Where We Be
|Armenian Street winds its way through the center of George Town's historic district.
It has lots of fanciful street art mixed in with cafes featuring Asian fusion cuisine.
|George Town Stroll -- Penang, Malaysia
|Close to Jawi House is this museum honoring Sun Yat Sen, "the Father of Modern China." He led the overthrow of the
Qing Dynasty and established the Chinese Republic in 1912. He and his family lived here for four months in 1910.
|One of the most famous pieces of street art in town is this
actual bicycle with two kids painted onto the wall behind
|A mouse dangles a small fish for a cat --
who seems interested in both of them!
|From strange to funny, the street art will keep you
entertained as you explore the streets of the city
|You can pick up a map detailing where all the street art can be found -- or you
can just wander around like we did until you find most of it on your own
|A short walk along Kapitan Keling, aka the "Street of Harmony," shows just how intermixed the cultures are here.
In quick succession you pass an Indian temple, a Muslim mosque, a Chinese temple, and a Christian church.
|Continuing further north along the Street of Harmony, we reached
what felt like the colonial heart of George Town at St. George’s Church
|Just north of St. George's church we reached Fort Cornwallis, a star fort built by the British
East India Company in the late 18th century. It's the largest standing fort in Malaysia.
|Sprinkled throughout town are other notable examples of colonial architecture. You won't find very many
blockbuster sites in Penang, but rather an accumulation of smaller sites that add up to something special.
|Then there is modern George Town. We paid a visit to the huge Prangan Mall, just a ten-minute
walk from our hotel. Here is where you'll find all the modern conveniences and shopping galore.
|We passed this small but elaborate temple -- Yap Kongsi –
every time we walked up and down Armenian Street
|Peranakan Mansion is the #1 attraction in George Town per Trip Advisor and our top
recommendation as well. Be sure to set aside time to tour the interior of this opulent home.
|It's beautifully preserved and full of rich carvings and details --
over 1,000 antiques and collectibles from the 19th century
|"Peranakan" refers to the Chinese who came to Malaysia, intermarried, and created what might be called
a new Chinese-Malay fusion culture. They were wealthy and powerful, as evidenced by mansions like this one.
|Entry is RM 20 (~$5 US), and you can go guided or unguided. We took the guided tour
and recommend it for the light your guide will shed on the distinctive Peranakan culture.
|Allow about an hour to take the tour then wander around on
your own afterwards to take photos and revisit your favorite rooms
|We particularly liked this love seat inlaid with mother-of-pearl
and surrounded by a beautiful collection of fine porcelain
|You can actually sit on these sumptuous chairs inlaid with mother-of-pearl! Most museums we've been in
discourage sitting on the furniture, but here you can make yourself comfortable and be Peranakan for a day.
|We stayed for a week at Armenian Street Heritage Hotel right in the center of the historic district. Besides the
great location we came to appreciate the strong A/C, fast wifi, and quietness of our room (#415) on the back side.
|The above photo gives a good idea of the mix of old and new,
colonial and modern, at the heart of George Town
|Just a stone's throw away from our hotel was Jawi House on Armenian Street. We returned more than once to enjoy
their excellent salads, roti surai (Malay lacy pancakes with curry dipping sauce), and other Malay-Indian specialties.
|A Muslim guide beckoned us to join him on a free tour of Masjid Kapitan Keling mosque. The polyester robes we had to wear were
stifling hot but the tour was genuinely interesting. Our guide even sang from the first page of the Koran and interpreted the words for us.
A mere 24 hours of flying brought us to the
island of Penang just off the northwest coast of
Malaysia. We think one of the best things about
Penang is the food -- it's an Asian fusion foodie
paradise! Street food is plentiful and cheap,
and gourmet dining is temptingly affordable.
Especially in George Town, Penang's main city,
you'll find creative cooking that blends Malay,
Chinese, Indian, and Javanese cuisines, along
with Thai, Portuguese, and Dutch influences.
George Town itself is a vibrant mix of cultures
and faiths. One street in particular, known as
the Street of Harmony, has Islamic, Christian,
Indian, and Buddhist temples all in close
proximity to one another. If you asked us what
makes Penang worth visiting, we'd say it's this
interplay of cultures enriching one another and
keeping things interesting wherever you walk.
An especially fun aspect of George Town is the
street art. It's everywhere you go on Armenian
Street -- the perfect place to begin your explor-
ations. Come take a stroll with us through
George Town and we'll show you some of our
favorite street art, temples, and historic sites.
|First dish: Asam Laksa, a Malaysian
specialty -- a sour-spicy noodle soup
|Shoes off is the norm throughout Southeast Asia,
especially inside historic buildings and temples
|At the far end of Armenian Street we found a street food court with lots of options, including
this Curry Fish Head stand. (In case you're wondering, we skipped the curry fish head.)
|The Jubilee Clock Tower honors
Queen Victoria's 60th year as queen