Malaysia Gallery - Georgetown, Penang

Select any image to enlarge.

Colonial Grandeur ~
March 25, 2002

The center of colonial life in the Straits settlements focuesd on the buildings erected around the Pedang - a grassy open area that served as parade ground, park and setting where the English could pursue the sport that is such a mystery to many - cricket. Around this central area one will find Fort Cornwallis - the spot where Light first stepped ashore, the High Courts and City Hall, shown here.

St.George's ~
March 26, 2002

Built by the British (or more specifically the British's favorite source of labor, their prisoners) in 1817, St.George's is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia


Victoria's Timepiece ~
March 25, 2002

What do you give a Monarch who has ruled one of the world's greatest empires for 60 years? Well, if you're a local Chinese Millionaire, a tasteful timepiece of course. This tower was presented to Queen Victoria on the event of her Diamond Jubilee in 1867. It stands 60 meters height - one for each year of her reign. She was ever so slightly amused.

Georgetown's Chinese Shophouses ~
March 23, 2002

A great part of the charm in Georgetown is it's Chinatown, one of the largest and best preserved in the world. Our dream house is one of these refurbished Chinese 'shophouses' - A mixture of Colonial design and Chinese pragmatism, they can be found from Malaysia to Macau (and even in China where they haven't been torn down). Characteristic of these narrow homes are thick walls, tiled or hardwood floors, high ceilings and open floor plan - often with a central courtyard open to the sky - all things that help to keep a place cool in a tropical climate. In front, these row houses offer covered sidewalks for pedestrians to stay out of the sun. The reason these buildings have such narrow facades that lead to deep three storied houses dates back to a time when housing taxes were linked to street frontage.


Megacense ~ Temple of the Goddess of Mercy
March 25, 2002

For those who really need to impress the Goddess before asking her to grant a wish, the biggest incense we've seen in Asia is available. Typical of Malaysia where the prevailing sentiment seems to be an aspiration to impress.


Making Coffee ~
March 27, 2002

The aroma alone was enough to make us consider the cost of shipping home a few pounds of coffee from this roaster we visited in one of the old shophouses of Georgetown. The beans here are being roasted to a black color in a mixture of butter and sugar. Once taken from the heat the workers must move quickly to cool the congealing mass to prevent burning. As you can imagine, the coffee in this town is strong, sweet and has a thin layer of oil on the surface from the butter.

Satellites and shrines ~
March 24, 2002

Georgetown's Chinatown again reminded us that to find many of the accouterments and rituals of Chinese culture, you are often better off looking outside China itself and into the Chinese enclaves to be found in cities all over the world. The small alters where Chinese make offerings of incense, food and drink to all manner of spirits abound here. In China they were all swept away after the Communists took power. Which is probably where all those satellite dishes were manufactured.

Noodle Sellers ~
March 24, 2002

This mother and son team worked like a well oiled machine. Dunking the noodles, chopping the veggies and preparing the spices - all in the name of one of Penang's most famous dishes, Penang Laksa - a slightly sour noodle soup.

Talking at the Teashop ~ Penang
March 28, 2002

Order tea in China and you will get green tea - good for your health. Order tea in Burma (and now, as we have discovered, available in Malaysia) and you will get the slightly bitter, rather sweet and milky and always delicious black - good for the soul, if not the arteries and waistline. We were thrilled to find many Indian run tea carts setting up on Georgetown's streets. Just like Burma, a refuge for menfolk like these with nothing better to do than gossip.

Temple in the rain ~
March 27, 2002

What you cannot tell from this picture is the delight of coming upon yet another ornate religious building tucked away on some narrow street. Within view of this Chinese temple are a large Mosque and a small Hindu temple. The quiet streets of Georgetown are constantly surprising the walker with various architectural styles and glimpses of the many cultures rubbing shoulders in this relatively compact area.

Clan House Shadow ~
March 27, 2002

The clan house is a multipurpose building that serves the needs of Chinese citizens of the same clan - those with the same last name. They are part temple, serving as a place to venerate the ancestors and part social club and benevolent association. This shadow is cast by part of the Khoo clan house, the most famous in Georgetown for it's ornate roof. When movie studio's were denied the right to film 'Anna and the King' in Thailand, much of the production was brought to Malaysia. That is why this clan house doubled as Thailand in that movie.



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