5 Reasons Why Penang, Malaysia is a Foodies Paradise

1) A diverse palate: Penang island is a hub for diverse and exotic street food cuisine from all over the world. Whether you’re looking for Arabic, India, Malay, Chinese, Thai, or even Italian food you will not be disappointed here. While halal cusine dominates, because Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, plenty of non-halal restaurants and bars can be found in the area.

DSC_0902

A vendor cooks a Chinese noodle dish. This was taken right outside our hostel in the heart of Georgetown, Penang. 

2)  English Menus: In 1771 the British became involved in Malaysia for the first time when they tried to turn Penang island into a trading port. Malaysia remained a colony under British rule until their independence in 1946. Today the impact of colonization remains in some ways, including that all Malays speak English. Ordering food has never been easier. In China we would never have been able to ask a vendor what the best food on the menu is – unless of course we spoke Mandarin. Here in Penang you can eat delicious food without the hassle of struggling to communicate what you want.

A juice vendor and his cart in Penang.

A juice vendor and his cart in Penang.

3) Little India: Little India is hands down my favorite place in Malaysia. The streets are lined with vendors and the delicious smells of curry and spices. Pop music from 2008 blasts out of stores selling sarees or copy written movies. What’s even better is that Little India is even more popular with the locals than it is with foreigners. My recommendations would be to try the Indian tea, a sweet creamy tea with condensed milk, vegetable somosas, and to find a vendor who is cooking his bread on site.

Why Penang is a foodies paradise. Colorful Indian food.

Our Indian food which was devoured mere seconds later.

4) It’s Cheap: For one of the most tourist frequented destinations in Malaysia, Penang is incredibly inexpensive – that is if you eat street food like the locals. My family was able to eat a full meal of dhal, chicken curry, a ton of naan, rice, and indian tea for just 1 USD each. A bowl of chinese soup usually costs just 1 or 2 USD.

Why Penang is a foodies paradise. Hand pulled noodle soup.

Hand pulled noodle soup

5) Clean and Fresh: Overall the standards of cleanliness and freshness I saw in Penang were very good. Vendors seemed very clean in their practices. Some Chinese restaurants even provided boiling water to sterilize our cups and silverware. I ate very adventurously at places no tourists seemed to be eating at and never got sick. The food is very fresh and meat and vegetables come from the morning markets.

Why Penang is a food paradise. Street vendor cooks chinese food at night.

All the ingredients necessary for a delicious Chinese meal. Seen in Georgetown, Penang.

The Shadow of the Samurai

Hi friends. If you want to read a cool fictionalized travel article about a trip I went on to Japan last year you should head on over to wanderingeducators.com. This article was super fun to write and different from my usual blog posts because it incorporates history, fiction, and travel writing. All of which are some of my favorite things! Anyways… here is the beginning and to read the full article click here.


The Shadow of the Samurai

After the morning rain, the afternoon sun struggles to push its way out of the thick fog covering the mountains. My sister and I, umbrella in hand, walk side by side, jumping occasionally to dodge the puddles in the road.

On the Nakasendo Trail, Japan. From The Shadow of the Samurai

Aside from our occasional laughter, it’s eerily quiet. The only other people around are various shopkeepers in their old wooden storefronts. One Japanese man uses a small broom to sweep water off his porch. He smiles kindly as we pass.

We are walking the Nakasendo Trail. During the Edo period in Japan, this was one of the five routes to connect Edo (today’s Tokyo) to Kyoto. Its height during the 17th century would have looked like the polar opposite of how it does now. The streets were crowded with travelers, merchants and traders, feudal lords, and of course, samurai warriors… all on a 27 day trek across Japan.


 

Want to read the rest?? https://www.wanderingeducators.com/best/stories/shadow-of-the-samurai.html

Thanks for reading and happy travels XX – Iz

 

Malaysia First Impressions

The sun has just set on our 2nd week here in Malaysia so it seems like a good time to finally write about this awesome country. To be completely honest, upon leaving Thailand, all I knew about Malaysia is what I read in the inflight magazine… so in other words… nothing. Just two weeks here have left me speechless. Malaysia has surpassed my expectations for a multitude of reasons.

Malaysia first Impressions. Petronas twin towers

Yes, taking a selfie with the Petronas twin towers is as hard as it looks

The first one being the diversity. I expected Malaysia to be a lot like Thailand, they are neighbors after all. I was wrong, very wrong. Thailand, in general, is not all that diverse. The majority of people are both Thai and Buddhist. Malaysia on the other hand is home to a melting pot of different religions, cultures, and ethnicities. The main ones are Malay, of course, Chinese, and Indian.  From food to clothing to architecture, Chinese and Indian cultural influences are very visible in nearly every aspect of society.

 

Malaysia First Impressions. In Georgetown mandarin script dominates old British colonial building

Mandarin script dominates buildings from British colony days.

Little India in Georgetown, Penang has so far been my favorite place. The closest I’ve ever felt to actually being in India. Along its busy streets are shops full of gorgeous fabrics for sarees, traditional Indian dress. Blaring pop music from 2008 plays into the street next to shops full of copy written movies. As I aways imagined India to look, the streets are full of color. Colorful head coverings of muslim girls, and flowing, vibrant fabrics of traditional sarees flood the streets. Then, there is the food. I don’t think I could ever grow tired of Indian food. Everything from somosas to deserts are cooked by street vendors. The smell of curry and spices wafts into the street from every direction.

Malaysia first impressions. Indian food, colorful textiles, and street scene of Little India

Sight, smells, and colors of Little India in Georgetown.

Malaysia’s state religion is Islam so everyday, five times a day, we hear the call to prayer blaring out of the nearest Masjid (mosques). Contrary to some other Muslim countries, the law promises freedom of religion. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and various other Chinese religions are also widely followed.

Malaysia first impression. Chinese temple in penang

Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang

Contrary to popular belief, while Muslims practice modesty in clothing you don’t have to. As long as you are wearing clothing you should be good. T-shirts and shorts are perfectly fine- especially in cities like Georgetown or KL.  The only restrictions are your comfort zone, and (women) covering your knees and shoulders in Buddhist, Hindu, or Chinese temples. Mosques are a little trickier to visit because for women you must cover to the wrists, ankles, and hair. Men only need to wear slacks. Ug.

Evidence of Malaysia’s colonial past is also preset. The big giveaway is that everyone speaks English. Menus are in English, venders speak English, and you can easily ask for help- which people are usually more than happy to give. There’s nothing like being able to order food easily, and know what you are eating after a long day. The language of Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu, but for many people this isn’t even their first language. Many people speak English as a 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th language.

Malaysia first impressions. Fruit and English menu

Notice the English menu

Food. Like I said earlier Malaysia has some bangin’ Indian cuisine, but that’s not all. There are also outdoor covered food courts all over the place. I don’t remember seeing anything like it in Thailand. Dozens of vendors set up shop under this huge tarp. All you have to do is walk around, order food, and they vendors bring it to your table. It’s super cheap too, a meal running 3-6rm (.75 – 1.50 USD). No more expensive than Thailand! These food courts are hubs of Chinese food especially, and are very popular with the locals. In KL they feature more diverse food options like Arabic and western food.

Malaysia first impressions. Malay soup and street food

Food!!

Last but not least, the transportation system. Malaysia has invested quite a lot into their transportation system in the recent years and it is very visible. Even the lowest class on long distance trains are very nice. Super clean, Aircon, reclining seats, and pretty good food. We ate on the train to KL (something we avoided at all costs in Thailand) and the food was surprisingly good, comparable to airplane food. It was cheap aswell, just 3 USD each. Penang has an awesome bus system that can take you around the entire island (with aircon) and KL has an amazing light rail system that travels just about anywhere in the city.

Malaysia first impressions. On the train to Kuala Lumpur

Boarding the train to KL

All in all Malaysia is pretty great.  I havn’t found one thing to complain about yet. Can’t wait to explore even more in the next months!

Thanks for reading and happy travels! XX -Iz