KEPALA BATAS: While rain is forecast in many parts of Malaysia, it’s bright and sunny in Penang, bringing holidaymakers flocking to the state for year-end holidays.

With the scorching heat, the Bertam Souk & Water Park on the mainland, which had its “soft opening” recently, has become a huge hit.

Although the northeast monsoon still brings rain clouds to other parts of Malaysia, the states of Penang, Kedah and Perlis typically experience a marked change of weather, getting hot and sunny right after the winter solstice, which fell on Dec 22 this year.

Many came from as far away as Johor to have a good time with their families and loved ones.

Teacher S. Prabu, 38, from Kluang in Johor, was in his wife’s hometown in Sungai Petani for the three-week school break when he chanced upon the latest attraction.

“At first, we just wanted to hang out at my in-laws’ place but when we heard of the new attraction in Bertam, we decided to check it out,” he shared.

With an affordable entry fee, Prabu said the water park was a great place for families with children.

He also plans to take his family to the island for the food and the heritage trails in George Town.

Colleagues Mohd Aiman Shahril, 21, and Nazrin Mohamad, 19, who are also best friends, said the Christmas break allowed them to hang out and bond with each other.

Mohd Aiman, from Baling, Kedah, said he and three other colleagues visited Nazrin at his house in Penaga, before spending the rest of the day at the water park.

They had just received bonuses from their employer and wanted to celebrate.

“Later, we are going to the island to our favourite nasi kandar place in Kampung Melayu,” he said, adding that he and his friends often organised get-togethers during weekends and holidays.

Bertam Resort general manager Wan Enderi Mohd Saad said the park had received positive response since its opening on Dec 15.

“We have been receiving an average of about 800 to 900 visitors daily. The highest turnout was last Thursday when we had about 1,300 holidaymakers,” he said.

The resort will officially open at the end of January next year.

Another crowd puller on the mainland is the Food Republic event near Lotus Seberang Jaya.

Featuring a variety of food and drinks, the four-day event that ended on Christmas eve attracted many food lovers.

Meanwhile, traffic on the North-South Expressway was crawling on the mainland, with vehicles seen moving slowly on both sides of the expressway and towards Penang Bridge.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Soffian Santong advised motorists to be responsible.

“Avoid parking in ways that can cause congestion,” he said.