I had a few days in Singapore before my flight home, and though it wasn’t the cheapest (an average of $50 per day, though I bought some gifts and souvenirs) it was a nice place to finish off my trip. There’s some great food – similar to what I found in Penang – and everything in the city is very deliberately planned out. Furthermore, the public transportation is excellent and relatively cheap. It reminded me a whole lot of midtown, Manhattan. I also managed to meet up with a couple of friends, which was really great!
I spent only 9 days in Malaysia – all in George Town – and spent an average of $28 per day. As I’m at the end of my year-long trip through three continents, I was quite tired and didn’t do much except eat and ogle street art. It was also really, uncomfortably hot in George Town, so I didn’t have much energy to see tourist spots like Monkey Island or Penang Hill. It was a nice week, though, as I had time to plan for my time at home and also get myself ready for my work and holiday year in Australia, which will commence in May!
I would love to go back to Malaysia one day, particularly to go scuba diving off Borneo or the Perhentian Islands. I have to save something for the future, right?
Penang has been dubbed the food paradise of Asia, and by some even the world, and for good reason. There is a hugely diverse selection of cheap and expertly prepared dishes on virtually every street corner in George Town. There are dozens of food courts where you can sit and have fresh juice, noodle and rice dishes, seafood, ice cream, and assorted snacks for about $1 each. Hawkers are generally very friendly and speak enough English to help you make a selection. The Red Garden was one of my favorite food courts, and it’s also where Anthony Bourdain went for delicious Wan Tan Mee (noodle soup with dumplings and pork) on No Reservations.
I had just 9 days in Malaysia and I was feeling a bit worn out on the bus rides, booking new hostels, getting orientated to a new place and so on, so I decided to just spend the whole time in the UNESCO heritage site of George Town. It’s a very tourist-friendly small city that’s pretty cheap, and almost everybody speaks English. It’s also famous for two of my very favorite things: food and street art. I was quite a happy camper!
The street art in George Town is dominated mostly by a series of murals that are advertised in a popular tourist map (Marking George Town). Most of these had at least a handful of other tourists snapping pics when I found them. The common theme is protection of animals – particularly cats – and promoting responsible pet ownership. There were a few other nice pieces that I found scattered about as well.
In addition to the murals, there are wrought-iron caricatures with messages about George Town’s history all throughout the city. They’re a fun reminder of the history behind all the streets.
I spent a few days in the beautiful area of Khao Sok, hiking in the national park and taking an overnight tour to Chiew Lan Lake. Despite being a fairly popular destination in southern Thailand, both the park and lake are secluded and relatively untouched. I saw a lot of flying lizards, monkeys, and more geckos than I could count!
Just outside the Sila Resort, the hostel I stayed at in New Sukhothai, there was a wall about 1km long that was covered in some of the cutest street art I’ve ever seen! There were illustrations of baby animals, local dress, and famous characters like Psy. I took some photos of my favorite bits.
On my way down to the Gulf of Thailand to do some scuba diving, I stopped off at Sukhothai to see the 13th-century ruins of the Sukhothai kingdom. Somewhat similar to Angkor Wat, but much smaller, the ruins are easily accessible by bicycle and entrance costs just a few dollars. Sunrise at the temples was particularly striking and worth waking up early for.
In addition to the temples, I had a lovely time staying at Sila Resort, a nice hostel in New Sukhothai. I’d highly recommend it!