30.10.2008 30 °C
We were hit with the heat again in Penang. We arrived mid afternoon and reached the island, also known as the Pearl Of The Orient, by driving across a long 13km bridge from mainland Malaysia. We were famished by the time we arrived in the city Georgetown so we immediately sought out some lunch. We stumbled across a bustling restaurant in China town & devoured the most tasty Hainanese style chicken & rice. Chinatown, like in most cities, offers cheap accommodation & as this Chinatown had a good feel to it, we made it our home for the next few nights.
Penang, similar to mainland Malaysia has a real mix of cultures. As Nathan says, it's hard to tell where you are in Malaysia- India, China or indeed Malaysia? One of the benefits of this however is the food! Each day we've been able to vary the cuisine.
From our point of view, we felt Penang, Georgetown, had seen better days. However, there are some hidden gems that we discovered in the city. Below you'll see our favourites:
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion- Cheong Fatt Tze moved to Penang in the 1800s when he was only 16 & became of the most successful Chinese businessmen in history. The mansion was one of his first homes & features 18th & 19th century Chinese architecture as well as rare antiques.
Khoo Kongsi- A grand clan temple
Kapitan Keling Mosque-
Little India- Quaint & lively town
Chinatown- Unique old clan houses & shops
Edleweiss- Fav cafe to take some time out
To get a good appreciation for Georgetown, the best way is to walk the streets & take notice of the intricute details above ground level. There are fascinating old Chinese row houses all with orginal shutters & doors as well as beautiful shrines & temples. The city also has a big colonial & anglo indian influence which you can see in many of the public buildings architecture.
During our stay, we also wanted to get a taste of the Penang's coastline so we caught a bus to the most northerly eastern tip, Batu Ferringi. As soon as we jumped on the bus we realised there was a really foul smell..honestly the stench was horrendous. I don't know why we stayed on the bus but we stuck it out. After about half an hour the bus pulled up at a main station & the driver walked up to the back of the bus & started yanking this guy off. This guy was carrying a bag of rubbish/fish guts who knows what & it was leaking rotting liquid & maggots! Hundreds of the squirmy maggots fell out & went everywhere on the bus. A bunch of school girls were screaming & minutes later we all decided to do a mass exit. It was disgusting but hilarious at the same time. Such a random experience. Eventually they cleaned the bus & we jumped back on & arrived at the beach 10 mins later.
Batu Ferringi is a laid back beach town with a long curved bay. The strip of beach is lined with a few big name resorts and many watersport shops trying to sell you every adventure under the sun. In our eyes it was pretty avergage. Perhaps we were spoilt in the Perhentian?
On our last night in Penang we ate at the Red Garden open air food market. To Nathan's delight he got to watch his beloved spurs in action...or not as the case was. For him Penang ended on a bad note.