The moment I mentioned that I was traveling to Penang or the Pearl of the Orient after the Selangor media trip, my Malaysian friends had no limit to their excitement and they had only one thing to talk about and that was food. They went on and on and the list was endless. That was the moment when I realized that Malaysians take immense pride in their food platters.
The instruction for me was put in bold and clear, “Don’t miss the food for anything.”
Until I was told about Char Koay Teow, Chee Cheong Fun, Wan Tan Mee, Ais Kachang, Nasi Kander, Popiah and more, I had no idea that Penang was actually the food capital of Malaysia and Georgetown was ranked world’s no. 1 food destination in 2014 by Lonely Planet.
I had ‘Penang Street Art’ on my Mind!
The thought of indulging in delicious food is always a great news for a foodie traveler like me but this time it did not ring a bell. My whole idea of planning a solo trip to this beautiful state of Malaysia was driven by the urge to see its art. Ever since I had seen the pictures of its murals and heard about the steel-rod sculptures in and around Lebuh Armenian, Penang Street Art had caused a stir in my mind and heart. I wanted to visit the city of George Town-The World Heritage Site for its art, history and heritage. I will tell you why….
- There is a unique series of steel-rod caricatures that marks and retells the stories and history of the streets of Penang.
- One can read and relate with these stories of the city in an unique and timeless way.
- This unique and winning idea was found when an Art Challenge was organised by State Government in 2009 called the “Marking of George Town”
- 52 steel rod caricatures called “Voices from the People” make the city nothing less than a live museum.
- This concept of art encourages tourists to walk around the streets, read, learn and decipher the wit, humor and history in every piece of work.
- I wanted to see the famous art piece ‘Little Children on the Bicycle’. Period!
- The huge murals have a great role to play in the making of the character of George Town.
- To get high on the 8 amazing works of Ernest Zacherevic.
Melaka and George Town!!
In 2008, Melaka and George Town under serial nomination were awarded the coveted title of World Heritage Site under the category of Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO World Heritage Commitee. They both met the criteria of Outstanding Universal Values as both these places represent exceptional examples of multi-cultural trading towns of East and South East Asia, influenced by the civilization exchanges of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultures. They are a living testimony to multi-cultural traditions, co-existence of distinct faiths and cultural harmony.
I had visited Melaka in 2014, therefore this year I couldn’t skip Penang for any reason. Thanks to Selangor tourism for inviting me to Malaysia for first half of the trip and then Sunway Hotel for facilitating my visit to Penang. Once my stay and food was sorted, I could actually work around my travel and other expenses with more focus.
It was my first ‘Solo Trip’ and I chose to travel by train and ferry.
I wanted to experience train journey too and thus I chose KTM ETS. It is commercially known as ETS which stands for “Electric Train Service”. It is an inter-city rail service in Malaysia. Under the guidance of my friend’s sister and a journalist friend who are locals of KL, I planned a hassle free trip. Read the below as it might be helpful to you too.
- Take an ETS train from KL to Penang Butterworth
- The departure point is KL Sentral Kuala Lumpur.
- De-board the train at the last station which is Butterworth Train Station.
- To go to George Town, one needs to take a ferry or grab a taxi.
- Walk to the ferry terminal which is situated just next to the station.
- Remember it takes around 15 minutes to find the way and walk around the bridge.
- A ferry leaves in every half an hour so don’t panic.
- It is lovely ride of fifteen minutes over the Straits of Malacca.
- Penang welcomes you with open arms.
- On the other side, grab a ‘Grab’ (app for taxi) or take a taxi from the ferry terminal.
- The city is vibrant and lively that if you are not carrying enough luggage, you might be tempted to start exploring it the moment you hit the mainland.
I booked a taxi via Grab and reached my hotel first. Sunway is a big name (from the same brand Sunway Lagoon) in Malaysia. With 250 hotel rooms and suites in a huge building, this is definitely one of the most dependable names in George Town too. My two nights stay was extremely comfortable here. The staff was extremely pleasing and very helpful. I loved their enthusiasm about sharing the maximum information about their city.
I was upgraded to a Club Room on the 14th floor and it made my stay all the more memorable. It not only promised me privacy but also access to some great views of the city as well as the chic Club Lounge. I could eat and chill out just the way I wanted and whenever.
I enjoyed my breakfasts catching up on TV news came back for the canaps and snacks in the evening. My room was big and comfortable. (The next blog will have the complete review)
Some latest news from Sunway
The award winning Chef, Noppanome Juan, also known as Chef Nopp is now with Sunway Hotel Georgetown Penang & Sunway Hotel Seberang Perai. As Head Chef, he will be overseeing both the hotels. With two decades of culinary experience under his belt, Chef Nopp has won numerous culinary awards, including the Bronze Award for Fruit Carving Cullinaire Malaysia in 2009 and being the 2nd Runner Up at the Langkawi Geopark Fruit Carving Competition in 2011. As the Head Chef at Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya and Sunway Hotel Georgetown Penang, he brings with him the passion for a balanced cuisine that draws upon fresh ingredients infused with Malay, Chinese and Indian influences that are sure to leave you coming back for seconds.
So as they say, you can never take away the deliciousness and food from Penang!!!
Thank You, Sunway Hotel for being so welcoming!
Look for my next post for more on the street art and food of Penang.