4 Things to Consider Before Heading to Penang, Malaysia
Considered the largest archipelago by land area, Malaysia is a country which has island as its province. Somewhere around this Asian country’s northwestern part is the island-province of Pulau Penang which, prior to British colonization, was scarcely inhabited.
Nowadays, Pulau Penang is a home to millions of Malaysians from diverse ethnicities and a magnet to as much as four million tourists every year.
Khoo Kongsi Chinese Clan House
The island is quite remote from the mainland so getting to this piece of land by boat would require a 10-mile journey across vast seawater. But what better time to brush up on your must-dos for Pulau Penang than during this rather lengthy boat ride?
Visit Penang’s Capital, George Town
You know that the capital city was once a vestige from British occupation based on its name alone. But for someplace considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you would also know that there is something about this place that is uncommon to others.
Formerly a British fort, George Town is now mostly a relic of its former self and is a home to many wall-painted murals and hand-carved sculptures as seen on the region’s remaining 19-century buildings. As added trivia, these buildings were also formerly Chinese storefronts.
Much like its neighboring country of Indonesia, Malaysia is representative of four major religions: Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism. As such, the country is commonplace for festivals and public holidays based on these four religions.
The island of Penang is not immune to these celebrations. If you are expecting to experience first-hand the island’s grand celebrations, the best time to visit the place is around fall when the Chinese Nine Emperor Gods Festival, Diwali, or the Islamic New Year, Muharram, are in celebration.
However, you may want to stay clear of your travel in July, particularly in time for Hari Raya, where Malaysians are at their most active and busiest visiting families which tend to clog the roads. Malaysia may be a country not known for having the densest population but you may not want to experience otherwise when Hari Raya is already taking place.
Choose Your Noodles
Of the many foods that could define Penang, perhaps noodles or “mee” might be it. Not only will you find a variety of noodle dishes in the island’s burgeoning restaurants, you would also find them lining the streets as sold by street vendors or hawkers.
Whether you like your noodles to be thick or thin-sliced, soupy or dried, the sheer variety of mee in the island can be overwhelming especially for a tourist who is not common to these dishes. But, then again, being unfamiliar with these recipes, you give yourself reasons to experience something new for your palate.
Meet the Expats
With 6% of the total population of Penang consisting of expatriates who chose to stay in the tiny paradise, expect to come across peculiar individuals who do not belong to any of Malaysia’s native ethnics.
In a place where a dollar, a pound, or whatever currency you may be holding giving you more than what you would normally get in your native country, Penang is definitely the perfect location to experience a lavish living.
Just do not be surprised if one of these expats you encounter are active CEOs from their home country, trying to live as kings in Penang.
Temple in Penang Malaysia