Falling in Love with Georgetown

So I know I promised to post daily but I’ve been busy I swear! My best friend from home arrived on Tuesday and we have been busy doing touristy things in Penang for the last few days. We have had so much fun exploring Penang and prepping for our big trip to Cambodia and Thailand on Sunday.

On Wednesday we drove into Georgetown to walk around the Esplanade area and see the waterfront. A storm was approaching so we made sure to quickly walk around Fort Cornwallis. The Fort was pretty small with some interesting displays, most intriguing of which included cheesy photo opps with odd cardboard cutouts from completely random time periods. Carina got really into it.

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We walked around for a bit and made sure to take plenty of pictures in doorways. Of course we also caught up on the history of Fort Cornwallis and Francis Light. Although the fort was originally built for British military, its function was more administrative than defensive. Many of the fort walls were coated with several layers of peeling paint and freshly painted murals of Penang scenes. I do not think paint is really part of the conservation effort but it was a pretty effect any ways.

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Upon leaving the fort we spotted an oddly shaped building next to the old Town Hall. Taking a closer look, we realized that the building was artfully covered in bamboo. We later learned that this was created to resemble ships and is part of the Georgetown Festival going on this summer. Pretty cool.

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We then left the Esplanade and drove to the Penang State Museum and Art Gallery. I had been there before with Peter but was able to see much more this time. It was also the perfect shelter for one of Penang’s crazy afternoon thunderstorms. While the sky dumped much needed rain on the island, we learned about the history and culture of Penang. My favorite part (as always) were the wonderful photographs from the island’s past.

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Once the rain subsided we started walking towards Chulia Road and sat down at Who’s Bryan?, a funky cafe, for lunch. After satisfying our appetites with pumpkin soup, salad, cornflake crusted chicken breast, and espressos, we continued our stroll towards Chulia. At one point we started following other tourists onto Lebuh Muntri and came upon a gorgeous Chinese temple. Hainan Temple beckoned to us from its stony facade as a smiling old Chinese man urged us to come on in and take a look around. We thanked him, left our shoes at the doorway and walked across the cool stone floor.

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The interior of the temple glowed in the afternoon light as a soft rain fell through the open courtyard and watered the lush green plants below. Offerings of oil, flowers, candles, and origami pineapples covered every available table space as two large cones of offerings made from artificial light threatened to brush the high ceiling.

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We left the temple in awe and thanked the kind old Chinese man for welcoming us in. He asked us where we are from and was surprised to learn that I live in Penang. Most people are surprised that I live here and ask if I am a student. I always reply, “I wish”. As we walked farther down the street, we sought shelter from the rain under the old colonial buildings of Georgetown. These iconic buildings are full of character and distinct in their specific style and coloring. Everything from the tiles, ornate doors, and peeling paint to the small shrines nailed to every concrete pillar make these buildings unique. I am absolutely in love with their beauty and charm.

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As luck would have it, we randomly found the newly opened Camera Museum that we had read about in a brochure. I was so excited!! The Camera Museum is still under renovation but they currently have two photography exhibits open to the public. They welcomed us inside but warned us about the groups of high schoolers constructing pinhole cameras on the floor for the Georgetown Festival. Carina and I stepped around these busy students while looking at the extraordinary photographs on display. This Museum was absolutely incredible and I cannot wait to come back in August when they open the second floor. What a great find! 

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Still joyful from the Camera Museum, we decided to head back to the car before rush hour. On the way we passed some of Georgetown’s awesome street art. One of the murals showed the shop where Jimmy Choo started his apprenticeship! Crazy! We were exhausted but had begun to fall in love with Georgetown. We knew we needed to come back and see so much more. This town is truly a diamond in the rough. Why had I never noticed it before?

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With every twist and turn we encountered more beauty. It was impossible to leave so quickly with so much to see. Georgetown deserves days of exploration and adoration and I intend to give it my all. Although I have lived in Penang for almost 4 months, only now do I feel truly excited to go and make this city my own. For the next 6 months I will try my best to explore every nook and cranny of this unexpected place and find what it is bursting to reveal. I am inspired to go out with my camera and truly SEE.

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This is home. The picture below may be goofy but my words are true. Georgetown, I am falling in love with you.

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4 thoughts on “Falling in Love with Georgetown

  1. Reading this rekindled my love for this amazing city. Sometimes watching the 3rd or 4th generation tenant going about their work in those prewar shops is like witnessing living history; what their forefathers used to do.

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