Love and Dating on Penang Island

We asked the good people of Penang, regardless of age and sexual preference, a few simple questions:

What is it like dating on this quirky island? How would they advise a friend looking for love? 2 places to impress your date, 2 places you’d bring them to break up, and 2 places where you’d pop the question.

I underestimated how complex the questions were. It took almost 3 weeks to coax and hassle the answers out of them. Being a single mom, been-there-and-done-that kind of thing, I consider that side of “entertainment” over with. (Thank Gawd!) . If it happens, its a lovely bonus (or boner, depends on the situation). But generally my island is my sanctuary, where I work and play and fall involve with the island, my friends over and over again. I have my family, non-furry and furry babies included, and so far all the above has kept me busy, curious and energetic.

I’ve nicknamed my subjects to represent how I see them, the energy that they give off. Most of us grumble about the lack of love interest on the island, but interestingly enough its the pulling magnet of this quirky island that keeps us here, and hoping for that 1 true match.

I concur that Penang Island is the best island to be on if you’re single. It’s your base for all the grumbles and scoffs and resigned Tequila shots at familiar or new bars that have popped up. On this island you are never LONELY. If all else fails, EAT CAKE! as illustrated my artist friend Philip Hemnel. (to find out more about Philip, and the images borrowed here, scroll to end of page) .

Enjoy below, the answers were copy-pasted as they came in, except for glaringly much too obvious spelling mistakes.

Mr Pendekar Kilat (Mid 30’s)

I am Man
Interested in Woman
I am attached

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:

In Out from the game for a long time, I am not sure of the current culture on dating here now.

Your Advice :

got, got lah. If not, move to KL.

2 places to impress your date :

Suffolk House and Kashmir restaurant for extra spice.

2 places for a break up:
Wherever these aren’t any lethal tools around or bora2, nice place to break up. Lol.

2 places where you would pop the question:

During a campfire by the beach and Tropical Spice Garden

Mr. Figura Ti (Mid 50’s)

I am a married man

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:

…but I think the dating culture in Penang is very rigid and conservative.
I explain, I see my staff and when they meet a local girl the short term aim is always marriage and kids….invariably in 12 months either they have to get married or move on….it seems marriage is the ultimate reward!!!

Your Advice :

Getting to know each other or another type of relationship is hiring the books.
I think people of both sexes should loosen up a bit and enjoy….not follow the stereotype behaviour.

2 places to impress your date:

the Avatar garden and Tree Monkey at spice garden

First date not at Crab and Lobster in Straits Quay………it’s a very messy affair!!!

2 places for a break up:

… would be a shopping mall….where you can give the bad news and run into the crowds….

2 places where you would pop the question:

propose I would go to a small beach in the National park.

Mrs. I Love LOVE. (Mid 50’s)

Am a woman Interested in Man
I am attached

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:
Dating culture in Penang as an older woman not so easy , but if you’re willing to get out there you will find plenty of people looking for the same if not a life partner, a friend or something a bit more exciting.

Your Advice :

I would give advice to a friend by saying relax & make a lot of friends, build up lots of networks. Meet people you might not normally hook up with, you might be surprised.

2 places to impress your date :

I’d impress them or scare them off by taking them to the Rasa Sayang ( high maintenance they might think) or some where more local like a coffee shop in Georgetown.

2 places for a break up:

A break up well I’d probably sms them sorry love I’ve left the country good bye.
Sorry it’s not that funny (& change anything you think sounds better lol xxx)

2 places where you would pop the question:

A proposal on the beach or the Monkey Tree Thai restaurant at the spice garden just as the sun goes down over the sea.

Mr. Practically Ikea (Early 40’s)

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:

Mobile phone rules. I think if any person is boring for the next 5 min, he/she will be staring at the back end of a phone.

Not to mention the amount of pic that ‘must’ be taken.

I see it every night in the dining room.

Your Advice : As above

2 places to impress your date :

To the beach. Bring a sarong, a nice bottle wine and a good mood.

Should conversation fall dead, there is always the gently rolling waves and, if lucky, stars to provide, temporary, entertainment.

2 places for a break up:

China House. Easy place to get lost in after. Or JAKIM ( Ed Note: if you have accidentally converted)

2 places where you would pop the question:

(No comment given)

Miss Softly Clawed (Mid 30’s)

I am a single lady, Interested in men of course.

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:
It’s as normal as having coffee, taking a walk in the mall or park, or doing grocery shopping.
I think the local men are conservative and expats are more easy going and open minded.

Your Advice :
Personally, I do not attribute my unsatisfactory romantic experiences entirely to other people. I only care about my love life to a certain, perhaps even insignificant degree, despite my rants about being “single as hell” on Valentine’s Day or feeling left out in peer groups where everyone else happens to be “cuffed.” In a sense, this mixture of external blame and awareness of my own priorities, which clearly privilege my success at my job over finding “the one,” although almost everyone I know in Penang is in a relationship.

2 places to impress your date :
China House (nice Jazz band sometimes)
Rooftop bar at G Kelawei (for the view, not the service)

2 places for a break up:
Any mamak stalls by the road side
Any illegal alcohol stalls by the road side

2 places where you would pop the question:
Honest hard to think of one… The beach by Lonepine Hotel?

Mr Here..and Now and Maybe Later..(Mid 30’s)

I am a Man, Interested in Woman, I am Attached

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:
A- very limited.

Your Advice :
A- not sure

2 places to impress your date :
32 mansion and georgetown wine bar

2 places for a break up:
Maybe Northam beach cafe!

2 places where you would pop the question?

In her dreams!

Miss Resting Bitch Face (Early 40’s)

Woman, interested in MAN, Single.

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:

It’s like looking for the holy grail, does it exist?

Your Advice :

Leave the island…

2 places to impress your date :

Penang Hill and Taman Negara so NOBODY sees them.

2 places for a break up:

Escape Theme Park. I will tell him whilst he’s hanging off a banana 100 ft off the ground.

2 places where you would pop the question:

Habitat at Sunset is oh so romantic. Leave the island, find the man and import.

Mr. But… I Love My Closet (Early 40’s)

I am a (Man), Interested in (Man) , I am (Attached)

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:
Local Gay men in Penang are quite reserved because most of them stay with their parents and since they are in the closet, they don’t really date other local men in Penang.

Your Advice :
Don’t look for local Penangite. Look for outstation guys or expats.

2 places to impress your date :
Gurney Plaza, Penang Hill

2 places for a break up:
Straits Quay and Gurney Paragon

2 places where you would pop the question:
Beach hotel in Batu Ferringhi

Miss Leap of Faith (Early 40‘s)

I am a woman, interested in woman. I am in a committed relationship.

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:

A bit tough on the outlook for someone like me. At my age of 42, I can’t be arsed with dating apps and have heard that there are not many quality finds, that turn up on the radar for straight people let alone a lesbian local. I pretty much stopped looking when love found me – naturally.

We bumped into each other in a public space, locked eyes and the rest was history. Sounds like a movie but that’s what happened. Neither of us were looking so that was a bigger bonus.

Your Advice :

I do think that many straight people continue a healthy dating life in Penang with the assistance of apps and then they socialize and get to know others in the group. Whether it’s been successful for life long partners, I’m not sure but a few have hooked up for a year or two now and seem happy.

What I would say to a gay and straight person is to attend events and social gatherings that are true to them. Don’t go for something you don’t like, cause if you meet someone there, and they actually genuinely like that event or activity, you’re screwed trying to keep up or put on an act! So very tiring if you ask me.

For someone looking for a life partner; gay or straight – just take it easy. If you are desperate and I use that word in the best of ways, then do get on those apps and speed dating events. It sometimes works. And it could be a friend of a friend who you’ve hooked up with that turns out to be the person you’re into. So, don’t discount these things.

2 places to impress your date :

… bring them to a performance at China House (where I sing!) Fingers crossed they like the music and singing lol! If that fails, there’s always the drinks, atmosphere and of course the cakes. Besides that, I seem to know a whole lot of people there, so I could pretend to be ‘famous’ – juara kampung.

Another place I’d take them to is drinks at Rasa Sayang to watch the sunset or BBB at ThirtyTwo Mansion. Then if I wanted to wine and dine them, probably Matsu at Lone Pine Hotel at Batu Ferringhi or Il Bacaro at Campbell House in George Town. If it’s a cheap and cheerful meal, then I’d take them to the Long Beach Food Court at Batu Ferringhi or Tek Sen Restaurant in George Town. Both serve delicious food that is bound to make someone happy! I’ll end the night at The Canteen at China House for music and some drinks.

2 places for a break up:

To break up with someone, I’m not sure I’ll have a big do. Probably discuss things at Starbucks in Straits Quay or Starbucks drive thru Tanjung Tokong – both, the outside bits.

2 places where you would pop the question:

For a proposal, it would probably be done privately, in a room at Rasa Sayang Hotel or E&O Hotel. I quite like both those places. Not sure if I’d do a public proposal. If I did, maybe up Penang Hill at The Habitat as we are experiencing a sunset walk or at The Canteen at China House – during a gig. What’s the point of being a singer if I don’t use it to enhance my daily life experiences!! Lol
Think that’s it folks. Good luck!

Miss How Did I End up Here?! (Mid 30’s)

I am a (Woman), Interested in (Man) , I am (Single)

Your 2 sens on dating in Penang:
– Nonexistant

Your Advice :
– Either you’re into older (very old) crowd or slightly mental-maturity-challenged. Just don’t bother if you’re in Penang.

2 places to impress your date :
Macalister Mansion
Hike Penang Hill

2 places for a break up:
– Somewhere on love lane
– By the beach

1 place you’d choose to propose to them?
– Anywhere out of Penang

Philip Hemnel, The Artist , Links and Galleries:

Facebook , The Artling , Time Out , SG Magazine , SPRMRKT , GLOW Hotels , RunAMok ,


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