Penang is pretty special. Other than its street food, the state’s charm lies in its photogenic settings. From its colonial and heritage buildings to its people, culture, rugged landscapes, idyllic seascapes and humble street food, there’s always a postcard-perfect view waiting to be captured. During the day, this fascinating state offers an exceptional amount of opportunity for shutterbugs, with its mix of characters, places and activities. At night, its hilly centre remains the best spot to catch the city’s lights sparkling in the dusk like ground-level fireworks. Throughout the year, there’s always a celebration going on and colourful street art to hunt. It is no wonder then, that its capital – George Town – was named one of the selfiest cities in the world by TIME magazine in 2014, with some 95 selfie-takers for every 100,000 people.
Nine years ago, you wouldn’t be able to imagine that George Town would soon be a recognised street art capital in the world, in league with the likes of New York and Berlin. That’s because it wasn’t; until sometime in 2012, when the arts broke out from within the confines of art galleries. Large scale murals and installations sprouted in every nook and cranny, drawing in tourists and transforming George Town into an open-air gallery of urban creativity. Quirky cafes and charming boutique hotels began to flourish, offering tired visitors a place to sit and a bed to rest after a day of hunting for street art. From Sia Boey to Hin Bus Depot, local authorities, city makers and space managers embarked on various creative placemaking projects which champion arts, culture and heritage to rejuvenate long-abandoned public spaces to improve neighbourhoods and connect local communities.