If the combination of a half day excursion out of George Town, good coffee, nice food, a health food shop, a pleasant suburban walk with views of jungle-clad hills, an excellent bakery with sourdough bread, tropical fruit stalls and the chance to experience another aspect of Penang Island appeals, then how about this for an idea ….
From Komtar catch the 104 bus and tell the driver that you want to get off at Jalan Azyze in Tanjung Bungah.
Depending on traffic, the bus trip should take around 25 - 30 minutes. Get off at the bottom of Jalan Azyze and walk East along Jalan Lembah Permai for about 200 metres. Cross the main road and turn right up Lebuh Lembah Permai 1 ( there's not much imagination used in the Town Planning Department when it comes to street names ). You will see a sign on the corner where you turn, saying F & B Permai 32.
Walk up the gently rising road until you reach the block of shops. The Baking Garage is at the top left corner of the shop lots.
Details of the Baking Garage are available on Veronica's Blog but needless to say they make beautiful sourdough bread and wicked croissants.
Opening Hours: 7 - 11 am / 5 - 9 pm - Mon - Sun ( Closed on Fridays )
Contact: 012 407 5088
There are some interesting shops in the same block, including restaurants, bars, farmers market, music school, language school, Penang International Women's Association, Indochine herbal skin products, laundrette and printer.
From the Baking Garage you can do a 20 - 25 minute walk along relaxed suburban streets toward Gusto Cafe for lunch. See Map Below.
Head back from whence you came, passed the bus stop at the bottom of Jalan Azyze. Walk up Azyze until you reach Jalan Loh Poh Heng. Turn right and walk along Jalan LPH until you reach the end ( a T-junction ). Turn right there into Jalan Sungai Kelian and walk about 400 metres. Gusto Cafe is on the left.
Opening Hours: 7.30 am - 8.00 pm - Mon - Fri ( Closed on Wenesday )
8.00 am - 4.00 pm - Sat - Sun
Contact: +60 4 890 4012
Gusto is run by a very friendly couple who go out of their way to make your visit a pleasant experience. The food is good and it's a relaxing atmosphere. If cigarette smoke almost drives you to commit murder, then there is a non-smoking section down stairs.
Meals include burgers, panini, sandwiches, pies etc with a large choice of drinks, including delicious flavoured lassi and milkshakes.
After leaving Gusto Cafe, turn left and walk a few paces passed the Esso Service Station. Across the road there is often a guy selling coconuts. There is also a nice park which has fruit stalls on one side of it and a row of interesting shops on the other. Toward the top of the shop row, next to Seven Eleven, is Just Life. A very well stocked and tastefully presented Health Food Shop.
Opening Hours: 10.00 am - 7.00 pm ( Closed on Sunday )
Contact: +60 4 890 0589
You can reach the main road by exiting the area along Jalan Sungai Kelian ( the same road Gusto is on - just follow it out from the bottom of the park and to the left of the concrete food court ).
At the main road look left down the hill and you will see a Pedestrian Overpass. Cross that and make for the bus stop. Any Rabid Bus will take you back to Komtar.
You could also stop off at Tesco, Straights Quay or Gurney on the way back.
An alternative itinerary, if you wanted a slightly longer walk, would be to catch a 101, 102, 103 or even 104 from Komtar, get off on the main road ( opposite The Cove - four huge concrete condo cocks erected to rape another part of Tanjung Bungah's coastline / Copthorne Hotel - The bus driver should know either ) and walk passed Gustos and on down to the Baking Garage. Best to do the Baking Garage first because it closes at 11 am and then come back to Gusto for lunch.
The advantage of this alternative is that there are more buses and probably less time to wait at Komtar.