While traveling around Malaysia for 3 weeks in July, Penang was always high up on my list of places to visit. Many of the guidebooks describe it as the ‘pearl of the orient’, a crossroads between Eastern Asia and Western Asia with an eclectic mix of Indonesians, Indians, Chinese and Malay people inhabiting the island.
If there is one thing Penang is famous for it’s the food. In fact, CNN Travel place it number 1 in its list of 10 greatest cities to eat street food and every traveler on the road had nothing but praise about the delicious delicacies to be found here. I had a clear image of what my 3 days in Penang would be like long before I arrived, as my mouth watered at the thought of trying out everything the island had to offer. Everyone goes to Penang for the food, and I thought my stay there would be the same.
On arrival, I was more mesmerized my the old colonial architecture and clean, white washed buildings than the lines of food stalls, hawkers and steaming bowls of infamous fish soup. On my second day I discovered that Georgetown, the capital city of Penang and also a UNECO World Heritage City, was a street photographers paradise.
The city is literally alive with street art, and a type that I have never witnessed before. It was interactive. One artist would draw a carton child, then weeks or months later another would come along and make it look like that same child was pulling along a pet dinosaur.
From tiny paintings of marching cats and gigantic 40 foot tall rickshaw riders painted on the side of a building to turning abandoned bikes and unwanted clothes into real life 3-D street art, there was literally a treat hiding on every corner. You needed to look up, to look down, to look closer and sometimes just take time to sit down and “smell the roses”!
For me, Penang’s street art, combined with its unique history, culture and beautiful old Colonial buildings are what made my stay so wonderful. The food was pretty amazing too, but that can wait for another blog post!