GEORGE TOWN: The travel bug is making people wanting to see the world again, and it was no different for 52 Algerian tourists on holiday in Malaysia.
The tourists, who will be in the country for about 10 days, managed to squeeze in a four-day stopover in Penang yesterday, visiting various main attractions in the city such as the Esplanade, street art within the Unesco World Heritage site and, of course, the beach.
Tour leader Benyamina Billel, 29, said they also stopped by the Chaiya Mangalaram Thai Buddhist Temple, which houses a 33m gold-plated reclining Buddha, and Penang Botanic Gardens.
“We also visited Monkey Beach and Penang Hill,” Benyamina said, adding that the group managed to try local white coffee.
Group members were spotted enjoying the sights and scenes near Armenian Street before going on trishaw rides.
“Before Covid-19, I used to bring between six and seven groups each year. Demand is currently low due to certain travel restrictions, but we expect it to pick up gradually,” said Benyamina.
Student Brahmi Abdul Aziz, 17, who was in the group, described the visit as an amazing experience.
“This is my first time in Penang and it is incredible. The hospitality of the people here is great, and I enjoyed the rich history and architecture.
“There are a variety of traditions to explore within the food and buildings,” he said.
Meanwhile, another tourist spotted here was a civil servant from Madrid, Spain, who only wished to be known as Jorge.
The 44-year-old is spending four days in Penang, out of his 27-day trip to Malaysia.
“I’ve been to Sarawak, Melaka and Kuala Lumpur, and each place has its own distinct difference.
“In Penang, there is a wide range of cultures and the old colonial and heritage buildings lend an old world charm to the place,” he added.
Jorge, who was accompanied by his 42-year-old wife, son, 10, and daughter, six, said he was grateful to be able to travel again after a lapse of about two years.
“I used to travel often but stopped due to Covid-19. It is now the endemic phase in Spain and we treat it like ordinary flu.
“There is no more the hassle of mobile apps to track our movement or requirement to conduct self-tests,” he said.
Thai tourist Korachat Lim, 41, from Phuket, said she was elated to be visiting Penang again.
“This is my third time visiting Penang and my two earlier visits were before Covid-19.
“The situation here is similar to Phuket where tourism is fast recovering and attractions are busy with tourists from all over,” she said.