03/05/2018 – 05/05/2018
After enjoying the cool tea fields of the Cameron Highlands I headed over to my penultimate stop in Malaysia, Penang. I’d heard so much about Penang’s food and street art and was not disappointed! Read on to see a break down on how I spent three days there.
After quickly checking into our hostel (the Magpie Residence – one of the nicest hostels I’ve stayed in!) we went out in the search of lunch. With all the great food Penang has to offer we decided to go for the White Girl option and went to a granola place called Shia’s Granola… but the make your own salad bowls were just what we wanted.
Then we made our way over to the Clan Jetties. They are houses on stilts on the waterfront which are traditional Chinese settlements. They are interesting but I always find it kind of weird going to places like that. Is it too intrusive looking into people’s everyday lives?
Now the Cameron highlands were cool and rainy, and Penang was HOT. I got very sunburnt that first day. We knew we wanted to check out the street art, so decided to get a cyclo to go street art spotting. I’ve never been in one before but it was so hot it was a nice option and I didn’t regret spending the money on it. Our cyclist was the sweetest and knew where all the good spots were and where to get the best pictures.
We didn’t do anything in a particular order, so Penang hill was up next. We took the train to the top as it takes hours to walk. In the nicest way possible it’s quite Asian up there… like lots of novelty Love things to take pictures in front of. Penang hill was actually the first colonial hill station on this side of Malaysia, but now there’s lots of random shit up there. We went to the Camera and Owl Museum… yes they were combined. The camera part of it was mildly interesting but the owl part just had random owl items in it (like teddies and coin purses). The views over the city were nice though as the sun set and the lights came on.
That evening we had dinner at Lagenda, and it was our first actual Malaysian dish of the trip because we’d only eaten cake and Indian before that! It was a little pricey but so good.
We dedicated our next day to Penang National park, the smallest national park in the world at just 25 square kilometres. Something I love about Penang is that it’s so easy to get the bus around. After researching it our plan was to hike to Turtle Beach and then get the boat back, as we had read that the hike was a little challenging. Before we started the hike they sold boat tickets for the way back and said that we couldn’t buy them at the beach so should buy them now. They were actually pretty expensive but we didn’t think too much into it at the time.
The hike was very easy and we got to Turtle Beach sooner than expected. It was a pleasant walk and we saw a few monkeys and lizards on the journey. The beach was nice and quiet there wasn’t much to do there, and you’re not allowed to go in the water, but we did visit the small turtle sanctuary. The boat back was a drama because they wouldn’t let us get on an earlier one. So we had to wait for a couple of hours and the boat was late. Honestly I would recommend walking back, we would have done if we hadn’t already paid for our ticket.
After having some food and shopping around, I said goodbye to Izzy as she left to go do some diving in the Perentian Islands.
In the morning I got the bus to Kek Lok Si Temple, allegedly the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. My aim of the day was to take myself on a food tour and be brave. I always struggle with street food because I feel a bit awkward and don’t know what to order. But I had done my research and got the raved about Assam Laksa that was near the temple (after originally sitting down in the wrong place!). It was unlike anything I’d ever had before and was kind of sour but not unpleasant.
The temple was nice but again it was so hot I was melting. It was interesting though and a bit different to a lot of the temples I’ve been to. You could spend a long time exploring it.
On my way back into Georgetown I was going to go for a fancy ice cream but I’d heard about a traditional Malaysian dessert called Cendol (which is green jelly worms, kidney beans, coconut milk and ice) and wanted that instead – I think I’ve been in Asia too long! I had it at the famous cendol place and the queue was so long I knew I must be at the right place.
Next I was at a bit of a loss of what to do so I went to the blue mansion, actually called Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. The mansion was lavish in the 19th century, but fell into disrepair after Cheong Fatt Tze died and his family rented it out to families to pay for the upkeep. Later some Penang consarvationists restored it and now they do tours. I loved hearing about the Feng Shui of it all.
I met a girl on the tour there and we went to Hameediya for lunch. Hameediya is an Indian restaurant that has been open since 1907. An uber driver previously recommended it and was so passionate that I had to go. The queue was long and we had to wait for quite a while, and we were the only tourists there so we knew it must be good! The Nasi Kandor was amazing but omg so much food.
Then I went for the fancy ice cream after all at Urban Artisan. All in the name of research! Then going to Gurney Plaza mall because I had a few things to do. I’m not much of a mall person but malls in Malaysia are impressive, they have everything!
Then I had to hang around until 11.30pm to catch my night bus to the Perhentian Islands. In hindsight, I could have done everything I wanted in Penang in two days. Having three days meant that it was more chilled though. Penang is a cool city to hang out in that’s for sure, and I love the diversity of it.
Have you ever been to Penang? What did you think?
If you want to see more photos of my travels you can check out my Flickr