PENANG, Malaysia // We left Cameron Highlands bright and early on a 7am bus from Tanah Rata to Penang. The bus was only 5 hours but there was confusion when we arrived. Penang is one huge island, and the area of Georgetown is where most people visit and is a UNESCO world heritage city. The bus will drop you off in Penang but no where near Georgetown. Instead we got off in the town of Buttersworth across the water and either could take a ferry across to Georgetown and then walk, or take a long cab ride directly to the hotel. We opted for the cab and the driver could speak no English. We didn’t have a Malaysian Sim card for our phone so GPS was useless. After blindly guessing a few times at street names and their spelling we found our hotel.
It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon and the only meal we ate was at 6am. We were all starving and in the mood to go to little India and get food. The receptionist sent us down the wrong street and it began to pour rain. We got soaked, could not find any restaurant that was open, and were exhausted from the long bus ride. All we wanted to do was eat. In our minds we all hated Penang already and questioned what we are going to do here the next 4 days.
Fast forward 48 hours and we have found a great local breakfast spot called Macallum in a refurbished warehouse where we went for breakfast every morning, a fitness center across the street, a Chinese place for dinner called Tek Sen that is great food and super cheap, a barber who gave me a super modern haircut and beard trim, a daily rooftop bar showing free movies, a local bowling alley where we tried for 3 people to beat 300 (we are terrible), and a local dive bar called Canteen where there is live music.
Penang was one of those places where at first glance seems like a rundown old shipping city, but when you dig deeper and do some exploring was one of the most unique and hip cities we have been in Asia and that we truly enjoyed.