I will write a bit more about Penang before I leave in ten days from now. I haven’t done the touristy thing yet, I’ve been too focussed on making this deal happen. I believe Penang has a lot of great features I haven’t experienced yet, apparently there’s a cable car up a hill with great views, beaches, street markets etc. I’ve been walking down back streets looking for Tarporlin suppliers, debating with taxi drivers how to get to remote jeties they don’t think exist etc etc, I quite prefer it this way actually, I feel like I get a better idea of the place.
My first impressions of Penang are, on the down side, it’s too hot, humid, often very smelly. It’s very dangerous on the streets if you don’t keep a close eye on the traffic, the pavements are full of obstacles, so walking in the road is safer, assuming you can hear the scooters that come at you from every direction, and jump out of the way quick enough. Motorists have no time for pedestrians; however the people here seem to be very happy, and they often just stop to chat with you, ask where you are from and offer any help needed. I feel very safe here. I have been told if I stagger back to my hotel, drunk at 2 am (no jokes from people who knew me when I was a drinker), I might get mugged, and I would expect that in any big city. The place is a food lovers paradise, they say the Penganese (if that’s a word) are the fattest people in Asia, but that’s not true, so far I would give that award to the visiting Germans, especially the guy sitting next to me at breakfast this morning, I felt guilty getting three little sausages, but eight, really!. He filled his large plate from the buffet table, then also ordered a cooked breakfast, reminds me of how Americans used to be, and has me wondering if global economic power is directly related to the size of the breakfast your citizens eat.
Penang seems to have a happy mix of many cultures, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Thai and more, and everyone seems to get on, there are religious festivals and holidays on every other weekend apparently.
However, as you might expect, there are underlying tensions. My taxi driver the other day was very proudly telling me how everyone respected each other here, and everyone gets on great, yet within a few minutes he had everyone stereotyped into the hard workers, the lazy ones, the professionals, the stuck up and the prejudiced. It could have been a comedy sketch, if it wasn’t for the fact that it does seem to play out in the countries social policies.
Right now we are fast approaching Chinese New Year, and the town is literally turning red, this being the Chinese colour for luck. Lanterns are going up everywhere.
With all these religions, there comes a wealth of temples/shrines & mosques. I’m hoping to get some time next week to visit the oldest, but will probably wait until Kathy comes out with me in the summer to explore them fully
And finally I couldn’t resist snapping this picture