Penang, Malaysia: Sweating, Partying, & Street Art-ing
My last stop in Malaysia was Penang, a city on a island off the northwest coast. Since I had a pretty chill, relaxing time in the Perhentian, I purposely booked into a party hostel in Penang. I was recommend Tipsy Tiger by multiple people in Malaysia as THE place to stay if you want to party and have a good time. So that’s exactly where I went. The hostel has a great set up and the staff really makes an effort to get everyone socializing. They offer 2 free cocktails a night and they don’t skimp on the alcohol to mixer ratio. These drinks have at least 2 shots in each drink. But because of this it helps everyone loosen up and socializing, which leads to buying more drinks. They also have a lot of drinking games so it really has a house party vibe. They shut down at 11:30pm every night and then the guests are taken to bars in the town, mainly Y Not, a bar with the same owner. I honestly like partying at the hostel a lot more than going out. It just has the easy, chill, fun vibe that you have at house parties. So being the poor frugal person I am, I take advantage of the free drinks and not buy anything else after. They also do all you can drink for 40RM, which is about $10USD. So the drink is to make friends with those who paid for that deal and bum drinks off them. The bars we’ve been going to aren’t anything spectacular, to be honest. The first two nights I went home early because I wasn’t feeling the bar scene and it was so hot I just wanted to head back to the hostel for some much needed A/C.
Sweat dripping down my…
The longest you can be outside is probably 2 hours because the heat and humidity will get the worse of you. I don’t remember the last time I have been this hot. The humidity feels like 100+ degrees and it lasts all day and night. You hope that by nightfall it’ll feel a bit better, nope keep on dreaming because you will be just as hot and sticky at 10pm as you were at 10am. Multiple showers a day is very necessary and the colder the water, the better. Every time I walk into an AC room, I feel like I've just been transported to heaven. That feel of the cold air blowing in your face as you escape the hellish heat is nothing you can compare to. We pretend to look at stuff in stores or at 7-11 just to get a bit of a break from the breeze.
Street art hunt
George Town, Penang is a UNISCO heritage city because of it's abundance of street art. From the welded iron wall caricatures that blend humor with historical facts to street art by Ernest Zacharevic, these street arts give Penang a quirky personality. We decided one day to go on a street art hunt to find all of the cool art that's around George Town. You can see some of them below. We couldn't find them all because of the heat and eventually just gave up the search just to get back to the hostel for some AC. I love reading the description of the caricatures because it brings alive the voices of the past and see how people interacted in their daily lives while the other ones are interactive artwork that gives normal 2D pieces into 3D ones.
Another aspect that makes Penang a destination for travelers is its abundance of delicious cheap Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian food. You can grab breakfast, lunch, dinner, a late night snack at any of the street stalls that get set up every night or the food markets. There are so many choices that you will definitely get overwhelmed because I surely did. You just don't know what you want and wish your stomach could hold more food and the calories consumed didn't matter. I made myself stay on a 6RM or about $1.40USD and under food budget for each meal, and it was very easy to do. Most meals are around 4-6RM and they are YUMMMMYYYY! I mainly ate at food stalls so keeping my food expenses low was easy. Some meals I had were Hainan Chicken, mee goreng, amazing Indian food (ordered courtesy of an Indian English friend I made) that was comparable to food from India, char siew wanton noodles, and so much more. These meals are food on the wallet and taste buds but bad for my stomach, legs, arms, and double chin. The food here is definitely the best I've had in Malaysia!
Thank god I couldn't find the entrance to climb Penang Hill. That was the original plan and I am soooooo glad I couldn't find the way to go up because everyone who hiked up looked absolutely miserable. I didn't want to pay for the cable cars because it was pretty expensive, 30RM return and that's why I was preparing myself for the hike in the damn heat. So opted for paying 15RM to go up and then hike down, which was definitely the best option. I was already sweating up a storm just from walking down. I saw so many people with completely drenched shirts and the look of regret on their faces. If the hill was in another area, a much cooler area, it wouldn't be bad to hike up but this heat made it 10x worse. At the top you get an ariel view of the city which is a good sight to see. I mean, once you see so many cities from this point of view, they all start to look the same. The top also has a ton of things to do such as restaurants, a love lock fence, a zoo, etc. Since I was by myself making this trek down, I was a bit confused of where to go. The path is easy to follow but there aren't any signs for when the path splits. I was just guessing and hoping it was the right path so I didn't have to turn around and try the other way. I guess most people opt for the return to avoid doing physical activity in the humidity. I'm glad I did it though! It got me moving and burning the food I've been gorging.
I will be entering Thailand next! I'm pretty excited for yummy Thai food and island hopping. I will be spending the next 3 weeks in the South of Thailand to island hop and party at Full Moon.