Penang

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Last weekend we drove up to Penang and stayed one night in an hotel in Georgetown. The bridge you drive over to get from the mainland to the island is impressive. We drove straight into the middle of this old town, found the hotel parking and, leaving the car with bags still in the boot (we were not able to check in till 3pm), we set off on foot to explore. Georgetown (named after the then Prince George) is a maze of winding streets and beautiful buildings, jetties and temples, some restored and others crumbling. Every corner reveals yet more enticing views of little shops, small restaurants and milling people. Like all the other parts of Malaysia we’ve seen so far, it is marred by rubbish lying in heaps and stinky drains. Yet this does not detract too much from the beauty and interest of this old fishing and trading settlement. The temples, mosques and churches are magnificent and remind one of the religious diversity of this part of the world. It was also extremely hot! We took a break with a fresh lime juice in a café in Armenian Street but finally the heat got too much and we made our way back to the hotel with its welcome air conditioning. Later in the evening we ventured out again and, after a drink at the magnificent Eastern and Oriental Hotel, we made our way down to the clan jetties, where people still live in little wooden houses on stilts over the sea. Next morning we drove along the coast road. It had been our intention to look for a place to swim but whenever we got a glimpse of the water, we could see the rubbish bobbing around. We’ll definitely be going back to Penang, not to swim, but explore some more. Some of our photos are on our Pinterest board at http://www.pinterest.com/debrajburnett/penang/

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