Today is our 1 month anniversary in Penang and I am pleased to report that life has become a simple & pleasurable place for us. This corner of Malaysia has provided us everything we wanted in a destinations. A space to let go of most of life’s complications and relax into creating our businesses & establishing ourselves as permanent travellers.
So, one month into Penang – how have we spent it?
Our first week - 7 nights in George Town
Week one was spent based out of Tune Hotel in downtown George Town. Located right in the middle of the action, we had easy access to everything we needed to explore this fascinating new city. The hotel itself was basic – the smallest room we have had in our travels, only big enough to just fit the bed. However, we had an incredible shower (a rare commodity in Asia!), air conditioning and a great location, so we were perfectly happy.
We were conveniently located in between 1) My all-time favourite Chicken Rice restaurant in the world and 2) The best banana-leaf restaurant of all time. So food was cheap & plentiful. There were loads of cafes for us to work from, and a number of great food courts. We were walking distance from Little India, China Town and the Unesco World Heritage zone. In our first week we did a fair bit of sight-seeing and exploring. I wasn’t expecting to like George Town as much as I did, it is a fantastic and vibrant city.
Week Two - 4 days in Air Itam
For our second week in Penang we booked ourselves into a Hostel out of town – in another part of the island (essentially a suburb of George town) that was a bit more ‘local’. We wanted some quiet time to focus on our work, cheap food, and a better feel for what how the Penang locals live.
Our stay at Fastbook Hostel was lovely, and we only saw one other western couple in our time spent here. The main complaints of past guests was not realising that Air Itam is so far out of George Town, we were well informed when we booked, so this was of no concern to us.
Surrounded by loads of incredible local (and cheap!) food, Air Itam was yet another fantastic stop for stuffing our faces on a budget. Anything that wasn’t food, however, involved traveling. ATM’s, Supermarkets and western-style cafe’s with Wifi were all a bit of a walk/taxi/bus ride away.
Overall, lovely area and a nice 4 days spent in this less touristy part of town.
Weeks 3 & 4 - Bodhi Heart Sanctuary & Pulau Tikkis
As we neared our two week anniversary of arriving into Penang, we booked in for a longer stay. The Bodhi Heart Buddhist Sanctuary was a spot we had been eyeing up, and exchanging emails with, before we even arrived in Malaysia. Offering Dhamma talks, daily meditation, Qigong and Yoga classes the Bodhi Heart has only recently included accommodation. We have moved into one of 4 cottages in the sanctuary.
Situation on the side of the hill, next to the botanic gardens, you could easily mistake our location for rural. It is, however, a fairly easy walk to the bus stop as well as a selection of shops, restaurants and Pulau Tikkis, a central city suburb of George Town.
Life here has been easy – setting and achieving goals around Qigong, Meditation, Health and Budget. We plan to stay here for another Month and hope to be staying here at the end of March when a Master of Medical Qigong arrives from China to teach a week-long course here.
The Big Question: 1 month in, how do we like it?
Loads! For both of us, Penang has been by-far our favourite destination of our travels in Southeast Asia. It is a vibrant blend of cultures and melting pot of incredible food. The people are some of the friendliest & most helpful of anywhere either of us have travelled in the world. Despite not having fast internet, co-working spaces or a community of like-minded individuals, we are finding the access to nature, perfect weather and great food more than makes up for it. Through using a combination of 3G tethering to our phones, and occasional cafe wifi outings, we have easy access to the internet to get all of our work done.