Exploring Penang On Foot

This post is a bit overdue. But it is an example of what Nic and I love about Penang. There’s much to see, explore, appreciate and love.
Visiting art galleries is something we do when we’re free. It’s great to check in on the latest artists, especially up and coming ones. I still nag Nic about going back to his art. He really ought to. He does very well when he paints. And I am most certainly NOT saying this because he is my spouse. I say this because I’m going to be a very Rich Woman in my twilight years because I get to pick and keep the best art pieces in his collection ;-). LOL.

Visiting Galeri Seni Mutiara in Armenian Street
Visiting Galeri Seni Mutiara in Armenian Street

When we visited Galeri Seni Mutiara a few weeks back, it was an exhibition of watercolour pieces by Ong Choon Hoe. From the art, you can glimpse the soul of the artist. This one certainly loved boats and the sea. Every piece seemed to be about fishing boats of Malaysian fishing communities.
Ong Choon Hoe's watercolour piece
Ong Choon Hoe's watercolour piece

Another stopover once we were done with gazing at watercolour art was to this quaint tea house along King Street. I’d found this place when I was involved in a charity treasure hunt a few months ago. (It has now moved to a more happening address; now it’s the same row with the Pitt Street Goddess of Mercy Temple. Look out for a bright green shophouse near the flower/garland stalls).
Nic chatting to the tea master, Mr Oh
Nic chatting to the tea master, Mr Oh

Mr Oh’s little tea house was quirky! Laminate tables and plastic chairs. Cobwebs on the ceiling. Totally old world feel. He brews his medicinal pu-erh tea in his slow cooker. You can have pu-erh tea by the glass jug at RM1.20. He also sells pu-erh tea cakes and pu-erh tea in loose leaf form.
Pu erh tea cakes - the older they are, the pricier they get!
Pu erh tea cakes - the older they are, the pricier they get!

Pu-erh is a warming tea with a signature dark colour unlike most chinese teas. Mr Oh’s master (or sifu) is the original tea master who uses specially concocted pu-erh tea to help people who suffer from illnesses and ailments. He was not shy in telling us that his master helped cure a man who had prostate cancer by getting the man to drink pu-erh tea daily!
A jug of pu erh costs RM1.20
A jug of pu erh costs RM1.20

I know that pu-erh tea is good for slimming (not that I want to grow slimmer!). It’s also a good tea to drink as it is not cooling unlike jasmine tea. Pu-erh tea is great after a meal of oily food. In Chinese dim sum eateries, you can get a type of tea called “Kuk Po” which is a combination of pu-erh tea leaves and chrysanthemum flowers. As pu-erh warms and chrysanthemum cools, marrying both is essentially a Chinese method of ensuring proper yin and yang! Too yin creates health problems like chilly hands and feet while too yang creates an overheated body system. That is why balance is important especially in food!
Nic sipping tea in a quaint tea house.
Nic sipping tea in a quaint tea house.

Mr Oh chats in English and Hokkien so you can drop by anytime for an affordable cup of tea. He probably has some 60s music playing too.
What a strange combination huh!

11 thoughts on “Exploring Penang On Foot”

  1. Oh I love Pu-er tea too!
    Art galleries are like something for the rich isn’t it? Cos the paintings costs so much! I can only afford Chaktuchak kind of paintings! :S
    Anyway, re my house, hope everything is smooth…. the agent I hired did very well in the bargaining department but she is so NOT familiar with the buying and selling of a HDB flat (she apparently specialises in private property)… so many unwelcomed surprises along the way! and I am paying her $3.5K SGD leh!
    So when did you get your house?

    • Ju Ann: Well, you don’t always have to buy art in art galleries but it is great to visit to give yourself a different perspective about beauty or what artists think about or draw. Visiting art galleries is a great way to train oneself to ‘see’ beyond what our eyes can see. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Great for sparking off ideas. Great for supporting upcoming, young artists. For investment purposes too…..because it’s the idea contained in the art as well as the appreciation for the artist and his work. Of course, hanging a lovely piece of art is always a pleasure! Imagine a room without an artwork and then imagine a room with an artwork. What a difference it makes. Sometimes if you check out up-and-coming young artists, you can get pretty good pieces for quite reasonable prices. My next post will be about this – I spoke to an art gallery owner recently.
      I got my house via a friend who lives in that same area. That’s an insider deal haha. We confirmed it in March this year but only got the keys recently.

  2. Hi Kirsta,
    I love your posts about off the beaten track about Penang. I love Penang so much, and so does my husband. I was in Penang last year and I wanted to go to some art galleries to buy some paintings. The in Singapore back then was Vietnamese and China artists and I often wondered why Malaysian ones did not have the same profile or publicity as the rest. I was disappointed because no one knew of any art galleries in Penang, not even the hotel staff could name me any.
    I hope to one day come back and revisit all the places you have recommended.

    • Hi Grace: It helps that Nic and I are perennially curious about our little island! I have another post coming up on another art gallery we visited. The Malaysian art scene especially in Penang isn’t very well publicised, that I admit. We usually hunt down the galleries and visit 2 at one go. There’s an art gallery within USM campus too but again not many know this. Many international artists do exhibit in the USM gallery. Most “art galleries” sell the commercial touristy stuff which is something I don’t quite like especially if the artwork is not signed/showcases the same-old coconut trees scenery/badly done and passed off as art. Just as there are good art, there’s also bad art and sometimes, bad art tries to pass off as good art just because the artist is oh-so-famous!

    • Yes, Mr Koay Su Kau’s gallery. He is there most of the time and his gallery is one of those constantly open on weekends. The other one is A2 Art Gallery on Bangkok Lane.

    • Hi KC: Yup. Will do the next round we go there. Nic knows the gallery owner so it’s nice to pop by and stare at the art work and have a chat with the owner.

  3. Maya….Think I bought tea from you while in Penang.Want Puerh tea that will help with digestion…Lost your card ..Do you ship to the US ???

    • Hi Bernie – I don’t think I’ve sold tea in my life! You must have mistaken me for someone else perhaps? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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