October 31, 2014

Penang, Malaysia | Travel

Penang is like a daydream. We've been back in Kuala Lumpur, for about two weeks and we still talk about it. It's an island a few hours outside of KL right under Thailand. We had planned to go at some time while we were here, but we ended up going much earlier because we wanted to visit a church that was recommended to us. PenHOP is a church on the island that is loosely modeled after IHOP's 24 hour House of Prayer in Kansas. We couldn't wait to go and visit so we booked a ticket on the train and headed out there. We did an overnight train ride which worked out great since we could stretch out for the 8 hour trip and Luna could sleep. We got there super early in the morning and it was literally like walking through a movie set how beautiful, clean, and peaceful it was. 

We had only planned to stay one night but we missed the train going back and had to stay another night, which wasn't really a bad thing. Penang is known for it's food and has also received a pretty good reputation for street art, so I wasn't going to complain about an extra day to explore! Good food, colorful sights, and art did my soul good for the weekend. 

 As a way to share a little history about the island, they commissioned artists to do iron art installations around the city with little stories about Penang.  
 Fresh seafood at the street market. 

 The happy butcher.

 Armenian Street is the street we stayed on in George Town. It is full of art, shops, and small hotels. Every hotel is small. The island has one chain hotel on it. Nothing opens up before 9:00 am and everything closes at 10:00 pm. It's full of life and quiet all at the same time. 

This was our hotel for the first night, Armenian Suites. We would definitely stay there again. The price was pretty cheap, it was clean, decorated nicely, had an amazing cafe downstairs and free wifi. They are cash only which we didn't know so if you ever travel to Penang make sure to check on details like that before booking, many hotels are like that there apparently.
The cafe within the hotel was called BitterSweet and if you want to try some of the best salmon you've ever had, eat the Smoked Salmon Salad. It was perfection.
 There were only two rooms per floor which was kind of nice since we ended up having the top floor to ourselves. 

 Street Food in Penang is legendary. 
 There are also plenty of little cafe and bakeries though is that's more your thing. It's a unique mix of old and new no matter where you looked. 


The Alley was a bakery cafe we went to multiple times because it was just that good. They had cronuts and churro's that still leave me with cravings. 

The island has a lot of British style undertones alongside it's Thai, Indian, and Chinese influences.

Chulia Street is known as "backpacker street" because it has most of the little hostels and cafe's where many of the backpackers stay and connect. This is definitely a good place to explore for good food, people watching, and funny conversations.

Ahhh, PenHOP. We went for their Friday Night Burn session. It was just really cool to be around other believers and connect and just worship God together. The best part was Luna got up and danced for most of the songs too. Seeing her raise her hands up just does something to my spirit.

 Felt good to be out by the water for a few days. This was on the ferry ride back from the train station after we missed our train heading out for the day. So we sat at the train station, booked another hotel and took the ferry back over to the island. We decided to stay a little further out and on the water for the second night at a small placed called Lost Paradise Resort.

This place was also really great. The owner was a doctor and half of the resort was a kids school which was pretty cool. We got to met him that evening and he was such a nice guy. He got all of the decor on his trips to Bali. The rooms were very rustic and each one has a different style of it's own. This hotel was also pretty cheap, had free wifi and a free breakfast. It wasn't super close to anywhere in particular to eat but they were nice enough to drop us off as a seafood place down the street for dinner.

 We ended up eating at two different places that night because one was more of an appetizer place and we were still hungry, so we went down to the place right next door to get a main meal. Both places had amazing food for less than like 3$ a plate and both were right on the water. 
Luna made friends with a neighboring table and got herself some birthday cake and we got to hear some cool stories from this woman traveling from London.

 Before heading back into the city, we walked back around the Georgetown area of Penang more to explore some of the other side streets.

 I loved the use of mixed media in the street art. All the objects were locked into the walls and then the art was done around them. On the weekend there are lines of people waiting to pose with these images. On the weekdays Penang is very quiet and peaceful and on the weekends there are tons of people walking around and biking. More of the shops are open and there is way more street food to choose from. Saturday is the day to go if you want to catch everything, any other day is best if you want to experience a quieter version of the streets. 

 On our *ahem* third trip to The Alley for some churro's Luna made a friend and they went and sat at their own table. I see how it is. 

This trip definitely felt like a backpacking experience for us, which with a toddler is interesting. We felt dirty, hot and tired but it was well worth it. 

Penang has been listed as "One of the Top Ten Island to Visit before you Die",  and we couldn't agree more. It has such a cool mixture of nice people, art, shops, cafes, beautiful architecture, old streets, and culture. If you ever go to Malaysia I highly recommend a stop through Penang.

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