Day III: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Today, our ship docked in Penang, an island off the coast of Malaysia.

We met our guide, Maxwell, outside the cruise terminal. Our first stop was Penang’s largest Buddhist temple, a monastery set into the hills surrounding the city.

The entire complex from a distance.

The intricate facade of one of the structures. Built by a visiting Chinese monk, portions of the monastery date back to 1890.

Inside the complex’s largest temple.

Financial records from the monastery’s construction, engraved into a building’s stone walls.

The view from the top of a seven-story pagoda. The tall circular building is KOMTAR Tower, the tallest building in Penang.

As we were driving back to the historic George Town district, which is comprised wholly of British colonial buildings and is a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site, we passed by a group of wild monkeys:

Walking the streets of George Town:

This is Chew Jetty, built by Chinese merchants in British colonial times to dodge taxes on land use. Today it’s used by local fishermen, who set up crab traps underneath the wooden structures.

Penang is an interesting city. It is rapidly being adopted by Malaysia’s nouveau riche, hence the increasing proliferation of modern high-rise buildings and sprawling mansions that coexist with colonial-era shops and homes. In Penang, shiny new German luxury sedans share the road with old trucks, motor scooters, and tiny city cars made by Malaysian companies like Proton and Perodua. This Malaysian beach town is in the middle of its Westernization and reinvention, as the old slowly cedes its position to the new.

Tomorrow: the tiny island town of Langkaui, Malaysia.

© Knstrong 2013