George Town, Penang was one of the highlights of our trip. First, we stayed in an amazing place called Vintage House. Then we ate amazing food. And finally we were won over by the charming old town (I’m going to need some synonyms for charming) and the abundance of street art.
Vintage House was our haven. Goodbye fan-only rooms, bunk-beds and shared facilities. Hello, air con, soft mattresses, wifi and a washing machine. It was so nice, that we took some time to enjoy our quiet, cold room in solitude – napping and Netflix. Our hostess was amazing. She had maps for us, and a list of great Penang foods to try. The central room was bright and sunny, and we were stunned that she had a washing machine free for our use. It was so great that we immediately extended our stay.
The best thing to do in George Town is to stroll through the streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are many historical buildings, colonial architecture, clan jetties, and temples and mosques. It’s easy to explore on foot, hire a trickshaw or rent a four-seat-bicycle.
But what makes George Town especially unique is the plethora of street art. The most famous is a collection of paintings by Lithuanian Ernest Zacharevic. His work turns decrepit walls with peeling paint into charming works of art. Tourists line up to take turns having their photo taken with them.
Since Zacharevic’s installation, more street art has popped up. Iron sculptures depict George Town’s history, cats peer through windows, cartoon dogs eat a steak, and many more smaller ones appear everywhere.
When your feet tire of walking, or in our case, when the rain starts to fall, you can jump into one of the trendy coffee shops or restaurants. We found some excellent food in Penang, especially for my vegan friend. She’s written all about vegan food in Penang here.
As a meat eater, I found the vegetarian food to be delicious, and the street food to be cheap. For me, the memorable meals were at Sushi Kitchen and Woodland’s Vegetarian.
Sushi Kitchen is completely vegan and was our (vegan and meat eater) favorite restaurant in town. We ate here twice, but could have done more. The prices range drastically for what appear to be similar dishes – noodle soups for 5.80 MYR – 15.90 MYR. I opted for one of the cheapest, Miso Udon for 7.80 MYR, ($2.50 CAD) and it was delicious.
Another hit was Woodland’s Vegetarian Restaurant. I am not familiar enough with an Indian food, so I had trouble maneuvering the menu. I opted for the “Set Meal” because it seemed to offer a variety, the menu said it was available in “limited” quantities, and it was only 8 MYR ($2.50 CAD). The meal did no disappoint. Every little bowl was filled with a different curry or sauce, some familiar to me and some new. With some crispy chapatis on top and it was perfect!
Before leaving town, I had to try some street food, so I got some mee goreng. Mee is noodles and goreng is fried, so this is Malaysian pad thai. Or chow mein. I can’t remember what I paid for it, but it was only a few dollars. It was a lot like street pad thai, but with a spicier, tomato-ier flavor.