I visited this place three years ago and written a blog post on 18 October 2011. This time round, we went back there with my daughter joining us. The historic city of George Town was awarded the title of World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008.
We were also impressed by the wrought-iron sculptures that provide caricatures with anecdotal descriptions of the streets. Take time to admire and read the humourous descriptions of each heritage peculiar to the location. Instead of boring signboards marking the heritage of each place, the wrought-iron caricatures are refreshing and attention grabbing. It is an artist impression of the place and its heritage and culture.
Substantial time was spent walking the streets to find these street arts, much like a treasure hunt with a map showing spots where they appear. A recommendation I can offer is to start real early, like 7am. By 9 am, the sun is already bright and hot. There are hardly trees in George Town to shield us from the blazing sun rays. I do not have to mention that the afternoon is worst for walking.
Gentrification of George Town
George Town is a historic city of the Straits Settlements. Its 19th Century architecture was preserved till today. If you want to get away from a modern city like ours, George Town is a place to visit. We visited the Pinang Peranakan Mansion for a taste of the architecture and culture of the Straits Chinese. This place is worth a visit. Pay the entrance fee and get inside for a look-around. The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is the best I have seen for a taste of Perankan culture. It was used as a location shoot for MediaCorp’s Chinese drama serial titled “The Little Nyona”
Shophouses around famous streets of George Town were being bought over and slowly converted into cafes, inns, retail shops and residences. The facades of these properties were kept but the interiors were transformed. This gentrification is to attract tourists. Let’s hope that the city does not overdo this gentrification as to kill the history of the place.
Penang Street Food
Going to George Town also means eating their Penang Street Food. These hawkers cook out of carts along the streets and most gather around coffee shops serving drinks. You buy the food and bring it into the coffee shop to eat. You have to buy a drink, failing which you have to pay 50 Malaysian sen.
Public Buses – Rapid Penang
As a tourist, you can buy a RM30 for seven days unlimited travel on Rapid Penang buses. You do not have to worry that you have gotten onto a wrong bus and you do not have to worry about having small changes with you to board the buses. All I can say is that the roads are mostly one-way streets and one can get onto the wrong bus quite easily that moved in the opposite direction. There is no bus guide and no bus information at each bus stop. It can be challenging and frustrating as we found out.