Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Tea House at the Top of the Hill

It is going to reach a whole five degrees in London today and I am head to toe in black again.  There's only one thing for it - more warm weather photos!  I thought I'd share the unusual experience of having a very British afternoon tea in the tropics during our visit to Penang.

Since the 1920's there has been a funicular cable railway that runs all the way to the top of Penang Hill. It was built by British colonial settlers who were hoping to escape the hot, humid lowlands of the island by travelling up to the higher, cooler air. Ever since, the popular thing to do amongst the locals was to go up to the top of Penang Hill on the railway and take afternoon tea while cooling off. Right at the very top of the hill there stands a lovely tea house built in the old colonial style with a large veranda, surrounded by beautiful tranquil gardens.

The British certainly left their influence here. Even in the middle of a hilltop covered in dense jungle they managed to create something of the English country garden.

It is generally so hot and sticky down in the lowlands that all you feel like wearing is the lightest of materials. This is one of my favourite printed silk dresses for summer, worn previously on holiday here.  I was very grateful to have packed it as it helped me to endure the humidity whilst walking around.  However up the top of the hill the air was noticeably much fresher and cooler.

These days the railway is powered electrically with sleek modern air-conditioned carriages and the journey up the hill takes a matter of minutes, but I remember as a child taking the railway up when it was the ride was a far more rickety affair and the carriages were open air.

People have also historically come up here to enjoy the splendid panoramic view of Penang from the top.

On the menu for afternoon tea was the answer to every homesick Englishman's prayers - petit fours, scones with jam and cream, and Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea.

Not quite as good as the afternoon tea served up at the British Museum but lovely and refreshing on  a hot day all the same.

Hope you are having a great week!

Printed Silk Dress: Mango
Mr V's patterned straw hat on table: Zara; Tee shirt: gift from my brother


  1. I've never been to Penang but I want to now! That railway looks gorgeous and I love to see you in colour! x

  2. I love your photos, looks like a beautiful place to visit and afternoon teas are one of my favourite treats! Your mango dress is gorgeous!

  3. Ahh, what a beautiful interlude. Your dress is gorgeous, and the tea offerings are making me hungry for a little snack.

  4. Oh that place looks amazing!! I could be up there all day! It reminds me of a place called the Cloisters in NYC which is a rebuilt monastery on top of a hill. It's so quiet and peaceful up there ant you totally forget you're in the city.

  5. This is kind of perfect. I love high tea. When I finally got to visit England one of the things my mother and I were so excited to do was go to high tea. We ended up going at a very neat place in Bath... Like literally at the exit of the actual baths.
    But, this one in Penang seems quite special.
    Becky :)

  6. Sending you warm thoughts your way....5 degrees? Yikes!
    Lovely photos! They're stirring the travel bug in me!

  7. Your dress looks perfect for the hot weather. Wish I could see more it!

  8. Ooh what a spellbinding place! I love the print of your dress, like Lisa I wish I could see more of it! Glorious colours that look beautiful on your skintone. Last but not least, those cakes look pretty tempting!

  9. Wow...what a beautiful location! Reminds me of the Buddhist temple I once visited in Australia. So peaceful.

  10. Oh gorgeous, V. I'm also on warm weather withdrawal (but going the opposite route: not head to toe black, I'm trying to wear only bright colours, white jeans.. altho in a minute it will be all black for yoga class).

    I love these photos, how wonderful to share Penang in this way. This is something I can return to. The post I mean. I'm yearning to go there in real life.

    This reminds me.. pancakes? Next week?

  11. I've not been there yet, but that breathtaking view looks entirely worthwhile. I love the colours in your dress print. /Madison

  12. You know I wouldn't mind a glimpse of your all-black outfit!! However this is a lovely post too, rich and colorful. I can feel the heat and appreciate the respite that the top of the hill provides. The tea looks divine and so do you. XXOO

  13. There is nothing like an afternoon tea. I really enjoyed this post, would love to spend time in a tea house like this one.
    Stunning scenery and views of Penang!

  14. What a beautiful place! So romantic and peaceful! I would love to spend a day there for a picnic!


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