Disappearing and resurgent street art in Penang

Which destination comes first to your mind when you think about Malaysia? Probably Kuala Lumpur and Penang island? No? Something else? Then, great! :). Of course, there are more places to visit but my 2 mentioned are advertised most and more information you can find about it.  This time my outlook goes to street art in Penang island (how to get there).

One of the reasons why Penang became famous, is because George Town was included as a protected UNESCO heritage site in 2008. As well, lately, George Town streets were “decorated” by the interesting, unique murals. Some people think that street art in Penang ruins the heritage, others – that it’s the thing which attracts more people to come and also should be developed in the future. Like in the rest of the world – you can adore street art or hate it: D. So how is it? But maybe before answer, you should know how street art came to Penang streets.

In the very beginning

As written in timeout.com – Kuala Lumpur based art company, “Sculpture at Work” won the rights to the state government’s commissioned art challenge “Marking George Town: An Idea Competition for UNESCO World Heritage Site” in 2009. Sculpture’s creative director Tang Mun Kian knew this was the start of the largest art assignment in the state. “Marking George Town’s” brief was a matter of “we have this city, what can you do with it?.
“The streets of George Town were named after the trades, people, and events, which means every street has its own unique story. With the rising rental, many of the original inhabitants moved out and with them, the stories as well” Tang discovers. “So, the idea is to put the stories back into the city” he adds. Within the confines of their workshop, every single steel diorama was bent and shaped to bring stories and inspiration to life.

Even if some murals were made during 3 years period. The first step which made street art in Penang famous was the project “Mirrors George Town” for George Town Festival 2012. In this festival  Lithuanian young artist Ernest “ZACH” Zacharevic was invited to lead this project (and it seems it was the beginning of his international carrier). There are 6 murals made by him for this project (at least those who are named – hope he left more marks there that people still need to discover and be surprised:)). Truly, his 1st mural in “Love Lane” street was made in 2011, before he attended the project. It was a portrait of an Indian woman but people’s response wasn’t so positive back then. The rest of the 6 Zach murals were made already under the project. After it, even the BBC called him “Malaysia’s answer to Banksy”.

I’m happy that Ernest is making the Lithuanian name famous in the world (like I’m originally as well from Lithuania :)). Honestly, the first time I heard about Ernest when I saw the news in Lithuania, in 2012. It was a presentation of his works for street art in Penang. At that time I thought “Malaysia it’s so far”, so I just forgot it. Only coming to Penang and see some of his murals (first I didn’t know that it’s his works) I was really amazed by the concept, playful, colorful, and joyful murals. It made me smile and later become more interested in the authors,  it was time to remember Zach name again. And then I thought – “Wow – we (Lithuania) have really talented people”. Just somehow Lithuanians doesn’t know or forget talented people easily :( (in George Town festival 2014 participated and another Lithuanian artist – Antanas Dubra).

How street art in Penang looks now?

It’s growing! You can find murals, other works in the busy street markets, shops, and undiscovered corners of famous attractions to surprise you.
Without first works now in Penang you can see as well groups of projects (it just part of pictures):

  • “101 lost kittens” – exhibits of 12 cats, the work of a group of artists which calls themselves ASA (Artists for Stray Animals). It was created under George Town festival in 2013.
  • “Marking George Town” – it’s 52 iron structures abundance throughout George Town, and were actually commissioned by the Penang tourism board to provide a fun pictorial anecdote about the history of the street it is located on and is a rather fun way to learn a little bit about Penang’s heritage. As well was a “product” of the 2013 year festival.
  • 16 new murals “Urban exchange” made for the 2014 year festival out of Georg Town.
  • Others: There are many different street artworks besides those listed above, some by random artists and others commissioned by the local tenants. As well some of the works made under project aims, others just originate by not known people (I could describe like “illegal” once) :).

What are my discoveries of street art in Penang?

First, my idea was to go by the mapped route of murals (you can find printed maps in the Tourism information center, almost in all staying places) but then I changed my mind. I started the walk and discovered that I can see more just looking around. Here are some murals I saw and I couldn’t find information about them. I believe that when you will go to Penang, you already will find new pieces as well. I really liked how souvenir shops, cafes were trying to adapt to the street art concept and made something unique in front of their places.

Of course, I saw and the famous murals but not all :). Unfortunately, some of them already vanishing so you can pass by without seeing them. But if you see groups stopping somewhere – it can be a hint – that there is something to see :). So you need to hurry up if you want to see all murals from 2012. As well some the places even if the market in the map – not so easy to find – you need to go inside the yards, go to people living places.


  • You can make a street art tour by walking, renting a bicycle (rentals are easy to find, price ~15RM), or using local transport trishaw.
  • Tour better to start in the early morning, it’s not so hot and doesn’t forget to take with you water.
  • If you want to go by street art route according to the map – you can see all places within half of the day (if you like to walk fast or want to rent a bicycle). If you want to see more places, have just a relaxed walk – then 1-1,5 day for this can be enough.
  • Be curious and go inside small streets, turn to yards and everywhere where your eyes will see – then you can discover more.
  • If for you won’t be enough just street art – visit as well “Hin Bus Depot Art Centre”.
  • There are many places you can stay in Penang, we stayed in 75 Travellers Lodge, Central George Town. It’s a good location, cheap place (dormitory and private rooms).

So what do you think – should street art in Penang be allowed in such old parts of town or should be protected?

Honestly, I’m for street art that has a concept and coalesce with a surrounding. It gives more value, shows the history and modern art collaboration. But if it’s made just for fun, without an idea, made in a bad way and destroy heritage – then for sure no. Even in some parts of street art in Penang, I saw some “works” (probably made by youngsters) that didn’t have any charm at all.

Interesting? Great! :) You might also like these:

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Funny Malaysian signs

Most probably in many countries possible to see funny and different signs, but somehow I have impression that in Asia possible to see more funny signs than in other continents ;).

Here are few funny Malaysian signs which I catch by accident during the trip in Malaysia.

Map of Penang
Is it reality or a joke? :) Penang island, Georgetown


Street art sign
Is it mean everybody can do what they want on the wall and they won’t get punishment? As well destroy other artists work? Penang island, Georgetown


Toilet sign
How possible to keep toilet dry and clean when the Asian toilet “flushing system” by itself all the time is wet ? :) Kuala Lumpur, public transport toilet


"No durian" sign
In durian “kingdom” (Malaysia) you can find signs forbidden to take durian not only inside public transport, but hotels and other places as well. Penang island, in public transport
Durian sticker
You can buy such sticker in many shops. Penang island


Don't touch the wall
Is masterpiece so sensitive for touches? :D Penang island, Georgetown


Restaurant sign
Is it a trend to write in incorrect English language or bad English language knowledge? Penand island


Laundry sign
Honestly I didn’t understand what kind of “great performance” laundry service they provide :D. And what doesn’t mean “ent”? Kuala Lumpur


National park sign
First I’m curious how the women should be dressed for swimming? Second – the sign about taking own trash back very good, like almost nowhere you will see trash bins :) Penang island National park


Shop sign
Everything is clear? :) Kuala Lumpur, butterfly park


Shop sign
For those who don’t understand “no helmets&no shoes” special warning “Strictly”. Bad that I didn’t try to go inside with shoes – will they shoot me? :D Penang island, Georgetown


Shop sign
Please somebody help to understand :D Looks like clothes shop, but who comes inside to try clothes will be sold? Or they are searching person who could sell girls? As well “Makeeyo” interesting way to use English language in creative way :D Penang island

 Maybe not funny but a bit different signs :)

Road sign
Many road signs looks like this. Somebody needs maid? :) Kuala Lumpur


Train vagon
Train carriage only for women and women with kids. Kuala Lumpur


Even if national language is Bahasa Malay, most of the warning written in several languages: Bahasa Malay, Chinese and Hindi language. In English written text I saw only on this table. Kuala Lumpur


No wi-fi sign
Advice for Facebook “addicted” or not enough money to pay for Wi-Fi service? Penang island, Georgtown


Some more funny Malaysian signs (company signs) seen by other people.

Do you have other interesting signs from Malaysia? Share your pictures or links :)

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How to get Indonesian visa in Penang, Malaysia

If you want to stay in Indonesia more than 30 days (what you can do with “Visa on arrival”), you can apply for another visa type, which allows you to stay in Indonesia for 60 days.

If you want to get “Tourist visa” or “Social Budaya visa” you should apply for it outside of Indonesia. Most travelers till August said that the best place for it – Penang island in Malaysia (here is information how to get to Penang). Because of the quick, 2 days, process and possibility to get 60 days visa (in some other countries the visa making takes 7 working days and can be given only for 30 days). Unfortunately after 1st of August, 2017 – things changed:

Some travelers said that in Indonesian embassy in Penang they started to have a quota system. They could issue only a limited number of 60-day visas (per month or per week) – but nobody knows how many or who will get it. Others say, that there is no quota system and is giving 30-day visas for “Tourist visa” or “Social Budaya visa” (only with sponsor letter) if the sponsor is not family. The official seemed to imply that if the sponsor letter is from a spouse or other member of the family then they will get the 60 days. That, and the new RM10 KL + RM2 Penang room tax has we budget travelers giving USD$3.00 per day just in tax.

I didn’t try to make new visa in Penang after the system changed, so correct me, if there is any new changes or another place in any other country with better “conditions”.

Further information is about getting 30 days “Tourist visa”.

So, how to get Indonesian visa in Penang?

Here are some my advice and experience about applying for Indonesian 30-day “Tourist visa” in Penang island (I did such visa already twice but before 1st of August, 2017 and got 60 days visa).

Notice: all information prepared according 08 2017.



Official website of Indonesian Consulate in Penang, Malaysia (but you won’t find much information there)

467 Jalan Burma, 10350 Penang (about 4 km West of the Chinatown tourist area)
Tel: (+60) (4) 227 4686; (+60) (4) 226 7412;
Fax: (+60) (4) 227 4955
Email: penang.kjri@kemlu.go.id or info@kjripenang.org.my

Working hours:
Monday-Thursday – 9:00 am-17:00 pm
Break – 13:00-14:00 pm

Friday – 9:00 am-17:30 pm
Break – 12:30-15:00 am

Before going there, be sure that in Malaysia or Penang are not public holidays.

How to get to Indonesian Consulate
  • If you are in the hurry and don’t want search by yourself public transport – easiest way, just to take a taxi and say the address (in some hostels in Chinatown written that taxi price to Indonesian Consulate is 20 MYR).
  • If you want to save some money and explore Penang use public bus – number 101 from Lebuh Chulia street or 103 from Komtar bus terminal (the main buses terminal).
  • The bus 101 starts at the Jetty (where the boats to Butterworth depart from). There is a bus stop on the corner of “Love Lane” and “Lebuh Chulia” streets (it’s the best stop if you are staying in Chinatown).
  • This bus stop not marked like usual bus stops, but you just stand in opposite street of “7 eleven” mart entrance (you will see there all the time gathering people) and when you will see coming bus 101 just wave your hand to stop it.

How to get Indonesian visa in Penang - bus stop

  • One way journey takes ~20-40 min. depends on the traffic and one way ticket costs 1,4 MYR (but you should say to a driver that you want to go to “Gurney Plaza”).
  • Get out of the bus in front of “Gurney Plaza” shopping mall (it will be on your right side). You will pass on the way first mall “Gurney Paragon”, next stop – “Gurney Plaza”. If you scared to miss it, ask the driver to say when will be that stop (I saw many people do that and drivers says when time to get out :)).
  • When you will get out from a bus on your left side (when you stand face to bus stop) will be traffic light. Go straight to it and turn right (to street Lebuhraya Maktab). Go all the time straight (you will pass some small streets on your right and left sides) till you will come to one big street in front of you (with 3 or 4 one way lines) – Jalan Burma. Here turn right. Go straight, on your right side you will pass “Midlands Park Center” mall. After it, on left side you will see traffic light, cross the street there and still go straight. On your left side you will see Adventist hospital. Just after it, on the same left side will be Indonesian Consulate.

Not hard to find ;). Here is the map.

Malls pictures are taken from internet.

How to apply
  • First of all – dress properly. In the security post you will see the sign how you should look (no flip-flops, short shorts, T-shirt with sleeves and etc.). Some people don’t follow it and still pass inside. My advice, just dress in polite way, you are not going to a beach, yeah?.
  • For visa applying you should come in the morning (9:00-12:00 am.). By the way on Mondays it’s more people than on other days.
  • On entering the visa hall go to the table just inside the door. The lady will give you the form, fill it in and return to the table.The application form should be filled with black pen, if you don’t have, borrow it from workers.
  • The lady will check it briefly and give you a number. Then when the time will come they will announce the number and you will need to go to window 7. Give the papers and pay 205 MYR in cash (such price was in the end of July, 2017). If you don’t have cash in the “Midlands Park Center” mall (that you passed on the way) you can take money from ATM, as well make documents copy, take a picture – if needed. Important: Like in consulate will take your passport, don’t forget before make a copy of it.
  • After giving everything and pay, you will get a number. Then you need to wait till your number will appear in TV screen. Go to the counter and there you will get receipt. With it you will need to come back next day at from 14:00 to 16:00 pm (the same receipt you will need to show for a security when you will enter consulate next day).
  • When you will come next day, go to a counter 7 again and show your receipt – you will get your passport back. Important: in the evening of the day when you will apply check your e-mail. Because I had interesting experience, that in the evening I got e-mail from consulate, with information that I should come next day on different time that was written on receipt. Like some responsible person will be in the meeting and won’t be able to issue my visa earlier. If I wouldn’t check that day, I would need to go to consulate twice next day.

Beware of the day counting trap! The way the immigration officials’ count stay period is: the day of arrival counts as day one. The day of departure also counts. For example you have 30-days visa, you arrive on the 1st day, you must leave on the 30th day (not the 31st or the first of the next month). Even if you leave 5 min. after midnight, it will be counted as a full new day. If you overstay you will have to pay a penalty of 1 000 000 Rp per day (update from 2019). Up to 3 days is usually no problem, you will simply pay the fee at the immigration counter.

How to fill the application, what to have with you

The first few questions on the form (what type of visa, your name, passport details etc.) you should fill.

This lines you don’t need to fill if you apply for Indonesian 60-day “Tourist visa”

  • Occupation in Indonesia
  • Address of office/occupation
  • Address of residence in Indonesia
  • Name of sponsor/reference
  • Address of sponsor/reference
  • In the “Reason for applying” section write Tourism

For the supporting documentation I provided:

  • A photo (even if in a form written that it should be in red background, I gave without – and everything was fine, they accepted)
  • A photocopy of passport (info page only)
  • A photocopy of return ticket from Malaysia (when I will leave to Indonesia)
  • I read that I should give the photocopy of returns ticket from Indonesia but I didn’t have it yet on 1st time, so I brought photocopy from my bank account where shown that I have enough money to buy a ticket out of Indonesia (I just log in to my e-bank, made print screen and printed it). 2nd time I brought flight ticket, when I’m planing to leave Indonesia.

I didn’t got any extra questions or asking to bring something more.

If you didn’t make copies of needed documents, you can do it in Midland Park Center that you passed on the way to Indonesian embassy.

What to do after applying?

  • If you want to come back to Chinatown you should wait for the same bus 101 in front of “Midlands Park Center” mall.
  • But my advice, after consulate go further to explore Penang island, for example:

Here is official website of buses in Penang: routes, journey planner and etc.


By the way, during two my trips to Penang I stayed in 75 Traveller’s lodge. I found this place quite affordable, with good location and quite good condition. But there are many other places to stay in Penang.


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  • Have you tried to make Indonesian visa in Penang island? How was it?
  • Did you make Indonesian visa in any other country? What was your experience?
  • If you have any update to add, feel free to do it in comments



Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

How to get to Penang island
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Disappearing and resurgent street art in Penang