Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Malaysia's historic, food-loving Penang

Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:17am EDT
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By Rachel Will

GEORGETOWN, Malaysia (Reuters) - Just off Malaysia's west coast on the Straits of Melaka, Penang island is a key Southeast Asian crossroad that historically brought together traders, armies from across the world and created a huge repository of culinary delights.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a weekend in what is called the Pearl of the Orient.


4:00 p.m. - Drop your bags off at one of the stylish boutique hotels in Georgetown, Penang's historic commercial heart, where temples, 19th century shophouses and British colonial government buildings compete for space.

For a bit of grandeur, consider a night at the creepily atmospheric Blue House -- home of China's last mandarin and first capitalist Cheong Fatt Sze. Looking for some modern living in quaint, art deco-type shophouses built by Chinese traders in 19th century? Try Muntri Mews.

6:00 p.m. - Do as the British colonials did. Gather at the Eastern & Oriental hotel's Farquhar bar to escape the humid weather, sip a gin and tonic and soak up some history. Built in 1885, the hotel was the finest in the British Empire along with the Raffles in Singapore and The Strand in Yangon.

7:00 p.m. - With nightfall, Penang turns into a street food paradise. To take it all in one go, make your way to Lorong Baru off Jalan McAllister with its huge sprawl of food carts.

Indulge in the must-have Penang specialities -- char kuay teow (spicy ribbon noodles with crab meat and cockles), asam laksa (a spicy, fish broth with noodles) and popiah (spring rolls with turnip, egg, lettuce, sweet sauce).   Continued...

Tourists walk in front of Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Georgetown in Malaysia's northern state of Penang December 8, 2006. REUTERS/Stringer