You Say Pinang I Say Georgetown

Trip Start Mar 09, 2010
Trip End Apr 21, 2010

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Flag of Malaysia  , Pinang,
Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another day, another dock. This is our last stop in Asia and it appears that nobody on the ship has been here before.  You have to understand that people on this ship appear to be professional cruisers.  There are so many that have been on multiple world cruises and are well into double digits on cruises in general.  So, it is very odd to have a port where someone can't give you advice on what to do, including the Captain.  As we sail in, this beautiful city unfolds in front of your eyes.  Penang is a small Malaysian island off their west coast at the northern end of the Malacca Straits.  The capital of Penang is Georgetown and is pretty much the only city on the island, so many people know the island as Georgetown.  It was under British control for many years and still has a tremendous British influence in the architecture.  The rest of the island in covered in jungle and is known for its spices and food. 

We took a tour to the Tropical Spice Garden on the northern edge of the island.  To get there, we drove through one of the nicest resort towns you will ever see. There were 5-star hotels everywhere you looked, outside cafes, waterside restaurants and beach after beach.  For those of you that had the opportunity to visit Maui 25 years ago, it was like Kapalua was then, but the road was like going to Hana 25 years ago (very narrow with lots of twists and turns over the ocean). 

The tour of the Tropical Spice Garden was a mix of botanical garden and spice garden.  They had pretty much every type of palm tree growing there, along with rubber trees, cinnamon trees, pepper trees, every type of ginger, etc, etc.  If it was a tropical plant, they were growing it.  We concluded the tour with a cooking demo from a lady named Nazlina.  She showed us how to prepare a Malay chicken dish from scratch.  This included breaking a coconut and scraping out the inside, using part of it to make coconut milk and the other part heated and pounded into a paste for flavour.  Then she created another paste from fresh spices and peppers.  Lastly, she put it all together with the chicken into a lovely and spicy dish.  You can find some of her recipes at  She also had an assistant Karrie (from Richmond Hill, Ontario, who was now living in North Vancouver, BC), who was on a tour earlier in the day, but decided to stay around to learn more about the cooking. This is the type of environment it is there.

Unfortunately, we were only docked in Penang for 6 hours, because all we really had time for was this one excursion.  We would have loved to have walked around town, as it was so clean and beautiful.  This was our second favorite city in Asia, with Nha Trang being our favorite.
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Nazlina on

Great story! I have no idea Penang has such a charm to make a first time visitor to heap praises on her! Do come back soon for another cooking session.

LG on

You're so kind to have said such nice things about Penang.. You should have stayed longer to soak in the food (glorious food) and the friendly ppl of Penang.
Hope you will come back to Penang one day .......

Wai Onn, Chan on

it's so nice of you to have such nice words about Penang in the short time you were there. There's alot more that you haven't seen and food that even Malaysians from other states can't get enough of. We are trying out best to preserve as much of our heritage like Singapore has.

With tourists like you who can express such joy from seeing our original architecture and lifestyle, there's a good chance we won't see them get replaced by todays buildings.

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