4th July – This morning we booked out of our hotel early as we had to take the trip back to KL to get our flight to Penang. Once again we had some rain on the way back to KL but again it was timely when it would not impact us.
The flight was 50 minutes from KL to Penang.
Penang is a state in Malaysia and is an island located on the northwest coast of Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca.
Penang is one of the most developed and economically important states in the country, as well as a thriving tourist destination. It has a highly diverse population in ethnicity, culture, language, and religion.(as we would find out). During World War II, Penang, then a British island garrison, suffered devastating aerial bombardments and finally fell to invading Japanese forces on 19 December 1941 as the British withdrew to Singapore. Penang under Japanese occupation was marked by widespread fear, hunger, and massacres which targeted the local Chinese population,.
Upon arrival we made our way to our hotel. As it was Saturday it took a while as a lot of people come over from the mainland on weekends. I selected a hotel in the historic part of Penang called Georgetown. Georgetown is the capital of the state of Penang and is named after Britain's King George III, George Town is located on the north-east corner of Penang Island.
The inner city of George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We settled into the hotel and Shane went for a swim. It is a lovely hotel I found when reading trip advisor. It is called Noordin Mews. Half a century ago, Noordin Street was home to Penangs famous Wembley Cinema which offered a diverse range of entertainment. The streets notorious dance halls and billiard parlours attracted throngs of Penangites each evening. The front of the hotel was a shophouse.
5th July – This morning we decided to wander around Georgetown and see some of the historic sites. We started our day at Fort Cornwallis. Fort Cornwallis’ history dated back to the starting point when Sir Captain Francis Light from the British East India Company, first landed on the island with his crew in the year 1786. He was to take possession of the island from the Sultan of Kedah back then, to serve as a base or stop-over for the British company’s spice and silk trading route.
In order to protect the base from any foreign military forces, pirates and even Kedah itself, Francis Light decided to build a fort on the cape of the island’s north eastern coast, overlooking the sea -where he first set foot. The initial simple fort was made out of only ‘nibong’ palm trunks as stockades, without any concrete structures. Francis Light named the fort after the Governor General in Bengal at that time – Charles Cornwallis. The fort was only reinforced with bricks years later again by Francis Light but under a different Governor, designing it as a star-shape, covering approximately 418 square feet.
Francis Light was William Lights Father. Adelaide is the sister city to Penang so we have some connections with Penang.
Whilst wandering around the fort we located the prison and there was someone there who looked identical to Shane.
From the fort we could see the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. It is a 60 foot tower commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It was built in 1902.
The City Hall was completed in 1903 and looked really grand.
We then moved onto the Town Hall. This was built for social functions and was declared open in 1880. It was restored in 2005.
From the water front we headed along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. This is known as ‘The street of Harmony”. Part of what makes Penang unique is its established mixture of cultures and faiths. Penang’s 18th-century town planners drew together the town’s four main religions.
The bright white St George’s Church remains a lasting testimonial to Penang’s British colonial roots. It was built in 1816 and was the first Anglican church in Southeast Asia. The little building in front of the church is a memorial to Captain Francis Light, who founded Georgetown in 1786 under the auspices of the British East India Company. The church was an important focal point for the once-extensive British community.
The Kapitan Keling Mosque appears above the rooftops to the west. Built by the Tamil Muslim community, it is named after Caudin Mydin Merican, who was the Kapitan Keling – literally, Captain of the South Indians – at the time. The building is a curious mix of styles, combining colonial architecture with traditional Moorish arches.
Along with these 2 impressive buildings there are also Chinese Temples and Hindu Temples.
After a long day we headed back to the hotel for our afternoon tea they provide. It was a lovely way to finish off the afternoon.
6th July – We headed out of Georgetown today to have a look around the island of Penang. It is only a fairly small island 24km x 13 km, but there was lots of contrast. On our way out of town we say the fanciest KFC outlet we have ever seen. They have taken over an old colonial house.
There were lovely beaches at a place called Batu Ferringhi. It is only a 30 minute drive from Georgetown but a lot of tourists choose this area as their base.
We headed further on to a fishing township near the National Park.
We stopped off a a batik factory and watched them making the batik by hand. This is a dying art as none of the younger generation are too interested in this when they can get jobs in IT.
From there we headed into tropical fruit land. As we travelled around there were lots of Durian trees with fruit. They even have nets below the trees as they do not pick the fruit they wait for it to drop. The better fruit they even go up the trees and tie a string around it so when it drops off it just hangs there ready be lowered. It was quite funny seeing trees with lots of pink strings tied at the base. We stopped at a fruit stand to have a look around.
So far we have 2 favourite tropical fruits. The Rambutan which is derived from the Malay language word for rambut or "hair" and is a reference to the numerous hairy protuberances of the fruit. The fruit is a round to oval. The leathery skin is reddish and covered with fleshy pliable spines, hence the name, which means 'hairs'. You remove the skin and inside is the flesh which is translucent and whitish. It is lovely.
The other one is the Mangosteen. It looks a bit like a passionfruit but when you remove the outer skin it has segments like a citrus. We have bought these at the markets and stuffed our faces the last couple of evenings. Here is a picture so you can see what I mean.
As we continued our journey we came across some traditional Malay houses. It is now cheaper to make them from bricks and concrete but this was still made of wood.
We stopped to have a look at the bridge that goes from Penang across to Butterworth on the mainland. This bridge is about 13km long. They have just built a second bridge that is 24km long due to the volume of traffic.
As we finished our trip around the island we visited the Taoist Chinese temple known as the Snake Temple. The Snake Temple has a variety of pit vipers. The temple was built about 1850 by a Buddhist monk. According to legend,he was also a healer and sometimes gave shelter to the snakes of jungle.
As you enter the temple the snakes are near the alter.
Shane took the opportunity to have his photo taken with a viper on his head and a big python.
We had a break for lunch and then visited Kek Lok Si Temple. This Buddhist temple is perched on a hill overlooking Georgetown and is massive. There are various tiers to the temple.
One of the areas is the turtle liberation pond. Releasing a captured turtle into this pond is an act of spiritual liberation as you are setting it free, If you feed them you are also helping them and it is meant to extend your life.
We then wandered up the other levels.
After our visit to the temple we headed for Penang Hill. Penang Hill is also known by the Malay name Bukit Bendera, which refers to Flagstaff Hill, the most developed peak. The hill stands out prominently from the lowlands as a hilly and forested area. It was used as a retreat during the British colonial period, and is now a popular tourist destination of Penang. The most convenient way up to Penang Hill is by means of the Penang Hill Railway, a funicular railway from Air Itam to the top of Flagstaff Hill. The 2,007 metres takes about 6 minutes to reach the top.
The views from the top are amazing. On a good day you can see the bridge from Penang to Butterworth and also the Malaysian mainland. It was a bit hazy again today, but you can see the mainland.
You can also see how big the Kek Lok Si Temple is too.
We headed back to our hotel as it had been another full on day in the heat and humidty. We had another relaxing evening.
7th July – Happy Birthday Shane.
We decided to have a relaxing day today, so we had a sleep in and then relaxed around the hotel and pool catching up on some washing and photo editing. On our way out we had a chat to the friendly hotel staff and they wished Shane a happy birthday. We have really enjoyed staying here and the staff have been excellent. We headed out to a shopping mall that was not far from the hotel to have a wander around. I bought Shane a lovely handbag that I saw for his birthday. I needed a new one. Shane treated himself to a new pair of thongs. We had a lovely lunch once again chosing some local cuisine.
Upon return to the hotel we sat down to have our usual afternoon tea. To our surprise the girls bought out a birthday cake equivalent for Shane and a card signed by all the hotel staff. What a lovely thought. He even got a candle.
So the cake was made up of 5 longevity buns. Longevity buns are shaped into peaches and have lotus or red bean paste as the filling. Peaches are traditionally associated with long life and immortality.
Here are the buns.
Shane with the girls
Blowing out his candle.
It ended up being a really relaxing day before we head off again for our final stop.