After a short stay in Kuala Terengganu on Malaysia’s east coast, we travel to Penang, the largest island of Malaysia. We explore the nice city of George Town, where we see lots of street art, have great food and get tattooed up!
After Kapas island and before we head to George Town, we stay in the nearest big city, Kuala Terengganu, for two more nights. Our accommodation is the Kenangan Hotel, which is pretty basic but has everything we need (except for a window…) for a cheap price. On a DIY sightseeing tour through the city we see lots of street art, beautiful coloured buildings and a large river.
A popular place amongst Malaysian tourists is the Bazar, where you can find dried fish, herbs, cookies and candy. Although most cookies and candy are also consisting of fish, a little bit like the Indonesian kroepoek.
There’s also a fair amount of fruit stands, but at least 80% of them is only selling durian, a typical Malaysian fruit which has a very strong scent. You can only really love it or really hate it. We really don’t like the taste and the smell, so walking past the fruit stands is quite the challenge. Luckily we find the perfect restaurant for us in Chinatown, a vegan place with lots of mock meats that even Riny likes. And I must say, these are indeed the best mock meats I’ve ever had. Don’t skip this place if you visit Kuala Terengganu! It’s called The Vegan Recipe Kafe and you can find it in the maps.me app.
A very nice and useful sight in Kuala Terengganu is Turtle Alley (also on maps.me). A small alley filled with turtle art and lots of information about the turtle for kids and adults. It’s main goal is to gain awareness for the effects of eating turtle eggs, which many Malaysians do. You can also find information on things you can do yourself to help the turtles, like taking plastic out of the ocean, don’t buy turtle shell souvenirs and support turtle conservations. I think it’s a great initiative and it’s also fun to see. I hope it saves some turtles.
George Town, Penang
The next day we go to George Town by night bus. George Town is a very well-known town on Malaysia’s largest island, Penang. We check in at the cheapest hostel we can find to get some sleep, because we didn’t get much sleep on the bus. Unfortunately we didn’t read any reviews and at night this turns out to be the party place of George Town. Luckily we slept during the day, because during the night the music is way too loud to sleep. The next morning we move to Guest Inn Muntri. A guest house in a more quiet street, but still on a very good location.
The first couple of days we spend in the city. There is so much to see, lots of street art, buildings of basically all religions, neighbourhoods of ethnic groups that have settled here and, of course, food. The variety of food is huge. Because of the many different ethnic groups here you find all kinds of cuisine. You can choose to go to a star restaurant, food court or a food stand on the street, it’s all very good. We enjoy the Indian food the most and I also love the vegan food places of course. Sometimes it can be quite nice to be in a city for a change, and George Town is one of those few cities that are still as nice and cosy as a small village. It has a really nice atmosphere and wondering through the streets it’s easy to spend 3 days already.
There’s quite a few good museums in George Town. Entrances fees can be quite high but it’s sure worth it to visit one or two. We chose the Upside Down Museum. Here you can walk through several decorated/themed rooms where all the furniture and all accessories are glued to the ceiling. There’s staff in every room to give advice on where and how to pose and to take your pictures. The museum itself isn’t that good but the pictures and videos you’ll have afterwards are hilarious.
Since we are still looking for a place to get our Maori tattoos from New Zealand done (after more than 2 years of having the design) we always keep our eyes open for tattoo shops. When we have a few hours to kill we go visit two shops here in George Town. The second one, Mandala Tattoo, we really liked. We felt so comfortable here that we made an appointment for tomorrow already! So exciting!
Because of this decision we book 4 more nights at the hostel. That also means we’re leaving on the day with the cheapest fare for a flight to Bangkok, so it’s a win win. In those 4 days we at least have time to take good care of our new tattoos (which basically are just wounds) and keep the risk of infection as low as possible. Luckily the shop works very clean, we made sure to check that! You never know here in Asia, right? After 5 hours mine is finally done, and Riny’s after 6 hours. Just the way we wanted it with beautiful tight lines. It sure was painful but definitely worth it. But for now we are done with these big pieces of art on our bodies, haha!
Penang’s north coast
On our last full day here we finally dare to go outside, at least when the sun isn’t shining. We wait till late afternoon and then we get an Uber to the north coast of Penang. The plan is to watch the sunset and see the huge night market they have here. We know it’s a very touristic place but it sounds like fun anyway. At least we get to see a different part of the island. What we didn’t know is that it’s even more touristic than George Town and full of big resorts and hotels. The big advantage is that we can just walk into any hotel like we stay there and use the pool or see the beach. I don’t know why we did’t think of that before! Unfortunately it’s too late to swim in the pool but the sunset at the beach is truly amazing. A bonus is the jetski’s with banana boats and parasailers on the horizon. We didn’t spend much time at the night market, because it was too crowded and we really didn’t need any of the fake stuff they sell there. But it was a fun trip.
See you in Bangkok!