We covered Hong Kong, as Part I of the three stop journey on our trip to Asia, from which we moved on to Penang, Malaysia, Part II.
Now, let me just stop right there for a minute and tell you – if you love food, like, really, really, really, really love food, this place HAS to be on your list (as wiki states, an exotic mix of Malay, Indian, Chinese and western cuisine). Period. (Bonus – not getting sick though I tell you it would have still been worth it!).This city also beautifully displays examples of daily living of different cultures and religions peacefully co-existing, which was lovely to experience.
I have no idea how this city was not even on my list of places to visit. The ONLY reason it made it there is because we realized we had planned for too many days in Singapore and were looking for a third place to visit for a couple of days while there. What a jewel to discover!
After our research was done, we decided the goal of this short stop to Penang, Malaysia was to accomplish three main things:
- Eat, eat and then eat. Visit as many hawker markets as humanly possible. There are so many ‘top street places to eat in Penang’ results, that instead of compiling a list (like I tend to do) I said ‘screw it’ and instead literally ate every two hours trying absolutely everything that we could possible eat. Forgive me if I cannot tell you some of the things we ate – for some, we actually still have NO idea (it may have included things like coagulated blood and fish eyes, who knows, it all went down amazingly well with some mystery sweet drink of unknown ingredients to me). Suffice to say, months later I have literally found myself daydreaming about some of these dishes.
- Street art. I was so excited about this when I discovered it. If you are not familiar with the street are situation, take a read. I know, it is kind of uncool that they did not get a local artist to do this, but that aside (since we cannot change it) it should not stop you from enjoying the uniqueness of this city art. I absolutely loved to walk around everywhere taking pictures of the art. It gives such charm to an already soulful city.
- Temples and Heritage Trail around George Town. We were excited to walk around everywhere to hit the highlights and immerse ourselves a little more in the culture, even for a few days.
To recap, our tickets from Singapore and back where like US$80 dollars for two adults round-trip. We stayed at what is considered one of the best if not the best hotel there called Easter & Oriental. Not cheap usually but we found a rate under $150 per night (hotels.com) – absolutely worth it especially with the amazing international breakfast included (plus we were lucky enough that the next leg of our trip would be staying with friends, so we decided to splurge here for 2 nights).
This is what our time there looked like.
Day 8: We started our day (in Singapore) at a hawkers center for a tasty bowl of noodles shrimp and pork and some coffee tea (breakfast of champions, that thing was amazing!), then off to the airport for our short flight to Penang. After checking in in our fancy hotel, we walk through old town and tried some amazing char quay teow and some rice blanket wrap thing with delicious goo (I believe called Chee Cheong Fun). Bellies full (for now), we moved on to check out the Khoo Kongsi House, and proceeded to do some more walking to check out the street art, hit the hotel happy hour, shower and get ready for dinner. We found our nearest hawkers market (where we ordered like 10 dishes for $10 bucks or something crazy), walked back to the hotel and called it a night.
Day 9: Woke up early, had some awesome international breakfast at the hotel, did some more walking in search of street art, had the best noodle soupy ground prawn dish EVER (my husband, who strongly dislikes seafood devoured it). We visited a Clan Jetty, then, in between a gazillion more street food stops, we ended in Penang Hill (but decided against making the line) then on to the beautiful Kek Lok Si Temple.
Later in the day we tried some smelly durian (eww! but hey, when in Rome…), visited the Reclining Buddha, known as Wat Chayamangkalaram and other temples around the area, and found another hawkers market to rest up and eat, eat, eat. We made our way to the touristy/beach area called Batu Ferringhi and did a nice little walk in a nature reserve there. Back to the hotel for some rest, showers and dinner – you guessed it, another hawkers market where we tried sting ray, snails and I don’t want to know what else. I want to eat that again so bad.
Day 10: On our last half day here we did a little more walking for the last pieces of street art that we wanted to check out, and found a local place that served malay lunch. We later tried the one thing I did not like in our trip a dessert called cendol, which is a like a soupy sweet green noodl-y with random beans dessert (see this post for more on sweets there). That said, I still ate it, because food. In Penang, Malaysia. Just do it.
Back to the hotel for packing and make our way back to the airport, stopping first at the Snake Temple (yes there are real snakes there) and off to fly back to Singapore for our last part of the trip…
Conclusion: Come here, eat, walk, eat, walk, eat, walk. Check out the art and the amazing temples. Stay at a super swanky hotel for under $200 bucks. Repeat.
Stay tuned for the last leg of the trip in Singapore!