Arriving in Georgetown feels like taking a giant step back in time. The rows of wooden pre-war houses, colorful temples, and prayer flags hanging in the streets, really brings out this city’s charm and makes it an attractive UNESCO world heritage site.
Sleeping inside one of the many converted guesthouses is a big treat. As we enter Old Penang Guesthouse on Love Lane, there are travelers on their laptops or chatting in the lounge. I am required to take off my shoes as I make my way upstairs. With each step on the wooden floor, the house creaks. It feels very homey here and I enjoy all the original details of the home, especially the high ceilings.
It is relaxing to wander around Georgetown, but it can be easy to get lost in the many narrow streets. However, it is ok because getting lost can lead to wonderful food vendors. On Kimberley Street, it seems to be mainly noodles and dessert. After ordering, we sit at fold-up table right in the street. Then at the Red Garden Food Paradise, it is bumping with live karaoke. There are tons of stalls and great variety of good food. We love the pleasant, but active atmosphere in this city.
We also take notice of the great cultural mix of Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Even better is how everyone seems to live in harmony, respecting and appreciating one another’s traditions. This wonderful fusion is obvious in the food and arts.
The site that left us breathless is the Kek Lok Si Temple. We board a very clean local bus with AC to get here. Then it is only a short hike up an ascending closed-in pathway, packed with souvenir shops and their owners trying to get us to buy something. As we get closer, the colors change to mostly red and yellow with many lanterns hanging in the air. Every corner contains something to see and it is free, for the most part.
Sitting on the topmost point of Crane Hill is a massive bronze statue of Kuan Yin or “Goddess of Mercy”. We pay 2RM for the lift to the top and walk back down. While at the top of the hill, we pay for incense and do a little prayer at the base of the goddess, which we are to receive a shower of good luck. There is also an option to donate a roof tile on which they will write your name in Chinese. Just think you can have your name on a roof tile of this marvelous temple.
Before you leave, make sure not to miss out on the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas. We have to pay a small entrance fee, but it was worth it. As we enter the area, we are just in time to listen to some live chanting in the prayer hall. We are both in awe as we continue to watch and listen on. Afterwards, we make our way inside the pagoda that took 20 years to complete. Many miss the staircase that is well hidden behind the large Buddha statue. As we climb up the 7-storey pagoda, we notice the change in architecture. The octagonal base is of Chinese design, while the middle stories are of Thai architecture. The crown of the pagoda is classical Burmese. This reflects the temples’ embrace of both Mahayana and Theravada, the two major schools of Buddhism. There is also a great view of the area at the top of the pagoda. As most don’t make it up here, you can usually have this view to yourself.
We are very happy to have visited Georgetown. It is a pleasant place to kick back where you can enjoy many heritage sites and try new foods. If you are nearby, come and see this charming city.
|What We Paid:||MYR||USD||Euro|
|– Bus from Kuala Lumpur to Penang||30/pp||9.90||6.90|
|– Private double room at Old Penang Guesthouse [shared bath, kitchen, free wifi, free breakfast, free water, nice atmosphere and staff, clean, recommend]||65/double||21.50||14.90|
|– Private double room at Secret Garden Inn [shared bath, free wifi, brand new so received a promotional price, same owner as Red Inn, need to pay for towel rental]||40/double||13.25||9.15|
|– Bus 203 to Kek Lok Si Temple||2/one-way||0.65||0.45|
|– Kek Lok Si Temple lift to top of hill||2/one-way||0.65||0,45|
|– Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas at Kek Lok Si Temple||5||1.65||1.15|
|– Meal at Kimberley street hawkers [we had noodles, egg tart, curry, fried chicken wings, tofu fa dessert]||9/pp||3||2.05|
|– Dinner at Red Garden Cafe||10.50/pp||3.50||2.40|
|– Jackfruit [recommend trying]||4/bag||1.30||0.90|
|– Haircut [recommend only for something simple]||5||1.65||1.15|