We did a walking tour in Georgetown recently and was nicely written and featured in Lifestyle Expatriate magazine.
Nardya Wray of Campbell House Boutique hotel approached me whether I was free to join her for a walking tour. I happened to be available so off we went to tour and walked around to explore how to spend 48 hours (if there is all you have in Penang).
Penang has so many places of interest that to me, you need more then 2 days, please. But we tried our best to squeeze our choices should you have just 2 days. And we managed to walk more then 10,000 steps exploring, stopping to see, eat and breath in the smell of Penang island.
Just in case you prefer to read through, here it is.
Penang is a wonderland. Besides the renowned quality of its street food and well-preserved heritage buildings, the state also boasts a thriving arts scene and breathtaking natural landscapes alongside state-of-the-art infrastructure to rival any in the nation’s capital.
You could easily spend years here and not get bored, but if you’re pressed for time, our guides Nardya Wray of Campbell House and Pearly Kee of Pearly Homecooks have helped us create an itinerary to condense the best of the Pearl into a scant two days.
Here is the link for your reading pleasure.Nardya and Pearly 48 hours in Penang.
Day 2: Pearly’s Itinerary
Having already hit up many of the tourist hotspots, it’s now time to venture off the beaten track and see Penang through a local’s eyes – in this case, Pearly’s – to gain a real insider’s perspective on the island.
7am – Visit the Penang Botanical Gardens
Set at the foot of majestic mountains some way out from George Town, the beautiful 133-year-old Penang Botanical Gardens serve as an exercise hub for locals. Huffing joggers and cheeky monkeys pass us as we admire the ‘cannonball trees’ flanking the roads – so named for their distinctive round fruits. Pearly loves going for walks here and occasionally even joins in with the exercises!
8.30am – Hit the Pulau Tikus Wet Market for peanut pancakes and string hoppers
This wet market is one of Pearly’s favourites and is where she brings her cooking classes to teach them about the benefits of traditional ingredients like ginger and turmeric. Her must-taste recommendations here are the fluffy yet crunchy apam balik or peanut pancake and Uncle Joe’s fresh putu mayam, a snack of pandan-scented rice vermicelli, grated coconut and palm sugar.
9.30am – Visit the Colonial Penang Museum
A collection of giant tree roots and white columns surrounds this ornate bungalow, where over 1,000 rare artefacts are on show here from the Ma family’s private collection as symbols of the extravagant lifestyles of the rich during colonial rule. We rubbed a wooden black tiger’s head for luck, admired colourful stained glass art and read a handwritten document by Captain Francis Light on a guided tour.
12pm – Lunchtime at Air Itam
Located at the centre of Penang Island, Air Itam – where Pearly used to live – is a good stop for lunch before heading on to Kek Lok Si. Her recommendation is the Air Itam wet market food court, where she swears by the sour-spicy Penang assam laksa made by a blind and deaf man, as well as the egg tarts from the nearby Sin Ka Oon Cake House and Bakery, an established local confectionery.
1.30pm – Drive up the hill to the Kek Lok Si Temple
The iconic Kek Lok Si Temple (Temple of Supreme Bliss) is nearly synonymous with Penang, and up close, the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia is even more impressive. The seven-storey Pagoda of Rama VI with 10,000 Buddha statues and the 30m tall bronze statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy, tower over us as we wander the grounds, offer prayers and admire the view of Penang.
2.30pm – Go street art hunting in Balik Pulau
A trip out to the western side of Penang will see the landscape turn more rural with serene paddy fields, durian and nutmeg farms, and fishing villages. Recently, huge street murals painted on pre-war buildings by Ernest Zacharevic and Russian artist Julia Volchkova drew attention to the area, with Pearly’s favourite being Ernest’s ‘reverse graffiti’ mural of a local silversmith, painted only with water.
4pm – Tea time at Toh Soon Cafe
If you’re craving a cup of good coffee, it’s said that the best is found at Toh Soon Cafe, Pearly’s favourite breakfast stop. Rich and smooth, the homemade Hainan coffee takes centre stage here but its co-stars of soft boiled egg and charcoal oven-toasted kaya toast receive equally rave reviews. If the often hour-long wait for breakfast is too daunting, it’s good for afternoon tea too! It’s closed on Sundays.
7pm – Dinner at Kimberley Street
Kimberley Street is just one of the many popular food streets that make up Penang, and there’s no shortage of delicious hawker stall fare to try here to end your trip on a high note. The koay chap stall (“absolutely delicious rice soup topped with pork or duck meat, its blood, duck intestines, Chinese parsley, soy-braised tofu and soy-braised hard boiled egg”, according to Pearly) is worth a try for the adventurous – it might sound intimidating, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
For the full article, pick up a copy of the August 2016 issue of Expatriate Lifestyle – out in stores now!