We had since long planned to spend the Christmas holiday in Penang. We would meet up with my parents and siblings and spend some quality time. It was nearly that it did not happen, due to some random violent attack against one of my siblings, and the recuperation after such incident. With a bit of luck and we could, all of us, meet up and have a nice time together. Everything in Pulau Pinang was great, except for the weather. We had rain all of the days we were there. According to the seasonal weather charts it should not, but lately the weather in Malaysia has been unpredictable. I think it goes for the whole world. I am sorry to say, but since my photo gear is not weather sealed, there was not so many pictures taken.
The main goal was to eat. The street foodies know what I am talking about when it comes to the island of Penang. The foodstalls! Some of the food we sampled were: hainanese chicken rice, fried oyster omelette, fried frog legs, prawn mee, chicken claypot, char kuey teow, penang laksa, nasi dalca, nasi kandar… The list goes on. And still, the list for foods we have not tried are longer than the ones we have tried. That’s a shame, because that means that one must come back to Penang, at some point.
Other than that, we went strolling around in Georgetown, enjoying the sceneries. There are lots of old colonial buildings to see, but the majority of them are in really bad condition, and left empty. My speculation in what might have lead to this, is that most of the buildings are shop lots, that have been handed down generation after generation. In Malaysia there is not a great tradition in keeping things up. They have a more utilitarian outlook on things. They think that if something works, it needs no fixing… until it is so run down that it can’t be saved. These shop lots have been doing business for years and very little thought has gone to that spongy looking support beam, or the leaky roof, or the crumbling wall. Suddenly one day, just out of nowhere, a building inspector hammers up a letter condemning the building. Most of the owners can’t afford to arrange to bring the building up to working standards, so they leave them, just like that. This also leads me to the most ambivalent experiences I have ever had. McDonalds and KFC in Penang have taken over some old colonial buildings and have fixed them up to pristine condition, and are now running their establishment in them.
Also it is easier to just build new, from scratch. And this is happening all over Malaysia. They are not just building new houses, they are also building new cities and living areas, from scratch. In Penang they are focusing on malls, hotels and resorts. And just next to the new is the old. It still costs to demolish a building. But in most parts they fix up the old to pristine condition. And the price for the most comical is the one in the middle of the paragon mall. Squeezed in between the new modern shopping complexes. It just looks too funny.
When the weather was a little better and it only drizzled, we decided to go to Penang hill, just to do something other than eat. It was pretty interesting to be up there in this weather condition. The view was null, but there was an added eerie feeling with all the fog. Besides the tourist complex, with restaurants and souvenir shops, they have a mosque and a Hindu temple up there. The kids really enjoyed the Owl museum, and so did we, during the most intense rain shower.
We also took the car for a drive around the island. The views from the west side hills are just amazing, even for an overcast day. For those that like durian, there are lots of durian plantations on this part of the island.
This is the view we had from the hotel, seeing mainland Malaysia.
And the classical evening walk on Gurney drive.
We will definitely come back to Penang.