Apart from the staged cries of the hired pleasure makers unnerving our auditory senses at 1am, we really have no complaints about Georgetown, Penang. Well, the heat, too. The whole town we found to be pleasing to the eyes, not only the fundamental requirements of clean streets and well kept buildings, but also the infiltrative artistic vibe hanging around the place. This is something we hadn’t experienced since our departure from the West.
In retrospect, I guess we hadn’t noticed anything was missing until we found ourselves strolling amongst hand crafted artisanally designed camera straps, contemporary artful post cards and several blocks of street murals, mainly in the themes of cats and bikes, neither of which subject doesn’t appeal to us.
Many of the already attractive shop-houses(business in the front, house parties in the back(not really)) were enhanced further by the presence of beautiful Peranakan tiles. We were first introduced to Peranakan style a few weeks ago in Malacca and its something we’ve become quite keen on. It grew out of the “Straights” people, a mixing of native Malay and Chinese traders in the region dating as far back as the 15th century. Needless to say, we are now on the hunt for tiles!
Our hotel, the aforementioned whore house, was great(until the incident). A Chinese run family business since the 30s, the Modern Hotel has distinctly modern décor down to the furniture. The enormous rooms were tiled with terracotta and outfitted with both sink and shower. The toilet you ask? Down the hall. Modern enough for us.
Thursday night we made it to the street markets for which Penang is known. It’s all a little overwhelming with the number of stalls and the ordering options. The Malaysian food was less monumental than we had expected since it borrows so heavily from Chinese and Thai influences (with mystery fish flavors permeating nearly everything – thank god for roti canai! ) and has less of a distinct flavor profile. But we both enjoyed our noodles and “Obama Rolls,” and glugged our beer with the corny (hooours of) sounds of the Chinese pop duet on stage.
With a final morning walkthrough of the street murals the next day, we hopped on the overnight train for Thailand and the pleasant lullaby sleep of train tracks.