Penang Island (Malaysia)
Русская версия The island of Penang and its capital Georgetown is a favorite for many tourists due to pre-Second World War British colonial architecture as well as the 19th century churches, temples, mosques, and colonial buildings. George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage. According to Wikitravel, “the city is clean, safe, well managed, and very walkable”, although we do not quite agree to that. However, first things first.
We arrived in Penang from the nearby island Langkawi by the speed boat. Getting on the boat was crazy and disorganized – people were running and pushing each other, the boat appeared to be closed and they anyway had to wait. As soon as it was open, people flooded it. The trip lasted around three hours. We chose a good time of departure (17.15), which allowed us taking pictures of the sunset.
George Town met us with annoying taxi drivers, two rats, and unpleasant smells. The closer we moved towards the center, the more cafes and shops we saw, the better became smells and the mood. On our way, we met a Slovak whom we had met in Taman Negara before. He was leaving Penang and gave his map of the island to us. We easily found our hostel D Mo Inn. We had never seen so small rooms before (at that point of time we had not visited Vietnam and Hong Kong). Still, everything including the shared toilets and bathrooms was clean. The notices all over the walls prohibited bringing the durians (smelly fruit) in.
Having checked in, we went to Red Garden with lots of cafes of different cuisine. In George Town tourists receive free maps of the places to eat all kinds of food, with the pictures of the most popular dishes. The culinary tourism is, perhaps, the major direction of George Town development, and Red Garden offers the maximum variety of food. We had Char Koay Teow – the noodles with seafood – and the most popular dessert, Ice Kacang. The latter seemed very strange. We ate the top which included ice-cream, beans and corn, at the bottom the ice and some other stuff was left.
Only then we saw that the locals mix the whole dish and only then eat it. But we decided not to risk again, ate more waffles and rolled out of this food paradise.
On the way home, we encountered some Hindu procession. Penang is a multinational and multiconfessional island.
In the morning, the city became different.
Talking about the walkability: the pavements of the city go through the house entrances, where the motorcycles are parked or the dirty ditches are situated. During the walk you will encounter constant obstacles: kerbs, ditches, vehicles, and rats.
In the morning we met an Italian-German couple which we had also met in Taman Negara. It turned out that the day before they had given their map to the Slovak, who, in turn, had given it to us.
It should be said that despite the UNESCO heritage list, the city is not so rich in sights which has to be compensated with culinary tourism. The major tourist objects are related to the colonial period of the island.
Founded in 1786 by British trader Francis Light, Georgetown was one of the three Straits Settlements along with Singapore and Malacca. Modern-day Georgetown is one of Malaysia’s largest cities with 600,000 inhabitants. Despite general religiosity, the liberal spirit of the island is obvious – even the policeman agreed to supplement Victor’s photo collection.
The main sight of the city (in addition to the ocean) is Fort Cornwallis, which, by the way, did not participate in a single battle.
The fort was founded on the place where Francis Light once debarked: at first the fortification was built from the palm trees, and then the wood was changed to bricks. In the fort, there is also a monument to Light.
Then we walked to another foodmarket, met more rats and found our favorite chiffon bread.
And this work of art in the form of heart is ice-cream baked in dough. The ice-cream inside is still frozen, and remained a mystery for us how it does not melt.
Along with British architecture, a tourist may find many unusual and authentic quarters and temples, which remind that you are in Asia. You may walk here forever.
However, we had to move towards new adventures. Having pickes up our backpacks from the hostel after the lunch, we went to the airport (buses 401, 401Е, takes about one hour) and flew further, to Kuala Lumpur.