Penang is located on the North Western coast of Malaysia and is the second largest city. Its capital city George town is one of the oldest towns in Malaysia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you move around the town you will at times feel like you took a time travel into the past.
My Highlights :
1)History and culture
George Town is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a walk through the town will enable you to appreciate its history and culture.
The area is inhabited more by the older generation and most of the buildings are really old. The government however, has tried to restore some of them.
2) Sweetenham Pier Cruise Terminal:
This place is a beauty to behold. This is both the entry point and exit points of those travelling here over water. The pier handles millions of passengers yearly from the public ferries that travel to/from Langkawi/Pulau Payar and Medan in Indonesia, to private ships and cruise ships. Even if not travelling, I would recommend a visit as you can relax at the restaurants there as you watch ferries and ships, as well as the sunset.
3)Batu Ferringhi Beach:
This is the first time in my life, that I went to the beach to sun bask, yes, even I am in shock. I cannot believe my friend convinced me to do it and I was actually quite impressed, though not an activity I can partake for long periods. Africans do not generally go to sun bask as we do not need a tan, we have a natural one 🙂
. The beach here isn’t very clean thus there was no way I was going to swim in it. However, it has lots of water sports you can partake in, I just watched. So carry your beach towel, your sunscreen , sun hat ,sun glasses and lay back and relax, you should be good.
4) Enjoy Wall Art :
This town has cute pieces of art either drawn, painted or constructed on the walls. It was as if walking though an art museum on most streets, especially towards the streets with old architecture. Take time to look for them, read them and appreciate the messages, as some are actually educational, while most will definitely bring a smile to your face.
5) Culinary expertise/Food:
The diversity of culinary options available are never ending. They have a vibrant street food option, restaurants and the famous food courts. On the streets, their mobile food industry is vibrant and anywhere is a potential restaurant. It was interesting watching mobile kitchens being set up, a cyclist would stop, unload a mobile mini-kitchen from the back of his bicycle and start cooking. You are assured that the food is fresh as it is prepared right before your eyes.
6) Penang National Park.
If you love the great out doors, hiking and nature trails, you have to visit here. Wear comfortable sports shoes, no heels ladies.Worry not, there are no animals here apart from a few Monkeys you will see at Monkey beach.You will walk/hike through a nature trail and end up at Monkey Beach and then hike up to the lighthouse.The scenery is beautiful the whole way through .Be warned, getting to the lighthouse will drain you of all the energy left in – Ok, it drained me. I would highly recommend you visit this place early, so that you leave early. It is not the safest of places as it is isolated and you may walk long periods of time before meeting other adventurers.
My disappointments with Penang
a) Officially my Scariest, travel experience
We arrived back from the light house to Monkey Beach and found this group of young men having a party. They engaged us in small talk as we took time to rest, but soon their conversation turned to not only being crude, but at best, life threatening. Their crude remarks were directed at me as I was travelling with a friend who was Caucasian and according to them, African women only hang out with Caucasians if they are their prostitutes and the men the client, word for word. One even dared to proposition me and trust me, it was not only demeaning but also very scary to say the least. We didn’t need to rest any more and practically ran all the way to the gate which meant running through the forest, the bridges without stopping or looking back. Thank God nothing beyond this happened.
The above incidence made me weary of Penang and Malaysia in general as I experienced almost similar situations as I travelled Melaka and Kualal Lumpur also. I know it doesn’t reflect the whole population as I met a few great Malay who were really nice, but, these incidences across several towns left a bad taste in my mouth. Kindly, Government of Malaysia, you need to be pro active and assist in this area, everything from educating people on intercultural communication, to roping in rogue individuals.
I traveled from Kuala Lumpur to Penang by bus from KL Sentral bus station. This is a major bus stop and I had one of my worst experiences here. Within the town, the buses seem to be the main means of travel. Be cautious however of the “number” of the bus which dictates the locations it goes through as well as timings, as they do not work 24hrs.
For more on my escapades in Malaysia, check out:
Kuala Lumpur: http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/kuala-lumpur
Malaysia 101: http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/malaysia-101/