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Georgetown Penang

Malaysia: Georgetown, Penang Island
May 20 – 24, 2006

We’d been traveling pretty fast up till now, just trying to cover a lot of territory.  But Malaysia/Singapore was pretty much our last country, so we decided to take our time and really enjoy it.  In Malaysia, we first went to a big island called Penang off the northwest coast.  We stayed in Chinatown because it had cheap accommodation, and we felt right at home.  The first night, we ate supper in “little India” with the Bollywood music in the background and a Hindu temple in view. 

In Malaysia, the people, right down to the street cleaners and construction workers, are friendly and can speak English, which makes wandering around lost a lot easier and more enjoyable. The reason English is so prevalent is because there are three distinctive ethnic groups in Malaysia: the Buddhist Chinese, the Hindu Indians, and the Muslim Malays. Since they all speak their own language at home, English has become necessary for them to speak to each other. They all seem to get along pretty well, and Malaysia is a very well developed country, ie, everyone drives cars.

In Penang, we spent a good deal of our time arranging our plane tickets home, waiting for buses to places around the city, wandering around the mall, and watching 2 movies just so we could sit in air-conditioning for a few hours.


a Hindu temple in “Little India”


a busy street in Chinatown

Sera bought a bag of juice which turned out to be corn juice

tourists looking ridiculous. note: local people don’t travel this way

a can-bottle hybrid

a street in Chinatown

inside Prangin Mall

our hotel room in Chinatown resembled a swimming pool

In Penang we discovered that the Chinese people in Malaysia have perfected a dish called “chicken rice” which is pretty much what it sounds like: roasted chicken laid on a bed of rice, with some bean sprouts and cucumber thrown in for a bit of crunchiness, and some soy sauce and chili sauce for flavor. This became our staple dish for our travels throughout Malaysia.

the chicken rice shop we ate at

We went up in this tall building for excellent views of the city.


view of Georgetown

entrance to Penang Hill funicular railway

the train to the top of the hill

some monkeys we saw along the ride to the top

view from the top of Penang Hill

a mosque on top of Penang hill

the Hindu god Shiva Nataraja dances on top of Penang hill

Hindu temple

The divine royal family poses for photos atop Penang Hill

On our third day in Georgetown, we took a bus out to the Snake Temple. According to both our guide book and a sign outside of the temple, it was supposed to be “filled with vipers” that were dazed by incense. So Zac and I entered, expecting something out of an Indiana Jones movie, only to discover two devenomed snakes wound around a stick. There was a man there who quickly handed one to me and said we could take pictures for RM30 (about $10). Of course we didn’t want a gimmicky photo, so we continued into the temple. But it turned out, that was it. No temple filled with vipers. It was a complete tourist trap. I was really pissed off. That was the turning point. It wasn’t that bad, but I value my tourist dollar and my tourist time and my tourist patience was wearing thin after two months of travel. The problem is that as nice as Malaysia is, we’re simply a bit worn out. I never thought it would happen, but in a way, I guess it’s ok since our traveling days are dwindling.

The promise: “filled with vipers”

snakes…but not in the temple

the temple…but no snakes

souvenirs in the temple…hmmm….

snakes in cages outside the temple

empty snake cages

The toy museum did fulfill it’s promise of being filled with toys.  You easily spend an hour or two here examining this vast toy collection.


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