Welcome to Georgetown, the land of blue-colored rice

It was a visually (and gastronomically) satisfying experience visiting Georgetown, the capital city of Penang. It’s like a massive art gallery with street murals in every corner. Much to my surprise, there are large-scale artworks in some of the mundane buildings within the area. Upon entering the main city, you can see old buildings altered to modern restaurants or shops, quite comparable with PH’s Maginhawa street or Vigan. Despite the progress, there’s still a suburban vintage atmosphere brought by maintaining the old building as foundation and I guess, the number people using bicycles that adds up to the quaint ambiance. Georgetown is such a scenic calm place, where you’d like to retire, seriously.

I heard beautiful stories about Penang and given its accessibility from KL, I spent the recent holidays there. It took me 4 ½ hour bus ride from KL Sentral to SG Nibong Bus terminal. Arrived on Tuesday evening and went straight to a hawker food center for dinner. Stayed in an 8-bed room in Syok Hostel and met a lot of female travelers. We exchanged interesting stories and recommendations for trip to Philippines, China and England.

Spent the entire Wednesday biking around the area on the hunt for the 15+ street art paintings. I can’t remember the last time I rode a bicycle, it felt good.. and exhausting. I also visited Chew Jetty, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with houses on stilts on the shores. You can also scout for interesting food choices in Chew Jetty, like a restaurant that serves ramen in humongous bowl, durian pastries and fruit juice on ice shavings. I also checked the Camera Museum in Muntri Street for compelling facts about the evolution of a camera. They even got a vintage camera from 1800’s!

Together with my roommates, we chanced upon a street festival near the hostel. Aside from the street paintings, this has been my favorite part of the trip. The quiet town transformed into a lively and bright street night party. There were food stalls lined up and bulbs beautifully installed on the side streets that light up the entire area. Every scene is like a snapshot from a movie where everyone’s either dancing or eating. We had chicken rice and tried a local dessert from a Chinese food stall. I had their best seller, hot black sesame paste. Yup, it’s not appealing at first but tasted just fine. We ended the night with a bottle of beer and never-ending stories of travel.

Of course, let’s talk about the food. I like Downtown Heritage’s fried noodles, char kway teow and sweets like cendol and interesting dishes like nasi kerabu. The blue color of rice resulting from the petals of Clitoria ternatea (butterfly-pea) flowers (kembang telang) used in cooking it. Yay, finally got the chance to try blue-colored rice! I also like to the local iced tea tarik (milktea) especially if you will put in a plastic as takeaway, just for the experience.

I will definitely go back to Penang if schedule and budget permit, maybe next time I’ll go check Penang Hill.

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