Monday, November 10, 2014

Photos from an Evening Walk in the Historic Old Town of George Town in Penang, Malaysia

The bench at the bus stop was calling my name. It had been a few hours after all since I began wandering aimlessly around town. I reckoned the afternoon heat and the humidity were only bearable because my eyes were treated to the small town colonial charm present everywhere I went. As I sat on the bench by the road, I realized just then that the best treat was yet to come. The sky both suddenly and slowly turned from grey to yellow to gold to pink before turning blue. All these colors were reflected in the shop houses and grand colonial structures around me, too. The sun had just set and I was being mightily impressed by George Town in Penang, Malaysia.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
As grand as the golden hour gets. George Town in Penang, Malaysia.

George Town in Penang, Malaysia was one of the cities that formed part of the Strait Settlements of Southeast Asia, British-ruled colonies where migrants from China, India, and the rest of the Malay world moved to and settled for good having been urged by the booming trade in the region. Today, the Strait Settlements have a distinct, very colorful culture all their own, seen in the traditions of second or third-generation families (the Peranakans, for example), their delicious, delicious food, and the charming two-storey shop houses typical of the old towns of this region.

No matter how many of them I see, I never seem to tire of historic old towns, not the least bit this one on Penang Island, Malaysia. Fortunately for me, of course, I live in a region of the world that has them in spades. China has the ancient old towns of Lijiang, Hongcun, and a few others. Vietnam has the undeniably charming Hoi An under its belt. Malaysia has the equally gorgeous Malacca, and this one, George Town.

Armed with my trusty camera, I decided to walk around here in the historic center of George Town, Penang. Needless to say, I was charmed off my feet. Here be photos:

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Wan Hai Hotel along Lorong Stewart. Though it may look rundown, it is a functioning hotel. Its entrance is along Lorong Love, where many budget accommodations can be found.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Truth be told, I expected George Town to be full of tourists like myself. It was surprisingly quiet, with the peace interrupted only by a motorbike or a car passing through.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
The old shop houses here are distinct in that they can only be found in the cities that made up the Strait Settlements of Southeast Asia. Though this one's an exception as its facade is a couple of meters farther away from the street.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Some shop houses are still inhabited like the one above, while some like this one are in various stages of decrepitude.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Fortunately, there were quite a number of shop houses that have been given new lives as tourist trinket shops, restaurants, hotels, etc.

Clan Jetty, George Town, Penang, Malaysia
One of the busiest shipping lanes in the world is this, the Malacca Strait. Located on its shores are these clan jetties. The clan jetties are communities on stilts housing families from the same clans. These clans migrated here in George Town during the colonial times.

Clan Jetty, George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Even here in the clan jetties of Penang, the sunsets tend to be on the impressive side.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Penang Municipal Town Hall along Lebuh Light in George Town, Penang

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
I still wonder sometimes how sunset light gets to this color. Science, I suppose?

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
There are many grand colonial structures found along Lebuh Panta (Beach Street). This one I found the most impressive. It presently houses the Penang Islamic Council.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
It has become almost impossible to tell which buildings along Lebuh Pantai are the historic ones. Many structures are now occupied by modern cafes, restaurants, and bars.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Whether they remained decrepit or were refurbished, the colonial structures along Lebuh Pantai are undeniably impressive.


Where are the best places in the world to walk around in at night?


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