After 5 nights in Kota Kinabalu, we boarded an Air Asia flight to Penang. The trip took around 2 hours, plus another thirty minutes in a taxi looking for our hotel in Georgetown.
We stayed at The Chambers Hotel, which was the old Chambers of Commerce building converted into boutique accommodation. This is a theme in Georgetown, where many of the historic buildings from Penang’s colourful colonial past are living new lives as bookstores, cafe’s and restaurants.
We got up early and went looking for some breakfast, which was a beginners mistake. We were bombarded by an incessant heat, even at 9am, an most of the cafes and shops were still closed.
Georgetown is more of an evening/night type of place, it comes alive at dusk, when the air is cooler and the magnificent historic buildings and temples light up.
We finally found a place that was open near us called Sri Weld Food Court, which is basically a collection of street vendors operating under one roof. I had the Hainan chicken and was very impressed, best I have had outside of Sanya, which is on Hainan Island. The food was also very cheap, around 6-7 MYR for a dish ($2.50).
After eating we visited the nearby tourist centre and got some maps that showed the local attractions. In Georgetown Street Art is the thing, most incorporate physical items such as the ‘Kids on a Bicycle’ which is painted around a real bike bolted to the wall. The artwork is amazing, and some pieces are very popular so you may be queuing for a while.
Khoo Kongsi Temple
We braved the heat for as long as we could before finding refuge in the free local bus, which we treated as an air-conditioned tour bus for a bit, before getting off at a large mall for lunch and more air con.
We rested at the hotel for a bit, then ventured out again at dusk. Georgetown is a truly magical place when the lights come on, especially around Armenian Street where we spent the evening.
The nearby Khoo Kongsi temple is only open at nights on the fourth Saturday of the month, and luckily this coincided with our stay so we got to see this amazing temple lit up, as well as enjoy some local entertainment and food.
We spent some more time in the Armenian Street, tasting some of the desserts from the many stalls and looking through the bohemian stores. Some of the best street art is near here, so we took some night shots which were a lot easier as the street was closed off after dark.
Georgetown Night Scene
To finish the night we took a walk towards the water, enjoying the entrancing architectural scenery on the way. We eventually made our way to Chew Jetty, which unfortunately had just closed for the night.
This place was interesting, also know as the Clan Jetties of Penang, it is essentially a long wooden pier with ramshackle houses that looked like it was straight out of the early 1900’s.
Kids on a Bicycle Street Art
The next day, the last full day of our trip, we really didn’t do much. We had a flight to catch back to Sydney very early the next morning and after visiting Singapore, Kota Kinabalu and Penang in the space of just over a week we were a bit worn out. We ate some more cheap and delicious food, this time some local laksa, did some shopping, then watched a movie for some ridiculously cheap price (4$) before going out to dinner with some local friends.
Although our trip was planned in rush last minute, most of it worked pretty well. Next time I go to KK I will explore further out, probably as far as Sipidan where the diving is meant to be world class, or perhaps take a ferry down to Lebuhan Island or Brunei. Georgetown is amazing, and makes a great getaway location for a couple of days, but 1 night was way to short for Singapore.
Popular Penang Drink
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