That street art though, amazing.
Penang consumed our last five days, filling them with wonderful memories.
For those of you who don’t know Penang, it’s a “small” island off Malaysia, we stayed in the island’s capital, George Town, a city filled with colour and amazing food.
While we were here we stayed in two hostels, the first was Casa Blanca Inn, 56 Love Lane. It was a quite little place, a nice place to rest after our bus ride. Love Lane is where the nightlife begins, legend has it Chinese merchants kept their mistresses or second wives in Love Lane during the 19th century. Thankfully, Neil didn’t find a second wife while we were here.
The second place was the Tipsy Tiger Party Hostel (just around the corner from Love Lane) and, well, the name kind of says it all. We had three great nights there meeting new friends from all over the world on similar adventures.
There was an 18-year-old Australian chick named Ruby who had just finished high school and decided to tackle Asia by herself over three months before settling into a nursing degree. If I had a hat I would take it off to her, at that age I would’ve been too scared to travel by myself – what an awesome lady.
Hannah, a funky British babe, was also on her own adventure. She normally lives out of her car in Australia travelling wherever there’s work until she gets enough coin to go on a holiday. She had just come from Nepal, which sounds amazing and is looking more and more likely to go on our list.
And then there’s Patrick from Holland, a professional poker player for five years, aged 23, who saved enough money from his cards to buy an apartment in Kuala Lumpur as a base for him to travel to and fro wherever he fancies. He’s also a nutritionist.
There were a heap of other lovely people we met, like the gorgeous Canadian couple Erin and Jake who welcomed us with a drinking card game called golf on the first night – it may have caused us a headache the next day, when I say us I mainly mean me, but it was worth it.
What about the sights though? Well I think the first to mention has to be the Kek Lok Si Temple, it was definitely our favourite. Neil has done a more in depth piece on this amazing place that you can read here, but I’ll give you a quick run down.
We spent the day exploring this colourful worshiping ground, it’s one of South East Asia’s biggest Buddhist temples.
I can’t begin to describe the beauty of this place, it was breathtaking and the views from up top were amazing.
It’s crazy what people can build in the name of religion – imagine if the city wanted to build that just because they wanted something nice? It would never fly.
Georgetown has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fair Call. This place is beautiful and was the second best place we explored. Armenian Street and it’s surrounding streets were by far our favourite part of town. This area was filled with beautiful street art covering the surrounding crumbly architecture, a great place for photography and of course, some cheesy photos.
In the same area, by recommendation of a friend, we went to China House – a wicked art gallery, restaurant and bar all in one. This place was funky cool. It had several different rooms and areas, all looked different, making it somewhat of a maze. There was even a pool in the middle, where one could chill out in / around with a cocktail.
One night we were lucky enough to stumble across a Chinese New Year celebration at the Clan Jetties – a wee community that built it’s houses on ocean jetties, crazy. Here we explored the festivities with a group from our hostel, trying different foods and watching fireworks, a lot of fireworks.
Another activity we loved – hot air ballooning at the Penang Hot Air Balloon Festival, this only happens once a year and we just happened to be there. It only cost 50MYR ($15NZ) to go up, we couldn’t pass that up! It was a very short ride and the heat coming from that thing made it feel like your head was going to go up in flames, super awesome.
On one of our last days we tagged along with Ruby and Hannah from our hostel to the National Park. We embarked on a tough, undulating 5km hike through the super humid and hot rain forest to Monkey Beach, a beautiful bay. Unfortunately the locals don’t give a shit about the water so it’s filled with rubbish. Nevertheless, we happily sat in the shade of the palm trees and eventually scored a ride on a little boat back to the start of the track. The boat broke down just after launching, but eventually we made it back. What a relief! We were all completely drenched in sweat and exhausted – the last thing we wanted to do was walk back!
The China House did an amazing grilled chicken Laksa – a slightly more western take on the traditional fish Laksa we had at the bottom of the Kek Lok Si Temple (Asam Laksa at Air Atam). We loved both, but preferred chicken over fish.
The popcorn! Who the heck thought of cheese flavoured popcorn? Not only did they think of cheese but also curry, BBQ and tomato. We stared at the sign for a while thinking, “that must be gross”, when the stall operator said, “come try, free”, who are we to pass up free food? Oh man, that popcorn was so delicious, it’s one of my food highlights so far with tomato and cheese being my favourite. Whoever it was that thought of it, total legend.
In true Malay fashion there was plenty of street food, I couldn’t try a lot of it but Neil went to town! He had coke chicken, red bean paste pastries, buffalo chicken,BBQ chicken satay, traditional Indian roti with tandoori chicken, just to name a few. When I asked him how it was each time he would give me this ridiculous look of satisfaction and say, “sooo good”. In the mean time I found rice noodles in delicious sauces, curries, more pho, and occasionally I had to buy some potato chips form the 7/11 when I couldn’t spot any Gluten Free food – they kept me happy.
Alcohol in a predominantly Muslim country isn’t nearly as easy to come by compared to back home. It is though, the third highest taxed in the world (behind Norway and Singapore ). On average you pay RM 17-27 for a beer (only about $6 back home, but, pricey for SEA).
There are however, several places at night that offer deals like 2 for 1 drinks or 45MYR ($13NZ) for unlimited drinks for 3-4 hours – dangerous 🙂
We are now in Singapore after a 13 hour bus ride where Neil got yelled at for having long legs. Let the next adventure begin!