Penang, George Town and Street Art!
We’d heard about George Town from some friends of ours and really wanted to see it for ourselves whilst in Malaysia. After a bit of research we flew from Kuala Lumpur to Penang for just £20 each with Air Asia. The flight takes less than an hour and is a really easy way to get to Penang from KL. George Town takes around an hour to get to on the bus from the airport. You can catch any of the buses that go to Kampot bus station, located next to a huge mall in the centre of George Town.
After having done quite well fighting my own absent-mindedness so far I managed to leave my backpack on the bus… Luckily our taxi driver at the bus stop was really helpful and ran back to the buses with us to help find it. Just as we were losing hope up rolls our bus with my bag still sitting on the rack. Crisis Averted!
After this drama we arrived at Ink Hotel which is a newly built hotel on the outskirts of George Town. The hotel itself was good and reasonably priced but we did find it a little too far out of the centre of town. It was around 35 mins walk each way to get to the action which after a long day walking around left us wishing we’d booked somewhere in the centre.
George Town is a World Heritage site and was one of my favourite places in Malaysia. After the metropolitan bustle of Kuala Lumpur it was a very welcome change of pace. We loved walking through the streets searching for the street art murals that the town is famous for, taking in the colonial architecture and experiencing the wealth of different cultures that George Town offers.
One of the highlights of our trip was searching for the street art. Latvian Artist Ernest Zacharevic created many of these as part of a project in 2012 but many more have sprung up since. They’ve become a real attraction in the city. Being big fans of Banksy we really enjoyed searching these out as we explored and it’s also a great way to get a feel for the place. You can see a google map with all of the street art locations below:
We managed to find all but one or two of them which were happy with! George Town also has a great mixture of places to eat, we had the best Indian we’ve ever had at Sri Ananda Bahwan in Little India. We would definitely recommend this if you’re in the area.
We visited the Peranakan Mansion on our second day in George Town. It’s a grand period mansion owned by a Nonya Baba family and provides a look into how the wealthy Nonya Baba families would have lived in the early 20th Century. Sadly we found the lack of information provided meant we came away feeling we hadn’t actually learned much about the culture and the entrance price is quite high compared to some of the other attractions. Lisa in particular found the whole place very boring (shite is the technical term I think!) I’d really only recommend this is you have a particular interest in it, or you are armed with a decent amount of knowledge already to get some context on what you’re seeing.
The Camera Museum is situated on Lebuh Muntri. It’s a very well maintained museum with a large collection of rare and vintage cameras. If you have any interest in photography it’s well worth a visit to give you an insight into how cameras have changed over the years. There’s a camera obscura you can try out for yourself and lots of information on the history and development of photographic techniques and technology. Afterwards there’s a very good café downstairs where you can get a coffee after your visit or just pop in for one anytime.
The Chew Jetty is another interesting look into a different way of living. The residents have lived in these houses built on the water for generations and it’s a pleasant walk through the wooden alleyways to view them. Some of the residents sell souvenirs or street food from the front of their houses. They are all very friendly and it’s a nice place to get some respite from the afternoon sun and take some photos.
Whilst here we went on a day trip to the botanical gardens, it’s around 40 mins on the bus. Just catch bus number 10 and ride it to the end from Kampot bus station. We were surprised how much we loved it here! The gardens are beautifully kept but the real highlight for us was the wildlife. We saw monitor lizards, loads of macaque monkeys, a turtle, butterflies and plenty of birds. The monkeys in particular were amazing and we spent a good 30 minutes watching and photographing a family of them who were quite happy for us to get really close. We ended up staying for around 3 hours exploring the gardens. There is a land train that will take you around too but we preferred to walk it in our own time. You can even walk up to the top of Penang Hill from here if you’re feeling adventurous!
All in all we really enjoyed our time in George Town and would definitely recommend it if you’re in Malaysia. It’s a very diverse and interesting place with lots to see, great food and friendly people. What more could you want?
Have you visited Penang? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below