"George Town"

Trip Start Nov 05, 2007
Trip End Jun 22, 2008

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Sunday, April 20, 2008

We made our way via "fast ferry" for the 3 hour ride to Penang, which has some great history and background to it. We made "camp" in the main city on the coast called "George Town".

History: Penang, originally part of the Malay Sultanate of Kedah, was given to the British East India Company in 1786 by the Sultan of Kedah, in exchange for military protection from Siamese and Burmese armies who were threatening Kedah. On 11 August 1786, Captain Francis Light, known as the founder of Penang, landed in Penang and renamed it Prince of Wales Island in honor of the heir to the British throne.

Unbeknown to the Sultan, Light had acted without the approval of the East India Company when he promised military protection. When the Company failed to aid Kedah when it was attacked by Siam, the Sultan tried to retake the island in 1790. The attempt was unsuccessful, and the Sultan was forced to cede the island to the Company for an honorarium of 6,000 Spanish dollars per annum.

In 1826, Penang, along with Malacca and Singapore, became part of the Straits Settlements under the British administration in India, moving to direct British colonial rule in 1867. This history was shown in great detail at the Penang Museum, which we visited on our first full day in town.

Because of this Penang's historic architecture is centered mainly in George Town. Its rows of 100 year-old chophouses and colonial villas give George Town its distinctive atmosphere. Penang was the venue for several blockbuster movies, such as Anna and the King and the French film Indochine.

We jumped on the local bus number 2014 to the "Kek Lok Si Temple" which is the largest Buddhist Temple complex in Southeast Asia. It has a seven-story pagoda with Chinese, Thai and Burmese architecture and a large garden. Our next stop was Penang Hill's Cable Car which rises over 800 meters (2,624 feet) above sea level it provides for a great view of the island. It was raining when we were up there so the pictures are just OK. It is a 1/2 hour ride by cable car to the top!

Our next stop was the "Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion" which is nicknamed the "Blue Mansion" as you can see why. It was built in the 1880's, 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, 7 staircases. The winner of the UNESCO Heritage Conservation award of 2000. I could only take pictures of the outside of the mansion--no photo allowed inside.
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