30 December 2010

George Town: The Most Beautiful Town in Malaysia

I haven’t really blogged about Penang. Oh well, I did, in a single entry but Penang is too much of great place to detail out in just one single entry.
I actually woke up in the wee hour of my very first day in Penang just to see how the local in George Town come about their daily life in the morning.

Oh well, it’s always interesting to watch a city in a state of awakening when you’d see the shops and businesses opening up for the day.
George Town wakes up quite late though. The only place that opens early is the market and it wasn’t yet ready to take in any visitor when I was there.
My heart leapt in excitement when I bumped into an open market on Jalan Kuala Kangsar. You guys know how I love open markets. For me visiting the market is the best and fastest way of ‘reading’ the city and its people.
I was welcome by a bevy of sexy ladies, some of them in see-through lingerie. Alright, there were merely lifeless torsos but the sight of them was kinda distracting and I could see how most of the male passers-by appeared to look away from them as if looking at them would reveal or rather spark their inner erotic fantasy. LOL!
Oh well, I wouldn’t go into details about my encounters at the open market because I actually returned there the very same morning. I did however have my very first breakfast in Penang at one of the old restaurants that overlooks the market and it was great.
We don’t get anything like this for RM2.50 in Sabah nowadays. We are 'too rich' (saying it with two crooked fingers) for anything so cheap for a food like this..
Ohh, and I really thought the word ‘kaw’ is a 1 Malaysia word. The old man who took my order looked confused when I ordered ‘kopi kaw’ he had to ask one of the younger waitresses to come and take my order. And yet she asked ‘you mean strong coffee right?’ when I mentioned ‘kopi kaw’ again. Amehh.  
So...... I was back at the Hutton Lodge later and about in about an hour or so, I was ready to hit into the streets again – this time for real.  
I was with my bunch of friends – the ever crazy ladies – and we were all set to rock George Town.
We started off at the Chowrasta Market.
I’ve never seen so many fermented stuff in such a vast variety before. I am not really a big fan of fermented stuff but the ladies were actually there for them - literally. I used to eat them a lot in my YOUNGER years until some aunty in the neighbourhood asked me 'Ehh, you eat those stuffs kah? You've got period mehh?'. I stopped eating them ever since, not completely but almost.
Landing in Penang on the 19th, this is something that I missed out on by only a few days. What a big disappointment. I was so tempted to change my ticket but it’d cost me a bomb. :-( *damn the holiday break!  
So, as I said earlier, I returned to the open market later in the day with the ladies.
They were so many things to see such as these ‘loud’ wooden sandals with some of the thickest heels I’ve ever seen on sandals ever. It reminded me of those super thick sandals that were first made popular by Spice Girls back in the early 90’s. I remember how they were so popular that the streets of my hometown Keningau were full of thumping sounds produced by these wooden heels. It was nightmarish.
Thanks God these loud sandals have become a thing of the past now and Keningau has since regained its peacefulness. The only people that I still see using them now are the saloon girls who want to make up for their size deficit and you know when they are approaching even before you see them. I JUST HOPE that these wooden sandals would never make their way to Keningau market. Just imagine you have a bunch of them walking by in these wooden sandals and going pak pak pak pak all around town. Erkkk!

Ohh, and never in a thousand year would I ever imagine walking with a chunk of grapes strapped to my feet. I'd surely make me feel so vulnerable. LOL! 
Somehow ketayap for the name of a food sounded quite funny to me. It was like naming a food with something like ‘fart’ or ‘testicle’ or something. We were actually interested in giving it a taste until some stupid idiot came shooing us away without any apparent reason. Apparently this idiot and another idiot friend of his were doing some shooting, probably to be posted on their stupid blog or something.
Of course, there was always something else to have for a taste. 
Porridge was usually far down the list of my choices of food probably because I usually found myself disappointed every time I ordered one. They were usually bland and regrettably tasteless and I hated it when I had to order something else to satisfy my taste buds.
This one that we found in the open market of George Town was somehow a real appetizer. It was as yummy-licious as it looked.
I wasn’t sure what exactly they put in but it was so yummy the first bowl that we ordered was swept clean almost instantly we had to order a second bowl with a new addition on top of it (some newly-made friend bought it for us - one of the good things about travelling with a bunch of ladies).
While waiting for the porridge to get to its complete circle of digestion in our bellies, we took some time to plan our next course of trip. OHhh, and they really know how to address the map with their fingers. *shaking my head.
Walking towards Komtar as our next destination, we happened to see some beautiful old shop houses along the way and of course we wouldn’t let them just go by like that without taking some photos.
George Town is full of beautiful shop houses really but some of them are just so outstanding.
Komtar is probably the most iconic building in Penang. It was once known as the tallest building in the country but of course something like that for a title wouldn’t last for long.  
With the Malaysian frenzy over tall buildings, I’m not sure if it is even in the Top 5 of Malaysia’s tallest buildings now. Tun Mahathir put the Petronas Twin Towers on top of the list and now Mr. N wants to claim the title with a bigger erection in the form of Mega Tower. Seems like every new PM wants to have the biggest erection now. LOL!
Oh well, Komtar is more like an office building that jots out of a shopping complex with a bus station at the basement. I don’t remember what exactly we were they for but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with cameras. Or rather, minta puji-ing around. :-P 
From Komtar we took the free shuttle to another major attraction in George Town.
A name to remember – Kepitan Keling Mosque.  
Being a Muslim-dominated country, Malaysia is full of mosques but Kepitan Keling Mosque is nothing like any other mosque.
For one, the size of Kepital Keling Mosque doesn’t speak loud for its beauty and it doesn’t need to be massive to be outstandingly beautiful in the eyes of people like me.  
There was always something to see in details.  
I came in quite late when all the ladies were already inside. I was busy taking photos when all of a sudden a lady in black robe who was busy sweeping the floor came into picture. It struck me as odd that she looked so familiar to me. 
What the.................  LOL! Didn’t I tell ya? These ladies are crazy. *shaking my head again.
OH well, just wanna tell you that an entry to the mosque (or any other mosque I think) needs you to minimize the baring of flesh. But don’t worry, they’ve got robes ready for you at the entrance so you really don’t have to wrap yourself up in a coverall and suffocate yourself to death in the tropical climate of George Town just for the sake of gaining an entry to the Kepitan Keling Mosque.  
Next up was the Penang Islamic Museum. I decided not to go inside when I found out there was an admission free of about RM3. I wasn’t just interested enough to let go of my three bucks for a tour inside the Islamic Museum.
Only a few rows of shops away from the Islamic Museum was another place of great historical values called Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Penang Base. A simple fact on Dr. Sun Yat Sen is that he was the one who ended the imperial rule and turned China into a communist republic as it is now today.
Being in the exile for most of his life, he and other revolutionists needed to be somewhere else to plan their next course of actions. Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Penang Base was one of those places. I’m not really sure if Dr. Sun Yat Sen had ever set foot at the Penang base though. Probably not.
Luck wasn’t really on our side. Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Penang Base was close to give way to some refurbishment work and it would only be open at around 3pm later in the day. We all knew that it was more possible than not that we were not coming back. With so limited time before the Penang Marathon the next day, it was more like a one-go thingy.

A little walk from there had led us to the Yap Temple 
Oh well, I wouldn’t say it was the most beautiful temple that I’ve ever seen but it was definitely the most European one. It was a fusion of the oriental and European. Somehow I loike!
I had to say good bye to the ladies from there because I needed to go to Queensbay Mall to pick up my gear for the Penang Bridge International Marathon (blog about it here). Somehow, it felt good to be alone on the street again (After all I’m a solo traveler. Har har har :-P).

It made me more wary of things along the way.
There was always something to feed my eyes with.
I'm gonna stop here now. Follow me as I discovered further of this old town of George Town and why I was so amazed I even declared it THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TOWN IN MALAYSIA. All in my next post. ;-) 


thomas said...

It's indeed the most beautiful city in Malaysia if the place can be kept clean.
From your photos it looks better than when i last went walking around town
a few years back.
Actually i am now in Gelugor,Penang working and haven't visit the town yet.

aud said...

Oh dear. I think, I think ... it seems that ... you've left your heart in Penang!

I predict that you'll be back there one day :D For me it's been a yearly affair so far.

Lizeewong said...

Food is so cheap there? Is that the range of prices for most outside food? Murah oh and they do look yummy!

Post more pics of your pasar mlm discoveries...That's really interesting :)

JIPP said...

Thomas: I think they've done someth about it esp now that it bears the reputation as a UNESCO site.
Aud: Yupp, definitely I wanna go back there again. :-)
Lizee: Yupp, vast variety and way cheaper than KK. KK is very expensive lahh. :-(

iml said...

Thank you. Wished you had more time to venture into the south of Penang, Gertak Sanggul and batu Maung for a glimpse of kampung life.

JIPP said...

Yupp, I'd definitely go back to Penang to explore further. I know Penang has much more to offer that what I've had seen. :-)

David said...

I really liked your post on Penang.

I am a foreigner and also like to blog about my travels in Malaysia (and other countries). Hope you have time to read some of my stuff.

JIPP said...

Thanks David and thanks for link.

Anonymous said...

The most beautiful Town? Jokelah bro...Melaka is the best beautiful town and very clean compare Penang. Trust me.

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