Penang is an enchanting island where rich cultural heritage, mouthwatering street food, nightlife and vibrant street art collide to create a unique travel experience. In this blog, we’ll take you on a journey through the streets of Penang, highlighting the culinary delights, artistic presence and rich culture and history.
Our Penang adventure began with a morning tour of Penang, stopping in for breakfast with the locals at Chowrasta Market. We stopped for an Iced Kopi (Coffee) and a freshly made plate of Char Kweo Tao. The market was bustling with locals getting their morning bite. With a plate costing approximately $3AUD, it is a common and cost effective way for people to eat out. Workers in the street food trade have been able to create a lucrative business over the years due to the prominent cash society that still exists today.
Next up we attended a fantastic cooking class led by the warm and welcoming Pearly. She first took us to the market to explain the local ingredients used and to try a few things, before moving back to her kitchen. Pearly’s cooking school offered us a glimpse into the heart of Penang’s culinary traditions.
Pearly’s passion for cooking and her attention to detail made the class both educational and fun. She patiently guided us through the intricacies of balancing sweet, sour, and spicy flavours that characterise Penang cuisine. The best part? We got to enjoy the fruits of our labour, savouring our homemade dishes with newfound appreciation.
After our culinary adventure, we embarked on a Georgetown Heritage Tour, providing insight into the rich history of Penang.
We were led to Chew Jetty, one of Penang’s UNESCO-listed heritage sites. This stilted fishing village is home to the Chew clan, whose ancestors settled here over a century ago. As we strolled along the wooden walkways, we marveled at the unique blend of traditional Chinese architecture and stunning seaside views.
Local residents still inhabit the stilt houses, and we had the opportunity to gain insight into their daily lives and the challenges they face preserving their heritage in a modern world. We found out that originally the families had learnt if you didn’t live on the land, you weren’t expected to pay tax. A fact that still exists to this day. It was a humbling experience that deepened our appreciation for Penang’s diverse cultural tapestry.
We also had the opportunity to visit stunning temples, mosques, and churches, all situated within close proximity along the “Street of Harmony” also known as Pitt Street demonstrating the peaceful coexistence of different faiths.
Penang is renowned for its street art scene, and we couldn’t resist exploring the vibrant murals that adorn its streets. Armed with a map and a sense of curiosity, we embarked on a guided tour of Georgetown’s artistic gems. From the iconic “Little Children on a Bicycle” to the whimsical “Boy on a Motorcycle,” each mural told a unique story, enriching our understanding of the city’s culture and history.
To attract younger people back to the city, the State Government of Penang released a competition called “Marking Georgetown” to explore the ideas in art for public spaces in this city. An international contest were held for this purpose on Sept 7, 2009.
The winner was Scuptureatwork with the design concept called “Voices From The People”. As a result of this, more than 50 art made from iron wrought sculptures were erected on the city’s building walls. These art help you to see the culture, happenings and how things were decades ago.
Our journey through Penang concluded with a leisurely stroll down the charming Love Lane. This picturesque street is known for its colonial-era architecture, boutique guesthouses, and cozy cafes. As we sipped on a cocktail and watched the world go by, we couldn’t help but fall in love with Penang’s laid-back and romantic atmosphere.
No visit to Penang is complete without indulging in the hawker food that lines the bustling Chulia Street. As evening descended, we joined the crowds to savour a feast of local delicacies. The aroma of Char Kweo Tao, rojak, and satay filled the air as we navigated the bustling stalls. Chulia Street is a food lover’s paradise, and it left us with unforgettable flavours and memories.
Penang is a destination that caters to all senses – from the tantalising tastes of its street food to the captivating sights of its street art and the warmth of its people. We left with a deep appreciation for Penang’s unique culture and heritage. It’s a destination where tradition and modernity coexist harmoniously, making it a must-visit for any traveler seeking an authentic and enriching experience.
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Bec Taylor – TravelManagers