After a short and very empty flight from Krabi we flew into Penang, Malaysia.At the airport we got a a rapid penang bus for £2 to take us into Georgetown and close to our accommodation. We stayed at the Grand Inn on Penang road which was quite cheap and was our first room with bunk beds (bunk beds were significantly cheaper than a double).We headed out for an explore of the city and visited the Protestant cemetery which was set up in the 18th-century and is home to the graves of individuals from the East India Tea Company. Walking around it and reading the tomb stones it was clear that many buried here died young which on further investigation was due to a severe outbreak of malaria after some of the forests in Penang were cleared.Another great site we visited in Penang was the Chinese Clan Jetties. These homes built on stilts are home to families who don’t have to pay tax because they don’t technically live on land. Pretty cleaver huh?We did a tour of an old Chinese mansion called Pinang Peranakan Mansion where a very lovely, knowledgable and funny local took us around the house and told us about the family who lived there. It was a beautiful house and was quite interesting to hear how the household ran and what their traditions were.We also visited the Khoo Kongsi house, however, it was a self guided tour and not quite as impressive as the Pinang Peranakan Mansion we did the day before.
We really didn’t know too much about Penang and the huge Chinese and Indian influence on it. You can immediately notice it as you arrive and walking around there are so many old buildings, shops and restaurants to prove this.
On one of our last few days we jumped on the bus for £0.80 and headed to Kek Lok Si temple which is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. It was very impressive! It’s a large site with lots of temples and religious statues about to explore almost like a maze! It also offers some pretty spectacular views of Georgetown. On the way back a local lady pulled over on the road and told us where to get our bus from (how did she know?), she then mumbled some stuff we couldn’t understand and kept repeating something about Russell square and that she wanted to make us origami. She was strange and slightly crazy but we liked her. Sadly the bus turned up before she could make us anything.
We ate most nights at the hawker food courts which were set up like a food court where you sat at a numbered table then went to the stalls you wanted food from, ordered and gave them your table number. When your food arrived you paid. We loved the crispy duck stall and the dumpling stall at the Red Garden food court. We ate there every night except for one night when we tried the Northam Beach Cafe which was nice too but Red Garden was a stand out.
Our last night was spent at the Time Capsule Hotel which is a hostel with capsule/coffin style beds. It was fun for the experience and lucky for us we pretty much had the whole floor to ourselves so we really didn’t feel like we were even at a hostel that much.Penang was a great addition to our trip, we really didn’t know a lot about it before we arrived but quickly fell in love with its street art and trendy vibe. It’s got a lot of influence from a range of countries and cultures which makes it quite unique in Asia and a fun place to explore.