In a couple of days, I will be turning 30. Like what I usually end up doing when my birthday draws near, I recall how the last year went, and I had to smile upon remembering how I spent my birthday in the beautiful city of George Town in the state of Penang, Malaysia.
My lovely birthday week started with a three-day stay in Coffee Atelier, a quaint and lovely gallery/residence/restaurant in Lorong Stewart. We took the bus from KLIA going to Penang (you may take a direct flight to Penang though), and another five-minute ferry ride to George Town to get to the center of the city. We were welcomed by the hotel staff who were fellow kababayans (imagine our joy upon hearing them say “Mabuhay!”) and who immediately served us coffee as both Cindy and I looked puyat.
The exhaustion from flying out that early in the morning was forgotten upon seeing our suite. We occupied the one on the ground floor and everything in the room was just so charming and welcoming, especially the bed and the pieces of furniture. A lovely bonus – Coffee Atelier also houses the Gehrig Art Gallery!
We had three days to discover what made George Town a UNESCO World Heritage. The first one was spent walking around the nearby streets, shops, bars, local food stalls, and just taking in the sights and sounds of the city. On our second day, which was also my birthday, I felt like I was acting out a scene taken straight out of a Koreanovela! We biked around George Town searching for what it is known for – street art!
It would be unforgivable to spend a few days in this town without embarking on a gastronomic adventure. Hawker stalls and eateries and restaurants are all over the place, offering distinct cuisines from Malaysia and its neighboring countries. Looking back, I’d say that George Town is a haven for someone who likes to walk a lot and discover eccentric stuff and eat and eat and eat without worrying about spending a fortune.
We also learned that one of the coffee shops in the city makes 3D coffee art. On Lebuh Pantai we found Coffee on the Table, and since it was my birthday, they let me watch how they create 3D coffee art. Their coffee creations were really cute, and it broke my heart when I started stirring my coffee and the pig slowly vanished into the drink.
Thank God that the weather permitted for our last day in George Town to be spent by the beach. After a bus ride of about 30 minutes, we reached Batu Ferringhi which is said to be the most popular beach near the city. The beach is lined with hotels and stalls offering activities like canoeing and parasailing, but we chose to just enjoy the view and soak up the sun.
A little shopping was done in Gurney Plaza, but it would be a shame not to spend my last day (and my remaining ringgits) shopping in Kuala Lumpur. Hello there, Petronas!
If I can choose a vacation that I could replay, it would be my visit to this impressive city that has a mix of old architecture with modern buildings and malls, with streets filled with IG-worthy corners and mouth-watering delicacies, and in which I celebrated another year in my life.