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  • Writer's pictureSheryl

postcards / How to spend an artsy day at Hin Bus Depot

Penang, Malaysia

It was by accident when I stumbled across this abandoned bus depot turned creative hub. I'd heard a lot about it but never had the chance to visit before. And this unexpected adventure all started with a cafe, of course.

Colourful street art mural and a motorcycle at the narrow lane of Le Cafe, RollingBear Travels blog.

- Hin Bus Depot Overview -

What cooler place for an art exhibition than an abandoned bus depot?

I'm serious! I think old places are the perfect background for art because they just reek of so much history! Don't you think so?

Anyway, Hin Bus Depot used to house the famous 'blue buses' of Georgetown post World War 2 as part of Penang's restoration efforts. Hence the name 'Hin Bus', which in the local Hokkien dialect translates into 'blue bus'. This unique Art Deco style building was like the most stylish, coolest kid round the block. Unfortunately, the depot closed down when Penang's public transportation system struggled to strive in a driving-loving nation.

New life was breathed into this abandoned place when Ernest Zacharevic - a mural artist - was in search of a location to exhibit his art. And hence, this cool kid returned in a flourish, but now transformed into a creative hub / event space/ art gallery/ bars/ everything artsy and cool. And I am sorry for my terribly limited vocabulary.

Anyway, if you want to read the FULL story - here you go!


- Travel tips! -

/ Things to do & shop /

Art Exhibitions & Events -

This is their official website for all the details and new events.

There are a lot of beautiful artwork around the mural garden and the main exhibition area that is open daily, free admission.

Or, the Sunday Hin Market (11am-5pm) that sells many arts & crafts.

Shops & Classes that require appointments -

Penang - Japanese Ceramic Studio for Pottery classes and ceramic products.

Woodsmen Makerspace for woodworking classes.

Hin Reading Room for books and tea.

O Sculpture Studio : an artist's studio.

LUMA for artsy plays and media sessions.

Shops for the completely spontaneous adventurers -

Doodle wall art and rectangular black window facade of KIWE, Penang, RollingBear Travels blog.

For the cutest handmade jewellery from food-themed earrings to pretty flowers! And other knickknacks like pretty stationery or little bags.

Think pretty Japanese stationery, paper and notebooks. They hold craft workshops too!

Muji style timber interior of Kinohiro, Penang, RollingBear Travels blog.

Or Swagger Salon for streetwear.

More details on the outlets here.

/ When to Visit /

They are open from 10am - 10pm daily if you're looking for a peaceful stroll!

Most of this place is open-air and it is sweltering in Malaysia. So I'd recommend:

1. A morning stroll before brunch /lunch (then you can escape into one of the air-conditioned cafes) OR

2. In the evening. Then you can also indulge in a bar or speakeasy after dinner!

Time Spent :

We spent around an hour just wandering about and browsing those shops. Other than that, most of our time was spent reading in the cafes.

/ Eats /

Breakfast /Brunch

There's le楽 for amazing sandwiches and matcha latte! Which was what really began our adventure...


Read the full review here!


There's also Bricklin Cafe & Bar for coffee, or a quiet place to work.

Lunch & Dinner

There's Rumah Kacha , vegan food at Wholey Wonder, and Mama Goose Cabin, a Taiwanese pit stop.

There's also the newly-opened Japanese tapas bar Shokudo Niban and fine-dining restaurant Au Jardin, both helmed by the same team who used to own Basil in the heart of Georgetown. Ahh... Basil brings back memories of one of my first cafe-hopping experiences. I can definitely vouch for the amazing quality of this chef's food!

Rustic wooden menu signs, outdoor seating, cabin kitchen facade of Mama Goose Cabin, Hin Bus Depot, RollingBear Travels blog.

I mean... how cute is this food stall??


- Art & Culture -

These murals were on the wall just beside Le楽.

Hin Bus Depot comprises of 11 heritage shophouses that used to serve as literally, a shop downstairs and a residence upstairs for the local Chinese community under the British rule. Some of these shophouses have become coffeeshops, like Wholey Wonder and Le楽, while others include a hardware shop and motorcycle repair shop.


- The Mural Garden -

Rustic timber shelter, wooden picnic furniture, Hin Bus Depot garden deck, RollingBear Travels blog.

The day was bright but cool.

Soft shadows danced amongst the trees as birds sang their song,

beckoning us to come forward.

To the quiet, hushed lawns where the pixies lie,

curious, watching.

You see, these pixies are the purveyors of creativity.

They exist in every corner, every soul,

But like creative tendencies, they are shy to reveal themselves.

Instead they hide, in plain sight and watch with wonder

As us humans indulge in our physical delights!

That's the courtyard that when at night,

they hold picnics and gather around The most senior of the pixies

Sit on those wrought-iron thrones

As they rejoice at the recurrence of art -

New appreciation for hand-drawn cards!

Yells one.

Pffftt nothing like the wonderful motion of GIFs

Retorts another.

Ooo look! She found our trishaw!

Oh my gosh, she took out her phone -

Are we going on INSTAGRAM?

Bahhh why would we?

That's the playground the little pixies use

When they get bored of talk of Rembrandt and Picasso,

Of the Ancient's debate between classical and what's this...

Photoshop art?

Or the mysteries of Lightroom.

Now that lawn,

where a skate ramp used to lie

Where an artist graced its walls

With that fantastic tiger art -

Is our gathering place

Where pixies from all over the world

Hold conferences at midnight.

Oh, you should have heard them speak!

Of the ink paintings from China,

The fine sculptures of Italy,

The crafts from Vietnam,

The colours of India!

There was an anime discussion once!

Then we'd end with feasts and music

Under the moonlit sky.

Fantasy art mural against orange wall of Hin Bus Depot, Penang, RollingBear Travels blog.

Ahh yes, a masterpiece indeed.

Studio Ghibli inspired, do you reckon?

Amazing, wonderful, terrific...

All the seniors of the pixie board agree!

Wait, is she leaving already? Don't go!

Oh these impatient humans!

Why are they always in such a rush?

Colourful painted boy mural on perforated pillar of Hin Bus Depot, RollingBear Travels blog.

We looked at our watches in alarm, oh dear so many more errands to run!

I turned, for a final look at the hushed lawn,

and caught a glimpse at the boy's outstretched hand

Reaching for the pixies' light

as they delight in this newfound life

When humans find joy in the many wonders of life.


That last pixie story was something I churned up just for fun. Well, happy reading and I hope you liked it!

Thank you for reading!


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