Saturday, January 9, 2010

Penang, Malaysia

Penang, an island in northwest Malaysia, is renowned for its beaches, food and old architecture. I arrived in Georgetown, the main city, on New Year’s Day and stayed for a few days.

Despite the heat and humidity, I immediately developed an affinity for Penang; in fact, I felt like I had arrived home the moment I entered Malaysia. The people there were extremely friendly, treating me like an old friend when they found out that I was from Hong Kong. Two of my favorites, food and architecture, were splendidly displayed in Penang.

In my opinion, Malaysian food is the best food in Southeast Asia and nowhere is this more apparent than in Penang. The variety of food, due to Malaysia’s diverse population of Chinese, Malays and Indians, means that one can never get tired of the food. With CS traveler Eva and CS local Kelley, I sampled almost everything that Penang and Malaysia are renowned for. This included nasi kandar (Indian curry with rice), tea tarek (“pulled tea” or milk tea), roti canai (flaky Indian bread with curry), wonton noodles (fried noodles with chicken and pork, served with a small bowl of wontons in soup), cendol (dessert of beans, milk, syrup and ice), ais kacang (dessert of beans, jellies, milk, syrup, corn), hokkien mee (curry soup noodles with chicken, prawns and eggs), char kway teow (fried thick noodles with eggs, prawns and cockles), assam laksa (the Penang dish; curry soup noodles with tamarind, giving it a hot and sour taste), satay (skewers with peanut sauce), rojak (veggie and fruit salad with shrimp paste and peanuts).

The architecture in Penang is just as diverse as its food, with Chinese temples, Hindu temples and mosques. The old quarter of Georgetown consists of government buildings with British colonial style and Straits Chinese shophouses with a five-foot porch area on the ground floor, thus forming colonnaded sidewalks. My favorite building is the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, an ornate home belonging to a rich Chinese merchant in the early 20th century. The home is decorated with both Eastern and Western influences, creating an eclectic piece of artwork.

1 comment:

  1. this is like watching anthony bourdaine but better! You really can write your own travel book from this experience. It's amazing!