Monday, March 16, 2015

Penang - Part 2

Wandering further along the streets I found another mansion called Pinang Peranakan, quite different from the Blue one mentioned before. For one, it was green. Ha! But more importantly, while it didn't have as thorough of a history lesson attached to it's past, it was filled chock-full of artifacts and trinkets of various categories, styles, and origins.

One of the panels in either a well preserved or a well restored door of the mansion

Beaded shoes, and bead art in general, is a bit of a local craft in Penang,
however it seems that this beautiful art is slowly fading away as every day
there are fewer and fewer craftsmen who practice it.

Mildly creepy beaded artwork

Beautifully embroidered tapestries of the family covered the walls in one of the rooms

Florida water seems to be the cologne of choice for discerning ladies. Isn't this a
lovely vanity? I'd be too afraid to use it and dirty it up. 

The table stands right in the middle of the house, in the center of the open air 
courtyard designed to invite rain and money into the house, just like at the
Blue Mansion. Guess everyone wanted to be rich :)

Two of these statues guarded the entrance to the house, in a nod to European tastes
which not so subtly shouted that the house owners had money and taste to 
import and afford such things. 

After all that walking around and history, I needed a nice cold drink, but not just at any place, but at the cozy little Cat Cafe in town. The drinks are slightly up-charged, but that's because you get to take off your shoes and lounge around in a toy filled room with a bunch of adorable kitties.

This guy was absolutely determined to break out. He kept pacing the room and 
any time someone would come close to the door, he'd try to make a break for it.

This guy just kept going from one nap spot to another. Guess he took that poster to heart.

And of course the walls were decorated with one or two theme specific pieces

But should you think that this was a cat only town, I give you this happy trishaw driver who happily toted around his two puppies around the city, all decked out and in full comfort.

There were many market streets to wander through, selling all kinds of fruits, veggies and seafood. Each and every buyer haggled hard over the quality of every item and the price worthy of each purchase. I had no idea what anyone was saying, of course, but I'm sure some tough deals were made that well as some delicious dinners.

As if walking around town wasn't enough, I decided to skip the bus (okay, I couldn't figure out where the stops were and why all the streets went one way when the bus was meant to go the other) and I walked to the temple of the Reclining Buddha. It was worth it! In the heat and light of the afternoon, every polished tile shone like a jewel, making the outside dazzle. The inside, where the Buddha statue itself resided seemed almost dull by comparison, but still impressive due to size, and it was the first one like it I'd come across so far.

He's actually much bigger than he seems here, stretching from one end of a 
very wide building to the other. 

Visitors would purchase sheets of gold leaf and would gently guild the statues
until you could barely tell what shape the statue was beneath. 

Some statues quite clearly stated "No Gold Leaf" in some spots, to keep a few clear.

In my last attempt to do all and see all, I ventured north to the Spice Gardens, but I think this is one place better to see during the busy/wet season as most of the plants were not in bloom and rather boring. And those where the flowers didn't matter, were placed to far away from the path to really appreciate. A few spots in the garden were nice, but I guess I expected to like the garden more than the gift shop (which was filled with amazing spices and was awesome, but which I left empty handed as I'm not allowed to buy perishables).

Across the street from the gardens was the beach and while the vista looks lovely, the murky water didn't look all that inviting. I think I'll hold out for the legendary beaches of Thailand before indulging in being a beach bum.

One last stop at the food stalls for dinner and said goodbye to Penang with a full belly and a plane ticket to Cambodia, my next destination.

P.S. I also found a small cemetery in town where Mr. Thomas Leonowens was buried, and in case his name doesn't sound familiar (and I'd be really impressed if it did) he was the husband of Anna Leonowens, who was much better known after her diaries inspired the story of "Anna and the King of Siam". If you're curious, she herself lived out her days in that girl got around!

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