As with all of the destinations that I visited during my six month journey through Southeast Asia, every day in Penang started with a walk. The only question was what direction I would head in when I stepped out the door of my guest house in Chinatown each morning. On this particular day, my feet took me East, walking along Jalan Muntri past the beautiful old buildings that line the streets of this part of town. The locals were all out and about, probably up for hours going about their business, not paying any attention to me as I wandered past their houses and shops.
Crossing a busy main road, I continued on my Easterly direction, until suddenly the typical Chinatown scene changed to a completely different scene altogether. Suddenly, the peacefulness of Chinatown in the morning was replaced by the sound of loud Indian music. The shopfronts were pasted with a range of vibrant colours, and the smell in the air turned to the aroma of Indian spices. I knew instantly that I had entered Little India – another surprise in George Town.
As I wandered along the colourful streets, my senses were on overload. Bright colours filled every shop and home, as well as the people that wandered past. Somehow, even the fresh produce sold by street side vendors was even more vibrant than elsewhere. Perhaps more than anything else, it was the smells that made me feel like I was in a different city, or even a different country for that matter. The mouthwatering smells of Indian food wafting out of restaurant doors was amazing. The fragrant aromas, the bright colours, the loud music and the local people truly made me feel like I was in a different place altogether.
For the next few days that I was in George Town, Penang, I found myself returning to Little India every day, even if it was just to walk through to go elsewhere in the city. The area itself is so interesting, but, as is often the case with me, it was the food that captured my heart. Penang is the food capital of Malaysia for a very good reason, and in my opinion, Little India is where the best food is in Penang. I craved it everyday and returned to try new restaurants and new dishes. There wasn’t a single meal that I didn’t like.
Now when I think back to my time in George Town, it is Little India that my mind goes to. I can see myself returning here many times in the future.