Want to spend a couple of really fun hours walking the streets of Georgetown, Penang to find some of its coolest street art and tastiest treats? And want to totally crush your photos and make all your friends laugh? Well, my friends, I’m here to help!
My friend Jays and I designed a great little treasure hunt in one quadrant of Georgetown, which we took a group of expat friends out on last week. Now I’m going to share it with you so you can do your own self-guided tour. It’ll take you between 1-3 hours, depending on how much time you spend stuffing your face at various cafés along the way.
To make it even more fun and memorable, and enormously more entertaining for your social media followers, my friends and I are going to demonstrate some spectacularly awesome poses for your photos with street art. Because c’mon now, put yourself in your friends’ shoes and ask yourself which would you rather see: 8,000 selfies with the same smile and the same damned thumbs-up or peace-sign pose? Or this bit of utter fabulousness?
If you’re like us, you’re probably going to finish the tour with faces that are sore from smiling and laughing, bellies full of yummy food, and souls bubbling with happiness. So let’s get to it, shall we?
First, a pro tip: Start your tour off in the early morning around 8am so you beat the tourists and have the art all to yourself, and also so you don’t melt into a puddle of quivering flesh under the broiling heat of the midday sun.
If you’re driving, plan to park on Gat Lebuh Chulia between Pengkalan Weld and Lebuh Victoria (indicated on the map below with the P)– that’s where you’re going to start the tour. There’s ample street parking in the morning.
Here’s our Treasure Hunt route:
1. Our first stop is in a little alley just beside the Container Hotel, right at the bike rental shop. There on the wall, you’ll find two kids playing basketball…and possibly some people posing in front of the art to enhance it:
Next, cross the street and in the alley just opposite you, you’ll find two kids on a swing (stop #2).
Following the red arrows on the map above, head up Chulia and take a left on Lebuh Victoria. About half way down the block, you’ll see a pink tank on the right (stop #3), which is so fabulous that it calls for a truly glamorous pose.
As you reach Lebuh Armenian, take a left and just on that corner, you’ll see the artwork on the wall of two kids in a window (stop #4 on the map).
Be sure to stop in the shop that shares the wall with this art and try some of their yummy pastries, like this these:
Taking a right onto Armenia, and on the left side of the street you’ll come to “Love Me Like Your Cat/Fortune Cat.” (#5)
Crossing the street, you’ll see a giant orange cat on a wall (#6). His name is Skippy and he is awesome. Worship Skippy in all his feline glory! But please, give him a worthy pose.
Continue walking down Armenian and take a right at the next major street: Lebuh Pantai (which is also known as Beach Street. Since you’re sharp, you’ve probably already guessed that beach means “pantai” in Malay. It took me a month to figure that out). Then take a left onto Lebuh Ah Quee. On your right, you will see the world-famous boy on the bike. (#7)
Continue down Ah Quee, then take a right into the alley. Just behind the building on your right, you’ll find Bruce Lee on the wall (#8). And of course, I highly recommend doing a spectacular kung fu pose for this one.
Now retrace your steps and follow the blue arrows on the map above to get back to Lebuh Armenian and take a right. On the right side of the street, you’ll find one of the most famous pieces of Penang street art: Kids on a Bicycle (#9). Since everyone and their mother takes selfies with this one – always with a peace sign for some reason – I’m guessing you are legally required to do the same:
Continuing on down Armenian, you’ll come to a small alley on your right that has a “ice ball” shop on the corner. Stop in and get an icey and then take a photo with Lion Dance (stop #10), which is out in front of the shop.
Cross the street, and just before you come to Lebuh Cannon, you’ll see a small entry way on your left with some red lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Walk down that hallway and you’ll find yourself in a courtyard facing the Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple (#11), which is one of the major clan temples of Georgetown. You’re welcome to go in and check it out – it’s quite beautiful.
Take a left onto Cannon. At the “My Own Café” on the right, inside the shop on the wall is this pretty piece of art (#12). And if you’re lucky, the owner of the shop will be there – yes, the artwork depicts him! He’s happy to pose with the art if he’s around.
And near the end of the block on the right hand side just beside a little shop, you’ll see Little Boy Standing on a Chair (stop #13). Since he’s awkwardly positioning on the chair, I recommend an awkward family photo for this one. You get bonus points for looking as deliriously happy and weird as possible.
If you’re thirsty, stop in at the shop connected to this street art. They have blissfully refreshing cold coconut waters for sale.
Continue up Cannon and take a left onto Lebuh Acheh. Then take a right onto Lebuh Pantai, then another right onto the first street you reach: Lorong Toh Aka. It’s an adorable little lane lined with colonial houses, so take your time enjoying it. The street curves a little to the right – keep following it until you see the “Old Indian Woman” street art on your left (#14). Yes, this one is a little out of the way, but it’s worth it since this is arguably one of the most moving pieces of street art in Penang. And since she’s doing her own pose, I recommend that you do your best “Vogue” pose for this one. Here, my friends will show you how its done:
Now following the green arrows on the map, retrace your steps to get back to Lebuh Pantai and follow it down past Acheh and Armenian until you come to China House, which will be on your right (stop #15 on the map).
It’s a beautiful place to stop for breakfast or coffee, and it has several treasures of its own right inside this funky café. Be sure to go upstairs to see the wearable arts, textiles, homeware and souvenirs made by local artists – you might just find a hidden gem to take home with you. Well, that is, besides your great memories and the legendary shots of you rocking your photos.
Happy treasure hunting!
P.S. The world needs more laughter, and I would love to laugh at someone other than myself for a change, so if you have a particularly awesome pose that you’ve rocked, please post it here – I’d love to see it!