31 December 2010

Discovering George Town (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) on Foot

*A continuation to my previous entry: The Most Beautiful Town in Malaysia
Queensbay Mall is the biggest shopping mall in Penang.

I was glad the crowds had abated when I got there so I managed to get hold of my running gear in less than 5 minutes.

The only way to let a Malaysian win an international marathon in Malaysia is by not letting these people participate. These people are horses trapped in human bodies. LOL!
After a quick tour inside the Queensbay Mall (expensive! I couldn't even find a small bottle of mineral water for less than RM1!), I returned to George Town to spend the rest of the evening touring around – ALONE.

Walking off from the Jetty, I walked along the beautiful seaside of George Town and found the Church Street Pier.
Oh well, it seems to host a ‘fun-filled, ladies only party with FREE drinks’ every Friday and I couldn’t believe I was imagining myself dressing in lady dress with heavy make-up and sparkling red lipstick and probably with shaved legs and sponge breasts and wondering if I could make my way in. Imagine being surrounded by sexy ladies who were ready to all out knowing without knowing that somebody with a pair of balls was actually there among them. Hehe.
I happened to take a glimpse of the Star Cruises – the giant ship that happened to be the very first pit stop of the recently concluded Amazing Race Asia Season 4 where one of them had to the cleaning and scrubbing while the partner had to check out every room to spot and take a photo of the other.
A little walk from there had led me to this iconic George Town Clock Tower.
I 'thick-facedly' (shamelessly) grabbed a passing by amoi to take this picture for me. LOL! 
I was actually looking for the Fort Cornwallis and I knew I was basically there but I was having some difficulty locating the entrance. I just kept walking to where my instincts were telling me to.
You know how George Town is so old when you see trees growing out of the roof of a building.
Fort Cornwallis that I found out was such a picturesque place whose bricked walls reminded me very much of the Walled City of Intromuros in Manila. 
The walls make a perfect background for a wedding picture and sure enough there were at least half a dozen of couples doing a pre-wedding photoshoot when I was there.
Fort Cornwallis had been built up to face down to the North Straits that separates George Town from Butterworth in the mainland.
For all my life I’ve only heard about A Farmosa in Melaka and some Lembah Bujang or something I didn’t know the existence of Fort Cornwallis until I found it listed in the list of Penang major attractions. Strangely though, A Farmosa that I found out was nothing more than a piece of fa├žade and I wasn’t at all impressed when I was there. Fort Cornwallis has the ‘better looks’ of a fort.
Fort Cornwallis was actually built by Francis Light almost immediately after he took over Penang in exchange for the protection he promised to give to Kedah which was being constantly threatened by outside intruders.
Welcoming the visitors at the entrance is of course this famous statue of Francis Light himself. 
At one corner of the fort is what was once a beautiful little chapel. Sadly though, it was left to rot with nothing in it but an empty space. I believe they could make use of it with at least something.
While it was claimed in the brochure that Fort Cornwallis remains the best preserved fort in the country, I had to beg to differ to that. I would give them some credit for turning these underground spaces into exhibition rooms, but I couldn’t help but wincing in agony as I saw how badly maintained they were.
The paint was peeling off and the walls were weather-washed.
Everything seemed to be falling out of place.  
It was such a tremendous eye-sore to me that even my lens fell off my eye cornea and turns me into a half-blind. OK, I’m exaggerating. But it wasn’t good to see considering how Fort Cornwallis is a household name in Penang tourism industry.  
Back on the outside later, I rambled aimlessly along the seaside where the locals seemed to be enjoying the view of the North Straits where part of the modern Penang urban can be seen across the distance. 
Even with a half-blind eye I could still see this funny looking lizard craning its head out and looking directly at a lovey-dovey couple – probably contemplating the loneliness that she was in (or I was in har har har). 
It wasn’t long before I came upon this War Memorial plaque. There was nothing fancy about it but of course what matters most is the significance that it bears for those who have perished in the war. 
George Town certainly deserves to be inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site. I  mean, just look at their Municipal Building.
 And they have this beautiful building as the Town Hall, a far cry from our down-right square City Hall building in Kota Kinamalu.  
You see, I didn’t take a single bus ride from the Jetty Bus Terminal because George Town is actually well-covered on foot. All you need is a piece of map that shows all the places of interest and you’ll be good.
It didn’t take long for me to locate my next destination – St. George Church. I looked so beautiful even in plain white. 
Unfortunately, it was close for some refurbishment work so I had to let myself be amazed from the outside. :-( 
A little walk from there was another must-visit place – the Goddess of Mercy Temple.  
I was quite surprised to see how small it was. But then, I don’t know why but there was something about this temple that I found DIFFERENT from most of the temples that I’ve been to. There was something about it that I found errrrr.... enchantingly absorbing? Yeah, something like that.  
Dozens of pigeons roamed the front lawn as it the Goddess of Mercy Temple was the only place in town that keeps them alive. As I stood there looking, I tried to picture the temple in my mind without those pigeons and I didn’t like it. Somehow they seem to be quite an integral part of the whole thing.  
Quite true to its name, visitors seem to flock in and do the familiar Buddhism rituals such as burning the incense sticks, probably to ask for forgiveness from the Goddess of Mercy or something. 
Somebody seemed to be making good money by letting some of the visitors believe that they wishes MIGHT be granted if they set these lil birds free. RM3 per bird and the more birds you let fly free the more likely would your wishes be granted. 
Of course I wouldn’t fall for it. I knew the birds were gonna come back to somewhere where that money-maker would just scoop them back into the cage. Easy money.  
Be prepared to get suffocated in the thick smoke when you get inside the temple. With so many joss sticks are being burnt and candles lit, I wouldn’t recommend anybody with breathing problem to come in.  
Only a spit throw away from the temple is this prayer hut set under, of so many things, a strangular fig tree. It looked more like a prayer hut for Hinduism (flowers etc.). Every now and then people would stop by and say their prayer here. 
By then, the sky was beginning to get dark over George Town. I knew I had to get back to my hostel and prepare myself for the grueling Penang Bridge International Marathon the very next day.   
I did however join the ladies to our last dinner together since they were going to fly off to Langkawi Island right after the marathon. *respect. I decided not to join them because I didn’t like the idea of dragging my over-used feet all over Langkawi.  

Penang again surprised me with something that I’ve never seen anywhere before. IF you look closely, this is not the ordinary Kueh Teow that we are accustomed of seeing and eating. I don’t even know if it still fits the category of a Kueh Teow but one thing I was sure of was that – it was fcuking good. In fact, it was so good that I found myself eating exactly the same thing for my dinner the next day.
George Town impressed me very much with its old buildings, historical values and the great fusion of oriental and European architectures I even declared 'George Town is the most beautiful town in Malaysia. There's no doubt about it' via facebook.
And I meant it. I had at least a few more days to discover further and I couldn't wait. But of course, I had the Penang Bridge International Marathon to deal with at 3 o'clock the very next morning before I could do just that. ^-^


thomas said...

Wow!Looks like you've covered the whole island and left nothing for me to blog on Penang,hah!hah!

JIPP said...

hehe. Oh well, at least Penang is easily-reachable. You've covered the whole Malaysia, even in the far corner. But then I believe there's always someth to blog about.

ken said...

you walked there! that's cool.. haha.. but wasn't the weather hot? but yeah, penang is a nice place.. nice place for food! haha :D

Anonymous said...

I haven't 'conquer' penang yet! :(

JIPP said...

Ken: Yupp, I walked. It was quite cloudy so the sun was bearable. Oh, and the food is great. Love it. :-D
Shirleen: You should consider conquering it then. You'll like it. :-)

Lizeewong said...

You take really amazing photos. Buli tahan oh ko jalan kan Jipp..Kalau sia pengsan suda hehehe...I must go to Penang again some day. The last time I was there, I only went to Komtar. Rugi oh.

JIPP said...

I'm used to walking a lot now Liz. Hehe. Byk temiss kalo tida jalan kaki. Yeah, you should go there. I never thought of going there before I started travelling. When it was declared a UNESCO site, I became curious. Sekali sampai sana wahhh. Nothing like how I expected it to be. Hehe. Then I knew why it was given such a great recognition. :-D

Kelvin said...

Lol, i think i am going to be blind soon, i had to enlarge the pic to see the lizard!!!

JIPP said...

haha. don't worry. You won't.


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