A quick 90 minute flight from Singapore makes Penang a popular destination for weekend trips away from the Lion City. I decided that it was time for (another) weekend away from Singapore, did a bit of research among friends, and decided that I could do a lot worse than Penang, in Northwest Malaysia.
Steeped in history, Penang is a fascinating town where East meets West. One of the most popular attractions in town (aside from the food - which is not one of my fortes) is the street art. Penang is famous for incredible street art throughout the old streets of George Town (the capital). Spread across the inner city, the street art brings a new dimension to the traditional chinese shop houses that line the narrow roads. Simply grab a map and make your own way around town finding the artworks as you go - all of which are indicated on most tourist maps. I’d certainly recommend doing your own walking tour to take in this attraction, and discover a few more hidden gems around town, all the while taking in the unique culture of this historical town.
With attractions in Penang slightly less adrenaline based like we’re used to in Singapore, and on Sentosa Island in particular, a weekend here can be considered relaxing, and hugely interesting, but you do need to plan your time well if you want to take in all the history in 1 weekend...if it’s even possible - I’m not convinced. We settled on visiting the Peranakan Museum, another attraction that’s well worth a visit, and right in the heart of George Town. You can spend as much time as you’d like here, or do a guided tour which takes you through the mansion, which has many tales to tell of it’s own.
One consideration that I somehow managed to overlook for this weekend, was that this trip happened to coincide with the 2nd Lions Test, for those of you who have read my previous blogs, you’ll know that I’m rather fond of my sport, and rugby in particular, so missing this match was not an option. Upon arrival, and having done some of my own research, I was assured that there were numerous sports bars from which to choose from...however, upon closer inspection, very few were either a) open at 3pm, or b) showing rugby. Unsurprisingly they were more focussed on the more global sport of football. Undeterred, I starting quizzing the local population about the most likely place to be televising this showpiece event, and all indications pointed to an establishment that is ever present in almost every single town, everywhere...an Irish Bar.
I was not to be disappointed, nestled away in the corner of a deserted shopping mall in the outskirts of George Town was “Healy Mac’s Irish Bar & Restaurant”, and it was completely full. Apparently I was not alone in this search for rugby in Northwest Malaysia...who’d have known.
All in all, Penang gets a solid ⅘ stars from me as a place to go for a weekend away from Singapore, with plenty of things to do, but more importantly, it is how different this town is to anywhere else I’ve been in South East Asia, with a rich history to support it, that makes it the ‘Pearl of the Orient’.
Next trip? 2 weeks in Greece with the family...can't wait!