Food & History – How I Fell in Love with Penang
If I had a teleportation machine, I would zap myself back to Penang, Malaysia a few times per week so that I could eat a delicious meal or just marvel at the beautiful architecture. I visited this Malaysian island on my last holiday and I have gotten addicted to its charms – I think I’m in withdrawal! I stayed within Georgetown, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and spent two weeks exploring what this great destination has to offer.
What I Did in Penang
After a famous White Coffee to wake me up and get me going, I was excited to go sightseeing in Penang. This island is such an interesting blend of cultures, religions and histories and its architecture is so diverse! I took so many great photos while walking around Georgetown, as the colonial buildings, ornate temples and elegant mosques were just too gorgeous for words.
I also took the opportunity to go jungle trekking in Penang National Park. This reserve was created in 1928 and it offers trails that will take you through the lush and unspoiled jungle. I hired a guide and took one of the hiking trails from the Botanic Gardens leading up to Penang Hill – the hike was 800m in elevation and I was sweating by the end of it, but the view was so worth it!
I also took a trip to the Kek Lok Si Temple, which is one of the biggest and most impressive Buddhist temples I have seen! There is a shopping area here, where I picked up some cute souvenirs. I’d love to book flights to Penang and come back during Chinese New Year, as I have heard that there are great ceremonies here with thousands of candles lighting up the night.
Filling my Belly with Delicious Food
Although the attractions were great, what I miss most about Penang is the abundance of cheap, diverse and mouth-watering food. I ate so well on this island, without even breaking my budget, because I enjoyed the cheap dishes from hawker stalls. With the cheap flights and accommodation I managed to find, this trip ended up being very affordable.
One of the best places to find my evening meal was along Gurney Drive, where the street food carts would set up and start cooking their delicious food. There are not so many tourists here, mostly local, and there are so many options to choose from, always cooked fresh before your eyes!
One of my favourites was Char Kway Teow, which is made with flat rice noodles that are stir fried with dark soy sauce, chili, prawns, bean sprouts, Chinese chives and sometimes egg, Chinese sausage or fishcake. It’s so salty, filling and hearty and I still crave it! Another great noodle dish to try is Lor Mee, which has thick yellow noodles and a savoury rich gravy, which is usually served with fish and chicken or pork dumplings. I like to have mine with a bit of red chili to spice it up!
I absolutely recommend you experience your next holidays in Penang, if you have never been there (or even if you had!). If you love eating tasty hawker food and checking out impressive architecture and temples – you will get addicted to this island too!