GEORGE TOWN | The Old, Wonderful, Vibrant, Culture-Mashup
While on an extended work trip in SE Asia , a coworker and I took advantage of an extended weekend to travel to George Town, Malaysia to see what it had to offer back in May of 2016!
The trip was very last minute and finding cheap, reasonable flights out of Bangkok was a key factor in looking for places to escape... Lucky we live in during the time of this internet machine thing and after some quick research we landed on this part of Malaysia. While we were there, it was very hot, humid, and off and on heavy showers. Nothing out of the ordinary in SE Asia.
As a former British colony, navigating this city was very easy for an English speaker; every location we visited had someone that spoke it. This was my first experience being immersed in a region that had been so heavily influenced by Western Imperialism and Colonialism in an Asian country. The history and culture that had been brought (or forced) to the area is apparent but seeing so many different cultures and backgrounds blending together and overlapping at times is truly a site to see.
When mentioning George Town in this post, I will be almost exclusively referring to the Old City, UNESCO Heritage Site portion of the city... with limited time I didn't have the chance to fully explore the entire city.
Located on a the Malaysian island of Penang is George Town. In 2008 UNESCO listed Georgetown as World Heritage Site because of the many original colonial shophouses.
The Old City in particular is known for its culture mashup of British colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses, and muslim inspired buildings and mosques.
ARCHITECTURE | british colonial, oriental, all of the above
One of the main reasons why George Town is such an interesting cultural experience can be attributed to the Old City's architecture. It's quite an eclectic blend of colonial British architecture with heavy Chinese influences. There were plenty of tight, narrow streets to get lost in each with the potential to find a great cafe, fun bar, or shop.
STREET ART | the city as canvas
Although there was mention while internet surfing of the art scene and vibrant street art present in George Town, after having visited I fell that it had been pretty understated. Had I known in advanced of all the different murals, installations, and other art setups in the city, I would have rented a bike, downloaded an art map, and tried to find each piece!
The cityscape was pleasantly void of excess stereotypical street graffiti. In their place were beautiful murals and clever pieces scattered throughout the area.
HOW I SPENT THE WEEKEND | drinks, food, and exploring
My coworker and I had decided early on that we would stay in a hotel(s) rather than try to do the hostel thing here. We stayed at the Bayview Hotel each night there. For what it was, it was priced very reasonably -- average hotel but a clean bed to sleep in within the heart of the city.
When not roaming the streets finding various places to eat at, we spent the afternoons and evenings at the hostel bar of the Tipsy Tiger. The staff there was amazing and it's always great to have drinks with fellow travelers and wanderers. We probably spent hours there playing Liar's Dice and getting to know the bar staff.
Malaysian food is excellent but you do need to have the taste for it. In George Town, with the variety offered, you pretty much are eating a blend of so many cultures (Chinese, British, Malay, Indian, Halal)!
WHERE TO GO:
TIPSY TIGER HOSTEL | a fun party focused hostel where we ended up both nights. friendly staff and travelers. plenty of drinking games to break the ice and meet new friends.
RED GARDEN | night-market food court and drinks. stumble in, have great food, and stay a while for drinks and live music. get more food, some more drinks, chat with locals, then forget how you got back!
JUNK CAFE | cozy bar with eclectic decor (random junk). good food and drinks all reasonably priced.
MEWS CAFE | cozy cafe with delicious food. great bunch location.
THE DAILY DOSE | good western style breakfast (nice change from having been away from home a while)
PINANG PERANAKAN MANSION | an old mansion turned museum. would be the ultimate antiques roadshow appraisers' paradise.
FORT CORNWALLIS | check out the area around the fort more so than the fort itself... interesting to see what is left of from the heart of British colonialism in the area.
THE CAMERA MUSEUM | come in with tempered expectations, leave happy! (i like old cameras).
PHOTOS | various locations from around the old city
Until next time,