I had these visions of coming to Penang and spending just one day in Georgetown and then heading off to explore other parts of the island. That never happened- instead, I spent 3 full days on an awesome treasure hunt in this incredible UNESCO world heritage city!
Georgetown is located on the island of Penang but don’t get any romantic island ideas. Penang is gigantic and feels like a massive city more than an island. Even Georgetown is massive. Thankfully, all the action happens in the old town of Georgetown, which is really easy to walk around.
Before I get to the incredible street art, what makes the old town pretty cool is the mix of cultures you can find here. Historically, there’s been a mix of English, Chinese, Indian and Japanese influences here, many of which are still present today. This makes for a really cool environment to explore and eat your way through.
The one thing that has really taken off in Georgetown is the street art thanks to Lithuanian born Ernest Zacharevic. This guy has gone around the town and painted/created some of the most exceptional pieces of street art I’ve seen. He incorporates props and paintings that almost make his portrayal of various events look real life.
This has fueled a bit of a street art vibe in Georgetown. The good kind of street art though, you won’t see crass, tasteless graffiti, but rather thought-provoking art.
As a tourist, this will send you off on a treasure hunting frenzy trying to discover the art. They’re on random walls all over the town. Thank goodness for maps.me which is mostly accurate in locating the art. I initially planned on spending one day looking for the art and then the other 2 days exploring the island itself. But the art captured me (I sound all artsy there, but don’t worry, still an accountant). I figured I’m heading to some of the worlds best islands in Malaysia shortly and can skip seeing the beaches of Penang which sounded a little average from everything I’ve read. Furthermore, I’d just arrived from Langkawi and got my beach fix there. Although I’m no longer albino white anymore, there’s only so much sun this ‘body is a temple’ of mine can handle before you can carbon date my skin.
I can’t tell you how much fun I had walking around the town discovering the murals. I did a morning shift, smashed a coffee from one of the numerous cafes, then did an afternoon shift. Thereafter, I hunted down a happy hour to replenish all the calories I’d burnt off. Round is a shape, ok?
Out of interest, Langkawi is a duty free island but Penang is not. So expect to add 10 Ringgit to the price of a big beer here. Heresy I tell you!
I head to the Cameron Highlands tomorrow morning to do some trekking but I can safely say that Georgetown is already one of my Malaysian favorites! Hell, here I am sitting in an Indian run bar, on the side of a quaint alleyway in Chinatown, being served by a Malaysian man, drinking Singaporean beer, listening to Western music and about to eat Thai food. Tell me that isn’t cool!