The Fascinating Fusion of East and West – Penang Island

Known as the Pearl of the Orient, Penang Island embraces modernity while retaining its rich heritage, old temples, ruins, museums, and not forgetting, the beautiful nature and beaches. The long history of Penang Island has resulted in a culture that is one of Malaysia’s most diverse, cosmopolitan and exciting.

Bukit Bendera; Penang Hill, Malaysia
Bukit Bendera; Penang Hill, Malaysia

While some of us may only associate Penang with the beaches, the iconic Penang Bridge and its scrumptious cuisines, many actually did not realise that the capital city, George Town, has the most number of complete pre-war buildings in the South East Asia. This gives a solid reason why George Town was recognised as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you can find a total fusion of Chinese, Malay, Indian and other races, evidence of which is apparent everywhere, from cuisine to architecture.

Asceding up to Penang Hill - Bukit Bendera
Asceding up to Penang Hill – Bukit Bendera

Linking art and tourism together, the popular streets around George Town was being transformed to artistic painted walls, mimicking life in the city. Thanks to the talented Lithuanian-born Ernest Zacharevic for painting those beautiful and evocative murals! You can also discover the wrought-iron caricatures with anecdotal descriptions of the streets that they adorn.

the-fascinating-fusion-of-east-and-west-penang-island (3)

There is nothing that can beat Penang food! Ask 10 of your friends, who are non-Penangite, why do they want to visit Penang and I bet 9 out of 10 will give you the same answer – We are here for the food! Penang gourmet ranges from street food to fine dining with flavours that are definitely unique to the island state. Some of the must-eat food in Penang include Nasi Kandar, Pasembur, Laksa, Char Kuey Teow, Prawn Mee (it’s called Hokkien Mee in Penang), Fruits Rojak, Cendol, and many more.

Chulia Street Night Hawkers Stall
Chulia Street Night Hawkers Stall
Penang Road Famous TeowChew Chendul
Penang Road Famous TeowChew Chendul
Famous Wan Tan Mee at Lebuh Chulia
Famous Wan Tan Mee at Lebuh Chulia

You will definitely be spoilt for choices because each race has their own traditional dishes, with different cooking styles influenced by each other. The dishes are special in their own ways which represent a beautiful blend of tastes and spices.

the-fascinating-fusion-of-east-and-west-penang-island (6)

the-fascinating-fusion-of-east-and-west-penang-island (7)

… A unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia. — UNESCO

This is a place that showcases the reflection of a mixture of influences which have created a unique architecture, culture and townscape. We have yet to find another more exciting place of the exotic east than Penang. This is THE place where we should sustain, treasure and be proud of!


All images are contributed by Brandon Ann, a social and travel photographer. To view more images of Penang Island, click on the post below.