Arriving at the airport in Penang, I was rushing to get to immigration when a friendly voice called out “Sim Card Miss”. I got a sim card and went through immigration. A few minutes later I withdrew money while I waited for my suitcase. Then I was off in a taxi to my hotel. On the way to town I was thinking that this was the best start in a new country so far. I was ready to find out how to work and explore Penang at the same time. I love it when it is this easy.
This was the first time I found the opportunity to buy a local sim card before immigration at the airport. Normally you have to go through immigration and customs first. I got an all included one-month free use of internet card at just under 20 USD.
How to work and explore Penang
Penang is an Island off the northwestern coast of peninsula Malaysia, connected to the mainland via bridges and ferries. It is a great Island to get some work done because there are not many interesting things dragging you away from the office. The office I am referring to in Penang is a co-working space called @CAT. The location is in a newly restored government building housing the Science cluster of Penang, in Georgetown. That office was the perfect location for me trying to combine work and pleasure.
Malaysia’s 5 regional science and Technology centers
As a nation with relatively limited resources, Malaysia must ensure the desired results and high rates of return on every investment. Malaysia’s vision to transform into a knowledge-driven economy has propelled them to invest in developing Science and Technology. Penang is one of five Regional science and technology centers to elevate Science and Technology awareness among the population. Watching TV at a coffee-shop I was amazed to see that they had commercials explaining how to use technology.
The shortage of S&T personnel is estimated to be between 20 to 30 percent across all levels of scientific, engineering and technical areas. Malaysia is, therefore, adopting a broad-based approach to human resource development. The regional Science centers are one approach for the government to share risk with the industries connected to the centers. and the commercials on TV explaining how to use technology is to increase the knowledge of the people watching TV.
The government also initiates techno-entrepreneurship courses to all science, technology, and engineering undergraduates. Sponsors techno-entrepreneurship competitions, angel investment funds and ventures capital fund is granted to encourage commercialization of R&D output.
Malaysias education system
The government try to incorporate a science and technology culture in the education system. They also started programs to intensify creative thinking and problem-solving skills in primary education. Research grants to schools, are again increasing the vocational and technical skills in secondary schools. That is why they also intensify efforts to increase science and technology language competence to facilitate the flow of information.
Mass media to heighten the public awareness, appreciation, and knowledge of science and technology is therefore a natural consequence of the development. Malaysia’s quality of journalism about Science and technology is getting better as a result of the efforts.
Georgetown art scene
Georgetown is where it happens in Penang. This city has more than Science and coworking spaces to offer. Art and graffiti is a hunting exercise you need to endure while visiting the city. To make the dull and run down facades of the old town more interesting and fun, the government hired the artist Ernest Zacharevic to give the streets of the old town a facelift. I found it both entertaining and useful to walk around the old town in search of these art peaces. The Artist blended humor and historical facts to veld 52 metal sculptures portraying daily life in the early settlement days.
Like voices from the past, the sculptures tell the stories of the landmarks they portray. The famous Love-lane, a street filled with pubs, music venues and hostels has a welded portray of an old Chinese climbing out the window. The text tells us that this is where the cheating husbands kept their mistresses, hence the name Love Lane. In addition, Zacharevic painted a series of murals and a combination of murals and gadgets attached, displaying everyday life in Penang today. Hunting for murals and sculptures around town, taking photos is a must do when in Penang. I spent several mornings and afternoons wandering the streets to find new gems.
Another fabulous art scene in George Town is its bakery’s. They have the most amazing cakes and really good cappuccino’s in cool interior decorated cafes. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the city to visit. If you only visit one bakery, try China House in Beach street. They offer a display of cakes like I never saw before. Both the size and the number of cakes was overwhelming. After all the cakes, I was in desperate need for a hike.
Hiking in Penang
If you are in the mood for a stroll and nice views you could visit Penang hill. Get on the Rapid Penang 204 bus from Komtar. The bus will stop at Penang Hill for the price of RM2,70. A Taxi would be RM35-40. The top is at 833 meters above sea level and you get up the steep hill by entering the funicular railway. This is the steepest funicular in the world so if you are scared of heights… or not, it is a scary ride, especially going down. At the top, you have gorgeous views of the city, the bridges to the mainland and the mountains and valleys to the south. Go for a walk in the mountains and enjoy the nice cool air up here.
The worlds smallest national park
If you want to be rewarded with a nice swim at the end of your walk, you could try the World’s smallest National park. The park is a rainforest of about 25 square kilometers on the southwest tip of Penang, 45 minutes by bus from George Town. I loved the walk to the beaches. Going through the Park to the lighthouse will take about 2 hours and you will find nice beaches along the way.
Monkey beach is the last, and most picturesque beach before you go uphill to see the lighthouse. The beach got its name because the monkeys have a tendency to visit the beach and raid the visitors for food. So I followed the advice of not bringing more food than I needed and eat before I went for a swim. when you are in the water – look back at the beautiful beach lined with coconut trees and with a rainforest backdrop, it is so beautiful. The trail to the lighthouse starts at the end of the beach and takes you to 242 meters above sea level. I climbed the stairs of this beauty from 1883 that is still operational today. The view from the top overlooks the strait of Malacca.
Gurney Drive is a must-try place to eat. This famous Hawker food place comes alive at night, giving you a variety of the best local food in the area. The place is divided into two sections. The part closest to the shopping malls is where you find mostly Chinese influenced Malaysian food. The other section only serves Muslim food. After eating low price great local food, you can walk 3 minutes to Gurney Plaza or Gurney Paragon.
These two malls Gurney Plaza or Gurney Paragon, have a variety of bars and restaurants serving western food and happy hour drinks, beer, and wine. Inside you can shop western brands, check out the supermarket or food court in the basement, or watch a movie in the high-tech movie theater on the top floor. In my search for how to work and explore Penang, this was where I ended up most nights. often accompanied by a new friend I met at the office @cat.
Getting around Penang is cheap and easy using the bus. A bus ticket within 7 kilometers is RM2 or 50cents. The buses go all the time and everywhere so this is a great way of getting around seeing the sights. Most busses go through Komtar in George Town, so it is easy to get from A to B changing bus at Komtar. There is also a hop on hop off bus, but if you use it, it is better to pay for one destination instead of buying a day trip. I found the hop On-Off buses to be a lot of waiting and not much information was given on the tour, so you don’t really learn a lot. I used it to go to the National Park. Other than that, I found the local buses to be faster, cheaper, and with more departures.
Co-working for Digital Nomads
Penang is an island off the northwestern coast of peninsula Malaysia, connected to the mainland via bridges and ferries. It is a great Island to get some work done because there are not many interesting things dragging you away from the office. The office I am referring to in Penang is a co-working space called @CAT. The location is in a newly restored government building housing the Science cluster of Penang, in Georgetown. This is a great location to find out how to work and explore Penang.
@Cat – creative thinking and problem-solving center
The month I stayed at @CAT in Penang I watched numerous school classes play their way to knowledge in the science lab. They hosted a TEDx about Women entrepreneurs and hosted a robot competition. They also made the best pizza in town in their in-house Cafè and had an especially healthy sourdough bread that the entire town came to purchase, developed in the food lab. Very tasty and often my breakfast, I might add.
Digital Nomad friendships
Meeting likeminded people around the world is like finding the gems of life. Ending days full of work and exploration with a glass of white wine for me and red for my new friend Cate was so nice. Being a Digital Nomad can be lonely at times. Meeting new friends in the same situation can be one of these rear encounters that become lifelong friendships. Talking about the real things in life with no filter, far away from home, where no-one knows you give us the possibility to get to know ourselves on a deeper level as we share our journey. traveling solos also opens up our horizon to the depth of human nature.
I have met Cate several places around the world as we both journey the world and ourselves to seek and find knowledge and meaning. These evenings in Penang talking about life, what is happening in the world and how we can all do our little contribution to make it a little better will always be with me.
I also met a few other digital nomads that I have gotten to meet again on several occasions. A fitness couple from Romania roaming the world doing fitness online and a french boy freelancing his way around the world. We all had several meetups, cake dates, dinners, and lunches. We also attended a TEDx at @cat and a get together for nomads in Georgetown.
Malaysia may not reach their vision and be a knowledge-driven society by 2020. But this is a country that is doing ground-breaking changes initialized by the government. Malaysia is well on its way hustling future generations to get excited about science and technology, robotics, creativity, and art. They are building infrastructure and motivating the inhabitants. And supporting technology-driven businesses and changing the school systems to be at the forefront in the technology-driven future. Malaysia is a country to watch in the future.
Leaving this technology-driven island having found out how to work and explore Penang, I was ready to do it again in my next destination. I booked tickets to go to Burma.
Do you dream of being a Digital Nomad?
This blog was launched in 2016, as an inspirational blog for aspiring lifestyle entrepreneurs that are searching for a way to combine their love for travel, adventures in the World’s Great Outdoors, and a growth mindset that will propel them to achieve their dream Lifestyle.
Leaving 9 -5
I saw more and more people trying to get out of the 9 to 5, time trading, and the rest of the mindset that was developed for the industrial era. I wanted to address the needs I saw for some reliable, actionable advice to build a life of joy, purpose and constant development. Instead of throwing away life, working for unfit bosses in an insecure job.
We Grow Or We Die
The fact is; we are growing or we are dying. – and I was dying nine to five, in a job that did not let me use my potential. A growth mindset means you can learn, develop and build your passion towards reaching goals and be optimistic enough to bounce back from failures along the way. That is the mindset we need to compass the crossroads in life.
Self-development through Nature and travel
To me, nature and Travel is by far the best education to open our eyes to the world’s problems, help others, and grow as human beings. But we also need to belong somehow and learn new skills to develop through life. The universities of the world used to dictate where the best students got their degrees, but today there is a number of learning platforms teaching lifestyle business to a global public online. These new educations focus on mindset, personal values, and goals as foundations to build a business where you live authentically. They show you how to make your dreams a reality.
If you can dream it, you can do it
Education for your reinvention
In my search through the forest of online platforms, I tried several. But the one that is: by far, the system that is tested and proven – that has the mentors, the tribe and the tools that changed my life is SFM.
I was offered a FREE online course. And knew I had found the right place to grow into the digital era of online entrepreneurs. I am really happy to offer you the same possibility. sign up below and get the FREE video series that changed my life. Check it out and listen to Stuart as he explains what you will learn. Maybe this is your way to Freedom too…