Street art capital: George Town, Penang

Bye Cameron Highlands, hi Penang! George Town, to be more specific! We got up at 7.15 AM, checked out, had breakfast (bananananana pancake!), took the bus at 9 AM and arrived 5 hours later in Malaysia’s street art capital: George Town. BOOM! After a little drama (oh yeah baby) for not finding a proper hotel because free WiFi didn’t work anywhere and it was still 40°C (no, we didn’t booked every hotel in advance and no I will never NOT do that again!), we finally found a super nice hotel to stay (in a banana vibe): Banana Boutique Hotel. After two Tiger Radlers at Bar Monaliza (for the love of art…) we were ready to find out more about this colorful UNESCO World Heritage awarded city.

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Everywhere in George Town you can find minion murals and metal sculptures that explain the history of the streetnames like this one in Lebuh Ah Quee. Text: The street is named after Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee who generously donated his house to the Municipality for vehicular access, ensuring that his name lives on for posterity.

The trip

Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
Malacca change of plans
Cameron Highlands
Kota Bharu change of plans
Penang
Pulau Perhentian Besar

Malaysian Borneo
Kuching
Kota Kinabalu change of plans
Sandakan change of plans
Sipadan change of plans

Bali
Seminyak & Ubud

Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur

A little flashback to old George Town

George Town is located on the northeastern coast of Penang, an island off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The city town was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light as the basis for the British East India Company in the Malay states and therefore bears the name of the Prince of Wales. It soon became the economic and cultural center of the state. Nowadays it still reminisces the colonial era through the well-preserved colonial architecture, traditional wooden shophouses and a diverse Asian cuisine with European influences.

Georgetown, Penang

Sea view from Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah

Townhall Georgetown Malaysia

Penang municipal town hall at Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah

Rainbow Malaysia Georgetown

Court building at Lebuh Light

St. George Church Georgetown

St. George Church at Lebuh Farquhar

Lebuh Muntri, the coolest street in town

I guess Lebuh Muntri is the hippest street of George Town. Almost all the old Chinese shophouses are turned into beautiful boutique hotels, restaurants and even museums. Extremely good food can be found at Mews cafe (address:  77, Lebuh Muntri). Thomas got himself the NZ Rendang and I picked the Ikan Sambal, a steamed sea bass with blue (!) rice, mango salad, egg and emping. YAM-MIE! Another dinner option is Gala House, across the street at 102, Lebuh Muntri. Delicious pastas and burgers are served here, except for the Ceasar salad which only had 3 leaves of lettuce and 4 prawns in it.

Purrfect Cat Cafe

Purrrrrrrfect Cat Cafe

If you’re a cat addict like me, give yourself a boost and stop by at the Purrfect Cat Cafe at 53, Lebuh Muntri. A cafe and shop in one where cats rule (well, they actually always do, but that’s another discussion) the place. Drink coffee while cuddling the eight cats in residence! MEOW!

China house and the love for stray animals

While in George Town you MUST VISIT China house! This compound of three heritage buildings which can be entered from 153 & 155 Beach Street and 183B Victoria Street is converted into 14 spaces. Here, you can find shops, cafes, a gallery with art of young artists from Kuala Lumpur, a restaurant and a library/ reading room. In their courtyard they even have a swimming pool you can use to cool off! Go to Kopi C for coffee and breakfast or have dinner at BTB. Every friday, saturday and sunday you can listen to live music at Canteen. If you are a sugar love, go to Beach Street Bakery! The smoothies have written HEALTHY all over it and the bestseller cake is called Marjolain (my name in French)! Bull’s eye!

The best of this whole China house project is that it is (together with Bon Ton resort and Temple Tree resort in Langkawi) conceptualized by the owner to fulfill her dream project: LASSie, Langkawi Animal Shelter & Sanctuary Foundation. A percentage of all profits go directly to this foundation. LASSie is set-up to take care for neglected and abused (stray) animals. Besides that, it educates people to think before they adopt or buy a pet and not just dump it whenever it’s not the type of pet they hoped for (which unfortunately happens not only in Malaysia). This initiative is FAN-TAS-TIC and an inspiration to many in this world!

Street Art project George Town

In 2012 the culturally driven initiators of George Town Festival organised a street art project called Mirrors George Town. Since that moment street art is popping up all over town. Like the murals of the Lithuanian-born Ernest Zacharevic.

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Collage of street art by Ernest Zacharevic

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Street art Georgetown

Street art Malaysia

Welded iron wall caricature explains facts about the street Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. Text: In the days when your money could be as “big as a bullock cart wheel”, this was a popular rest stop for limousines of the time

Blending historical facts and humor, these (in total 52) welded iron wall sculptures explain life in the early settlement days. Memorable moniker were given to different streets and landmarks throughout George Town. The wall sculptures highlight streets like Lebuh Leith, where the famous shoe designer Jimmy Choo (sigh… LOVE!) started his apprentice. The iron art works can be seen as symbols of the intimate relation between the daily lives of the Penangites and these (now) famous icons.

Cat streetart penang

Mad monkeys at Penang National Park

There are a lot of things to do if you want to escape the busy city center of George Town. We went to Penang National Park in Teluk Bahang. Together with two other Dutch girls (we met at the park) we went hiking through the jungle for 1,5 hour. Without a guide. The park doesn’t offer hikes accompanied by a guide, which we thought was very strange… Anyway… Okay, we went.

It may sound as NO surprise that we will NEVER do that again… Can you already feel it coming? To the point of extreme hilarity, this was insane. We walked over extreme long columns of BIG fat red ants, heard bizarre tigerish noises and the point of no return came when a MEGA mad monkey SCREAMED and swung above our heads.

Pantai Kerachut

Penang National Park

Just keep on walking and never look a mad monkey straight in the eyes because then he or she thinks you want to fight. They won’t easily attack a man, a woman on the other hand….. 

I heard the guard of our end destination Pantai Kerachut say when we arrived an hour later (thanks for letting us know in advance…). With its white beach and blue sea this calm island houses a turtle sanctuary to protect and preserve the dwindling turtle population. This was really what we needed after that stormy walk through the jungle. An hour later we rented a water taxi which transported us to the deserted island Teluk Duyung or better known as Monkey beach. Chilling monkeys everywhere! There is NO WAY you could not love this place!

Pantai Kerachut Penang

Peaceful Turtle Island, Pantai Kerachut

Monkey island Penang

The best welcome ever at Monkey beach!

Malaysia MLVB

PENANG, I embrace you!

Penang! I embrace you! All good things come to an end! Well, not this holiday… Because after Penang, we traveled to the most tropical part on earth I’ve ever been: Pulau Perhentian Besar! Get ready for some sunshine, coconuts, palm trees and carrot tanning with BANANA (did you noticed that the banana is a reoccurring phenomenon in this post… Hotel…. Minions… Bananas?) BOAT tanning oil in the next episode of our Malaysian journey!