36 hours in Penang!

Thinking of making a trip to Malaysia soon? Add Penang to your list. Its worth it.

Art, culture, food and history – its a gem on the Malaysian coastline. Depending on your holiday mood, wallet & stamina there are a range of things to see and a heap of local things to eat. If you only have a day no doubt you spend it in Georgetown. A UNESCO heritage spot that delivers on smoggy rustic beauty and Chinese heritage etching back to the trading times of the Ming dynasty and more recently the 1800’s Royal Britannials presence.

Strolling the old streets of Georgetown is the best way to depict the local culture. Beautiful shop houses and striking wall art relics its inhabitants, lifestyles and history, notably some famous strokes by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic are key features.

Below are some of my favourites.

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A stay or tipple at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel (e&o) adds some real colonial air to the trip. Similar to that of the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi, but a little lacking of Delhi’s dramatic grandure. E&O understands warm professional service, in keeping with the Malaysian relaxed style and beautiful vintage deco.

Greeted by a jumanji looking safari jetsetter sets the mood for Farquhar’s bar for a high glass cocktail or stiff whisky. Alternatively, for the teetotallers there is a vintage afternoon tea served in the1885 lounge. Quite Downton Abbey! The Planters lounge herds in very happy guests every evening for a free pre-dinner hour of unlimited booze and snacks. Its well situated next to the infinity rooftop pool which is a tranquil get away with a view of the Andaman Sea.


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No trip is complete without a bit of retail therapy. Mine normally involves some sort of paper goods. This trip was no different.  I nabbed some pretty ang pow envelopes and cards from the Bombay Store at E&O. Armenian Street was a good lane for pretty trinklets too.


Now for food! Penang is notorious for its local delights and most of them look very tasty and worth the extra kg’s. I had one problem…only 36 hours! This equalled to one brekkie, one tea, two lunches and one dinner! Anything less would be disrespectful!

So we kicked off with a vintage afternoon tea at 1885. A good selection of teas, I opted for the soft peach which was peachy! The usual scones, sandwiches and sweet treats were portioned lightly but sufficiently, enabling space for a lovely Peranakan dinner at Kebaya restaurant. 

Housed in the refined Seven Terraces hotels, Kebaya hosts an Anglo-Chinese ambience in a beautiful shophouse. The character of the restaurant is one of the finest I have experienced in South East Asia. Beautiful china plates and antiques decorate the walls. The menu is well designed and requires you to choose 4 dishes per person @ about S$50pp. Appetiser – Meat/Fish – Greens – Dessert, which enables a group or couple to try a variety of plates. Standout dishes for us were the Crispy Joo Hoo Char Roll, Hong Bak Lamb and Pandan Creme brûlée. Only disappointing dish was the chocolate fondant, a bit flat and lumpy. Avoid it.

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Round 3 : Breakfast @ E&O’s Sarkies restaurant. A great buffet spread of local and international cuisines. You can’t go to Penang and not eat Char Qway Teow. So breakfast comprised of yummy greasy noodles & chicken curry with roti canai!


Penultimate Round: FishnChips at Straits Quay Pier. It felt apt to hit up a chippy! Afterall, it is the first place in South East Asia the Brits colonised. The  ride to Straits Quay by water limo was worth it to cruise the Andaman Sea and wave at fellow skippers!

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Final Round: Surprisingly good Tapas in Georgetown @ El Faro! Communal dining, chilled atmosphere and friendly service. In usual tapas manner, sharing is caring! The pork knuckle served taco style was the highlight. Tender and crispy. Actually one of the best pork taco’s I have eaten. The Chistorra sausage & Guindilla peppers also very flavoursome. Potato bravas and chorizo very middle of the road. However, the churros provided on the house ended the meal very sweetly!

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Know more, do more http://www.timeout.com/penang/