UNESCO world heritage town of Georgetown in Penang
After the mindless partying and the chill-out beach islands it was time for a change of scene in the highly religious country of Malaysia. I went to Malaysia as a kid before but I’ve only stopped by Kuala Lumpur for a week or so, so I don’t really think that really counts as a real trip.
This time around I was opening up more to the culture and the people in Malaysia. It wasn’t until in Kuala Lumpur near the end of my trip that I actually realised what Malaysia was made of. There are so many different ethnic groups living (in peace) together and just co-existing. Maybe I’m just ignorant but it just seemded that way to me. They have Malaysians,Indians, Chinese and other ethnic minorities that combine for the population of Malaysia. It was really cool to see that people here don’t really stay within their own ethnic group but rather everyone just gets along with everybody. When I compare it to some places I’ve been to, you can still see the social and ethnic separation between the people.
Not just the ethnic groups, while it may have caused trouble in some other parts of the world, there are also tons of different religions here, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism and even shamanism! There’s a bit of everything in Malaysia! Anyway onwards to the first place I visited!
Georgetown was listed as a UNESCO World heritage site in 2008 along with Melaka, another historical town I visited later in my travels. It’s easy to see why it’s been dubbed a world heritage site as you see tons of colonial buildings spread around the old town. Many of the store fronts have remained the same and have only been fixed up here and there, but the atmosphere that lingers here remains untouched.
The main reason why people come here however is not the historical value of the town, but rather the food!
Since Malaysia is made up from so many different ethnic groups, the food will be obviously be influenced as well by them. You can eat all ranges of food here, going from, Chinese, Hokkien, Thai, Malaysian, Indian, etc
I’ll post my little food adventure in a different post, so be sure to check that one out.
The cool thing is that the tourist center knows this fact as well and they give out these cool “food-maps” where they highlight the best dishes and also show you on the map where to wine and dine. I’ve only stayed in Georgetown for like 3-4 days and lemme tell you that it’s definately not enough to try out all the different dishes…. at least I tried!
The town itself was pretty nice to walk around in, to get a first impression of Malaysia. Compared to Thailand, it’s definitely more developed. I know this may sound odd, but the first thing I noticed is that they actually have traffic barriers and the nicely paved roads. It just seems so… special after months of traveling on dirt roads and bumpy broken and badly paved roads. You really do appreciate the simple things in life after a few months of off the beaten path traveling.
Anyway, during the 4 days, I didn’t really do much exploring, I pretty much just took it easy and tried the different foods around town and once in a while I did try to visit a temple or so. Me and Benni (my travel mate from back in Thailand) took the bus one day to visit Penang Hill to get a magnificent view of Georgetown and parts of Penang. To be honest… we paid quite a lot of the cable car ride up there to only spend ….20 minutes up there. I guess the view was alright, but it wasn’t as breathtaking as we had hope or had paid for.
After a rather disappointing view we went down the hill and made our way to the nearby Kek Lok Si, reputed to be the largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia. The structure was impressive for sure, it was just a pity that we arrived there by closing time so we only had half an hour to walk around, but it was an impressive sight nonetheless!
Anyhoo, after all the eating and the historical tour, I had to say goodbye to Benni and made my way to the east coast to hop on a boat to the Amazing Perhentian Islands for some beaches (again) and more importantly, DIVING!