After getting settled to our new home, we decided to explore the capital of Penang, Georgetown. We caught a bus quite near our home and paid 2RM for a nearly one hour drive to the destination. After driving for some time we noticed that we have certainly reached a more capital city-like surroundings, which led to us stepping out on a random stop, only to notice that we still have some way to go before reaching the actual sights of Georgetown. So on to the next one.
This is where the reality started to hit me. While sitting in the air conditioned bus, outside was waiting a totally different world. Houses with rusted steel roofs, old men sitting in the asphalt peeling vegetables in dirty clothes, burnt buildings – poverty. I was being smacked in the face by culture shock. Just to mention, I am the sensitive type, crying because Lidl advertises on TV and so on. Still, this was not what I expected. All that was in my head was “Am I in Sri Lanka?”. I took a moment to cool down and noticed that this was just one area in the city and the scenery was about to change soon.
To talk about a complete change, our bus stopped next to a large shopping center screaming different well-known brand names and flashing its shiny décor.
We started to move towards the sights with the help of a map. Another big help to us was and has been Lonely Planet’s book called ‘Discover Malaysia & Singapore’, which offered a great ready planned walking trip inside Georgetown, tackling down most of the must see sights. It covered 3 kilometres of walking and was said to last three to four hours. The whole area now filled with tourists is actually a legendary UNESCO heritage zone of Georgetown.
First point of the trip was the small 1924 Hokkien clanhouse Yap Kongsi. Its outer alter is decorated with symbols from the Taoist I Ching (The I-Ching, Book of Changes, is an ancient book of Chinese origin). After turning left into Cannon Square we reached the magnificently ornated Khoo Kongsi, the most impressive Kongsi in Penang. Daniil is a fan of Chinese architecture, so these two were sure to be visited during our walking tour.
On the way to next spots of the tour we were blown away by the untraditional (Banksy-like) street art.
We walked through Little India, and you could see a visible change from the Chinatown’s colourful dragons, old buildings and calm atmosphere changing to the Bollywood scenery with fancy boutiques full of traditional dresses, golden jewellery and restaurants, one after the other.
At the end of the tour was a lush green Padang, a huge park right next to the waterfront and grandiose architecture of the City Hall and Town Hall. Immediately we noticed a large circle formed by tens of bears, all colored in totally different styles and colors. We took a closer look at them and figured out that it must be a sort of exhibition.
It wasn’t a surprise that after such walk, Daniil was extremely hungry and we were lucky that on that specific day the park was filled with different little food stalls offering little snacks and drinks, such as tasty meat sticks.
It has been a long tour? Yeah sure, and we still had to walk all the way back to the bus station… That’s why I insisted on ice-cream pause in a overly cute and surprisingly healthy dessert café called Wa-kao. After a long debate with my inner ice-cream lover, we ended up taking a combo of homemade peanut pudding and a waffle filled with coconut and watermelon scoops, topped with whipped cream and strawberries. Perfect ending to an eventful day!
Written by Kia Toivola
Posted by Daniil Ivanov