I did do a lot more than just eating my way through Penang. One of the reasons why I came back to Penang on my last trip was for the street arts. These were fairly new as I remember being there back in 2010 and they were not there. Naturally I got a little excited, as I do for small things, and it’s always nice revisiting a place with new things to see.
There are two types of street arts, one made from welded iron creating humorous caricatures while the other one is the painted one. The street arts in Penang are somehow organized, they are not illegal and you can easily get a map locating all the street arts, all in Georgetown. I guess this is a good idea, however I must say that I missed the hunting-down-street-arts-in-random-places feel that I had in Portugal. There was just this different kind of excitement when I actually had to go to the streets, hunt down and search for street arts, sometimes I found nothing, other times I got lucky by finding amazing gems. When that happened, there was this rush of excitement bursting inside of me screaming “I FOUND THIS ALL ON MY OWN!”.
Anyway, I totally didn’t mind the mapped street arts. I decided to rent a bike for the day to bike around Georgetown and find these street arts. The painted street arts were created by Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian artist. Inspired by Penang and its culture and heritage, he decided to liven up old buildings in the heritage site area of Penang. Truly an inspiring artist.
It seemed that some people were inspired by Zacharevic’s street art galore that I also found a few other street arts that are not in the map. For me, it was a win!
I didn’t find all the street arts as I was cycling very slow, stopping at spots that I thought was fascinating. My friend, Timothy, was in charge of the map and I simply followed him (hah! What a lucky friend I am!). Here are some of my favourite findings:
Starting from the welded iron arts, I love this one of a man climbing up to a window at Love Lane with the title “Cheating Husband”.
This “Too Narrow” art talks about rickshaw, widely used in Penang in the past (and also still used now). It also has an addition street art of popular Hokkien, a Chinese dialect, words. Pretty cool and also informative and you can practice the words with the locals!
I also enjoyed spotting “undocumented” street arts, like this one at a bike shop. I have no idea why there is a witch scaring people at a bike shop, but well creativity can’t be explained sometimes and I enjoyed it nevertheless as it puts good use of a plain door.
A good doze of minions arts were also found, and who doesn’t love these sunshine yellow cuties?!
However most of all, I spent most of my time admiring the street arts hand painted by Zacharevic as some were located high up on a wall. It must have taken a lot of work to create such pretty arts and for that I respect the guy for putting so much effort into it. The “Trishaw Man” was located in a street were a lot of trishaws, or rickshaws as I call them, were waiting for passengers. Love the intricate details, especially the flowers on the trishaw.
I particularly enjoyed playing with this one. At Step by Step Lane, a set of swing was installed on an old brick wall with two kids hanging out on it. I saw a handful of people, including myself, posing on the other swing – a very fun street art!
I spent a whole day looking for these street arts. If you are a street art aficionado, it is definitely worth investing some time on it. For those of you who have been to Penang before the street art era, it’s time for you to come back! And those who have never been to Penang, I really don’t know what you’re waiting for. Penang is known for its gorgeous temples, addictive food and its quirky UNESCO heritage old town – there really is no excuse for you not to be here.
DEW Tips on Penang
- Biking around Penang is easy. Bike rentals are easy to find, I rented my bike for 15RM. Do bring water with you as it can be a little hot.
- Don’t be scared in trying the street food there! Many of the food stalls have many finger-licking food that would be ashamed if you didn’t try them!
- There are many places you can stay in Penang, but if you prefer to be on the quieter, more relax side of town, I recommend Batu Ferringhi Beach area (yes Penang has beaches!). Do check out PARKROYAL Penang Resort which is located in this area.
- Have fun!