For some reason, instead of merely including a city on the bucket list one, because it’s said to be nice and have been world-renowned for most travelers; second, because it has a special meaning to me… I now have an increasing interest to the world’s list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which are scattered around the world apparently. So it’s a perfect way to include them as destinations in the bucket list then! Indeed, Georgetown in the state of Penang, Malaysia is one of those! The inner city of Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Needless to say, it is has to be one! The British colonial imprints in the late 1800s lives up through its heritage being its legacy. The Armenian Street, Campbell Street Market, Kapitan Sun Yet Museum and The Goddess of Mercy are amongst the few spots to see at the Heritage Site. This can be reached through the No. 10 stop of the Hop-on Hop-off bus.
Georgetown is a breathe of fresh air especially if you have just been to congested places of enormous traffic, humid and hot days, rude & unpleasant touts and ostentatious commercialism in cramped cities like Bali or Bangkok. When I got to Georgetown, it actually made me feel it’s a little Perth, Australia to me. Maybe not the Chulia Street or the Little India but the villages and the old British colonial buildings, the evident attention to preserve nature despite the constant urbanization (which is an absolute plus and a salute to them!), the restoration of the used-to-be derelict heritage buildings at the heritage zone. While having a nice walk around the area, you can pass by numerous colonial architectures. Sure there are skycrapers too, high-rise condos and apartments but they seem to have tried to control those and instead meticulously restored the old historic buildings which had showed its greying face from the weathered years of neglect, well of course these has been there since pre-war era.
The entire atmosphere of Georgetown represents the influences of the past centuries from Chinese, Malay and Indian histories of mercantile trading which left it now with its multi-cultural traditions.
Guess what, even McDonalds is in a white British building, colonial style! Hehehe! I couldn’t really stop giggling about this because its just so cute or maybe I just haven’t seen yet a modern city-habit eating place in an old historic building.
My fave places to see :
1. Fort Cornwallis.
I like the Fort Cornwallis, built by Sir Francis Light, the founder of Penang (“[Their] son, Colonel William Light, was the first Surveyor General of the Colony of South Australia; William is famous for choosing the site of the colony’s capital, Adelaide, and designing the layout of the streets and parks in the Adelaide city centre, North Adelaide and the Adelaide Park Lands.”… source : wikipedia)
So this is why it feels so Australia to me? 😉
The old brick fortress which barracks against the fronting seas with the canyons on it welcomes visitors. Hang on, that sounded dodgy, canons welcoming visitors… No, I mean, when Sir Francis Light planned for this he did not intend it anticipating for tourists then in the next centuries. Of course this has become a popular spot for photo ops.
2. Love Lane :
Love Lane, Stewart, Leith and the surrounding lanes is adorably lit at night. Some reggae bars, some chic Belgian cafe and cute old shophouses converted into coffeeshops and hostels. Few steps towards the busy Chulia Street on its intersection. Chulia defined by me : a coalescence of multicultural morphing, a hub for those who wants everything at hand. The hippies, backpackers, affordable guesthouses and hostels, money exchange, visa agencies, roti canai, chicken curry stalls and lamb burgers – everything is here.
The walls of the buildings were beautifully filled with graffiti, lit with colorful lights at night and just kept as treasures by the building owners. You will often see pictorials here with vintage theme.
If I’m gonna come back in Georgetown any time in the future, I will book a hotel in this drive, the Gurney drive. Of course this is where something like Regency hotels are situated so expect to uprise the budget. But the peace although you are in the midst of the city, the proximity to shopping mall and the entire ambiance of the whole area, fronting the waters is just adorable, will be all worth the stay!
4. Komtar for shopping.
Komtar is where the main bus station is located too. In the hub is where shopping sprees are pretty done well because you have all your choices here from the designer labels to the cheap clothes and everything in between, it’s all got for you. Coffeeshops of what it boast about Georgetown white coffee dots the area.
5. Try the hop-on, hop-off bus.
Although at first, I froze in calculations with the 45 MYR 24-hour ticket at that instant, but later I realized it’s worth it. I have seen most of Penang and its important places especially Georgetown. There are two routes, the city route and the beach route. You can change bus and get the other route if you want to see other places not listed in your current bus.
And I have seen tons of the beautiful places and those with essential historical factor to the development of Penang. The Heritage zone is one of my favorites, well of course the most favorite amongst all is my Gurney Drive where I just sat there watching the sunset and didn’t notice time passed by. All these, plus more, you can do in your 24-hour 45 Ringgit Hop-on Hop-off tourist bus. Fort Cornwallis as I already mentioned, the beaches where the posh hotels are located, there were opportunities for extreme adventures at Penang Hill but I didn’t get off the bus anymore and opt to get off at Komtar and Little India to get some food and coffee.
I tried the Free Cat bus too (Oh I love FREE!!!) and yes enjoyed the ride but since it is meant for locals to go to work, maybe students as well so it drives fast to meet regular timings and route. The Hop-on Hop-off runs in slow pace to give you opportunities to take photos at the areas it went pass like what I did when I was at the upper deck (double decker buses) in open air and just loved it when we were approaching the jungle and beaches at the beach route bus. See the city and a whole lot of Penang and Georgetown.
In fact, it got me thinking, when I get tired from the island life, beaches, streetfood, cheap clothes and motorbikes in Phuket, Thailand (in 2015), maybe I will try to live in Georgetown short-term. Short-term for me is work for 10 to 12 months in a place (for sustenance of course 😀 ) and get the gist of it then move to another place. After all, there is still thousands of cities and several countries to try around the world and my human age is not enough to accommodate them all 🙂 Indeed, Georgetown made me wonder if I can live here.
To be able “to live”, that alone, it means it hopefully got all the perks I desire and need from a city.
My shopping mall,
my western food options,
my romantic restos to dine out, my nature,
my quiet village/pleasant neighborhood to live,
picturesque sceneries (my cheap markets a big bonus!)
and/or a long boulevard facing the waters for a nice afternoon walk…
– or is it too much? 😉
But Georgetown ticks them all!