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Pearl of the Orient.


View Malaysia Christmas 2018 on irenevt's travel map.

We travelled to Penang Island from the Cameron Highlands by bus. It took around five hours with a short stop at Ipoh for services. We have been to Penang once before - in 1997. On that stay we lived in the Holiday Inn, Batu Ferringgi - the beach area. We also visited Georgetown, took the ferry across to Butterworth and took the funicular up Penang Hill. This time we stayed in the Vistana Hotel in Bayan Lepas. This was near the bus station we arrived at and the airport but far from everything else. During our stay we looked around the area near the hotel, which was pleasant enough but not very interesting, and we travelled into Georgetown. I think if we visited again we would definitely stay in Georgetown as it has a fascinating and beautiful historical area.

Our room in the Vistana Hotel was comfortable and clean. The hotel had a very pleasant swimming-pool. We had paid extra to stay club class, so got free wine and snacks each evening, available from 5.30 to 8.30. We had a lot of trouble finding out when these free drinks and snacks were available, because when we asked the receptionist all she could tell us about the club lounge was that it had chairs and a TV - I kid you not. When I asked the same receptionist for a map, she laughed at me and said: "We don't do those." On my way out of the hotel to explore the local area I picked up two free maps of Penang and Georgetown from a desk just metres away from that receptionist - not entirely sure what her problem was.

Our room.

The swimming-pool.

View from hotel.

To get to Georgetown we took bus 401E to Komtar - a tall circular building with a shopping centre inside. In retrospect it may have been better to stay on until Jetty, the final stop. I say this because we went the wrong way from Komtar initially and got a bit lost. Admittedly we were lost in a fairly interesting area, but it was so hot we could have done without the extra walk in the wrong direction.

Wandering around Georgetown we encountered some street art. There is a mural trail that you can follow, but we did not do that. The murals on that are by Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic. We saw one of his works. There are also wrought iron caricatures by Baba Chuah, a street artist and cartoonist known for his “wire art”.


Squawking bird.

Greedy Boy Mural by three local artists Vincent Phang ( VP), Yong Li Chuan (Sakai) and Ang Zu He (AhHe).

Caricature by Baba Chuah.

Boy on chair by Ernest Zacharevic.

Man in a hammock.

Some of the shop fronts and house fronts in Georgetown are pretty colourful and spectacular, too.

Lantern shop.

House front.

On Armenian street.

House front.

Shop front.

House front.

Peter in front of a colourful house.

Both of us in front of a lovely Penang house.

Georgetown is a real melting pot of different cultures and religions. We were soon very aware of this as we began to wander around Georgetown's historical area which is filled with mosques, Chinese temples, Hindu temples and churches.

One of the first sights we came to on Armenian Street was the Yap Kongsi Clan Temple which dates from the late nineteenth century. It is dedicated to the Chinese god of prosperity and was once the base of the Tua Pek Kong secret society run by the Straits Chinese.

Yap Kongsi Clan Temple.

Yap Kongsi Clan Temple.

Yap Kongsi Clan Temple.

Yap Kongsi Clan Temple.

Near this temple is the spectacular Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse, which costs ten ringgits to go inside. Georgetown has a very rich Chinese heritage as the Chinese began coming here in the middle of the nineteenth century to escape poverty and famine in mainland China. They brought with them the clan or kongsi system. A kongsi is an association of individuals who have the same dialect or who are from the same area of China. They helped and protected each other. The Khoo Kongsi is the most spectacular of Penang's clan houses. It belongs to the Leong San Tong, or Dragon Mountain Hall Clan, who originally came from Xiancheng in Fujian province.

Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse.

Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse.

Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse.

Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse.

Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse.

Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse.

Near the clan house there is a mosque called the Aceh Mosque. This is a nineteenth century mosque built by Achenese aristocrat, Tengku Syed Hussain Al-Aidid.

Aceh Mosque.

Not too far away there is a very impressive bigger mosque known as the Kapitan Keling Mosque. The Kapitan Keling Mosque was built in 1801 by Penang’s first Indian Muslim settlers.

Kapitan Keling Mosque.

Kapitan Keling Mosque.

A short walk past this mosque takes you to the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple, which dates from 1833, making it the oldest Hindu temple in Penang. It was closed when we visited so we just photographed the outside.

Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple.

Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple.

A little bit further on is the Temple of Kuan Yin, goddess of mercy. This was built in the 1800s by Georgetown's Hokkien and Cantonese residents.

Temple of Kuan Yin.

Temple of Kuan Yin.

A short distance ahead is St. George's Church, which is a nineteenth century Anglican church - the oldest one in Southeast Asia. On this occasion it was closed, but on our first visit we were able to go inside and we had a long chat with the church minister.

St George's Church.

I then walked to the Penang State Museum and Art Gallery . I noticed a replica of the funicular that goes up Penang Hill outside the museum. Next I had a quick look at The Church of the Assumption. Then I continued onward past the Institution of St Xavier to look at the Blue Mansion. The Institution of St Xavier is the oldest Catholic Lasallian school in Malaysia. I passed an 'I love Penang' monument on the opposite side of the road. The Blue Mansion was built by wealthy Hakka merchant, Cheong Fatt Tze at the end of the nineteenth century. It has thirty-eight rooms, five courtyards, seven staircases and two hundred and twenty windows. There were some interesting buildings opposite the blue mansion.

Penang State Museum and Art Gallery.

Penang State Museum and Art Gallery.

I love Penang.

The Institute of St Xavier.

The Blue Mansion.

The Blue Mansion.

Buildings opposite The Blue Mansion.

Buildings opposite The Blue Mansion.

Buildings opposite The Blue Mansion.

We then wandered towards the seafront and had a look at Penang's city hall and town hall and the large grassy field known as the pedang before visiting Fort Cornwallis.

Bubbles over the Pedang.

Peter at the pedang.

Penang Town Hall.

City Hall, Penang.

On our way to the fort we passed the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. This was commissioned by local millionaire, Cheah Chen Eok in 1897. It commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The clock tower is sixty feet high and each foot represents a year of Queen Victoria’s sixty year reign.

Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower.

Fort Cornwallis is one of the oldest structures in Penang. It cost a rather expensive twenty ringgits to get in, overpriced as there is not much inside. In fact, much of the interior was closed off for renovation, so perhaps we just visited at a bad time. This fort was named after Marquis Charles Cornwallis. It was built in 1786 as a defensive structure The fort is located on the site where Captain Francis Light first set foot on Penang in 1786. He then took possession of the island from the Sultan of Kedah and turned it into a free port. There are a bronze statue of Captain Francis Light, a gunpowder store and some cannons inside the fort.

Fort Cornwallis.

Fort Cornwallis

Fort Cornwallis

Captain Francis Light.

Fort Cornwallis.

Although there was lots more to see we were exhausted by this stage and took a taxi back to our hotel where I feel we had earned a nice cold drink.

Drinks back at the hotel.

On our last day we had a lazy relaxed time swimming, reading, eating and drinking. We had had a wonderful stay in Malaysia and were sad to leave.

Leaving Penang.

Posted by irenevt 00:09 Archived in Malaysia

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The frosty receptionist might have been devout Muslim and if so would disapprove of guests enjoying alcoholic drinks, I've run into this problem a few times in Morocco.

But where is hubby with his pint of beer? I can only surmise it has submerged with him in the swimming pool!

by Bennytheball

Ah well you see I had to go out leaving this page unfinished. I'm sure hubbie will appear with a beer pretty soon. Hope all good with you.

by irenevt

Nice pics Irene!

But...why don't you post theme larger? They would be better appreciated.

Hugs from sunny Italy!

by Maurizioagos

Thank you for visiting Maurizio. I tried once to post my photos bigger but for some reason it did not work. That put me off. Maybe on my next blog I'll try again. Must admit to being a bit lacking in technological know how. Happy New Year to you and happy travels in 2019.

by irenevt

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