My first trip to Penang Malaysia

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Our business trip to Penang

It was my task to look up the Penang airport website in google and arrange public transport for the group once we landed in Malaysia for the last leg of our trip. Unfortunately there was a lot of out of date information, and after checking the listed bus timetables for what felt like hours, we decided it would be more reliable for one of us to search for Penang car rental websites. Penang was the location of our next business meeting with our overseas business clients. We arrived at Penang airport and picked up the hire car. After such a bargain price  to rent a car from (less than 150 MYR) we certainly did not expect luxury transport, however we were more than happy with our spacious Skoda Octavia. Penang International Airport, is located very near to Bayan Lepas, which is at the south eastern tip of Penang Island and we were about to find out that it is also one of the busiest airports in the country.

I’d never been to Malaysia, let alone Penang, yet I’ve always been intrigued by its diverse culture and had dreamt about experiencing its wonderful food. I’d heard that folks in Panang were proud of their well flavoured dishes and love sharing their great recipes. I could not wait to experience that.

getting to Penang airport

Expectations of travelling to Malaysia and Penang

I had been swatting up on Malaysia in many online Asia travel guides, and it did not take much to admit that Malaysia is an adventurer’s paradise. This hidden jewel offers so much natural beauty, from mountains, bushland and jungles to stunning white sandy beaches and gorgeous blue and green seas. Malaysia also has a wide diversity of animal life including the very rare Leatherback turtles. We unfortunately would not get chance to see that much nature, but I was curious about the cities here, its financial links and of course where we were aiming for, Penang. The Malaysian island of Penang has a colourful capital called George Town. This multicultural destination is a superb place with loads of exciting places to discover, fascinating sights to see and a lifestyle that visitors soon learn to love.

With an intriguing mixture of east meets west, Penang promotes well its modern style, yet it also maintains its traditions and old world charms. Far from being just a promoted pitch in any travel guide, Penang has all the bells and whistles and beckons many visitors to ravel here, with its beautiful coasts and delightful cuisines.

It’s been said that some of the most enjoyable meals you will ever taste can be found in the renowned food capital of Malaysia, Penang. I was about to find out if Penang lived up to that amazing reputation.

Driving in Penang & Eating out in George town

After our 11 hour flight, I was famished and my workmates suggested a getting a local bite to eat. When we drove to Penang Lane in George town, I could not believe the traffic and the careless driving! I may have been overtired, but I was stressed at  just counting how many motorcycles came weaving in and out of our moving car. Fortunately I was just the passenger of the hire car and just as well,  as I think I would have never made the long drive (thanks to the traffic).

Well, my appetite was still there, and my colleagues recommended a little place that they had enjoyed once before, a restaurant that would leave a little place in my heart. Indian, Malay and Chinese, the three favourite foods that I crave often, surround you as walk from street to street, sizzling under your nose! Yes “fast food” options are everywhere. Locals love to eat on the roadside, at outdoor food stalls and all get served in just minutes. As we reluctantly walked past the most amazing smells of garlic, oils and spices, I wondered what delights awaited my taste buds. Then we arrived at the restaurant!
I did a double take at the name on the sign as we arrived outside; Veloo Villas. Having viewed the building’s exterior, I desperately needed to ‘investigate’ the inside. I had to fight an inner resistance! Let me explain a little more. An exaggerated desire for excellent hygienic conditions, is a deeply ingrained ethic that I can trace back to my youth. “Locals eat here regularly” I was repeatedly told. “And yet they still offer mixed reviews” was the finishing sentence. Not the reassurance that I was looking for. completely out of my comfort zone, we sat down at a plastic table on white plastic chairs. The food was served to me on a huge banana leaf that was laid on my table mat! Yes curry, rice, starters bread, side dishes, you name it ..all on the same leaf. I grew to enjoy the atmosphere. Overall, for our Penang business trip, food was indeed very cheap and most pleasant, yet It was a love hate relationship. It was an experience that I will never forget. What was the food like? Incredibly tasty. I still crave their madras dishes now. Was my hygiene paranoia reassured? No, not completely. However, it was indeed a fantastic evening and we were made to feel so welcome by our hospitable servers. What a trip to remember. Six courses later, it was time to drive to our cheap and cheerful hotel, the Grand Inn on Penang road. When I say cheap, I mean perfect. Perfect for anyone on a budget and perfect for reassuring people like me. Yes it was spotlessly clean. I would say that we found two rare gems that will with a certainly go in my travel memoirs of Malaysia.