Penang - 'The Pearl of the Orient'

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The Malaysian island of Penang is situated off the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. George Town, its vibrant, multicultural capital city, is interesting and unique due to the various influences on its architecture.

Photo - Adelia Cook 

 

This is evident in landmarks such as the British colonial buildings of Penang City Hall, St George’s Church and Fort Cornwallis, the Chinese Khoo Kongsi temple and Chinese shophouses and the Indian style Kapitan Keling Mosque. Beyond the old town, George Town is a modern city with skyscrapers and shopping malls. Penang Hill, with its funicular, gives a fabulous bird’s eye view over this colourful, architectural gem of a city.

 

Photo - Adelia Cook

 

Penang Batik Factory

Established in 1973 the Penang Batik Factory comprises three separate sections namely a shop, art gallery and workshop. Malaysian batik differs substantially from Indonesian batik in that the Malaysians use more vibrant colours. Batik originated in Indonesia and is the process of producing designs on textiles through use of wax and dye. Unlike batik elsewhere Penang batik art and fabric has pattern and colour on both sides of the material. It is interesting to see the artisans produce hand-blocked and hand-drawn batik fabric and then turn it into colourful clothing and accessories.

 

                     

 

Night Markets

The Batu Ferringhi night markets are exhilarating regardless of what you are looking to purchase be it clothing, shoes, bags, souvenirs, pewter work, wood carvings, batik or DVD’s. There is a wide selection of items at extremely low prices. The vendors are friendly and bartering is acceptable. However, at the asking prices, one feels embarrassed to do so as everything is as cheap as chips! There are also food halls and street food stalls which offer a good variety of local Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes including fried rice, noodles, curries, barbecued meats and seafood dishes. Not to be forgotten are the freshly squeezed fruit juices my favourite being the coconut juice.

 

Batu Ferringhi

Batu Ferringhi is an excellent destination for those who enjoy water sports like parasailing and jet-skiing. There is also banana boat riding and deep sea fishing on offer. For those who prefer terra firma horse riding and beach buggying are an alternative.

 

 Photo - Adelia Cook

 

Botanical Gardens

The Penang Botanical Gardens were originally established in the 1880's on an old quarry site. Lush green tropical forests and a diverse collection of flora and fauna make it a place of peace and tranquility thus being extremely pleasant to meander through.

 

                 

                 Photo - Courtesy of Pexels

 

There is a waterfall in the park which can be visited but only by prior arrangement with the Penang Water Authority (the park is public, the waterfall private property).

 

 Kek Lok Si

Kek Lok Si, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, was built in 1890 by Beow Lean. In close proximity to Penang hill it has pride of place on a massive thirty acre site. At the apex of the hill, overshadowing everything, is the gigantic 36.5 metre high statue of the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin, set amidst gardens and temples. Below are monasteries, temples, prayer halls, the pagoda, Four Heavenly Kings pavilion and further gardens.

                    

                         Photo - Pixabay

 

On the lowest level are a maze of souvenir shops, a food hall, the turtle liberation pond and fish pond and twelve animal statues representing the Chinese zodiac. What makes it extremely interesting is that the temple complex is built in three different architectural styles namely Chinese base, Thai mid section and Burmese top section. Also known as the ‘Temple of Supreme Bliss’ the sheer magnitude of this structure needs to be seen to be believed.

  

 Photo - Adelia Cook

 

The Entopia Butterfly Farm

Originally opened in 1985 Entopia Penang Butterfly Farm replaced the old butterfly farm in 2016. It comprises 2 different areas; Natureland, a giant glass-house conservatory where butterflies flutter freely amid lush tropical gardens and Cocoon, an indoor area which demonstrates the life cycle of the butterfly.  This eight hectare sanctuary is home to in excess of 4000 butterflies from 120 different groups. In addition there is also an assortment of other insects and reptiles like frogs, spiders, lizards, iguanas, water monitors and snakes. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions on Penang.

 

                              

                          Photo - Pixabay

 


The Tropical Fruit Farm

At an altitude of 800 ft above sea level and on hilly terrain it is an ideal location for cultivating many types of tropical and sub-tropical fruit trees. The orchard covers 25 acres and has over 250 different species of fruit from countries worldwide including Central and South America, Central Africa, India, Pacific Islands, the Middle East and the Caribbean.

                               

                                                                           Jackfruit

 

Some of the rare and exotic fruits that the tropical fruit farm is conserving are Durian, Mangosteen, Starfruit, Papaya, Mango, Rambutan, Jackfruit, Dragon Fruit and Cempedak. Sampling of the variety of fruits, buffet style, is an unmissable taste experience with each fruit being unique in flavour. Please note that only organic fertilizers are used.

                                 

                                                                Dragon Fruit

 

Very much like its fruits, Penang is very unique. It offers something for everyone with its diversity. The people are poor, kind, friendly and honest. It is a mix of cultures, religions, architecture and culinary flavours. Be it a short break or relaxing vacation that you are seeking Penang is sure to please.

 

Adelia Cook for MyKerkyra.com

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