The island of Penang or locally known as Pulau Pinang is one of the main attractions in Malaysia. It is also known to be the “food paradise” of Malaysia. This island has a rich multicultural history that is filled with Indian, Europian, Chinese and Malay influences.
The name Penang was originated from a modern Malay word, Pulau Pinang which means “Isle of the Betel Nut”. It is lies to the north-west coastline of Peninsular Malaysia and showcase an undeniable multicultural scene, which is very much concentrated around the beach resorts of Batu Ferringhi and within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown.
Georgetown is the capital city of Penang. It was named by the British after King George III. With a numerous number of colonial buildings, mosques, churches and various other architectural wonders, It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008.
As I see it, the main attraction to Penang is the old historic district of Georgetown. Here you’ll find numerous colonial era straits architecture. From the very beginning, there are many ethnic groups which settled here. You’ll get to see examples of not only Georgian civic buildings, but also Indian temples, Chinese mansions, Catholic churches and Mosques.
If you’re into this kind of stuff, you can easily spend a couple of days walking and looking around all that old Georgetown has to offer. If you plan to walk the streets in George Town, the best time to do it is during morning or afternoon of weekends, when the city is practically deserted. After doing the walking tour, I can say that it is highly recommended.
China Town in Georgetown stretches from Weld Quay to Lebuh Stewart, Lebuh Muntri, Lebuh Campbell and Lebuh King. This town is quite larger than the other town and well-preserved that you will feel the lifestyle of Chinese immigrant settlers before. Stepping into these streets take me back in time and I was amazed by the many shophouses and clanhouses and temples found along the streets. It reflects the heritage left behind.
Along Fort Cornwallis is the Esplanade, it is a popular waterfront promenade which stretches from the clock tower at one end and hawker stalls at the other end. At the center of Esplanade is the Padang, a huge square of green field.
In this area you will see the City Hall, a stately colonial structure which is an example of British architecture featuring magnificent columns and huge windows in a bright white color.
Fort Cornwallis, Padang Kota Lama
Fort Cornwallis was built to protect the harbor from possible French attacks during that time. It was originally a wooden structure and it was rebuilt between 1800 and 1810. It was named after Charles Marquis Cornwallis, a Governor General of India.
Today, the fort was converted into public park and an open air theater.
Clock Tower, Pesiaran King Edward
The clock tower was presented to Penang by local millionaire Cheah Chen Eok in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
It towers 60 feet in high – one foot for each year of Her Majesty’s reign. The Queen had died by the time the clock tower was finally completed in 1920.
This area boasts a rich living history that spans over two centuries. It features a vibrant and thriving collection of Indian cultures and historic attractions, shops, places of worship, astrologers, money changers and more. Along this street are several banana leaf rice restaurants and a Hindu temple.
In my opinion, although Georgetown is multicultural in composite, it is predominantly Chinese since a big portion of it is the Chinatown. The best of architectures can be seen in along Love Lane, King Street, Pitt Street and Carnarvon Street. During night, streets like Lebuh Chulia and Lebuh Campbell is a place to be. There are so many locals setting up their hawker stalls here at night. Most of the colonial architectures are located in Beach street and Light street, where chambers of the State Assembly and financial institutions are housed.
It is very obvious that Penang is a fascinating fusion of old and new, Georgetown embraces modernity while retaining its old world charm, cultures and traditions.
It is quite impressive that the well-preserved heritage buildings and multiracial populace are living here harmoniously.