PENANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – I am a German student with some experience of travel in Malaysia. I instantaneously fell in love with Georgetown and Penang as a whole. The island has all the factors a tourist is looking for – tasty authentic food, diverse cultures, a vibrant art scene, picturesque sunsets and enchanting landscapes.
Imagine narrow streets with old colonial buildings and small Chinese shops, trishaws riding around and the smell of freshly stir-fried noodles in the air. You have arrived in Georgetown, the state’s capital city.
Here are some of my picks of experiences to indulge in:
1. LEBUH ARMENIAN TO DISCOVER CREATIVE STREET ART
I had made a list of all the murals I wanted to see before starting my visit. But when I wandered around the streets, I came across so many artworks that were not mentioned in travel guides. What I would suggest is that you just walk around central Georgetown without a clear itinerary in mind and you will see so much more than expected.
At the same time, you can admire the beautiful architecture the city’s streets has to offer. Colonial, Chinese and Moorish styles blend perfectly together resulting in a colourful and diverse heritage that is really unique for Malaysia.
2. CHEW JETTY FOR A VIEW OF THE COAST
My favourite was the Chew Jetty, which has many lovely wooden houses, souvenir shops and a few food stalls. I stopped at a small cafe at the end of the jetty that had a very nice view and served refreshing and yummy fruit juices in “lightbulbs”. I will let you figure that one out for yourselves.
3. PENANG NATIONAL PARK TO ENJOY THE RICH FLORA AND FAUNA
The park offers several hiking paths which will lead you through a dense rainforest to remote beaches. The trail I took was not too challenging, with a few hills here and there, but nothing unmanageable. Jumping over some fallen trees and climbing a rock or two will add to the adventure.
After trekking through the jungle for around two hours you arrive at Monkey Beach. It is a beautiful palm tree-lined beach, less crowded than Batu Ferringhi, but still quite busy. You can enjoy a swim in the sea to refresh yourself and get an iced drink at one of the few restaurants on the beach. There are monkeys strolling around the beach, so if you are as lucky as I was, you may spot one swimming in the sea.
4. BATU FERRINGHI BEACH FOR A PICTURESQUE SUNSET
When it hits 7.15pm, sit down on the sand and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Have your cameras ready as the sky turns into a splendid mix of orange, pink and blue that you will want to capture forever. The sunset was the highlight of my trip. There are plenty of bars and restaurants, so you can have a drink while watching the sunset.
5. NEW LANE HAWKER CENTRE TO INDULGE IN AUTHENTIC STREET FOOD
I decided to head to the famous New Lane Hawker Centre in Lorong Baru for dinner. It is a street full of little stalls selling mouth-watering food. The place is loud, cramped, very basic and a bit smelly, but the food is amazing and it is the whole setting that makes the experience authentic.
I was overwhelmed by the massive array of choices and, after a long debate with my stomach, decided to order a few dishes I had read about: laksa (a fish broth), congee (Chinese porridge), char kway teow (rice noodles similar to pad thai) and chendol (shaved ice in a base of coconut milk topped with red beans). I felt like a local eating my char kway teow and sipping on my lime juice.