Published: March 23rd 2011
March 23rd 2011
It's a nervous smile...
especially when the caretaker was prodding him to move!
As a World Heritage City, Penang - the Pearl of the Orient, was founded 200 years ago and the historical buildings stand out amongst the dilapidated buildings of the traders. We found it charming that these buildings have stood the test of time against the malls of today. Not unlike a session of step aerobics, the uneven pavements force pedestrians onto the dangerous roads. So dangerous that Les had to be helped across one busy junction by an old lady! (If only I had my camera handy!) Potholes and open sewers emit a foul stench that it's no surprise rats live comfortably here. I had a further 30 mosquito bites from the Tropical Spice Garden despite shrugging off the need for copious amounts of repellent. A visit to a nutmeg farm had 'Uncle' passionately showing us how versatile the spice is (though it is hallucinogenic in large quantities we did wonder if Uncle was abusing his stock!) The highlight was the vast Kek Lok Si Temple. Stalls sit out of place within prayer halls. Buddhas are everywhere and a tram takes you up to the 30.2m bronze Buddha with a stunning view over Georgetown. We walked out spiritually enlightened.
Our luck ran out on St. Patricks Day. A scooter had ploughed into the back of our trishaw just when I commented on how quiet the roads were. Luckily no-one was hurt badly and our guide nursed the damaged bike round the last corner and we headed straight to the English 'local' to mark the end of our time spent in Malaysia.
Penang is rustic, humid and noisy. Tradition rules in this apparent classless multi-cultural society. There is no airs and graces and no welfare system (an average wage is £200 a month). It's enchanting to watch the locals go about their simplistic lives in trades that will pass through generations. We expect to see the same, same but different round Asia. Our next stop, we return to Thailand, our first holiday destination 2 years ago...
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