Phuket are a must see. This was definitely one of our absolute high lights. There are numerous boat tours on offer. We chose an all day one that included pick up and drop off by taxi from our hotel. It also included a buffet lunch, snorkelling equipment and the tour involved stops at Monkey beach, Kho Phi Phi, Viking Cave, Pileh Bay, and sight seeing at Maya Cove, (where the film: The Beach was filmed). These tours are most popular during November- April in the dry season, but are often cancelled due to storms in the monsoon seasons. 6/Shop in village markets and beach plazas Near to the southern entrance of Kamala, along the main road, the village market happens on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 3 pm and 7.30 pm. It's a vibrant affair with fresh fruit, donuts, freshly barbequed fish, corn on the cob and second hand clothing on offer . The beach side plazas host many boutiques selling colourful bohemian style tie-dye items. It would be rude not to leave without at least one T shirt with a picture of a tie-dyed elephant. 7/ Sample the Thai food and drink Most days we had lunch by one of the beach cafe shacks. Most menus would include various chicken and rice dishes or noodle dishes, such as green Thai curry, yellow Thai curry, chicken and chashew nuts, chicken and coconut. Other dishes included pad Thai or papaya salad. Most dishes cost approximately 100 baht, (£2-3). At the up-market, western restaurants you would pay almost western prices. One of our favourite snacks was a fresh fruit or coconut shake made before our eyes simply with fruit or a coconut and ice. An occasional beach side pina colada was a treat for just 100-150 baht. 8/ Visit Karon view point Take a trip to Karon beach, swim and sun bathe in the morning and take an excursion to the top of the viewpoint in the afternoon. The peak provides a fabulous, sweeping view of the west coast of the island as far as the eyes can see. 9/ Try a Thai Massage Thai massages start from about 300 Baht, (£7) and you will find many of the beaches offer this service in the open air. 10/Aeroplane spotting at Mai Khao Beach. Mai Khao's golden sands stretch out just a few kilometres from Phuket's airport. It's not as noisy and disruptive as one might think, and the kids enjoyed watching their slow ascent and descent into the skies. Book an island tour

Penang National Park

Penang National Park

Planning a trip to Penang National Park? How to get there, what to take, what not to miss. Penang National Park is an absolute must - see whether you are staying a few days or a few weeks on the island. Mike and I and the kids had to return several times for a fix in the 'wild' before our stay in Penang was over. How to get to Penang National Park: 1/ Public bus route 101 for 4 Ringit (70 pence). Check out the route and stops here: You can also take bus 501 if you are setting off from Battu Ferringhi. 2/ Hop on hop off bus- a 5 minute walk north of the Gurney Paragon mall . The cost is 45 ringit, (just under
8 pounds) for a 24 hour pass. 3/ Grab Taxi- about 27 Ringit (4 pounds 70 pence) each way. On arrival you will be required to sign in but there is no entry fee. This is just for own safety in case you get lost. You have the option of taking a boat ride, or walking through the parkland. Taking a boat may be the more relaxing option but may require some waiting around as the boat managers tend to wait for a well-filled boat before setting off. We tended to walk to Turtle beach and take the boat on the return journey, (and my husband would sometimes run the whole circuit as he is a keen trail runner). Walking or hiking, there are two main stop off points: Monkey Island and Turtle Island. Sadly, Monkey Island was closed to us each time we visited due to land slides blocking the route. If it's open, this is is your sea-swimming option. The walk to Turtle Beach with young children took about 1 1/2 hours. It is a little steep and slippery in parts but the path is well cut, quite well signed and it is a lovely, shady route in the heat of Penang's sun. It is a great opportunity to spot wildlife and insects. After approximately 5 km walking, you will come out from under the leafy canopy and onto a suspension bridge leading to Turtle beach. There is no swimming at the beach due to jellyfish. We never saw a jellyfish though. If you do want to swim, maybe bring some vinegar to help the stings, just in case. The turtle sanctuary provides an enclosed area for endangered Hawkesbill turtles to lay their eggs, which are then incubated. Entrance to the sanctuary is free and it is open from 8 am -5 pm. You can arrange with the boat captains for the next departure time and depending on whether they are pre-booked to pick up more passengers from Monkey Beach, you can negotiate a ride back to the piers at the entrance of the park. The longest we waited was about 1/2 hour for a boat. Why not enjoy a fresh coconut or a cold soda after your walk! Penang National Park was definitely one of our highlights on the island.

Taiwan Road Trip: Where to go?

Taiwan Road Trip: Where to go?

Travelling in Taiwan? Where to start and what to visit? This article makes suggestions for a few days' road trip around Eastern Taiwan. We took a 4 day road trip along the eastern coast of Taiwan from Taipei down to Taitung. This article outlines some of our Taipei highlights and our favourite stop points along the way! We began our journey in Tamsui area just north of Taipei. We stayed north of Taipei in a friend's apartment with a great view of the estuary. We spent a few days in the capital city and site seeing in and around Taipei. A must-see is the Yehliu Geo Park in the Cape Wanli area. The park is famous for its hoodoo rocks which have formed interesting shapes such as that of the 'queen's head' which is heavily patronised by photo-hungry tourists. Taipei highlights: night market, children's leisure park, the Taipei 101 building, (at the time of writing: the 10th tallest building in the world). If you stay in Taipei, why not travel up to Yehliu for the morning, have lunch in the nearby restaurants and on your way back down south, call in at the Fisherman's Wharf; Tamsui to watch the sun go down? Day 1 After a few days in Taipei, we journeyed by car down to the Taroko National Park which is a vast area of protected natural beauty in the central mountains. Entry is free unless you are going via the Zhuilu old road entrance, where any one over 12 pays just over 5 pounds entry. Visitors are required to pre-purchase a park-entry permit from https://npm.cpami.gov.tw/en/ . Parts of the trail include exposed cliff edges, suspension bridges and water-logged caves, so it is not for the faint hearted, but they do provide waterproof covers! We stayed at the Farglory Hotel for one night. The hotel offered clean and comfortable rooms, a vast international breakfast buffet, and well- maintained pool and jacouzzi with coastal views. Day 2 Next stop: Travelling down further to just south of the Ruisui Township, we called in at the landmark of the tropic of cancer line of latitude ! Next we headed further south to visit the plate boundary between the Eurasion and Phillipine tectonic plates. The location is close to the Yuli Township. Day 3 We stayed the night in a budget hostel in Taitung, after sampling some of the street food from the night market, (including all kinds of offal and stinky tofu which the kids found to be a bit too much)! The next day we enjoyed time at two coastal beauty spots: the striking Sanxiangtai beach with its moody grey skies, piercingly pure turquoise seas and unusually vibrant pebbles . We also called in at the Taitung seaside resort, where we became addicted to the wonderfully succulent 'golden star' pineapple variety. Day 4 After a wind-beaten day, we ventured inland to the acclaimed Zhiben Wenquan natural hot springs resort and soaked away some hours. We stayed one night, (the accommodation was basic but comfortable), before making our return journey back up to Taipei! What did we miss? Please drop us a comment!

Global Citizenship and International Women's Day

Global Citizenship and International Women's Day

Yesterday, Dulwich International High School celebrated International Women’s Day and Global Citizenship and I assisted Mike to arrange bill boards and bunting and provide a stall for the Eden charity, I also offered a nail painting service, which no one wanted. The earliest Women's Day was held on 28th February 1909 in New York, organised by the Socialist Party of America. Globally, International Women’s Day has been observed since 1911. Today, International Women’s Day is observed in many corners of the globe as a chance to reflect, appreciate and resolve to improve the rights of women and girls everywhere. International Women’s Day also provides a chance to reflect on the women who have shaped our experience, either in leadership or in walking alongside us. Students were encouraged by Mike to write a pledge or a reflection on the ‘choose to challenge’ window. Students and a few staff also supported and engaged with many of the stalls showcasing incredible student-lead sustainability, global citizenship and charity projects, such as teaching art in migrant schools and developing a green bio-pesticide. One of the most popular stalls was a cycling-powered smoothie station where kinetic energy from the cycling efforts was utilised in the process of creating banana smoothies! Everyone enjoyed tasty bites from different countries at the ‘taste the nations’ stalls and colourful displays provided a brilliant salutation to student efforts towards the ‘teaspoons of change’ agenda in line with the United Nations Sustainability goals https://teaspoonsofchange.org/. Overall, it was surprisingly under-supported by staff but students enjoyed it and were hopefully inspired by some of the themes.

The Horton Grand Hotel: Best Place to Stay in Downtown San Diego?

The Horton Grand Hotel: Best Place to Stay in Downtown San Diego?

Looking for a place to stay in San Diego's Gas Lamp district? The Horton Grand is central to the historic Gas Lamp district of San Diego. When we planned our trip to San Diego, we knew we wouldn't hire a car daily, so we wanted to stay somewhere well connected to the transport network. We wanted to stay for around two weeks and so we wanted somewhere comfortable, even if that meant something a bit up from low budget. We were a little concerned that due to the central location of the hotel and proximity of night-life attractions, we would be inundated with noise but our fears were quickly put to rest and we all slept really well and in peace! The staff were welcoming, polite and helpful. The room was delightfully boutique style, very comfortable and spacious and felt luxurious. It included soft linen, fridge, tea and coffee machine, AC, TV, microwave, kitchen sink, sofas, (which turned into beds for the kids), ensuite bathroom. It was cosy enough to spend Christmas day there! We opted not to take our meals at the hotel because of budget restrictions, however the hotel was minutes walk from two supermarkets, from where we purchased our breakfasts, picnic lunches and a few self-catered evening meals. The hotel was 10 minutes walk from the tram system and local bus stops and so very convenient for getting to and from the coast, the tourist hot spots such as Little Italy, Lego Land, the Zoo and Balboa Park. The hotel could be improved slightly if it had a more child-friendly approach, such as a little play area. However, we would definitely recommend this hotel for a visit to San Diego, its convenience, unique antique feel and location in the Gas Lamp quarters make it a great choice for accommodation.

Top Ten Things to do in Penang for Families

Top Ten Things to do in Penang for Families

Visiting Penang for the first time, with kids? This article lays out some of the top thing to do on the island! Mike and I and the kids stayed 6 weeks in Penang, in various air B & Bs. Even after 6 weeks we felt there was so much more to explore but it certainly meant we got a feel for some of our favourite spots, where we would return to again and again; some of which feature in this list: 1. Wander the streets of Old George Town The island's capital city's historical core wreaks of a fascinating, multi-layered cultural heritage. The port is where you would arrive from mainland by ferry and the area surrounding it is within a Unesco World Heritage zone. Georgetown holds one of the largest collections of pre-war buildings in South East Asia. The combined influences of Britain, China, India and Islam make for very interesting and pretty architecture. I absolutely fell in love with some of cute, colourful tiles and staircases and pastel- shaded facades. The historical core is small enough to cover by foot. Highlights: Street art, Indian street, Love Lane, Clan Jetties, China House 2. Hike the National Park Head to the north east part of the island by public bus or by grab (local taxi company). You can enter the national park for free and either walk it, boat it, or combine the two. With kids, we tended to do the latter, on our multiple visits and Mike on occasion lapped up the trail running on offer! Trudge the cool, shady rugged paths interspersed with sprawling tree roots for about 5 km until you reach one of the island's most beautiful, unspoilt beaches: Turtle beach. You can either hike it back to the carpark, directly the way you came or opt for a boat ride back. Read more about the National Park here. Highlights: Hawkesbill turtle sanctuary, beautiful coastline, vibrant wildlife including monkeys, eagles and butterflies. 3. Soak up some rays at Battu Ferringhi Although as South East Asia beaches go, this is not one of the best because there are many local rumours of jelly fish and the sands are not like the fine white variety of Langkawi, the neighbouring island. However there are rock pools to explore, shady patches for kids to play, multiple water sports available, decent resorts and vibrant night markets. 4. Take a twirl to the top of Penang Hill Probably one the most popular tourist sites does not disappoint! At the peak of the hill, once you exit the funicular, you will find many attractions, including restaurants with panoramic views, specialist gardens, (go and see the monkey cup plants!) and long paths through the rainforest. One way or return tickets for the funicular can be purchased at the base station. A standard round trip funicular adult ticket costs 30 RM (five pounds 30 pence, as of March 2020). Make it a day trip or make a few visits, theres plenty to explore. 5. For an adrenaline rush: visit Escape Water Park For an unbeatable family treat, the Escape adventure park is a must. In addition to hosting the world's longest water slide, the park it offers a plethora of watery fun experiences for all ages, such as splash pools, vertical drops, peddle boats and wave pools. Entry to the park also provides access to the most amazing high ropes course. With zip wires through the forest, this is one fun way to experience the leafy rainforest canopies of the island. There are also child-friendly versions! 6. Sample the culinary delights Penang has been renowned as one of South-East Asia's food capitals. And thanks to a blend of culinary cultures there is a feast of striking flavours and bites waiting to be introduced to your taste buds! Our favourite places to eat: SAAB- for Indian cuisine, China House - very kid friendly and has almost every cake variety under the sun and the street vendors and hawkers for the east-west experience in one, depending which stalls you chose! Don't miss: Pulut inti, Nasi Lemak and Laksa. You can read more about those dishes here . 7. Visit the Tropical Spice Gardens Just minutes from Battu Ferringhi, this large old property is home to vast and luscious well- nourished gardens. Audio and visual tours are optional. The paths weave through luscious foliage and themed garden areas. They are framed with snippets of information about the different species of domestic and foreign plants, herbs and spices. Not to mention the giant swing and the twisty slides which my 5 year old daughter absolutely loved en route! Price of entry to the gardens: 15 RM (two pounds fifty). 8. Stroll around the historic clan jetties This unique area of old George town bares witness to multi-layered history of the island. The Chinese labourers settled here on these jetties built on stilts over the water over 100 years ago. Going for a wonder through the quaint, narrow alley ways is an missable way to explore some of the island's Chinese heritage. If you are visiting at Chinese New Year, these jetties are the heart throb of the festivities, with fire crackers, feasting and dancing galore. 9. Relax in the Botanical Gardens About 8 km from George town lies the lovely, spacious botanical gardens, free to enter and open from 5 am to 8 pm daily. At dawn and dusk it is popular with runners, and throughout the day cyclists or slow amblers. Watch out for the monkeys! We lost many a banana or a sandwich to some cheeky macaque! And I also can't recommend highly enough the central park next door to the botanical gardens where my kids and I spent many a happy hour swimming the outdoor fountains or playing in the grounds. 10. Check out George Town's intriguing street art You can't miss the curious murals and art installations decorating parts of Old George Town's streets. Over a decade ago, a Lithuanian artist was commissioned to bring a creative slant to the tired old streets of the area. You may follow an organised tour or view them as part of a DIY scavenger hunt. In Summary: Wander the streets of Old George Town Hike the National Park Soak up some rays at Battu Ferringhi Take a twirl to the top of Penang Hill For an adrenaline rush: visit Escape Water Park Sample the culinary delights Visit the Tropical Spice Gardens Stroll around the historic clan jetties Relax in the Botanical Gardens Check out George Town's intriguing street art