Secret Bars and Street Art

Boha Glass’s Recent Asia Expedition

As some of you might know, Boha is on tour in Asia at the moment, looking for up-and-coming artists, across a wide array of artistic fields.  From local pottery to stone-carved smiling Buddha statues, mosaic-rimmed mirrors to beautifully embroidered traditional clothing, and much more besides.

After arriving in Kuala Lumpur, we heard about the secret bars that dotted the city and made a plan to try and discover as many as possible – purely for research purposes of course (cough!).

We found ourselves ringing doorbells in strange alleyways, slipping through backpacker hostels with sleepy, confused, just-off-the-plane guests, stood in their room doorway, wondering why smartly dressed people were wandering the corridors outside their room at 1 am. We climbed dark, spiral staircases – hidden at the back of busy restaurants and this one was the best of all…

From the outside, it looked like a typical old street shop, with the only clue being the name of the bar (PS150) sprayed in black graffiti paint on the side of the wall. We walked back and forth along the street, thinking Google had given us duff info before we hesitantly tried the door for the first time. It went on a lot further than where Anna was sitting and the cocktails were fantastic!

We ended up stumbling home (the pavements were in a very poor state of repair 😉 ) to our hotel in the wee hours of the morning, thoroughly feeling that we had had a really adventurous evening!

Street Art – Penang and KL

A little further up the coast is the fine old UNESCO heritage city of Penang. In the heart of old George Town, the place is abuzz with some fantastic street art. It all began in 2012 when Lithuanian-born local resident Ernest Zacharevic was commissioned to brighten up the city’s fading facades with art depicting the lives of locals. Since then, more artists have added their own mark to create some vibrant street art that certainly enlivens the city’s old Stucco walls.

Street Art Malaysia

To see all the art is a bit of a schlep, especially in the roaring heat of July, but we managed to drag ourselves around to see a sizeable portion of the art (while perspiring profusely). Sometimes, you would walk a couple of clicks, only to be greeted with a mural so faded that it was hard to discern what it originally was. But, most of the time it was well worth it, and some were very close to a bar, so we had a good excuse to ‘cool off’ under the fans on the shaded verandas after using up some serious shoe leather.

Street Art Malaysia

Including Thailand, Bali, Singapore and Vietnam, Malaysia was not our favourite destination, but the secret bars and the street art made our time there quite enjoyable. 

If you are planning your own adventure to Malaysia, we would definitely recommend KL, Penang and Melaka. Just be sure to check out the street art in all three cities and see how many secret bars you can uncover in KL!

Street Art Malaysia

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