A question came through the discussion board the other day – do I need to bring linens from my home country or can I buy decent ones there? Great question, and one that I believe the answer has shifted on my last 5 years here. In short, it depends. Read on.
There are perfectly good bath towels available in Penang. My favorites come from the Akemi line, although Parkson has a wide selection of other brands as well. If you love a huge, body length, plush bath towel, bring them from home. If you like a decent towel and aren’t too picky, you’ll love the ones here. Look for discounts, as they can be pricier than what you can pick up at Kohls in the US.
As for dish towels, there is not a massive selection of cute prints and quirky colors. If fashion is your game, bring those along. If you want utility, the primary colored checked towels that can be had at any grocery store are perfect. I think I own 30. I picked up a stack of the local “Good Morning” white towels at a linen sale outside Giant one morning, and they are a great souvenir.
Bring your beach towels from home. Period. Unless you are fine bringing a bath towel to the beach.
I have bought all my bed sheets from the various labels at Akemi. The cotton sheets are available in solid colors in a range of thread counts. They have worn beautifully, and best thing is you buy one sheet at a time (fitted, flat – both widely available) and pillow cases all separately so you can buy just what you need.
I have also purchased some cotton linen sheets for my kids there (at great prices on sale!), and found the selection and quality to be great. If your child wants character sheets, those may be worth bringing along.
Bed size may be an issue depending on where you are coming from. Check out the standard Malaysian sizes:
Super Single: 191 x 107cm,
Queen: 191 x 152cm
King: 191 x 183cm
Taller than 6’3″? You may prefer a California King size, in which case you’ll have to ship the whole deal from home – mattress, frame (although you could have one custom made), sheet, etc.
Pillows & Mattress Covers
I’ve been on the perfect pillow hunt here and came out the other side with (more products from) Akemi pillows. We love the bamboo foam and the plush feather pillows. They also have a cotton filled naturals line that I picked up for the kids. Bolster body pillows are standard for beds here and widely available. If you have another size pillow you prefer, there is a shop in little India that makes custom cushions, also available with natural filling.
The standard pillow cases here are great, with a little pocket that folds over the end of your pillow to keep it inside. If you have a pillow you really care about, I recommend getting a pillow protector (available at Akemi and other pillow shops) as one tends to be a bit sweatier while sleeping in a tropical climate.
That being said, a Mattress protector (available at Akemi!) is essential too. If the relative firmness of a Malaysian mattress is not for you, you may consider a foam topper (available from King Koil shops).
Duvets and Gorgeous Things
For the top of my bed, I like something functional but also unique and beautiful. The best I have found are the Indian Summer blankets available from Zari Collections. These are a triple layer of fine muslin (the middle is printed and peeks through) that machine wash into the softest blanket. More than a sheet, but much less than a duvet, they are perfect. The king is large enough to even go on your California. The baby blankets make great gifts. They also sell blankets made from old silk or cotton saris which are unique and colorful, as well as high quality applique quilts. Best of all, their products support a local community and dying art forms.
More Indian-made quilts are to be had from Sam’s Batik on Penang Rd. The quality is lower, but so is the price. If you see something you like, buy it! Stock rotates quickly.
My Favorite Sources
Parkson, Gurney Plaza, 3F New Wing
Akemi, multiple locations, I like Tanjung Tokong Tesco Complex, 1F
Sim Hup Kee (Pillow Maker), 58 Gereja, 04-2625612
Zari Collections, 012 4256 0649 (Annabel), often at Super Stylish Shopping or arrange to view in their Penang home
Sam’s Batik Warehouse, corner of Penang Rd and Chulia St, just south of Line Clear Nasi Kandar