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Saturday, August 20, 2016


I love visiting places with the right mix of history ,culture ,food ,and sights is a delight .
Most of my travels has focused on these and they prod me on ,
Penang in Malaysia has been in my list for long but somehow I kept missing it ,I knew it would be right up my alley and I was proved right after my visit to Penang .
It was just a weekend that I had to spend in this treasure house of travel but it satiated my senses by then .

 Air Asia flight took more than two hours to fly into Kuala Lumpur by now quite familiar to me having visited more than a dozen times ,I had a connecting flight to Penang after two hours but had enough time to saunter into the lounge and refresh myself ,the short hop to Penang was over in an hour from the domestic KLIA II airport 
I had booked a hotel in Georgetown the happening heritage town of Penang its capital and arranged for a cab to pick me up ,in no time I was in the hotel ,the talkative driver giving me tips on the way .
after checking in I went for a night walk as the area itself was full of food places and shops of all descriptions ,I was amazed at the number of thriving food stalls in the street and people gorging themselves on food and drinks no wonder Penang is known for its street food culture 

komtar building

 The next day morning I took a cab to the touristy part of George town .
It resembled Fort Cochin in kerala a lot ,with British rule in both places for more than three hundred years it wasn't surprising at all ,
the streets were narrow filled with antique colonial houses which were well preserved 
The Armenian street was known for its street art by a Lithuanian artist commissioned by the Penang authorities ,
some of the wall painting s were very famously photographed and passed off as souvenirs ,the paintings had a three dimensional touch by real objects cleverly placed for example on the bicycle girls there was a sketch of two girls on a cycle and a real cycle was placed in the correct spot and one could take photos in front of the sketch 
walking around the multitude of boutique shops restaurants Buddhist ,Hindu temples churches and mosques the place was a great meld of culture and religion 
It was warm once the sun came up and walking was an effort but I manged to reach fort Cornwallis became the the biggest fort of British Penang ,Sir Francis light was the soldier officer who built this fort and it had erected canons protecting it in the beach front the chapel the barracks the cemetery I took a rickshaw to escape the heat and felt a little bad at my man pedaling in the heat but he was happy to do his job and took my extra tip with delight .
The heat sapped me of further adventures and I managed to return to the air conditioned comforts of my room after a quick lunch in an Indian restaurant  run by local Tamils called mamak hotel
bicycle path in tourist area

famous mosque

in rickshaw

 After sundown I ventured out again and this time I took a long bus journey form the central bus stand near komtar building  the highest 66 storeyed one in Penang 
Penang itself had done well as an investment hub and was the silicon valley of Malaysia
 It had three bridges connecting to the mainland and one could see this well from the Penang hill to which I was going 
The bus goes up half way upto the hill and there was a well known Buddhist temple with huge pagodas I decided to visit it one my return unfortunately I would be late and would miss the place 
there was a funicular train to go up the Penang hill and there was a long que to get ticket after waiting patiently in the que for more than an hour I found it was for locals and the foreigner que was very short and ticket quite costly too as I had to buy that foolishly I joined the short que after wasting a lot of time but the trip up made it up !
From the top the whole of Penang island and the Malay mainland could be seen quite clearly I walked up the hill for more than a kilometer 
well planned with lot of shops hotels ice cream places and at the end an uphill climb to reach the Murugan temple it was too early to open but I did a round and admired the ingenuity of the local Tamils 
hop on hop off buses

from penang hill

as in Malaysia Penang too has a mixed population of Chinese Malays and Tamils the Chinese Malay combos were the pernagakans and their culinary specialty was the non ya type of food 
After gawking at the setting sun I returned  down and got into a bus to go back to George town ,
I was pretty hungry by then and ventured into a very busy street food area ,I found a very big crowd around one particular stall making kar cheow teow or flat noodles and prawns so I too stood in the que and took videos of how he made the delicacy ,the chef had a trained and easy way of doing it he had a huge burning stove and he would dunk flat noodles in some boiling oil later some prawns a couple of sauces break a couple of eggs all the while stirring it with vigour as the fire would burnish the food later he added a few bits of cooked pork some spring onions sprouted beans some more sauces and handed  the mix in a paper plate with a flourish 
one could find a local table as I did and using a spoon and fork instead of chopstick used by most I tasted the delightful mix and washed it down with a nice beer !

metal art

Next day I  would again visit George town to make a leisurely walk and this time see an old man  making paper planes another one making seas shell paintings ,every local art were encouraged 
By afternoon I left in a cab to go tot he snake temple which was a monastery where snakes frequented all I could see were some sleepy coiled green snakes in a branch and a couple of pythons which were used for photographs with visitors 
I wisely turned  down the endearing offers for a picture with those slimy reptiles and just left the  much hyphed snake temple and walked in the afternoon sun to see a neighboring Hindu temple for Lord Shiva but since it was afternoon the Gods and the priests were having their beauty sleeps and I did not want to disturb  them any more so I walked past a closed church and found a sardar standing with a mobile phone in front a huge new Gurudwara
 ,he invited me in and gave me scarf to cover my head he took me up in a lift and showed me the prayer hall where I closed my eyed for a second  and wished him  Sat sree Akaal Darjee and left to the airport in the cab .

street art in Armeninan street

snake temple


cool mojhito

fort cornwallis


The Penang airport was quite big with a lovely duty free bit and i spent some time before my flight to kuala lumpur 
aa quicjick hop to Penang my long standing wish was done thus .

1 comment:

Maddy said...

those street paintings there are amazing! I still remember them...

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