Eating our way through Penang; Malaysia’s Culinary Epicenter

We have been back in the USA almost 4 weeks now, but it took us a little time to get this last blog post out.  Currently, we are enjoying the fall colors in Upstate New York as we prepare to be in America while we snowboard and ski Hunter Mountain for the winter.  Who knows what the spring and summer will hold, but the word “India” is being thrown around a lot 🙂

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Lacy: The flight to Penang was short and sweet as we flew from Perhentian Island’s sparkling beaches on the West coast to Malaysia’s foodie central on the East coast.  When we mentioned our upcoming travels to Penang to anyone while staying on Perhentian Kecil, locals and tourists alike all agreed that this city is one of the best places to visit in the country & has a reputation for serving up some of the best Indian, Chinese and traditional food due to the blending of cultures.  By 10am we were stepping out of a cab in Little India.  Standing with our our backpacks in front of accommodation we took in nostrils full of spicy and sweet aromas drifting down the street spice being accompanied by local music played loudly on speakers that stood on the sidewalk.  Oh, Asia how I love thee.  Being in this region is a constant playground for your senses no matter where you are.  For $12 we had a great private room with shared bath on the top floor of a simple hotel in the middle of all the Little India action.  Fresh samosas, fried onion balls, mango lassis, roti canai, fresh hot butter naan & paneer are now all things we can procure within a couple block radius.  Dropping our bags off quickly, we immediately sat down to our first of many outstanding meals for the next week.  Even though Chinatown is a couple blocks from us and local Malaysian food abounds, Indian food had to be first!

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The first Penang feast of veg Thali, butter naan and Saag Paneer (paneer in a spinach curry)

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Rob loves the Hokkien Mee

 

Often times when we first arrive to a new city we like to walk out the front door, turn down different streets and get a little lost as we explore our new surroundings.  That is exactly how we began our week long stay in Penang.  We spent the first afternoon wandering through Little India, Chinatown, down to the jetties where each is specific to a particular Chinese clan that adopted it when they first arrived to the area and finally to a much needed haircut.  Rob hadn’t trimmed his hair since beginning to grow it out before we hiked the Pacific Crest Trail – 18 months ago! At my gentle insistence, he had an inch trimmed off and is looking better than ever.

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Giz enjoys the beach, random street art and the self proclaimed most “unorganized book collection ever” (but I did find something I liked)

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As usual, the surrounding religious architecture and influence is always pleasing to the eye

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Rob: Penang was a feast. Yes, the city of Georgetown has beautiful Colonial period architecture and public street art set on a coastal island and is made for walking and taking pictures, but the food is what we will always remember. Penang is an island of immigrants. Malaysians, Europeans, Indians and Chinese have kept their individual cultures alive and well by sharing their traditions and food side-by-side-by-side-by-side here. It was refreshing to see Local and Foreign tourists from any group in an ethic area other than their own, eating, shopping, visiting the temples and enjoying eating some more. We did our very best to try so many of the specialties from every group. There were a few favorites that we will bring back home with us. Hokkien Mee is rice noodles in a thick broth made from dried shrimp and pork bones. Nasi Kandar is a chicken curry with rice that is all about the thickest, heaviest, darkest and richest sauce ever. Roti Canai is a fresh flat bread served steaming with a few sides of dipping sauce typically made that morning. These are 3 of about a dozen new favorites destined to be our new comfort foods.

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Enjoying the sunset at one of Penang’s many beaches

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We took a funicular up to the highest point in the city, Penang Hill, where we were able to watch the lights come on in Georgetown below…

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…and the local selfie culture surrounding us while tourists snapped away in a “selfie park.”

Once again we rented a 125cc motorcycle for a few days to explore and enjoy more of the island than we could reach on foot. A waterfall and a beach later, we had a great ride around Penang, but much like our travels in total, the journey itself was the best part of the ride.

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We had fun at the butterfly museum where we saw a couple cute lizards as well

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This was a hidden bar in Georgetown that I struggled to find the entry to, but once we were inside it had a very unique vibe.

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Our favorite watering hole in Georgetown was Junk.  The space used to be an antique store and the owner decided to display much of the goods that came with the store purchase.  Great cheap cocktails in a funky space.

We made the big decision to head home from here. We would finish our 6 months of adventures with a lifetime of memories. The only souvenirs we would be bringing home were knit hats and gloves from trekking in Nepal, a bracelet and ring for Lacy from Bali and spices from Little India in Penang, Malaysia to go along with so many new friends made along the way. Lots of photos, this blog and 100+ stories couldn’t describe our experiences fully. The best part was doing all of this with my beautiful wife, partner and friend.

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We rode past a Durian farm and thought that it was the perfect time to finally try this smelly fruit departing from Asia.  Unfortunately, it’s not durian season, but there were some lovely orchids to be seen.

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Bringing home a lot of Indian spices was a MUST.

2 Comments

  1. I didn’t know you were coming home.it was a great adventure to read I looked forward to it. Enjoy the snow and can’t wait for your next adventure it’s all pretty awesome. Hope to meet up some day,you two are very brave and what you are doing with your life is super awesome. Much love V

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