In Penang I stayed in George Town, the capital. It is a lovely colonial town with lots of little winding streets and it feels like there is a temple on every corner!
I stayed on ‘Love Lane’ in a place called ‘ The Red Inn Heritage Guest House’ My room was basic but clean and the hostel had a great social area. I met Joe on my first night, he worked there. I asked him where was good to eat and he directed me to the Food court around the corner. I had read about this place as it was famous for its karaoke entertainment. Sounds good to me I thought and then Joe said ” just make sure you are careful, don’t take out any valuables and walk in the middle of this road” errr ‘what?’ it turns out a girl was mugged down Love Lane the week before. Great I thought. So I ummmed and arrrred and then went anyway…being extra vigilant and I was absolutely fine.
The court was buzzing…there was all sorts of Asian food crammed around the edges of the court, fresh fish, thousands of skewers of satay, noodles galore, sushi, Thai curries, dumplings and lots of beer!
The singers were up on a stage in the centre singing a variety of Malay and Chinese songs…so I couldn’t exactly sing along but it created a good atmosphere. There looked like there was a lot of locals sitting together, enjoying a meal after work washed down with a few beers.
I got back to the hotel fine, along a busy road and collapsed knackered.
The next day I walked all over George Town visiting some of the beautiful temples including the largest mosque in Malyasia and couldn’t resist popping into a shopping mall for a cool down…it was there that the golden arches drew me in and I succumbed…I had my first ( and last since actually) McDonalds!
In the afternoon I jumped aboard a Trishaw and went to visit Mr Chews jetty which has lots of floating homes and businesses and then the reclining Budda ( the 3rd largest in SE Asia) and the Burmese Temple.
The reclining Budda is housed in a temple surrounded by 12 other smaller Buddhas representing each animal of the Chinese horoscope. There were other staues around the edges each with its own donation box as they were representing other temples I think.
Across the road was the Burmese Temple. It was a big complex with lots of paintings hanging on the wall showing the various stages of the Buddhas enlightenment. As I walked through I could see at the end of this long walkway,through the doorway a beautiful staue of the Budda. When I got inside I just stood and stared at it for ages. The face was so life like. It was unlike anything else I have ever seen. I ended up donating some money and I received a candle to place at the buddas feet.
There was big pools of fish within the walls of the complex and lots of little gardens throughout too. The final part of the complex I viewed was the temple of a thousand buddas. Here there was one massive standing Budda and the place was full of another 999 of them in various shapes and sizes. I stopped to look at some of the books and leaflets they sometimes have in the doorways of temples…” please take one mam” I turned to see a monk dressed in his bright burnt orange robes ( fast becoming my favourite colour!) I wasn’t expecting that I thought… He asked me if I was interested in Buddisum and gave me some books and a cd. He was so lovely and polite.
On my way out ( I’d been quite a while) I brought me and my Trishaw driver an ice lolly to cools down.
I also visited little India in Penang and ate some lovely Roti Chennai. It was in this restaurant that I met William. Now…to be honest, on first sight I wasn’t sure if William was Wilamina if you know what I mean… But then he introduced himself to me. William had shoulder length hair, plucked eyebrows and long nails…but a very large Adams apple. I reckon he was about 50 yrs old and looked a little it like Mick Jagger…
When I told him I was from England he got very excited. ” God Bless the Queen,” he yelled! Then he said ” my father is from England.” ‘ oh whereabouts?’ I asked. ” I’m not sure” he said ” he was a sailor and I’ve never met him.” he then went on to tell me that he had been reading about all the recent murders outside Buckingham Palace…’What?’ I’d never heard anything and turns out neither had anyone else…I hope?
He was a very strange but interesting character…
Penang is famous for its food and I tried some beautiful Malaysian food and also sampled some other things such as a bannana pizza and a milo. I discovered milo when a street vendor was throwing some liquid around, catching it in between jugs. I stopped to watch and he beckoned me over to sample some. It was delicious. Apparently it’s big in Austrailia too? Its cold and frothy due to all the flairing and has sort of a creamy, caramel taste. Mmmm.
George Town had a really great vibe and I loved being there and even debated staying longer…but I didn’t, I just had a feeling that I should go to Melaka…