Here are a handful of indoor and outdoor activities from sedate bookish events to robust blood-pumping actions that you can be a part of while in Penang.
So, you’ve had your fill of all things historical, traditional, cultural, heritage, artsy and foodie that Penang has to offer. What’s more, you ask? Well, the community of Penang as a whole are a pretty active lot and there are plenty of little clubs and events you can attend and be a part of to meet new people, cultivate a fresh hobby or simply to while away time you may otherwise spend watching television (heaven forbid!). There are plenty of active, non-active but mentally stimulating and voluntary communities around but here are a handful with which you can kick-start and colour up a free moment on weekends or evenings in Penang. Sedate but stimulating
Free film screenings are available regularly at Tuesday Screenings at Hin (https://www.facebook.com/hinbusdepot?fref=ts
) at Hin Bus Depot on Jalan Gurdwara; penangpac’s World’s Best Movies sessions at Straits Quay (https://www.facebook.com/penangpac?fref=ts
); and at the Majestic Revival Community Screening (https://www.facebook.com/Majestic-Penang-141058632951611/?fref=ts
A budding reading community such as Bookworms Penang (https://www.facebook.com/BOOKworms-Penang-227238607346481/
) is helmed by a volunteer group of six with a shared passion for reading who are keen to promote this age-old hobby in Penang. They do collaborations with bookstores to organize readings with authors as well as meet-ups and talks. Their Facebook announces book-related events goings on around Penang too. For kids, the Penang International Kids Storytelling Festival or PINKS (https://www.facebook.com/PenangInternationalKidsStorytellingFestival
) bring in local and international storytellers ‘to animate and mesmerise children as well as adults with stories’.
For those looking to shape things with their hands, the Penang Pottery Club at Gardenku on Jalan Kebun Bunga (https://www.facebook.com/penangpotteryclub
) teaches on how to create crafts made out of ceramic from Thursday to Saturday mornings weekly.Heavenly outdoors
With the amount of flora and fauna available right at Penang’s doorstep, it’s unimaginable not to bird watch. So, a bird watching group online such as Malaysia Birding (http://www.malaysiabirding.org/section.php?sid=69&pb=Tier
) has good information on where to spot a few of the 165 bird species that reside in Malaysia, and from which 80 per cent can be found on Penang island especially at the Penang National Park. According to their website, ‘the best times to visit the park is from October to November and February to March. During these months, it is possible to observe a variety of migratory species ranging from waders to raptors and thrushes’.
For robust activities, the popular and established cycling club, G Club (http://www.gclub.com.my/
) is a good start. They organize once a month round the island ride all the way to Teluk Bahang from G Hotel and signing up as a member is free. Then there is trekking and you can lift information on this from Penang Trails (http://www.penangtrails.com/home.aspx
) that is ‘an online adventure guide for hiking and trekking enthusiasts’. From them you can discover different trails that you can try out around the island with GPS as a guide.
Volunteering for a cause
Not short of selfless activities, Penang has quite a few where you can lend your energy and time to a good cause such as Asia Community Service (http://www.asiacommunityservice.org/index.php?page=VolunteerForm
) where they aim to empower people with special needs such as intellectual disabilities. They often look for volunteers with skills in art, craft, design, pottery, sewing and cooking. As much as they are looking for volunteers on a regular basis, they are also open to those who can only spare time for their one-off events for when they hold their food fairs and health camps.
Those with interest in agriculture, Pusat Agropelancongan (http://wonderwilderfarm.weebly.com/volunteer2453524037.html
) in Relau that is a non-profit community project which promotes sustainable agriculture and lifestyle looks for volunteers in many areas such as transplanting, weeding, farmhouse building, event planning and more. Besides, they also organise monthly Funmers Life Market that sells the produce. They especially look for those with intellectual disabilities and aim to empower those with special needs.
An interesting one is George Town Heritage Inc’s Friends of George Town Heritage (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1122724544407841.1073741886.449920131688289&type=3
) that trains volunteers to become guides who promote George Town city’s history and heritage. Furthermore, the volunteer guides will be taught on how to conduct thematic heritage trails for school children, guiding as well as creating thematic walks for different ages.
For those with a sympathetic ear, you can lend it to the non-judgmental and confidential support of Befrienders (http://www.befpen.org/be-volunteer
) where callers can freely express worries or fears and looking for someone to listen to stave loneliness or suicide.Image credits: G Club, Arts-Ed, Penang Pottery Club, Bookworms Penang and Malaysia Nature Society