There are so many exciting things to do in Penang. In fact, if you Google ‘things to do in Penang’, you’ll be hit with a whole load of suggested sights to see, restaurants to try and hidden gems to explore!
But Penang’s not just a tourist destination. If you’re considering retiring in the city, you might be wondering what there is to do that’s off the beaten track as well as how you might go about meeting new people.
Well, I can promise you won’t run out of things to see and do. It’s time to get to know the real Penang!
Here are just some of the fun things I got up to this week:
Dining with the International Women’s Association (IWA)
As well as raising valuable funds for local charities, IWA supports women and their families who live in and around Penang. That means newly arrived and long-term expats have a ready-made community to hang out with! IWA are always hosting interesting social and cultural activities and events around the city, which gives members the chance to network and make new acquaintances.
I was lucky enough to be invited to their 35th anniversary dinner on 25 March, which was held at 1885 in The Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Both the food and location were exquisite. The E&O is a grand old building that has certainly retained its colonial charm, harking back to the days when travellers sailed the seas to reach the Pearl of the Orient to trade their wares. It’s undoubtedly an indelible fixture in Georgetown. With silver service, fine china and crisp linen tablecloths, the dining area simply exudes elegance. It was the perfect backdrop for a special drinks reception with bubbles and canapés, followed by a decadent three-course menu. We tucked in to Maine lobster, pan-seared Norwegian salmon and a bitter chocolate dessert with bourbon vanilla mousseline. Throughout the night, we were serenaded by an amazing soul singer from the UK – and boy, could he sing!
The evening presented a wonderful opportunity for me to meet new people from all over the world. I’m always seeking advice and I absolutely love to travel, so it was a great way for me to learn new things and exchange ideas with other guests. If you’re thinking of moving to Penang through the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, getting involved in the IWA is the ideal way to meet new people and integrate yourself in the community.
Exploring Pulau Betong
Pulau Betong is a small village on the southwest coast of Penang. The area has rice paddy fields, orchards and traditional kampong houses. It’s just a peaceful place to hang out and surround yourself and the kids with nature. Best of all, it’s only a 45-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of Georgetown. Last week, we headed out there with a few friends to enjoy a relaxing bike ride through the countryside.
Hiking to Muka Head Lighthouse
Muka Head Lighthouse is pretty much a museum piece. It sits at 14 metres high on the most north-western tip of Penang Island, and was originally built by the British in 1883. Make it to the top of the hill where the lighthouse perches and you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the beautiful landscape and the sandy bay of Monkey Beach. I love to get close to the white-bellied sea eagles, who soar out from the jungle to skim the surface of the sea.
I always enjoy taking my clients to Muka Head Lighthouse. Because it takes around an hour and a half to scramble up there, not many people make the effort. But that makes it feel even more secluded and special when you eventually reach the top! Just last week, I gathered a few of my MM2H clients – all leaders in their industry and top diplomats – to join me in a hike up there. It was the ideal opportunity for them to make new acquaintances and exchange business views in a relaxed, informal setting. And it was a chance for me to be a fly on the wall! Before we commenced the climb, we treated ourselves to coconut drinks on Monkey Beach. Then, once we’d made it back down, we headed to Tree Monkey Restaurant at the Tropical Spice Garden to enjoy a well-deserved meal on their open-air terrace.
Discovering art with Adrian Kessler
I love to discover new things. My client and friend, Adrian Kessler, recently held an art talk and exhibition with Dr Doris Hafner at Keeni Kessler Gallery. The event featured the work of Wassily Kandinsky. He was a Russian painter and art theorist renowned for creating beautifully abstract paintings. He also used a lot of bright colours and shapes to convey the range of human emotion. The evening was a valuable opportunity to learn about the life and work of one of the world’s most celebrated abstract artists. It also provided the perfect opportunity to connect with new and likeminded individuals. I think putting yourself out there is a great way to start building a community. You never know, you might find a new hobby or passion!
Taking a dip in the Titi Kerawang waterfall
Have you visited the west coast of Penang? If you haven’t, Titi Kerawang waterfall is a popular weekend destination. You’ll find the waterfall halfway along a small mountain track between Balik Pulau and Teluk Bahang. Over hills and through durian orchards, it’s a windy 45-minute drive from Georgetown to reach it. If you fancy a dip, the water is ice cold. And if all that swimming works up an appetite, you’ll find local fruit sellers nearby. We just hopped in the car and headed there with kids for a chilled day out.
Have you been to Penang? Where are your favourite places to go? I’m sure I’ll post about more exciting things to do in Penang very soon, so keep an eye out!
Author: Sam Choong
Sam Choong is a lawyer practising in Malaysia. His areas of practice include estate planning, wills and UK inheritance tax for expats residing or seeking to retire in Malaysia.