Roadtrip Diaries: Exploring the Streets of George Town, Penang

We arrived in Penang in the late afternoon, and after a good rest at our hotel, N and I set out in search of food. Which was just as well, as temperatures in George Town can get extremely hot during the day, making evenings the best time for a stroll. After searching on the internet for places to eat, we settled on Peppersalt, a cafe specialising in affordable Western food, a short distance away from our accommodation.

Despite it being rush hour, the streets were surprisingly quiet – perhaps because it was the Ramadhan month – and we were able to find Peppersalt with no trouble. The small space nestled along the corner of Jalan Amoy boasts cosy, homely decor, with whitewashed walls, neatly arranged condiments and knickknacks on wooden shelves, as well as tasteful art pieces hanging from the walls.

The menu is mostly Western fare, the likes of burgers, pastas, chicken chops, and pork steaks. The chef, who also takes the orders and handles the cashier, was a friendly chap.

N’s Bacon Cheeseburger was a beautiful towering mess; featuring a thick slab of fatty bacon, a load of melted mozzarella and cheddar, and a juicy 150g pork patty on a bed of lettuce, sandwiched between two toasty seasame buns. The patty was perfect: savoury and bursting with umami, while all the other ingredients were fresh and came together in perfect harmony. Fries were average, but the burger gets a 10!

After the exceptional burger, the fried chicken chop with gravy was lackluster. The batter was extremely greasy and got cloying after more than a few bites. Which was a shame, as the meat inside was cooked well and the gravy was not too bad. So some hits and misses; but we would definitely come back for the burger!

Prices are quite affordable for the setting, averaging between RM13 – RM20.


29, Lorong Amoy, George Town, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang

Opening hours: Tues – Fri (11AM – 2PM, 5PM – 8PM), Sat – Sun (8AM – 2PM, 5PM – 8PM)

Our bellies satiated, we burned off the calories by wandering the streets of George Town. The sun was setting, giving the white clouds a bright saffron hue amidst a vivid blue backdrop. Curiosity served as a guide for our feet, as we popped into whatever street looked like it was worth exploring, or whenever a nice shopfront caught our eye.

George Town’s quaint colonial shophouses look similar to those in Singapore, as both were once important cities and centers of administration for the British Malayan empire.

Along Hutton Lane, you’ll find this old bungalow with peeling yellow paint sandwiched between two larger buildings. Although there is a faded signboard hanging over its doors with the name “Leong Kim Tiew”, the house is actually an ancestral asset belonging to the former chief minister of Penang, Dr Lim Chong Eu. The story goes that Lim’s father leased the house to Leong, a carpenter, who renovated the bungalow on a grand scale and made the signboard passers-by see today. Leong and his family lived there for a time, but the building lies empty, its windows dark and its double swinging doors shuttered.

George Town being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find many of such buildings and monuments with a rich and storied history – which is why exploring this part of town is an adventure. You never know what you’ll unearth at the next corner!

Photo: Glazed wall tiles with floral motifs decorate the front of a shoplot.

Tiles such as these were commonplace in the Straits settlements architecture. Aside from flora, you will also find geometric patterns as well as depictions of animals such as peacocks.

At the corner of Muntri Street and Leith Street, you’ll find a steel rod sculpture depicting Jimmy Choo, the internationally renowned shoe designer. Choo was the son of a cobbler and learned to make shoes from his father, before pursuing fashion in London. His exquisite pieces eventually culminated in an eight-page Vogue spread and caught the eye of Princess Diana, then Princess of Wales, who became an ardent fan. Since then, Choo’s shoes have graced the feet of global celebrities and personalities, from Michelle Obama and Amal Clooney, to Beyonce and Lady Gaga.

We circled back to Lebuh Leith, passing by a row of run-down shophouses, across the road from the famous Cheong Fatt Tze (Blue Mansion). The grass looked overgrown, and garbage, wood planks and bags of concrete littered the compound. A pity, because the buildings still looked pretty in spite of their dilapidated state. Remnants of a few signboards hung above the entrance, so I deduced that these buildings used to house restaurants or bars before they went out of business.

Just a few steps away is The Edison hotel, a luxury boutique hotel and a prime example of how some TLC can transform a heritage building. Dating back to the early 1900s, the Anglo-Chinese style mansion was originally built by a rich Chinese tycoon as a place of residence, before it was transformed into a hotel after the Second World War.

In 2014, the building underwent extensive renovation, refurbishment, and restoration – after which it reopened as The Edison. An impressive facade wows guests even before they step into the building’s confines, with immaculate ivory-coloured walls, a majestic pediment and portico, as well as tall, louvred windows painted in jade green.

Just before we arrived at our hotel, we chanced looking up ath the sky and lo and behold – a rainbow! It has been ages since I last saw one, and the sight filled me with wonder. We stood there for so long a guy peddling past on a bike looked to see what we were staring at, then shot us a look that clearly showed he thought we were imbeciles lol. But I didn’t mind. It’s these moments that I’ve lost in my hard hustle life that I’m now trying to regain – and I’m glad that my feelings and thoughts have not deadened to the point that I can’t find joy in the little things.

More Penang adventures to come!

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5 thoughts on “Roadtrip Diaries: Exploring the Streets of George Town, Penang

  1. A pity seeing old houses like that being lost to decay. 😦 Repurposing them into usable structures with the authentic facade restored would have been good, just like how the old shophouses were preserved in Singapore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we noticed a lot of such abandoned buildings in Penang, although there are also many nice ones that have been preserved (usually as hotels). Hopefully the state government or private entities can inject some money into their restoration and upkeep!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good thing I found your Penang posts. Booked a trip there next month and I know squat about the place, lol. But that’s the joy of discovery in travel, right? That’s why I don’t dive deep into research before a trip. I’ll make an exception here though. I need to get some useful ideas, at least. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, agreed! We didn’t have much of a plan either, just a rough itinerary of ‘top’ places we’d like to go to, and took it from there. Mostly we just wandered around, took things slow, and ate a lot. Hope you have a blast there!

      Liked by 1 person

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