Our first stop in Malaysia was Penang. I had visited this island in the country’s north-west before during my studies, but then lectures and group work were the main purposes. Although of course even then exploration and night life did not suffer too much.
More than four years later some things have changed again, but many aspects that I had positiv memories of and because of which I had convinced Natalia to stop here as well were still present. First of all the old colonial Georgetown with its buildings from the british colonial presence, Buddhist and Hindu temples as well as churches and mosques.
The second aspect, that might have been even more important for the two of us is the good and diverse availability of foods from the different cultural groups (Malay, Chinese, Indian).
Hence both our days in Georgetown should start at a small hidden eatery in side streat, our hostel owner recommended, since he just came from there. They offered typical local breakfast with coffee, toast from the oven with some sweet spread, a half boiled egg in a cup and optional some Nasi Lemak in a banana leaf.
In evenings on the other side we should visit a small streetmarket with many hawker stalls or an “official” night food market with all different kinds of food stalls to test different noodle, rice and soup dishes. Even though we were almost full already we still had to try some satay and deep fried sesame balls filled with peanut or red bean.
I shall not forget to mention that we both really liked the local Penang Assam Lhaksa, a slightly bitter fish soup with noodles and that I suprisingly only niw had my first bag (the local take away cup) of freshly squized sugar cane juice.
But of course, not even a culinary highlight such as Penang is purely about food and we have used one day to discover Georgetown and another for an unhurried trip into the close surroundings.
Within Georgetown itself there is of course the colonial impact visible R almost every corner. In addition we were most impressed by the Chinese influence. On one hand the magnificent clan building of the Khoo (Khoo Kongsi), on the other hand many colourful Chinese temples. Besides this, one needs to mention the lively street markets, that attract attention by their relative peacefullness and complete lack of intrusiveness and “Little India” which provides an interesting contrast to Chinatown.
On our trip into the hills around Georgetown we took the bus to Malaysia’s biggest Buddhist temple “Kek Lok Si”, the discovery of iwhich takes some time, but it is time well spend. Probably because of the still ongoing construction, there are Souvenirs sold all around the temple area to generate income. Albeit this reduces the overall impression, it should not be a reason not to visit.
The second half of our trip began with a walk to the base station of the Penang Hill mountain railway. This brought us close to the top of this 821 m high hill, from which there is a great view over Georgetown and across the sea to Butterworth. Starting at the top, we took advantage of the coller and cleaner air, and decended on foot on steep pathes and roads towards the botanical garden, from where we caught the bus back to town.
More picture for this article are available on my travel blog.