15 February 2012
Georgetown Penang is the only place that I like about Malaysia. I didn’t feel unsafe during my time in the city however, I do know that there are crime and problems since due to its proximity with Thailand, it is often at the centre of huge drug busts and a starting point for drug trafficking. Anyways, the short ferry ride and bus trip into the heart of the city offered a different feel. It’s a lot more relaxed and chilled with a real sense of history.
Red Inn Court (Georgetown), more like a museum instead of a guesthouse, is one of the best accommodations that I’ve stayed at throughout all my travels. Breakfast is a wonderful hearty meal and the room is insanely comfortable.
Located directly opposite of the Goddess of Mercy temple, it was the starting point of my tour. Dedicated to Kuan Yin, the first foundation was laid in 1728 by Chinese settlers and completed in 1800.
Founded 200 years ago, Georgetown has an impressive collection of historic buildings representing the cultural heritage of Penang’s various ethnicities: Chinese, Malays, Indians, Europeans etc. It became an UNESCO WHS in 2008 and this historic city covers an area of 109.38 ha. Any well preserved city with great history has my vote so yes, Georgetown is perhaps the only place that I wish to revisit should I ever pass through Malaysia again.
I walked around the core zone of the UNESCO city and strolled around city hall, town hall, museums, churches, mosques and the esplanade which leads all the way to the port. The town hall was a venue for the elites back in the 1880’s and due to its colonial classical elegance, it was the backdrop for a scene in the movie Anna and the King (Jodie Foster + Chow-Yun Fat).
Kapitan Keling Mosque founded in 1801 is the largest historic mosque in Georgetown and designed in Mogul architecture.
The esplanade offers a great seafront promenade where events and festivals are often held. Located along Weld Quay are Penang’s historical clan jetties. Built during 19th century, the traditional houses connected by wooden walkways are homes to traders, fishermen and dock workers. It offers a nice view of Penang as well as the oil drilling activities in the horizon. Next to this is the city marina and Penang ferry terminal.
Next to a temple and a street away from the Church and mosque lies the oldest Hindu temple in Georgetown- Mahamariamman temple. Built in 1883, a distinctive feature of this temple is its gopuram with 38 exquisite Hindu deities.
I ended my Georgetown tour at Fort Cornwallis (RM2). It was originally built for the British military and was completed in 1810 at the cost of $80,000. Built when Captain Francis Light first landed on Penang, it is a prime tourist attraction in Penang.
There was a moat that once surrounded the fort. However, it was filled in the 1920s due to a malaria outbreak. It was built more for administrative purposes. It was the home for the judge of the Supreme Court of Penang before the court opened in 1808. Thus, as the largest standing fort in Malaysia, it has never ever engaged in any battle throughout its history.
The Chapel at Fort Cornwallis was built in 1799. The first recorded marriage here took place that same year. It‘s a cute little building with a lot of history.
Penang felt a lot safer and the people are a lot more friendlier. It was certainly a great way to end my somewhat :0 Malaysia trip.