Oh Penang. What an absolute haven of food and art. This is the place where people from all around Asia come to eat the best fusion of Thai, Malay, Indian, Chinese, Khmer and colonial foods made from the freshest and most exotic of ingredients. Stalls stock full of inexpensive journeys for your taste buds litter the streets. New smells and colors around each and every corner. Colors in all the bravest of hues and great typefaces too. For a food lover like me, Asia had already been such a joyous area to explore new foods, but George Town, the old colonial capital of the island, in particular brought a new level of ferocity to it all.
Like any proper city, George Town has some funky museums too, like one dedicated to disjointed depictions of food dishes and another one for the history of cameras.
It feels oh so wrong to scoff through Penang in so few paragraphs, but I guess I simply don’t have the words to describe a place like this. A place which influenced the way I feel about aesthetics, art, cuisine and culture more than most spots on Earth I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.
Penang was also my first taste of the unbounded generosity and friendliness of the Malay people, especially in contrast with what I’d experienced in Thailand. No smile here feels forced, no gesture of good will a facade for hidden treachery. A genuine interest towards other people and cultures and a heartwarming optimism to all aspects of life.
Then again, maybe my surprise is needless. Great food can only be cooked by great people, and as such a great plate of noodles has become one of my first signs of a great culture.