GEORGE TOWN: Is it hard to believe that you can cram all that George Town has to offer in just a day? Miss SHOPhia, Tourism Malaysia’s shopping icon, doesn’t think so!
On Oct 28, folks were invited to go on a whirlwind adventure in the melting pot that is Penang’s vibrant capital city, thanks to the Miss SHOPhia Shopping Hunt 5.0.
The “Amazing Race”-style event, an extension of Tourism Malaysia’s premier travel fair, saw over 50 teams of at least three members taking part, eager to solve clues and cleverly navigate the city to uncover 19 hotspots in a one-day burst of sightseeing.
Their aim? To reach the finish line at Gurney Paragon Mall with the highest passport stamp values, all collected from completing tasks at these checkpoints during the race!
Following previous successful iterations in the Klang Valley, the event’s relocation to Penang did not faze its players. Many descended upon the island from all over Malaysia, and even from countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines and India.
Many of the tasks involved solving trivia questions and taking selfies at the checkpoints, while others involved buying a drink or meal at food joints.
The hunt flagged off at The TOP Penang, a charming theme park with an aquarium and model dinosaurs. This was the perfect starting point as some of the teams were made up of young families, who were taken in by the sights around them.
Thirty-six-year-old Sharifah Aminah, who hails from Temerloh, Pahang, brought her husband and children with her on the hunt. “It’s very tiring for the kids,” she acknowledged, “but it’s good for us to know that there are so many interesting places in Penang.”
The teams were then free to chart their own course towards victory, and many of them could be seen harnessing the power of their smartphones to do this.
Team 21, which this FMT Lifestyle writer was part of, only managed to locate 10 out of the 19 checkpoints. Navigating the race on foot, the team faced many challenges including moody weather that alternated between cold showers and unforgiving heat.
That said, walking really is the best way to get to know George Town!
Team 21 first completed tasks in the vicinity of Komtar before heading towards Chowrasta Market. There, they queued and posed for pictures while enjoying the refreshingly cool “ais tingkap” – a drink that’s been around for over 100 years.
This famous Penang concoction is made of basil seeds, rose syrup, coconut rose and coconut flesh, and topped with shaved ice.
From there, Team 21 moved on to the cultural sights found on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, also known as Harmony Street. Four places of worship proudly stand here: Masjid Kapitan Keling, St George’s Church, Sri Mahamariamman Temple, and the Goddess of Mercy Temple.
Miss SHOPhia’s hunters had to take two photos from different angles of each building. It was a great way for them to see how these communities make up the multicultural hub that is Penang.
Up next: the Central Fire Station, the first of its kind on the island, located on the junction of Beach Street and Chulia Street Ghaut; followed by the impressive Jubilee clock between Light Street and Beach Street, where participants gathered to marvel at its towering beauty.
Of course, no Penang tourist experience would be complete without checking out the street art found on the beca-littered Lebuh Armenian. This includes murals of “Skippy Comes to Penang” – featuring the sweet orange tabby who sadly passed away in 2019 – and “Children on Bicycle”.
The proceedings culminated six hours later at Gurney Paragon Mall, where Penang state exco for tourism and creative economy Wong Hon Wai partook in the prizegiving ceremony.
These are just some of the highlights seen by this writer, but there is so much more to experience here at this Unesco World Heritage site.
All in all, Miss SHOPhia’s Shopping Hunt 5.0 was an exciting and exhilarating experience that one should aim to be part of in the future. With its focus on cultural heritage and sustainable travel, it’s a truly enjoyable way to learn about historic cities such as George Town.
This article was written as part of a whirlwind Penang visit organised by Tourism Malaysia.