Penang and the city of Georgetown is a wealth of history, cultural, and religious influences. Being a National Heritage Site, the streets of Georgetown are scattered with old colonial houses from the British colonisation, in amongst the new modern buildings of the 21st century city. It makes for a real cultural treat.
It wasn’t just the British who enjoyed an affluent life here, the Chinese also had a heavy influence here.
We visited Pinang Peranakan Mansion, which was owned by Georgetown’s very own ‘Godfather’ (as our guide described him). A wealthy man who made his fortune at the mines (which were aplenty here in Penang during the 1900’s, again according to our guide).
The mansion is magnificent, and richly decorated.
We also found an old Protestant cemetery dating back from 1789.
This was the final resting place for many of the first British settlers of the island, many if whom died on the ship before even setting foot here.
The headstones were a grand thing to behold, and the setting in a very peaceful wooded area in the middle of the city.
The food in offer here is absolutely brilliant, due to all the cultural influences you have such an array of food here, as you can imagine we were pretty happy with that!
There is a large night market in the centre of the city where locals and tourists alike go and enjoy culinary delights, ranging from Chinese dumplings, Japanese sushi, Vietnamese Pho, Thai curries and BBQ foods. Your average meal here will cost you about £2!
There is definitely a ‘cool student vibe’ here too, which can be seen with the funky little cafes scattered amongst the streets which offer amazing food worthy of a 5* restaurant. Also Georgetown is famous for its street art, which is dotted around the cities streets. It felt like a treasure trail when we went on our DIY tour of the streets, the art is everywhere – above shop windows or down alleyways. The art itself is really impressive, and so clever, it reminded us of Banksy.
There has been a slight change of plan too – unfortunately we aren’t going to be farmers anymore.
We turned up at the ‘farm’ (it looked more like a large allotment which is owned by a serial hoarder, nothing like a farm) to find there was nobody there! We waited around for 3 hours, and also found no evidence of our tent, and the only shower we could locate stank of urine. We got eaten alive by mozzies whilst waiting (even though we had Deet on), and my foot got attacked by red ants. Only positive was having cuddles with a friendly ginger cat! So we called it a day and got the bus back to our hostel (only after trying to shake off a dog at the bus stop who kept trying to hump our legs)!!
However that just meant we had a little extra time to explore!
We spent a really enjoyable day at an eco spice farm. Based in a small part of the island’s rainforest, it was a walk through herb and spice plants growing in amongst the natural forest.
It was interesting – just so many different species of plants, many of which produce useful things for us.
We also came to a stream which you could dunk your feet in and receive a ‘fish spa’ from the little guppies who live in the water. It was great! These little guys got straight to work eating the dead skin off our feet!
We were fortunate enough to spot the Giant Black squirrel, a very shy animal who inhabits the rainforests of SE Asia. These squirrels are huge – the size of a large domestic cat. They are near threatened in the wild, primarily due to deforestation.
On our last day we visited Kek Look So Temple. We felt this warranted a visit as it is the largest Buddhist temple in SE Asia. It consists of 7 story ‘Pagoda of the Ten Thousand Buddhas’, and a huge 30.2 metre bronze Kuan Yin statue. The temples, statue, and views of the city below were impressive.
We visited the Air Itam dam which was just up the hill, to enjoy the cooler temperatures and views of the surrounding rainforest.
We also saw a troupe of macaques who we enjoyed watching, until the dominant male decided he had had enough of being watched and started showing us his teeth. We listened to him straight away and left them to it!
We have really enjoyed Penang, and are looking forward to our next destination – the Perhentian islands.