A day in Penang - Bombay, Beijing and British rule

Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
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Trip End Jun 07, 2012


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Flag of Malaysia  , Pulau Pinang,
Friday, April 6, 2012

6 th april - We flew from from phuket to Penang, which was very straightforward. On arrival we took the local bus to Georgetown. Immediately it felt like we had been dropped into Beijing as our hotel was situated in China Town. Adding to this impression we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant, where they carted around huge stacks of dim sum, steamed dumplings and various other Chinese goodies...yum! Being fairly tired after travelling we got an early night to the hustle and bustle of the Chinese streets outside our window.

7th April - we woke up and decided to explore china town fully. Many of the buildings in Georgetown were incredibly ornate and authentically Chinese, and the entire area is a UNESCO world heritage site. We visited various Kongsi (clan houses), which were richly decorated and seemed to be social centres for people with the same Chinese surname. After exploring several clan houses, many of which were side by side, with beautifully restored colonial residences, we went down to Chew Jetty, where generations of straits Chinese settlers have lived and continue to live and work. Following the jetty, and less then 500m away, we found ourselves walking through what looked, sounded and certainly smelled how we imagine Mumbai will be like; we had entered little India! To the backdrop of bangra the accompaniment of letchy men staring and the smell of tandoori, we began exploring the area. One of the most notable and impressive sights was Kapitan Keling Mosque. We had a guided tour from a mullah who explained the differences between Christianity and Islam, and learned (somewhat worryingly) that the only unforgivable sin (in the eyes of muslims), is to worship any other object on a par with worshipping god. Looks like the trinity somewhat screws us over! One big plus for the Mosque visit was that we got to don some rather cool, genuine, Islamic attire (all in one robes to cover our immodesty, my shorts were never going to pass the standard expected - they're pretty tiny)! Ross pulled his best gangster/old man pose! Later that evening, as we walked back to the hotel, we saw the mosque framed by a perfect sunset, a great end to a great day.

8th April - we visited Cheong Fatt Tze mansion, which was built in the 1880's by s local trader, known as the Rockefeller of the East. It was a garish periwinkle blue! We then walked to the colonial district and visited Penang museum, town hall, law courts etc. Before finishing the day in fort Cornwallis. We also saw the Queen Victoria diamond jubilee clocktower. That evening we had a fantastic tandoori meal, India has a lot to live up to!

9th April - we went to Air Itam dam and saw kekloksi Temple - topped by a 7 tier 30m high stupa. That night we took the night bus to Kota Bharu were we would go onto the perhentian islands.
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