Penang, Malaysia

April 27, 2019

This is our second time in Penang, we came here on our first world cruise in 2015.  This time we decided to explore the city of Georgetown, near the cruise port.  The city’s core is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008 and has many elaborate colonial homes and Chinese heritage buildings as well as a lot of temples.

Penang was Britain’s first toehold on the Malay peninsula and Georgetown is the capital. There is an interesting history here.  This area was ruled by the sultans until the late 18th century. Thai and Burmese raiding parties were present and the sultan sought military protection from Francis Light, an adventurer seeking to counter the Dutch presence nearby. It turned out that Light struck a deal with the sultan but the East India Company declined to go along with it. Light convinced the sultan that the deal was being referred to the authorities in London.  The sultan finally caught on to the scam, but failed to evict the British. 

Our guide shared all of this yesterday, and today we see the evidence of no significant development in this city because of the economic effects of this so called deal, many colonial and early Chinese buildings survived to this day.

IMG_8244IMG_8245IMG_8246The Queen Victoria clock tower was presented to the city in 1897 by local millionaire Cheah Chen Eok. It is 60 feet high and commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

We did a lot of walking through the town and enjoyed the sights and sounds, did a bit of shopping and visited the mosque. We had a tour in the mosque by a lovely young woman who shared how they do their prayers and the passage from the Koran that they all memorize.

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The fire department was doing some kind of demonstration on the street.  Fascinating!

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In an effort to brand the Georgetown UNESCO World Heritage Site, the state government opened a contest and the winning idea culminated in a unique series of steel rod caricatures which retells the history of the streets and stories of the communities in a local voice. The work started in 2010 and to date there are 52 steel rod sculptures.  There are also wall murals.  We thought the steel rod ones were so interesting.  Here are a few of them.

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We walked to the Penang Bazaar and browsed the shops.

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Here are a few more signs, and yes, we didn’t see any dogs, but several cats were having their naps.

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Norm kept seeing this sign and wondering where that street was since it seemed to be everywhere, but when I looked it up – we found that it meant “one way street!”

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After a hot morning and a lot of walking, we headed back to the ship.  This lighthouse is right near where the Insignia is docked.  And there is a watering hole there too.

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We enjoyed our day here.  A very clean city.  Lots of cab drivers wanted to give us tours and I think they couldn’t quite understand why we wanted to walk.  Here is another way people get around.

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