After a while on the road, I think it’s fair to say that my body could be coping better with the tropical conditions. The mosquitos that have been relentlessly biting me through the day, and in some places we’ve also had bed bugs that have had a go at night. Even when I escape to the water the tropical fish bite me! I’m not sure what my blood type is, but suffice to say that if Dracula was knocking around I’d have a pretty sizeable bounty on my head.
Anyway, on to Georgetown, which is located on the island of Penang in Northern Malaysia. The majority of the attractions are within the UNESCO heritage area; whilst this means that everything is in walking distance, it also means a higher tourist density, and we found the volume of pushy hawkers and street sellers to be a lot higher than elsewhere in the country.
Whilst advances from these folk have so far been negated with a smile and polite ‘no thank you’; I found the people here to be more relentless. I’m as stubborn as they come, so chances are if I’m not going to come into your stall and buy noodles on the first time of asking, I’m not likely to come in when you are asking me for the fifth time and I am standing at a set of lights waiting to cross a road.
To balance out the above rant, I will say that I was expecting to be hassled a lot more through Asia than we actually have, and the four days in Georgetown were the only times where I’ve felt like a tourist. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we’ve picked a few spots that are off the beaten track, or maybe the fact that I’m a bit of an older and more experienced traveller now has given me more patience and confidence.
As for how we spent our time in Georgetown, we actually packed a lot of activities in during our time here. As everything is so close, we were able to do our own walking tour (thanks to some help from our lonely planet guide book!). In addition, there were a few other museums that we popped into during our stay, our favourite being the Pinang Perankan House, which was a recreation/restoration of a typical home of a rich Baba from around a century ago.
We also had a walk around the Old Fort and the Blue Mansion, but they were less impressive, but we did see a lot of interesting street art to be seen here such as the one below!
Outside of the UNESCO heritage zone about a twenty-minute drive away is Penang Hill. There is a large funicular that runs up the hill which gives great views of the town of Georgetown. The area is very popular with the tourists, as it makes a perfect ‘selfie spot’. We left them to it and went on an enjoyable hike around the side which also gave some nice views.
The three main Malaysian culinary influences (Chinese, Indian, Malay) play a big part in cuisine here in both restaurants and street stalls; every meal that we had was delicious. Our favourite eatery was a modest looking place called Yeap Noodles that did awesome minced pork noodles and some of the spiciest curries I’ve tasted!
There was also a lot of good curries to be had in the Indian part of town. We stumbled upon a vegetarian place which provided a delicious vegetarian Thali:
We also visited a lot of little stalls like this one which were great value to pick up some food on the go.
On our final night we headed back outside the UNESCO zone into Penang hill to visit the Kek Lok Si temples. They were interesting to walk around, a maze of little paths and climbs, including one climb up a huge Pagoda. As it was Chinese New Year, they were decorated with a series of lights which all came on at sunset and made for a pretty special view!
Overall, Georgetown was a bit too touristy for my taste and for that reason I probably wouldn’t go back. That being said, the food was excellent, so we are certainly glad that we stopped in here for a few days on our way up to Langkawi.