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30

Aug
2014

2 Comments

In Indonesia
Malaysia
Travel

By kanannie

How to Get a 60-day Indonesian Tourist Visa

On 30, Aug 2014 | 2 Comments | In Indonesia, Malaysia, Travel | By kanannie

indo consulate

There really is an Indonesian Consulate in Penang! (467 Jalan Burma, Georgetown, Penang)

Trying to find information on obtaining a 60-day Indonesian tourist visa in Penang is like trying to find the Holy Grail. We couldn’t find any legitimate source, like a consulate website or working email address, and the only application form that we found online was for the embassy in KL. There were conflicting accounts about the visa requirements such as whether or not we needed to present an onward ticket and the background color of our photos (they used to require red background visa photos).

Here's an example of a red background passport photo. Must be some kind of communist thing.

Here’s an example of a red background passport photo. Must be some kind of communist thing.

After scouring the interwebs for hours and not being able to find any solid information I walked over to Chulia Street to inquire with a travel agent. The woman said we didn’t need an onward ticket but we definitely needed a red background visa photo. She only served to confuse me more because this was the complete opposite of what I found on the interwebs!

indo hours

Who decided to make only the top and the bottom in English? At least you know it’s closed on Saturday.

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25

Aug
2014

No Comments

In Food
Malaysia

By kanannie

Piggies in Penang: The Best Things We Ate in Malaysia’s Food Capital

On 25, Aug 2014 | No Comments | In Food, Malaysia | By kanannie

Colorful buildings

Colorful buildings in the Georgetown district of Penang

This may sound crazy, but we almost skipped Penang, the food capital of Malaysia! Sometimes our travel plans make no sense. There are so many places to visit that we get overwhelmed and end up sticking with the more popular destinations. This was the mistake we made when we left Thailand and flew straight to Kuala Lumpur. We were in the southern part of Thailand already and could’ve entered Malaysia by train, hitting up Penang first. Instead, we flew directly to KL and plunked ourselves smack dab in the middle of a loud, polluted, and way-too-busy city. To escape the insanity of the Islamic New Year in KL, we headed towards the Cameron Highlands and if you read my post (you best have read my post!) you’d know it wasn’t the peaceful, quiet haven that we were seeking. After paying higher prices for crappier amenities and dealing with too many crowds we were ready to leave Malaysia altogether.

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Opticals for Orientals because Orientals need opticals

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The bread man. It’s like the ice cream truck in the US, but with bread and spread.

But, we decided that our bellies would be very disappointed with us if we didn’t check out Penang. It didn’t hurt that its airport was the closest and cheapest option to our first destination in Indonesia. Our decision to go to Penang was the best choice we made during our entire Malaysia trip. Besides the fascinating historical architecture in the UNESCO-preserved Georgetown district, the impressive street art, and the exceptionally friendly people, Penang absolutely lived up to our expectations for excellent food.

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Even Mcdonald’s serves durian-flavored food. I didn’t try this so I can’t tell you if it’s good.

If you have any doubt about the great food that Penang has to offer, just ask a local. They will wax poetic about their city’s incomparable dishes and insist that the Penang version is unlike the ones you’ve had anywhere else in Malaysia. We had the good luck of talking to a couple of the locals during our stay because the communal eating style makes it quite easy to strike up conversation with unexpected dining companions. The first person we chatted with was an older man who left Penang to go to New Zealand when he was younger and after spending a year there he realized that he desperately missed the food and lifestyle in Penang so he came back. He also told us that an old acquaintance of his owns a successful Malaysian restaurant in NYC, but he doesn’t know the name. That was very helpful of him!

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It’s not hard to make friends when you sit at these round, communal tables for a meal.

Another guy we met was much younger and moments after asking him about a tofu dessert that he was eating he began to spew a whole list of food in Penang that we must try. He offered to take us to a local food night market, but we already had dinner and dessert so we politely declined. (We also have a rule of not getting into cars with strangers at night. Unless they have candy.) His passion for popular local dishes, however, motivated us to eat a lot more over the course of our stay. That’s a lie. We don’t need any encouragement to eat, but it’s always nice to hear a local get excited about his city’s food.

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I don’t know if these teas are really medicated or if they’re just packed with enough sugar to make you feel “better” for few hours.

Tofu

A tasty almond tofu dessert.

My favorite mealtime in Penang was breakfast. We stumbled upon this traditional coffee shop set up in an alley near our hotel where we met a friendly lesbian couple (we are everywhere!) who invited us to sit with them. They helped us order amazing hot coffee, tasty nasi lemak wrapped in brown paper, and my new favorite breakfast dish: soft-boiled egg on thick-cut Hainan toast with soy sauce and white pepper. I absolutely love it when I find a dish that is so simple yet so perfect and the best part is that I can easily replicate it at home. And, the coffee is the best we’ve had since we had to leave our beloved Vietnamese iced coffees behind.

Toh Soon Cafe
Location: Alley way on Lebuh Campbell not too far from Jalan Penang

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My favorite breakfast place and it was only two minutes from our hotel. Lucky me! Lucky me!

Kopi at Toh Soon

Malaysian kopi is so thick and rich that you need a soup spoon to drink it.

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At Toh Soon they toast the thick-cut Hainan bread over an open fire. It’s perfect.

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So simple, yet so perfect.

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Nasi lemak in brown paper for breakfast.

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Random Encounters in Artsy Penang

On 18, Aug 2014 | No Comments | In Activities, Art & Design, Culture, LGBT, Malaysia, Travel | By kanannie

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Hanging out in Penang.

I love it when we get to a place and find so much more than we expected. In this case, we came to Penang for only food based on a recommendation by my college friend Jia-yi, and arrived in an unexpectedly cute little city chock full of fantastic food, beautiful old buildings, interactive street art and friendly people. An added plus was that the Georgetown Festival — the annual arts and culture event — was going on when we arrived.

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Penang is a unique and photogenic city.

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Some of the Art Deco buildings.

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The Old Heritage area of Penang, with waiting rickshaw drivers.

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A cute little shop with art, books and locally-made products.

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A gallery space upstairs showcased art books curated by artists.

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A shuttered storefront.

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A lantern outside of the Campbell House.

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A painter on Armenian Street.

In 2012, a Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic was commissioned to paint interactive wall murals in the Old Heritage district of Penang. Tourists flock to these murals — along with others painted by other artists — and wait patiently to pose creatively in front of the street art. We made our way around from one mural to another while consulting a wall mural map we found online, and eventually found ourselves at the Clan Jetty.

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A huge wall mural by Ernest Zacharevic.

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