Penang is the name of an island in the Straits of Malacca, and also of one of the states of Malaysia, located on the north-west coast of peninsular Malaysia. Penang is the second smallest state in Malaysia after Perlis, and the eighth most populous. A resident of Penang is colloquially known as a Penangite. The city Georgetown is the 2nd biggest city in Malaysia and traveller′s hub.


Cherating is the only real backpacker hub at the east coast of the peninsula on the mainland. Offering plenty of affordable chalets and a relaxed atmosphere, it is good place to stop for a night or two on the way up or down the east coast. The beach itself is not that spectacular and misses the palm directly at the beach. But it has a good vibe and few things you can do like taking a tour or renting a kayak up the river into the mangroves. There is also an active surfer scene when the waves are right. Cherating is located about 30km or 1h by local bus north of Kuantan.

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Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang

Nasi Campur (Malay Mixed Rice)

Besides the Indian and Chinese food, there is also the flavorful and diverse Malay cuisine. The best way to experience this is to have your lunch at a Nasi Campur counter. Nasi Campur means Mixed Rice in Malay and refers to a plate of white rice that you will get from the kakak, (short: Ka, means sister in Malay and waitresses often been addressed that way), before filling your plate whatever that suits your taste from the counter.

Depending on which area you go, a Nasi Campur counter can have up to 100 different lauk (it means dishes in malay), covering everything you can think of from vegetables to the fish and types of meat. The price you pay in the end depends on the amount of different dishes you have on your plate and the type of dishes too (meat being more expensive than vegetables). Most people usually add some ulam (it means raw/ leafy veggies in Malay) to the plate to round up the meal and, most importantly, a must have side dish of Sambal Belacan. Sambal Belacan is a famous aromatic sauce made of a grind mixture of shrimp paste, salt, chilies and lime juice that spice up your meal, I mean REALLY spice it up. Do not afraid, however, Sambal Belacan varies from medium spicy to extremely spicy depending on the cook, so all you need to do is ask the kakak before trying or just try out a little amount. You can either add some to your dishes to have it with the rice to make it more flavorful or dip your ulam in it.

Malay restaurants/ stalls usually offer Nasi Campur for lunch (from around 10am until mid afternoon). The lauk are cooked with fresh ingredients that the cook bought from the wet markets early in the morning. Some places (like restaurants in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur) offer Nasi Campur at night as well but it's best to get it for lunch. In most cases, Malay restaurants switch to ala-carte at night which means the meal will be prepared by the cook once you order.

In general, Malay cuisine is very rich and flavorful, and can be spicy too. Coconut milk, chilies, oyster sauce, soy sauce and belacan are the main and must have ingredients.

Typical Malay restaurant with Nasi Campur counter. The tea pots filled with water provided on every the table is for you to wash your hands. Traditionally, Nasi Campur is eaten with your right hand, although forks and spoons are also available to other non-hand-users but the locals believe that the food is more flavorful if you eat with your hand.

Some places offer up to 100 different dishes

Huge variety of lauk at the counter, Restoran "Restoran Siti Fatimah" (Jalan Kampung Tok Senik,
Kawasan Mata Air,07000 Langkawi)

Restoran Restoran Siti Fatimah, Langkawi

The final dish after filling up the plate with the choice of your taste, in this case: Cat Fish (Malay: Ikan Keli / Ikan Sembilang) with various types of vegetables, either raw or cooked with gravy from other lauk. In the middle, you can see Sambal Belacan (on the right) and Cencaluk (another type of spicy sauce, also made from shrimps (udang geragau they call it), and cubes of red onions and chilies are added when the Cencaluk is ready to be served). Drinks: Fresh Lime Juice (Malay: Limau Ais)

One of the few good Nasi Campur restaurants in downtown KL is Puteri Restoran in Brickfields, take Monorail to last stop, KL Sentral, and walk to the left for about 300m:

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