Reflections from Penang

There are many things to be said about Penang:

  • Great food. We found naan filled with jelly candy that was to die for.
  • Gutsy rickshaw drivers. Mandy has a video of us crossing a busy 4-lane road mid-intersection.
  • And more friendly Malaysians. Our favorite was the host at the hostel that hoped we would stay in Malaysia forever.

One of my favorite parts was something completely unexpected. When we checked into our hostel in Penang, our host handed us a brochure with photos of street art in Penang by Ernest Zacharevic. I recognized them immediately from a few years ago when I saw the same photos browsing through StumbleUpon. I had no idea I would get to see them for myself!

He has painted about a dozen street paintings along the downtown streets, many with interactive elements. We hired a rickshaw driver to help us hunt them all down. He was super friendly and even showed us a few  that weren’t mentioned in our map.

When I read up on the artist, I learned that he is from Lithuania, studied in London, and has now taken residence in Penang. His art has taken the community by storm. Every time we found a new painting there was already a group of people there admiring his work. Following his art led visitors to parts of the town they may not have seen otherwise. While it was a pleasant surprise to me, many of these tourists may have come to Penang just to see his art. When browsing through the shops you could find magnets, t-shirts and all sorts of mementos with his work on them for sale.

It was cool to see how popular his work has become and to see the boost in tourism that resulted.

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