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Malaysia's Very Own 'Pearl of the Orient'
Penang is one of the 14 states in Malaysia and is famously known as ‘The Pearl of the Orient’. It is one of the most- visited states in Malaysia, known for beautiful attractions, historical place of interest and good food. The state consists of an island as well as a narrow strip of mainland coast known as Seberang Perai.
One of the significant features of the island would be the Penang Bridge that links the island to the mainland. The Penang Bridge is a 13.5km long dual carriageway toll bridge that is an iconic symbol of the state, mostly featured in souvenirs.
Due to the influx of tourists and traffic management purposes, another bridge is built to link the mainland from Batu Kawan to Batu Maung in the island, featuring a scenic 24km drive. Another way to travel to the island is by the ferry service that can accommodate pedestrians as well as motor vehicles.
Penang offers tourists a colonial and metropolitan feel as you stroll through the streets with buildings that look unadulterated, even though most parts of the state has changed with the times.
The capital of the state - George Town, has been acknowledged as one of the historical cities under Unesco’s World Heritage Sites in July 2008. Some residential and commercial buildings that were built in the 18th century during the British colonization still exist.
The areas in the capital that were awarded the Unesco accreditation are Fort Cornwallis, Weld Quay, Beach Street, and the harbor. Numerous historical commercial centers including ethnic streets such as Bishop Street, Church Street, China Street, Chulia Street, and Little India also received the Unesco title.
Other landmarks included in the accreditation are the Kapitan Keling Mosque and Chinese clan houses that were built by the respective Khoo, Cheah, Tan, Lim, Yap, and Yeoh clans when they settled in the island.
Apart from the historical sites, tourists can also find interesting spots with street art and murals that are worthy of an Instagram post or a Facebook feed.
The street art trend began when the Penang Municipal Council first engaged a Lithuanian artist by the name Earnest Zacharevic back in 2012 to spruce up the walls of buildings with canvases inspired by the locals. Since then, a number of artists of equal credibility breathed life to the streets with their wonderful yet quirky paintings on the walls.
The popularity of ‘The Pearl of the Orient’ among travelers and tourist is evident when it was voted as the No. 2 must-visit destination in 2009 by readers of ‘The New York Times’ magazine. The feature mentioned that it is a place for adventurous foodies as there are countless city-run hawker spots that dish out excellent food.
A trip to the island would not be complete without sampling some local delicacies. One very famous dish is the Char Koay Teow, which is fried flat rice noodles with a combination of prawns, egg, beansprouts, blood cockles, and Chinese sausage. Other foods that should be on your lists to try include Penang Assam Laksa, Penang Rojak and Penang Teowchew Chendol, among others.
Penang is definitely a wonderful place, thus, it does not come as a surprise that many foreigners choose to reside there after their retirement under the ‘Malaysia My Second Home’ program. There is nothing lacking really- many beautiful places and historical sites as well as plenty of wonderful food. Not to mention also the hospitality of the locals and the welcoming feeling when you step foot to the island.