There’s nowhere on Earth quite like Penang. Since it’s founding in 1786, Penang has blossomed into a brilliant blend of east and west, best known for good food, particularly it’s street food.
However, eating isn’t the only thing to do while in Penang as Penang also offers a plethora of leisure and hobby activities for just about anyone and everyone.
Penang is fishermen’s paradise. Escape the city’s hustle and bustle by taking a boat to the ever-tranquil Pantai Kerachut or Monkey Beach from Balik Pulau. Alternatively, cast your rod or nets along northern beaches like Tanjung Bungah and Batu Feringghi, or the southern fishing village of Gertak Sanggul.
Locals are fond of the waters beneath the Penang Bridge, home to a much sought-after fish, the “Jenahak” or “Ang Cho”. Some adventurous parties organize fishing trips to deeper waters and neighboring islands an hour or so’s ride from Penang island.
Many Penangites also pursue remote-control (RC) flying as a hobby. This exhilarating sport takes one on an exciting journey learning the many aspects needed to fly an RC craft well. RC flying involves assembling planes, getting familiar with radio-control, understanding weight and balance, hand take-offs and landings, finding suitable flying locations and much more. Some RC flying crafts have built-in cameras and that opens up a sub-category of enjoyment in aerial photography. A strong network exists among flyers, where they exchange information, fly airplanes together and guide beginners through the basics of flying RC craft.
If you are passionate about cooking, you are in for a real treat in Penang. You can attend hands-on cooking classes at the Tropical Spice Garden, where you get to learn to cook popular Straits Chinese Peranakan dishes such as Curry Kapitan (chicken curry), Kerabu Bee Hoon (vermicelli salad) and Lor Bak (five spice roll) from Chef Nyonya Bee. You can also hone your cooking skills by attending classes at the Penang Homecooking School, where you will be taught by acclaimed chef, Pearly Kee. If you’ve got a sweet tooth many Penang chefs also offer baking lessons with specialties ranging from baking cinnamon buns all the way to decorating cakes with fondant.
Get your creative juices flowing by taking a crash course in the art of Batik-painting. Batik making is a traditional Javanese technique of making designs on fabric through wax-resist dying. These abstract designs are brought to life by swathes of vibrant colours merging together exquisitely. Batik-painting may sound complex but it’s in fact really easy and relaxing. Some popular places in Georgetown to pick up this skill are Rozana’s Batik or Craft Batik.
Ever wondered what goes into your hand/body soap? Get your questions answered at one of Penang’s many soap-making workshops where you can pick up some smooth skills and information regarding soap. Penang is home to a group of passionate soap-makers who are keen to share their passion via small-group lessons with hands-on practice.
Another hobby to consider delving into when in Penang is floral arrangement. In Penang you can learn basic flower-decorating techniques from numerous florists in Georgetown. Penang’s Ohara School of Ikebana also teaches a unique Japanese form of floral art that emphasizes appreciating flowers in their most natural form.
And last but not least, Penang is the ideal place to pick up nifty handicraft techniques. Learn rattan-weaving, basket-making, wood-carving, glass-making and heaps more from artisans all over Georgetown. Some artisans even display their gorgeous creations in museums, such as the Ibox Glass Museum established in 2002 by glasswork enthusiast Bowie Low.
Leisure activities improve overall well-being, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”; so, the next time you find yourself in desire to try something new, Penang offers you a range of activities to delve into.