For some reason I wasn’t expecting much from Malaysia, but it was phenomenal. The transport is a lot more comfortable and scheduled than in Indonesia and the Philippines. Also, there are less hawkers which made it feel much more relaxing.
After a day in Kuala Lumpur I headed over to Penang, which is an island on the north west coast. There are regular buses from the capital (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan), prices are around 40 ringgit and it takes about 5 hours.
Georgetown is the capital of the island and it’s a truely multifaceted town; Little India snuggles next to China Town, majestical colonial buildings neighbour ornate Chinese mansions, various places of worship sit peacefully on the same street. There is a rich array of ethnicities and their cultures appear to have remained intact despite living entwined with one another.
Georgetown is littered with quirky street art that makes the streets feel like an art gallery at times. Sometimes tourists will even queue up on the road to get a picture with it.
There is more ambrosial food than you could every dream of, and the streetfood is especially spectacular. It’s mostly Indian, Chinese and Malay delights, and there is some divine fusion cuisine. Both Gurney Plaza and Red Garden are phenomenal places to sample the array of food on offer. There are not many bars, but if you want to have a cheap drink there’s a convenience store on Stewart street that has plastic chairs and tables outside. In the evening it fills up with travellers and locals, and it has an alluring ambiance.
Kekloksi, a Buddhist temple is just outside of the city (I rented a scooter to get there). It sits on a hill overlooking the town, and even as far as the sea. It was really quite captivating, and it is free. However, if you don’t want to travel that far there are some beautiful Burmese and Thai temples on Lorong Burma. The Thai temple is home to a 33m reclining Buddha.
North of the town is Batu Ferringhi, it’s a pleasant beach to try out some watersports or just relax on. The most convenient way to get there is probably by renting a scooter, which you can rent at most hostels.