3D2N Road trip: Adventures and adrenaline in Penang
Everyone knows that Penang is a treasure trove of good food, heritage buildings, rich culture and Insta-worthy graffiti art—to name a few. But few knows of an adrenaline-filled itinerary that the popular island has to offer. To match the dynamic power and active lifestyle that the new Mercedes-Benz GLE represents, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia took us on a 3-day adrenaline road trip in the full-sized luxury SUV to discover some of the most exciting adventure activities you can do in Malaysia.
With a long day ahead of us, we gathered early at the meeting point in Publika for the final preparations, quick introductions and most importantly, breakfast at Plan B. Joining us along for the road trip were local personalities Yasmin Hani and Sha'arin Razali as well as Vincent Ho, who is the Managing Director of Kimarie Salons & Academy.
It was three to a car and even with three luggages, there was still plenty of space in the boot of the GLE, and equally so in the cabin space. As we got ourselves comfortable in the leather seats, we set the built-in GPS to our first stop in Gopeng and we were ready to convoy out of Publika.
The weather was perfect and with the smooth traffic on the highway, we tested two of the GLE's Dynamic Select driving modes. In Sport mode, the driver is given more free rein of the steering wheel to manoeuvre around corners but this also makes for a slightly bumpier ride due to its pre-set suspension settings. Comfort is my preferred choice simply because it does everything right for me—it's the ultimate auto of the auto mode, and for long road trips, it's literally the most comfortable setting.
Almost two hours later, we arrived at Nomad Adventure Earth Camp in Gopeng for the first adventure activity—white water rafting. Prior to this trip, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia made a pitstop here too where they tried outdoor rock climbing as part of their GLC endurance-themed 3D2N road trip. It's definitely one of the best places to try out various outdoor activities as you can also camp overnight there.
After you 'suit up' in their helmets and life jackets, it was a 30-minute truck ride to the top of the river where we white water rafted our way back down. The experience on that day was a little on the mild side as the currents were slower than usual, but fun nonetheless. And it did work up quite the appetite and we wouldn't settle for anything less than Penang food so it was back to the car and the #hungryforadventure journey became more like #hungry.
It took another two hours to reach the famous Lorong Selamat Char Koay Teow shop from Gopeng but it was worth it. The aunty here serves a decent helping of char koay teow with the best part being the big and juicy prawns. The rojak is pretty good too. With our bellies filled, it was time to check in to our home for the next two nights: Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa.
The itinerary for the day revolved mostly around the hotel, specifically the beach. The first half of the day was flyboarding, or as some of us kept joking, 'being Ironman'. From the same people who provide this water sport activity in Putrajaya, they brought their gear to Penang just for our trip. But with the sea's rougher currents, the instructor mentioned that it wouldn't be as easy for beginners. Well, challenge accepted; and to the surprise of most of us, we all managed to elevate ourselves at least two to three metres above sea level. Tip: Make sure your helmets and footgear are secured tightly as you will fall smack into the ocean several times and it could hurt in the process.
Then, it was lunch and a short break, which was spent leisurely at the hotel with walks by the beach and just relaxing by the pool. Even adrenaline junkies need a time out. The second highlight of the day was jet-skiing, which after flyboarding, wasn't much of a challenge.
As the evening came around, we headed to the Mercedes-Benz Georgetown Showroom for the launch of the C-Class Coupé. Driving down the narrow and curved roads of Batu Feringgi, the GLE proved to be a master at sharp turns with no hesitations in its power and speed—no doubt a feat partially managed by the 400 4MATIC's seven-speed 7G TRONIC automatic transmission. It was also a good way to test out the SUV's multiple driving assistance systems. The Active Blind Spot Assist, for example, came in useful when switching lanes in Georgetown's busy traffic. A small bulb on the outer rims of the side mirrors will light up in orange if it detects any vehicles or motorbikes coming from the back.
It was the last day and no one was excited to leave. However, no one was excited to wake up early and meet in the lobby by 7.30am either. Our last adventure started at the foot of Penang Hill where we ran to the top—or at least, attempted to since it was mostly brisk walking and then calling for backup (read: car). Still, the gorgeous surroundings of nature and the refreshing cool air were more than welcomed. We took some photos (Instagram is always a priority during an adventure) and headed back to the hotel.
Lunch was at the famous China House, known for its vintage decor and wide variety of cakes. I'll be honest that while the menu was interesting and the food was pretty decent, the service is a tad slow. But it could also be because we went during peak hours.
The drive back to KL was a satisfying one. Traffic was great, considering we left sometime between 3pm and 4pm, but above all, the Mercedes-Benz GLE truly offers a luxurious kind of comfort—for both the passenger and driver.
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