Penang – Pearl of the Orient – is well known to all tourists as the food capital of Malaysia, famous for street arts, a UNESCO site with well preserved heritage buildings, long sandy beaches and major tourist attractions. Like a shiny and polished pearl, that is all tourists know about Penang island on the surface. But, to really experience the inner beauty of Penang island or appreciate the quality of the pearl, you need someone locally to show you.
We all have our own idea when we travel to a new and different place. No one is the same. Some people prefer to do their own things. Others may want to have a day or two with organised tour groups or classes just to make sure they have done everything listed in the top 5 or top 10 “most popular things to do” as recommended in a travel websites, travel books or travel blogs. However, would you say that you’ve the most authentic experience of the place you have just visited or eaten at places that locals only eat?
I believe that having the best authentic travel experience of a place is to travel with a local in private. It is different from an organised tour groups or classes. You are not restricted by a fixed schedule. You have control and flexibility to work with your local host. You don’t have to compromise with other groups of people who may or may not be as considerate as you. You get to decide what you like to experience most and you leave that to your host to show you, which otherwise you may missed if you were to do it on your own.
Just a week ago, I hosted a family of 3 from Chicago, USA for a full-day. Their brief was simple – we like to see the “real” Penang with some nature. Below is a short video of their local experience.