21.12.2012 - 21.12.2012 31 °C
As today was supposed to be the end of the world we decided to see all the main sights and temples of Georgetown in one day by going on a self navigated heritge walk.
We woke late as our room has no windows so is pitch black giving you no idea to the time or whether it is the middle of the night or indeed the morning. Apart from that we had the best night sleep we have had in a while. We made the most of the breakfast provided my the guesthouse, we ate our own body weight in toast and porridge to keep us going until we went out for dinner in the evening.
First port of call was Penang Heritage Trust, who provide maps for walks around the city to see the main attractions. Unfortunately when we arrived they had sold out of maps, so we had to make do with a photocopy that they fished out of the backroom with no key on it. Out of the three walks on the map we decided on the one that took us to all the major temples through Georgetown.
Just walking the streets here is exciting. The shops and houses are old and small but the town is really busy with people, cars and motorbikes. There are signs everwhere and stalls set up selling quick meals, snacks, desserts and drinks. Also every so often whilst walking you come accross some street art, it is dotted all over the town. There are all kinds. There are metalwork sculpures set against the wall that look like pen drawings from afar and beautiful lifelike paintings of everyday people that often fill a whole wall. There are also ones that use a mixture of sculture and painting, there was one where real bike was set into a wall with two children painted on the wall as if they were riding it. We love them and its really exciting when you come accross one.
The culture walk however did not start very well, the first stop was Penang State Musuem, which upon arrival we found out is closed on Fridays. Next was St George Church, the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. It was an impressive building from the outside, solid white in grass grounds, and it is a good job because it was closed until 2pm. Next on the 'tour' was the 'Goddess of Mercy' Buuddist temple and in keeping with the first two sights was currently under major renovation and covered in scaffolding, apart from a make-shift room that people still used for worship.
As things couldn't get any worse we carried on to our next temple, Sri Mahamariamman Temple, which is the oldest Hindu Temple in Georgetown. We have seen more lavish Hindu temples before but at least it was open and not covered in scaffolding. From there we made our way to another Buddist Temple, Teochew Temple which was very ornate, decorated with dragons, Chinese text, lanterns and Chinese Art. In the rear hall was a huge room used for 'ancestral worship', where the worshipers have hundreds of tablets decroted with the names of their ancestors. It has gone through major renovation work and has being fully restored and throughout the temple they have before and after pictures, and explain the different parts of the temple, on wall plaques which is very interesting as we often don't understand the Chineese temples and what each room and shrine is for.
The next few temples included Kapitan Keling Mosque, the largest Mosque in Georgetown and two more Buddist Temples. By this point we were all templed out and the heat was becoming unbearable. After a drink stop at a cafe we walked through the streets on a different walk on the map that took us through an old part of town where all the fronts of the houses had been restored. The old house fronts are beautiful, pastel coloured with shutter doors on the windows. Lots of the buildings have been made into galleries and nice shops in this area and we called into a couple. They had lovely paintings, prints and photographs of the streets and sigts of Penang and we browsed the shops for a while. We then visited the Chew Clan Jetty. The clan jetties are family communites built on stilts over the sea, each jetty is inhabited by one particular family and all the houses and shops are joined by wooden walkways that lead out to sea. Boats are moored up to the walkways and people have set up little stalls outside there houses for tourists to but souveneers.
Once we couldnt stand the heat anymore we came back to the guesthouse to cool down before going back out again to go shopping as we have decided to by each other a small Christmas gift with a budget of RM5 each (£1). It took a while but we both found something and have secretly hidden them until Christmas day.
By this time we had to go collect our Thai Visa that we had applied for yesterday, thankfully there were no problems and in less than 2 minutes we were on our way back to the guesthouse with our Visa to get ready to go out for dinner. Tonight we tried Char Kway Teow, a spicy fried noodle dish with prawns and cockles that is one of many of the must-try foods of Penang, we can both see why, it was delicous. We had it with a coffee but the coffee tasted like stale fags so we ate our noodles and left the coffees as we weren't sure if the drinks man had burnt it or dropped his tab end in the pot and we didnt want to risk finding it in the bttom of one of our cups. We then went for a walk but had to turn around after 15 minutes as Chelsea had left her umbrella at the restuarant. We marched back at super speed and the nice drinks man had saved it us (maybe he felt bad for the cigarette flavoured coffee). By the time we had walked back to collect the brolly we were both done in, and decided to call it a day and go back to the guesthouse for a drink.