10/05/2018 – 11/05/2018
Penang state is located in the north-west of Malaysia (Wikipedia link). There is an island part (called Pulau Penang – Penang island), residential, where Georgetown, its capital lies and the mainland part, which is more industrial (Wikipedia link).
Until 1786, the state belonged to its neighbour Kedah state, but the Sultan sold it to the English East India Company.
There was a massive immigration from south-east China between the 19th and the 20th centuries and the Chinese community holds now the population majority.
From its immigration history and its several communities (Click here to learn about it), Malaysia is a country where most people speak at least three languages:
- Hindu / Mandarin (traditional Chinese) and/or Cantonese (Chinese spoken in Hong-Kong)
- Malay and dialects (there are four main dialects)
From Belgians point of view, we can only be ashamed upon seeing all those communities, religions, traditions and languages living together without any problem!
Buddhist temples, Hindu temples and Mosques share the same streets and the secret behind this peaceful coexistence seems to lie within the knowledge of the communities language, knowledge of English and mutual respect of religions and traditions …
Transport from Krabi (Thailand)
As we wrote in a previous post about Krabi (You can check it out here), we booked an air-conditioned Minivan in one of the many travel agencies for 800 THB/pp (20€), including pick up at our hotel around 6:40-7AM (actually 6:30AM) and expected arrival in Georgetown Komtar bus station around 4PM. We got a few problems in Hat Yai, as we said in our post about Krabi, but we managed to get to Penang anyway :p
Transports in town
- Penang international Airport
- Local Bus 2 MYR/pp (0,5€), nice, they can get you anywhere
- Tram (Penang Hill)
Malaysian food is a mix between indian and chinese food, which makes it varied.
Restaurants and street food are all over town. Basic food, like noodles and rice are quite cheap (5-6 MYR/pp (~1€)), with drinks for 1,5-2 MYR/pp (<0,5€).
Exemples of common street food
Compared with Thailand, accomodation are more expensive (twice the price for the same quality). A private room with shared bathroom will cost you about 60 to 120 MYR (12-24€), even in basic guesthouses! The cheapest accomodations seem to be located within « Little India » district.
We spend two days at the « Goodnight Café & Homestay » Guesthouse, for 60 MYR/night (12€).
We could not find any street washing machines, but some guesthouses have washing machines. It would seem that ours was free of charge.
- Street art (they are pinpointed on maps.me)
- English fort of Cornwallis. Quite disappointing and expensive (20 MYR/pp – 4€), considering there is not that much left of the fort besides a few cannons and one ammunition depot.
- Penang Hill. You have two options to get to the top:
- On foot – Free 😀 ; 2h30-3h on the way up, 1h-1h30 on the way down (Bring headlamps if you plan on going down after dusk)
- Tramway. 30 MYR/pp (6€) for the way up and 15 MYR/pp (3€) for the way down (PS: Expect waiting hours, as there are queues…)
- Kek Lok Si Temple (Chinese Pagoda). We unfortunately did not have time to go there
- Beaches on the western coast
Picture of Georgetown
FYI, 17 cannons were captured from pirates by English army in 1808. In 1871, there were 29 in total and the famous « Sri Rambai » was among them (see later).
Traditionally, people believed that cannon had properties aiding conception. More information on the Wikipedia Link here.
We will take a bus to Tenah Rata, in the Cameron Highlands, famous for its tea plantations of black Malaysian tea (produced by the BOH company). Bus ticket is sold at 40 MYR/pp (8€) and there two bus/day, the first at 8AM, the other at 1PM. Depending on the traffic jam, expect at least 4 hours to get there. We were not lucky and it took us 7 hours…