Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Malaysia Trip // Penang, A Foodie's Paradise

At the last minute I decided to fly to Penang from Singapore instead of taking the bus. It was double the price to fly but only a third of the time. Being my first time in Malaysia and having only done minimal research while in Singapore, I didn't know what to expect. Fancy skyscrapers? Lots of greenery? Probably many Chinese looking faces because I heard that Penang had a strong Cantonese/Mandarin speaking population.

Welcome to Penang! A bit dilapidated, but strong on the throwback vibes. Except why is there no English written on any of the signs?!

Whoever thought to put corn on shaved ice was ingenious. Ice Kacang is a genius assortment of sweet and savory flavors all mixed with fluffy shaved ice. A refreshing snack or dessert for the humid and hot climate.

And now for some obligatory tourist spots.

St. Georges Church

A huge bunny I found on the mosque grounds
Penang State Museum
Highly recommend visiting the Penang State Museum as it gives a qood overview of the history of Penang and how it developed to become what it is today. The artifacts inside were pretty cool too.

View from Fort Cornwallis
Don't waste your money on the Fort Cornwallis ticket. Just enjoy walking around the park area (shown below) and use that saved money to buy yourself a snack or a drink from the nearby food stalls. They're located along the coast behind the governmental buildings.

Seeing these food stalls and tables out on the street in an alley felt so familiar.

I didn't know about the Chew Jetty until a local friend told me about it. Chew Jetty is basically a street built upon the water and aptly named because everyone there is a Chew. Sounds like a nightmare to live there because any and all gossip would spread like wildfire but probably something moms or grandmas would appreciate. There is also a Lin Jetty close by.

The Blue Mansion tour I attended was a bit long but it's the only way to see the mansion unless you stay in it. The house shows how to mix Eastern and Western design ideas in a tasteful way and it was interesting to hear the rise and fall of Cheong Fatt Tze.

Another mansion I visited was Penang Peranakan Mansion, which is also a popular filming and photo site. I thought the Blue Mansion was already pretty elaborate but this one definitely one ups it and wins. On the outside already is extensive amounts of gold on the art nouveau inspired railings.

These Peranakans are definitely not shy of hiding their wealth. All the furniture, decorations, and home items inside reflected their wealth. The pearl(?) inlays and detailed carvings in the wood furniture was so exquisite. I'd never seen anything that fancy, not even in Taipei's National Palace Museum!

One of my favorite parts of Penang was aimlessly strolling around the city center because you would run into all these awesome mural paintings or wire sculptures that shared a little history of that street or place. I was on a scavenger hunt to find them all. Here are some of the more famous ones.

But my favorite part of Penang hands down is the food. It really lives up to its name as a foodie paradise. Cheap, delicious, varied, and some you can only find in Penang. I loved everything I tried except for Penang Laksa. That just tasted weird.

Penang was my favorite city in Malaysia. Would love to go back again. Also highly recommend House of Journey, the hostel I stayed at in Penang. It wasn't the cheapest, but was clean and very convenient in terms of location and services. They offered excursions and bus tickets. I bought my bus ticket to Ipoh from them and a free shuttle came to pick me up and drop me off right in front of the bus. Hope I didn't spoil the surprise on my next Malaysian destination ;)

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