If there's a heaven, I may have found it. Home to world class street food, funky street art and upmarket shopping, Penang ticks off all the boxes! I had planned to stay here for a couple of days before deciding on my next moves and was keen to take in (aka eat all I could) in that time.
After checking into my hostel, the Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel, I had a quick shower to cool down before heading out to explore. I've learnt the best way to get your bearings is to just walk for an hour or two with no direction in mind and then find your way back home. I came across this method after spending many days wandering around slightly lost. So I set out with a general idea of which direction to head in to see what I could find.
The Old Town of the capital city George Town wasn't very big but full of hidden surprises. It was a charming area with crumbling brick walls, old men riding rickshaws and street vendors cooking up a storm in the streets. There was street art everywhere you looked and plenty of cutesy little stores to waste time and money in. I searched for some food, since I'd not eaten a proper meal since the day before and settled on Alley Cafe for an iced coffee and some churros. Not exactly a proper meal, but the sugar rush was enough to keep me going for the afternoon!
Not quite Malay cuisine but absolutely delicious!
I wandered through the loud and colourful streets of Little India and down to the Chew Jetty where you could see the main land from the jetty edge. I found several pieces of the Insta-famous street art which I made a mental note to come back to when there weren't so many tourists around.
Later than afternoon I met up with my Irish friend and we had the yummiest Indian meal in Little India. I opted for a Thali set meal and a garlic naan, which set me back all of $AUD8. It was a huge meal and I had to waddle out of the place full to the brim of Indian goodness. Little did I know I would be eating alot of Indian here… and I wasn't complaining! We wandered down Chulia Street and Love Lane before retreating back to our respective hostels for the night. The lack of sleep from the night before on the train was starting to take effect and I needed some zzz's.
Part of my delicious Indian Thali meal
The following morning I woke up and found breakfast at Wheeler Coffee. It was very Western but I was a sucker for a proper brekkie! They did a really good scrambled egg bagel! My day was spent walking the endless streets, finding new street art and sampling some delicious street food. That afternoon I made friends with some people from my hostel and we went to get dinner at the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre. Food didn't get much for expensive that AUD$5 so you can imagine the amount of food we consumed! The satay chicken was absolutely delicious but my favourite is char keow teow, the sticky, stir fry noodles. After dinner we caught an Uber to this new art installation that has just been put up. The Avatar Secret Garden in Tanjung Tokong is inspired the famous movie, Avatar and it certainly gives you the impression you're walking through Pandora.
Gurney Drive Hawker Centre – aka FOOD HEAVEN!
We arrived about 9pm and it was already super-packed. The free admission and beautiful lights have brought the crowds in droves and it was a bit of a push and shove affair. The exhibit wasn't very big and during the day would look very dull but at night, the colours of the lights glowing amongst the huge trees was absolutely stunning. It was like they'd planned the lights in a way that would look brilliant through a camera lens. Every shot I took I was in awe! And all I was doing was clicking the shutter!
The art installation is only open for a few months so if you're in Penang before the end of the year, definitely check it out. It's free and fun and you can get some fab pictures!
After we walked through the exhibit we headed back to the hostel and parted ways for the night. Tomorrow I was planning to get up early and see all the street art murals before the hordes of tourists came through. . . And to eat more street food :p