Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Georgetown is the capital city of Penang, Malaysia. The state of Penang is an island based in the Straits of Malacca that has about 1.5 million inhabitants. Its capital is generally described as one of the most authentic Malay cities in the country.

My encounter with Penang actually came as a stopover on the train from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. In order to get from one capital city to another, you generally need to do one stop-over either at Hat Yai, just over the Thai border, or Butterworth, a city still on the Malaysian side. I chose the latter, where trains arrive from Kuala Lumpur at six in the morning, departing for Bangkok again in the early afternoon. This also gave me half a day to take the ferry into Penang, and take in the sights.

Typical Malaysian transport are the rickshaws, man-propelled bikes with a loading bay that can seat one. They’re the local version of Thailand’s tuk-tuks, and are still quite popular. Nevertheless, over the last few years, their prevalence has been waning, mainly due to the increase in traffic in the cities – even here, in Georgetown. This does give their drivers ample time to enjoy a good game of Go.

Georgetown also harbors the Masjid Kapitan Keling Mosque, a mosque build after Caudeer Mohudeen, or “Kapitan Kling”, an Indian Moslem merchant. The single minaret was built around 1800.

A typical street scene in Penang. A rickshaw carefully crossing the street, motor-cyclists at the back and lots of chinese-Malay owned stores. Entirely at the back, you can see the entrance to one of the many temples of the city.

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