Penang, on the other hand, is totally super-duper awesome! Beautiful architecture, loads of history and culture, The Best Food in Malaysia, and my favourite hotel in the whole wide world. (Blogpost to come!) As with any city, it's better if you have locals to guide you around, but I still think Penang has a lot to offer, even for solo tourists.
Being surrounded by Hokkien-speaking Chinese Penangites makes me feel right at home. Finally! A Chinese dialect I can understand properly! Even though I've lived my whole life in Melbourne, I still think of Penang as my home town. And whenever I'm in Penang, I consider Pulau Tikus to be my 'hood - my dad grew up around the corner, and my lovely Aunty Rosie, with whom we always stay whilst in Penang, lives close by.
Pulau Tikus is full of great food stalls, shops and a market. Today will be a picture-heavy post. Let's take a look:
|Kedai Kopi Swee Kong|
|Interior of Kedai Kopi Swee Kong|
|Hokkien Mee stand|
I had a bowl of Hokkien Mee, as this stall is my dad's favourite. You'll notice that Penang Hokkien Mee is a rich prawn-and-pork based noodle soup dish, unlike the Hokkien Mee from other parts of Malaysia, which is just fat yellow noodles stir fried in dark soy sauce. Clearly, the Penang Hokkien Mee is superior.
Whilst the broth tasted amazing (see how rich and red it is?), the aunties here were very tight with the fillings - no hard boiled egg, and only one or two little prawns, each sliced into even smaller pieces!
If you're not up for an intense bowl of prawn soup for breakfast, there's also an Indian stall in this kopitiam, selling my favourite: ah pong! These are light little pancakes, cooked in small wok-shaped pans, so the centres are thick and soft, whilst the edges are thin and crisp. Totally delicious.
Ok, so if you continue down Solok Moulmein (i.e. going straight ahead in the below photo), there are heaps of great stalls on the lane itself...
|View of Solok Moulmein from Burma Road (Kedai Kopi Swee Kong is on the right hand side of the intersection)|
... including... a ban chang kuih truck! We came here for breakfast a few days into our trip.
|Ban Chang Kuih truck!|
|Inside the Ban Chang Kuih truck|
|Ban Chang Kuih truck and seating on Solok Moulmein|
You'll notice that Pulau Tikus is predominantly a Chinese area - so no asking for "teh ais", or for your drinks to be "kurang manis"! Speak Hokkien here (or English).
Peng means "ice", and jua means "hot", which should help you when trying to order.
Iced Tea - "teh peng"
Iced Milo - "milo peng"
Iced Coffee - "kopi peng"
Iced Barley - "barli peng"
|Ban chang kuih!|
One of my favourite Malaysian sweets is mua chee: slightly chewy glutinous rice flour dough, chopped into bite-sized pieces and thickly coated in ground peanuts and sugar. They serve it in little containers with toothpicks. (I'm told that normally the mua chee man only comes to Solok Moulmein at night - we were so lucky he was open on the morning we were there!)
If you keep walking down Solok Moulmein and turn right at the end, there are more stalls for food, and the market!
|Another Uncle making bah chang kway|
Check out the traffic here! The cars drive so close to the stalls... eek! Streets in Penang are always damn packed - always kena jam - I wouldn't dare drive there.
|More food stands|
Around this area is the market, selling everything from newspapers and iPhone covers to fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, crockery and more!
|Market from outside|
|Pork stalls - when you see pork, you are definitely in a Chinese area|
|Fish (I think these stalls are actually Malay - yay for harmony!)|
|Fish, turtles and frogs|
Some more streets in the area...
The covered pathways feel very "Penang" to me.
I'm planning on doing a separate post dedicated to attractions in Penang, but for today I wanted to show you two very beautiful temples that are in the area.
Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple
George Town, 10250
The Thai temple in Pulau Tikus is famous for having the third largest reclining Buddha in the world. I visit it every time I come to Penang, to worship (i.e. "kee pai"), and also because my grandmother's ashes are kept here. It's a stunning temple, so even without a personal connection it's definitely worth a visit.
|Monks on holiday!|
Directly across the street from the Thai temple is the Burmese temple. I must admit that this was my first visit to the Burmese temple, and we only thought to go because we had Sandra with us and we thought that as a tourist, she might be interested to have a look.
Dharmikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple
George Town, 10250
Unlike the Thai temple, there was more of a garden in the Burmese temple, with grass, sculptures and even a large koi pond.
|Sculptures in the garden|
This is the first post in my series: 2012 Trip to Penang.