5 In Asia/ Malaysia

Street Life: The Murals of George Town, Penang

As I arrived in Penang’s capital city of George Town–a former trading port that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 for its multi-cultural heritage and buildings of architectural significance–I knew I wanted to sink my teeth into as many of the Chinese, Indian and Malay street foods as I could in my brief stay. What I did not know was that I would also fall in love with George Town’s art, in particular the playful street murals that decorate the beautifully decayed walls of buildings throughout the city, as well as the murals on the walls of the former Hin Bus Depot on Jalan Gurdwara.

There is something I like about a city that makes street food and art such an integral part of its daily life. And I love that a place recognized for its history is still actively adding modern touches to its landscapes. Add to that the lightness of the people—I still smile when I remember a man on his motorbike who teased me about my terrified expression as I realized I had stepped too soon into a jumble of speeding cars and motorbikes—and you have something special. These are some of my favorites of the fantastic and fun art in Penang.

“Kids on Bicycle,” one of many murals created by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic

A man passes by the “Old Motorcycle” mural

“Love Me Like Your Fortune Cat.” The cat is, of course, staring at a mouse in the upper corner of the mural.

I love animals, but this one, called “Bruce Lee,” was amusing

“Kungfu Girl”

“Child Mural at Prangin Canal”

Standing on a swing that is part of the piece called “Brother and Sister on a Swing”

Kids I met near a mural on Lebuh Chulia

One of the murals at the Hin Bus Depot. The text with the piece described the artist as being interested in the “friction point between beauty and decay.”

Another mural at the Hin Bus Depot, with a separate sculpture in the foreground

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  • Reply
    Barbara A Roberts
    July 18, 2016 at 7:59 am

    These are so lovely.

    • Reply
      July 18, 2016 at 8:02 am

      Thanks, Barb. It was a great place to be.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Love these.

  • Reply
    By the Numbers: Surprisingly Budget-Friendly Malaysia – Out of This World
    July 26, 2016 at 7:20 am

    […] A few memories that are starred in my mind: The snorkeling around Pulau Kapas and nearby Pulau Gemia was some of my favorite anywhere, with regular sightings of reef sharks, sea turtles, a school of 35 huge humphead parrot fish, stingrays, barracuda and the magical experience of being surrounded by one of the highest density schools of small fish I have ever been inside. As I moved through and they darted away, the scene in front of me was of their glimmering silver scales at an angle on one side of the page and clear blue water on the other. In Kuala Lumpur, I loved the gorgeous displays at the National Textile Museum, as well as the fantastic architecture of the Sultan Abdul Samad building. And in George Town, the Hin Bus Depot is a quiet spot for observing the beautiful murals that have been painted on the walls of this former bus depot turned open-air art space or for simply relaxing with a book. Photos from the Hin Bus Depot are in this post I did on the murals in George Town. […]

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