Have you ever been to Penang? Have you ever wondered where it is or heard about the incredible food or how easy it is to travel in Malaysia?
I have a long history with Penang. When I was younger ( ahem*), I was so in love with Penang that I went there 6 times in the space of 2 years. It was the food, the tropical weather, the people, the music and the laid back charm of the old town that just kept me enthralled.
Last year I returned, after a long absence. I wondered if Penang would once again weave it’s magic spell on my heart and….it did. I was worried that if I was older (and more sober), if Penang would still pull me in as it had years ago, when I went to the clubs and ate at the restaurants that spring up on the streets late at night. Well it did. In fact I loved it more. I spent my days peeking into cafes, food stalls and cooking schools and eating 4 meals a day ( I know but someone has to). I discovered local dishes that I had never heard of and met people that were only too happy to talk about their town.Penang is a melting pot of cuisines . Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Nyonya and the new modern Penang as well. And when you are sick of food ( if that could be possible), trade it in for a trip to the coast and a walk along the sand in the cool breeze.
It’s the perfect place. If you have never been to Asia before ... you’ll soon feel at home, we can look together… and if you have…..well, you’ll love it, there is so much to explore. It’s for everyone. Bring your sister or your daughter or your husband… and bring your appetite and travel Penang.
You’ll have a chance to try some Penang specialities like Assam Laksa and Chendul (a shaved ice dessert that is one of Penang’s most Instagramed attractions)
Then if that’s not enough, lunch at one of Penang’s oldest Indian restaurants for Murtabak and Nasi Kandar , a well known and much loved curry dish . Walking off the snacks around the Georgetown heritage listed centre will prepare you for more snacks to come. This town is such a mixture of old and new, you are going to love it. The streets are flat and there are plenty of opportunities to take photos. The local government in Georgetown are progressive and support street art. Each year there is a street art festival, so there is plenty to see.
You can visit an old Chinese settlement where the houses are built on stilts over the sea and the traditional home made snacks will sustain you till dinner then try Street food from one of the many hawker stalls where locals eat. Even if you aren’t hungry ( really?) you will love watching food being cooked.
Find some Roti Canai for breakfast. This is a hugely popular hot layered breakfast pastry with a curried dipping sauce. After breakfast walk past some of the temples that are part of the Penang streetscape and also take a peek inside one of Penang’s oldest houses to get a feel for some of the colourful reasons why this city is so vibrant and full of history.
Lunch at a Nyonya restaurant. This is one of my personal favourite cuisines in Penang. It is a blend of Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community. Colourful and full of flavour and herbs.
A Nyonya Feast
This part of town is also on the road out to the beachside town of Teluk Bahang, because even food fiends need a bit of sea air. Under the cool of the trees and right on the coastline is a Tropical Spice Garden, where all kinds of herbs and spices are grown. There is a Tropical Botanical Garden here too with lots of naughty monkeys. While here try some local desserts and snacks. Crunchy prawn fritters and sticky rice dumplings. Never miss an opportunity to try something.
The Spice Gardens are a beautiful tropical place with a chance to see some of the herbs and spices used in cooking, growing in the garden.
Visit to Little India. This is always a place to see incredible delicacies, colourful temples and sometimes see street festivals. Try Teh Tarik, Malaysia’s famous pulled tea with condensed milk.
Visit Wat Chayamangkalaram where there is one of the biggest reclining Buddha’s in the whole of South East Asia. Explore the city yourself by dropping by a local cafe and try the famous nutmeg juice or sit and watch the world go by with a beer or wine. I n the evening you could head down to the wharf and choose some fresh seafood or head to the trendy China House Cafe for a cocktail and some music or even head along to a fine dining restaurant on Lebuh Muntri or Muntri Street for a refined evening.
Have Yum Char or stand in line to get some of the best duck in Penang. Or have coffee and Kaya Toast in the morning.