Friday, March 13, 2015

Penang - Part 1

Penang is the kind of city that slowly grows on you. At first it seemed like all the other cities in Malaysia with heat and shops and street food, and some European history evident in the architecture, but as the sun goes down and things cool off a bit, and as you peer into the corners of twisty alleys and explore the quirky shops on Love Street, the fondness for this place sneaks up on you until all of the sudden you don't want to leave. I actually did end up extending my stay here by an extra day, but that was mostly because I just needed to rest and do nothing for a day and I really liked the place I was at. And all that is without mentioning the amazing street food. As you can surmise by my last post, I spent a lot of time just wandering around, hunting for street art and ferreting out fun places to visit. I didn't take any tours, though I halfheartedly meant to, so there really isn't any flow or rhyme or reason to the pictures below, but I'll try my best to share my findings with you.

This concentrated little guy was keeping a lamp post together outside of my hotel.

There were many temples tucked into all parts of the city, and just like in other places
 I've been to, they are sometimes right next to churches or mosques. 
I started losing track of which temple was which, but they're 
still pretty when you come across them. 

This looked like something I'd make out of junk food containers given 
a long enough stretch of boredom and some tape. Obviously, I like it!

You could find all sorts of things at the market, but one of the more interesting things 
was pickled nutmeg. Not the nut inside that we know of as the spice, nor the 
skin around the nut, which is mace, but the meat around the whole thing! 
They really use every part of the fruit. 

The people who live here are quite aware of the heat, and so when streets
and buildings were designed, they incorporated these 5 foot deep walkways
instead of sidewalks. When they're clear like this one, it's a godsend,
but usually they're not so nice and littered with motorbikes or garbage 
or the extension of a restaurant. Still, it was a good thought.

I actually remember what this temple is! This is the Goddess of Mercy temple and
it's either the most heavily frequented or the most popular to make a tribute at
because there was an entire market just outside of the gates filled with
fake paper money and other offerings you can burn inside. 

Because this coffee shop had good coffee, free wifi and a pterodactyl.  

One of the more popular mansions to visit and get a glimpse of the city's history
is Cheong Fatt Tze mansion, known as the Blue mansion. Unfortunately,
it was a slum after it's illustrious glory days and it's eventual restoration
so not much is left of what must have been sheer opulence, but the blue
is really striking and it's been carefully restored into a museum and hotel.

I took the guided tour here (no choice, only way to get in), and actually learned some
pretty interesting factoids about Chinese architecture. For one, similarly to the way
that some hotels in US skip floor 13, Asian buildings tend to skip all floors with 
the digit 4 in them, so you'd have floor 3A and 13A and so forth instead of 4 and 14. 
This is because 4 sounds like death, and is to be avoided. Eight, however looks like
infinity and sounds like money, so that one's a keeper. 

Also, a lot of homes will have a small courtyard in the middle of the house and 
an open roof above that so that when it rains, the rain comes inside, this is
again due to symbolism as rain also signifies money and you want your
house to be full of it. 

This museum turned out to be kind of lame, despite the practically foolproof premise, 
but they did have chocolate covered durian, which I briefly considered sending someone.

Hey look! Another temple!

I really liked the intricate carvings all over the entrance of this one. 

I found a quirky little Camera Museum, which had an impressive collection 
of vintage cameras going all the way back to a room size camera obscura.

This vintage 3D camera just looks so happy!

This just made me giggle. It's for your friendly neighborhood spy.

Anyone remember slides? And slide shows? 

Big, happy Fu dog outside of...a temple!

Clean and pretty remnants of the European past 

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Clocktower, serving as the centerpiece of a 
roundabout in town. 

Considering the price of admission, the Fort Cornwallis park was kinda lame, 
but they hand you a complimentary bottle of water and you can take
your picture with the man himself. Plus there are cannons. 

Fun little coffee shop discovered on my walk. See Iron Man in the back there
looking grumpy and clutching a latte? Yeah, I get him.

I was wandering the streets around the end of the Lunar New Year and some
of the temples were burning these giant wooden incense sticks out front. 

Thou shall not pass! Oh, also, I learned that bats are good omens, not vampiric
creatures of darkness, according to the Chinese. Score one for bats!

The guy on the right has bunnies on his bow case! 

Part 2 with random findings from the streets of Penang coming up in a day or two, when I get enough wifi to upload another massive set of photos, so stay tuned. 

No comments:

Post a Comment