After a week and a half of hopping from gorgeous island to gorgeous island along the east coast of Malaysias’ peninsula we made our way across the main land to the west coast to visit Penang – an entirely different type of island. Connected by an 13km bridge from the mainland, Penang is nothing like the small bungalow lined islands we had just experienced and instead is a large metropolitan city that distracts you from the fact that it’s an island. We were here for one reason and that is that Georgetown, on Penang, is famous for having the best food in Malaysia.
Our guesthouse was located in Chinatown which was only a short walk away from the enchanting Little India where we spent most of our afternoons seeking out delicious meals. The streets that make up Little India are lined with colourful shops and filled with sounds of Indian music. We ate at a few Indian places in the area each serving meals on thin tin plates and found one small cafe that quickly became our favourite. This Indian cafe’s specialty are Thalis which comes in many different combinations and is similar to a sample plate. Rice, nan bread, and crispy poppadom bread are served in the middle of a large tin platter surrounded by half a dozen or more small bowls of various dishes. We immidiatly fell in love with this idea because we could try many different dishes in one meal – each dish was super flavourful and most were spicy.
During the evenings we would visit the popular outdoor foodcourts that hosted a variety of vendors selling local cuisines. The Red Garden Food Paradise and Night Market was busy and filled with stands selling every assortment of seafood, sushi, dimsum, and Chinese. There were almost zero vegetarian options so we ‘settled’ for beer and pizza. My favourite food in all of Georgetown came from a small samosa street stand that deep fried your purchase right before your eyes. The samosas were the perfect balance of sweet and spice and held together by a delicious chewy dough. I ate two before I even realized it, but luckily they were large and six for one dollar.
Other than eating we also did a lot of walking around (to work off all that food) and also visited Fort Cornwallis. Built in 1786 and established by Francis Light, Fort Corwallis is a small fort surrounded by a 15 foot wall with cannons mounted on top – some dating back as far as 1613 built by the Dutch East Indies Trading Company.
Panang offers visitor guides that map out free walking tours around the historical sights of downtown, including churches, mosques, temples, and government buildings.
Although I could have eaten Thalis and street samosas in Georgetown for the rest of my life, our next destination was Borneo and I was excited to continue onto some of the best diving in the world!