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An afternoon in Penang – an Insider’s guide of the best things to do.

For as far back in my childhood as I can remember, we always take a family holiday in Penang.

If you are new to Penang, it is an island off the Malay Peninsula, in the Strait of Malacca.

If you are staying longer than 24 hours, then there are loads of beach resorts. We normally stay in Rasa Sayang hotel at Batu Ferringhi.

If you are only there for a short visit, I thought I’d show you my favourite places. The capital of Penang is George Town. What I love about George Town are the beautiful British colonial buildings with a Chinese twist. The colonial buildings are all scattered over George Town. I love how colourful they are. Penang street art Another fun thing you could do in George town, Penang, is the street art walk.

Ernest Zacharevic was commissioned in 2012 by the Penang Municipal Council to create a street art project in Georgetown called ‘Mirrors George Town’ in different locations of the old town.

The little children on the bicycle art by Ernest can be found in Lebuh Armenian. Nearby on Lebuh Cannon is ‘Reaching up’, also by Zacharevic. Isn’t it adorable? Strangely nostalgic too.  This “I want Bao” mural , found in Armenian street is by Ming Xiang Tai. I really love this ‘Prayer’ street art, found in Armenian Street art alley.

As yet, I am unsure who the artist is. If you like seafood, then head to the Da shu xia (Tree shade) seafood restaurant at 177C Lebuh Victoria in George Town.

You know the seafood is fresh there because, you get pick your own fish or crab from the aquarium before cooking.

Hidden inside the restaurant is this mural by an unknown artist. The tins of Milo and Ovaltine malted chocolate drinks brought back childhood memories. I’m sure you would be hungry after a busy morning of street art.

Here is a hidden gem, only known to locals for lunch. Ha! The secret is now out.

This is Mo Teng Pheow located in Jalan Masjid, off Chulia street in Penang.

This is Penang’s famous 60 year old kuih factory. Kuih are bite sized Malaysian cakes made from rice or glutinous rice, and they used to be sold by street vendors as illustrated in the mural. Penang hidden gem restaurant Behind the kuih factory lies this canteen – the secret!

Check out the decor. Love the tiles, brick wall and pops of yellow and red. At a very affordable price, you get to sample all the Malaysian classic dishes, cooked in the traditional way.

On the right hand side, you can see the colourful plate of kuih.

We ordered Nasi Lemak (my favourite dish) – coconut rice with, spiced anchovies and tamarind prawns. Then there is assam Laksa – a noodle dish with a spicy and sour fish broth, and Nasi Kuning (yellow sticky rice) with a chicken curry.

Goodness me, I’m feeling so hungry now.

Finally, hope you have enjoyed this post and will find it useful when you visit Penang in Malaysia.

There are lots to do in Penang, but I thought I’d just share my favourite from this Summer.

Have a lovely week all.

( All photography are by Geraldine Tan, editor of Little Big Bell).

The_Datai_Langkawi_photo_by_Little_Big_Bell How do you define paradise? Look no further than the Datai Langkawi.

Slow living is all the rage now, so this is the perfect place to start. Although I must admit, I love the fast paced life, but fast paced types have to unwind and recharge too right? The_Datai_Langkawi_pool_Little_Big_Bell It is an idyllic hotel nestled amongst, but sustainably built on the fringe of the rainforests of Langkawi. The-Andaman-sea-The-Datai-photo-by-Little-big-Bell Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands based in the northern part of Malaysia, where the straits of Malacca meet the Indian Ocean.

The hotel faces the emerald green Andaman sea, and the land you see across is none other than Thailand. The-Datai-hotel-Langkawi-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell The wood from the buildings were allowed to weather naturally in their environment, to achieve its own aged patina.
The_Datai_Langkawi_photo_by_Little_Big_Bell We had two adjoining Deluxe rooms, overlooking this lush and tropical green. Surrounded by the sounds of nature, we could hear the gentle break of waves, to the calls of Hornbills and the hypnotising harmony from the frogs and cicadas. Banana-tree-flower-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell I’ve never seen one before, but this is a banana tree flower.

Love its pinky hue and the contrasting yellow.
water-lily-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell Remember those harmonious frogs I mentioned? Well, they lived in a pond at the lobby area amongst these gorgeous pink water lilies.
Giant-tropical-leaf-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell I Could not believe the size of the leaves in the tropical rainforest. They were gigantic. Monkeys_in_The_Datai_Langkawi_photo_by_Little_Big_Bell These cheeky fellas were regular visitors just before sundown. It was a good thing I always remembered to lock the glass doors.

It must have been the sight of those colourful bowls of fruit, that were there to greet all guests on arrival.

No doubt about it right? This gorgeous hotel was definitely in the thick of nature. Green-paper-umbrellas-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell These green wax paper umbrellas reminded me of my childhood in Kuala Lumpur.

They look great as a decorative feature in these large terracotta pots.

There was no rain whilst we were there but they’re perfect too as sun shields during long walks.   Smoothie-The-Datai-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell This is more like it. I couldn’t not post colour.

This is a fresh peach and mango smoothie. The poolside smoothie menu was amazing.

Even better, sometimes the waiters would walk around giving guests free ones. Now, that is wonderful guest service. Breakfast-at-the-Datai-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell The breakfast buffet varied every morning and was an absolute delight. There was something there for everyone. There were papaya danishs served from a book case to Nasi-lemak-at-the-Datai-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell the traditional Malaysian favourite, Nasi Lemak. It’s a coconut rice with a spicy sweet anchovy chilli, peanuts and eggs, all wrapped up in a leaf.

Indeed, many Malaysians have curry and rice for breakfast and this dish was truly delicious. Sprinkle_donut_photo_by_Little_Big_Bell Then there was this donut covered in colourful sprinkles that just sang my name. Satay-in-Malaysia-The-Datai-hotel-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell If you go to Malaysia, you have to try Satay. They are skewers of chicken or beef that have been marinaded and seasoned. They are then cooked over an open flame fire. Dip them in a spicy peanut sauce and they are heavenly.

This was what I had one day for lunch whilst lounging by the beach. Blue-curacoa-cocktail-at-the-datai-photo-by-little-big-bell Cocktails at sunset is a must. How could one resist a cocktail as colourful as this? The-Pavilion-The-Datai-Langkawi-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell This is the Pavilion, the delicious Thai restaurant at the Datai. It is built on 30 meter high stilts, floating in the canopy of the rainforest with a view of the Andaman sea.

The food was amazing and I highly recommend the sticky rice with fresh mango pudding.

We were actually spoilt for choice with the eating venues at the Datai. There was also our favourite Gulai house restaurant which served up indigenous Malay and Indian cuisine.

We were very lucky to have been invited as a family to a Thai cookery class at the Pavilion with chef Somkeat Lok, under Richard Millar, the overall supervising executive chef at the Datai.

Before I forget, I must say that Richard has done an amazing job with the food and beverege at the Datai hotel, one of the pulling factors during our stay.

Anyway, back to the cookery class…

Thai-restaurant-The-Datai-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell A traditional Thai greeting as we entered the pavilion. Thai_cookery_class_The_Datai_photo_by_Little_Big_Bell There were four cooking stations, all beautifully set up with the prepared ingredients. We made two dishes.

The starter was Yam takrai bai chaplu pla which was a poached fish salad with Lemon grass and Betel leaf and the second dish was Nue Phad bai harapa which was a stir-fried minced beef with chilli, garlic and sweet basil.

I will share the fish salad recipe below. Cookery_class_Datai_hotel_Langkawi_photo_by_Little_Big_Bell Here are the ingredients for the fish salad for 4 people:

Snapper or your favourite fish 240g
Shallot or red onion 60g
Lemon grass 50g
Tomato 60g
Betel Leaf ( if available) 30g
Kaffir Lime leaf 4-5 leaf
Coriander root 10-20g
Coriander leaf 15-30g
Red chilli large 10g
Bird eye chilli upon your taste
Garlic 5-6 cloves
Fish sauce for taste
Palm sugar 1-3 table spoon
Lime large 4-5 pieces
Thai-Citrus-Chilli-Summer-fish-salad-by-Little-Big-Bell Here are the instructions:

Poach the fish in very hot boiling water till cooked, then set them aside.

Mortar garlic, red chilli large, bird eye chilli together with Coriander root till it’s roughly paste then to required taste add palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice together, mix well.

Finely slice lemongrass, Betel leaf, large red chilli,shallot, tomato Kaffir lime leaf and Coriander leaf. Mix together with the dressing.

To finish, arrange fish on a warm plate and pour over sauce. Thai-Summer-Fish-salad-by-Little-Big-Bell So easy to make and absolutely delicious. A perfectly exotic dish for Summer.  Thai_stir_fried_mince_beef_chilli_garlic_basil_The_Datai_photo_by_Little_Big_Bell This was the minced beef dish we made. It was delicious, savoury and tangy.

We then had a private lunch of what we made, served up with rice and wine. Tropical-fruit-platter-at-The-Datai-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell Then we were treated to this, Dessert-the-Datai-Langkawi-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell and this.

The kids really enjoyed the culinary class and tasting the food they cooked. They felt like they were on a series of Masterchef, a programme we all love watching as a family.

All guests at the Datai can book for these culinary classes and I really highly recommend them. sky-bridge-Langkawi-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell We enjoyed the Datai so much, we didn’t really venture out of the hotel much.

The only place we visited, which I highly recommend is the sky bridge. It is one of the longest free span curved bridge in the world.  Sky-bridge-Langkawi-photo-by-Geraldine-Tan-Little-Big-Bell It hangs about 100 metres above the ground and the view was amazing.  The-Datai-Langkawi-going-to-the-spa-photo-by-Little-big-Bell However, I would happily walk on this mini bridge any time. The walkway to a tropical paradise at the Datai, actually it’s also the walkway to the spa.

I would really like to thank the staff at the Datai for making our stay the most wonderful ever and we can’t wait to return again.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I will be back soon with a new styling post soon, featuring a talented designer. Happy weekend all.

( All photography are by Geraldine Tan. The cookery lessons were complimentary from the Datai).

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