Walking was a major part of the Penang experience from the moment we arrived from Kuala Lumpur at Butterworth Station on the Malaysian mainland and made our way to the ferry that carried us to George Town’s Swettenham Pier. It was then a mile walk through a variety of neighborhoods in Old George Town to our Airbnb house. Every day was a slow-speed appreciation of what I believe is the most interesting city in Malaysia.
Below, our home in Penang, a 2 story, 3 bedroom house
in the heart of Old George Town.
Above, our home behind the rickshaw, below, from the balcony, early evening at the intersection of Lorong Chulia & Lorong Stewart.
Every day began with a short walk to the shophouse space shared by Rainforest Bakery with great pastries and Mugshot, providers of cooked breakfasts, juices and superb coffee. Though a busy place there was always a table for us and the staff in both were a most congenial bunch. The adventures would begin from there.
Every walk everywhere included intriguing hawker food centers, like Sri Weld Food Court below, street food stands on most every corner and for good measure, here’s our favorite neighborhood noodle joint on Lebuh Chulia.
There are temples of all spiritual persuasions in George Town and one is never far from a mosque. Flower sellers seem to congregate near Indian temples and make for uplifting moments as one passes by, even without a visit to the temple.
One day I set off on a solo walk and headed for Lebuh Armenian. Since the commercial blocks have become the home of tourist-oriented shops, I thought it might be a good place to find gifts for family and friends. The landmark Central Fire House, built in 1908, was on the way at the corner of Chulia and Beach, then a right turn onto Beach and a block down was the Kapitan Keling Mosque, above. Then one more block and a right turn onto Lebuh Armenian.
Lebuh Armenian is a tourist magnet in part because of the entertaining street art and photo opportunities for visitors. Though I love the wall murals I confess I love the fresh coconut ice cream served by the friendly guy at Scoops even more, just beyond.
The commercial part of Lebuh Armenian ends where the rickshaws park at the corner with Lebuh Cannon. Beyond, Armenian makes a curve to the left that was intriguing and drew me on. Shopping was forgotten as I enjoyed the ambiance of the well-maintained and unmodernized neighborhood, more residential with a few low-key businesses.
We couldn’t let the nice kitchen of our accommodation go unused and eating at home can be a nice change from having every meal out. Just under a mile away, the Village Grocer supermarket looked like a good bet, on the lower level of the 1st Avenue Mall, adjacent to the well-known Komtar building. The mundane chore of shopping for groceries in a decidedly western-style environment seemed a genuinely multi-cultural experience. Familiar brands were shelved next to exotic-to-us versions of many items, as well as some foods we didn’t recognize at all. It was not dull and took us some time to gather 2 bags of food to carry home, thoroughly entertained.
Checking out at Village grocer was just like at home, except for the excellent and FREE green shopping bags she gave us, one of which I’m now using for grocery shopping at home, reminded every time of walking with my groceries for a contented mile through Old George Town.
All episodes of PortMoresby's Farewell to Asia Tour can be found here.
Next time, on to Bangkok.
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