The island of Penang in Malaysia is dubbed as the “Pearl of the Orient” and considered as one of Asia’s most famous travel destination to date. This is not quite hard to imagine since Penang has grown into a beautiful city with modern architecture and yet still manages to preserve its historical value overtime, offering the best of worlds in one small area.
Captain Francis Light christened the island Penang or Pulau Pinang which means the “island of the Betelnut”. This name is most likely derived from the fact that betel nut palms are commonly found within the island. Penang’s population greatly reflects its diversity. You can find different races in this island coexisting quite peacefully with each other such as the Chinese, Malays, Indians and others.
Religion in this side of world is freely expressed and respected. The official religion in Penang is Islam but you can find temples and other religious grounds from different faiths such as Buddhist and Hindu temples.
Penang is a fairly busy island, always bustling with annual festivities of different cultures. If you are visiting the island of Penang, it is not uncommon to chance upon at least one festival taking place during your stay. Some of the highlights are Chinese New Year held every late January or early February which signifies the beginning of Chinese Lunar year and Christmas Day celebrated by Christians every month of December.
Other occasions held in Penang, Malaysia annually are: The Birthday of the Goddess of Mercy, Wesak Day or the birthday of Lord Buddha, Hari Raya Puasa which marks the end of Ramadan, Saint Anne’s Feast, Hari Raya Haji, Festival of Nine Emperor Gods, Malaysia’s National Day, and Deepavali in commemoration of the slaying of evil king by Lord Krishna.
Penang travel can never be completed without sampling its fine delicacy and cuisine greatly influenced by Malays, Chinese and Indians. There is definitely no room for picky eaters here since there is always something for everybody and food is really great, tourists usually come back for more. The most famous dish is the Penang Laksa, a tamarind-based fish soup filled with noodles. Penang Laksa is a very delicious and filling treat. Tourist can either choose to buy their food from “hawkers” of roadside stalls or get them at regular sit-in restaurants which nicely dotted the area. Gurney Drive is the famous food street where you will find hawker’s stalls lined up and selling best of Penang Food.
Some of Penang’s local favorites are:
– Satay or Malaysian style kebab.
– Apom, an Indian paper-thin pancake.
– Apong, Nyonya’s folded pancake.
– Beef ball noodles
– Char Koay Teow, stir-fried rice noodles.
– Chicken rice, a complete meal of Hainanese rice cooked in chicken stock served with roasted or steamed chicken.
– Fried oysters for seafood lovers!
– Mee Goreng, an Indian fried noodle.
– Mee Suah Tau or vermicelli soup with flaked crab meat.
This is just some of the suggested food fare in Penang since this town is known for its excellent cuisine and their food list is virtually endless.
Shopping is never a problem in Penang. Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak is the biggest, most famous shopping complex in the area. It is the tallest building in Penang and placed sixth in Malaysia. KOMTAR Tower is by far, the most ambitious urban renewal project of the city of Penang. Famous retail shops and shopping outlets are found in this one, massive building, a real one-stop-shop for shopping tourists.
Penang beaches stretch from Tanjung Bungah to Telok Bahang for miles and miles. The most popular beach front is the Batu Ferringhi which is quite busy during peak seasons. Other beaches that you can find in Penang are: Tanjung Bungah, Muka Head, Pantai Keracut, Pantai Acheh, Monkey Beach and Gertak Sanggul, all of which are beautiful sandy beaches where you can relax and have fun under the sun.
GEORGETOWN HERITAGE SITE
Georgetown is the capital of Penang Island and was declared by UNESCO in 2008 as a world heritage site. Georgetown has extensive list of sights to see, some of its famous tourist attractions are Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Leith Street, built in 1890. Fort Cornwallis in Light Street was built in 1793 and visit Penang Islamic Museum by Armenian Street. The Pinang Peranakan Mansion can be found around Church Street and also check out Queen Victoria Clock Tower which commemorates Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
Penang is also the home of the largest bridge in Malaysia and one of the largest in the world, the Penang Bridge. Don’t forget to experience Penang Hill as well, a favorite spot among tourists which can be accessed through railway or by foot.
Your visit to Penang will be richly awarded by different cultures and traditions that one can only experience in Penang, Malaysia. If you need to get away from it all, Penang is the site for you since it offers places to explore on-foot and beautiful beaches to swim on. Cultural heritage permeates the air of Penang, right from the sight, sound and smell.
Your visit will not allow you to go home empty-handed considering best shopping outlets for electronics, clothing and other products made from South-East Asia. Cultural diversity is also reflected with food choices available in this side of town. Penang truly feeds the mind and soul. With both modern and historical worth, it is safe to say that there’s always something for everybody here in Penang.
Copyright (c) 2009 Nowal Khan