Penang – Georgetown Proper – for a look around – Day 23 – 10/Feb

Today we decided to explore Georgetown in a bit more depth especially as we had now ‘mastered’ the intricacies of Penang’s public transport system! With this in our armoury we set off reasonably early into town. First stop was a cafe we had seen the night before for a bite to eat – whilst we were there a whole load of Chinese Senior Citizens were bussed in to the cafe next door and a troop of the Dragon dancers turned up to give them a show, however like the artistes they were they kept everyone standing round so rather than wait we buggered off!

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Funnily enough whilst wending our way from the cafe we saw a door-to-door duck salesman – brilliant idea – I think it was one of Cherry Valley’s but am still a bit unsure but he must have had getting on for 20 Whole Cooked Chinese Ducks!

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In Georgetown there appeared to have been a recent effort to promote art in the city with the result that down certain streets art could be seen, some of it graffiti style but other styles could be seen as well – some made by wrought iron strips. Actually some of the buildings were just as interesting as the art but there you go – everyone is a critic!

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First visit of the day was to a place called Khoo Kongsi – a Chinese Clan house – which was very ornate. Chinese fact – in order to keep evil spirits away the Chinese have raised thresholds for their doorways in their temples as evil spirits can only travel horizontally. Evil they may be but not the brightest demons in the underworld I would say! The building itself had lots of decoration carvings in wood as well as paintings and stonework. Alongside this there was an awful amount of detail about the clans – but we had to skip this as it was very very detailed – we got the gist though!

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From the Clan house we walked across town toward Fort Cornwallis and the reason for this visit you ask – well I had been reliably informed by the Lonely Planet that this would be reasonably inexpensive, cheap even – well prices had sure changed since the book had visited Georgetown and as most of the best bits (well the cannons) could be seen from the outside we skipped the tour to the inside – cheap eh!

It was whilst we were walking away from the Fort and were being inundated with taxi drivers asking if we required whisking away anywhere that we realised that a cruiser had turned up at the port and the occupants were having ‘shore leave’. Rather than mix with the cruiser mob we decided to visit one of the less popular tourist destinations and take a short walk to one of the many Chinese piers to have a look at how getting ashore was done ‘old style’. The Chinese used to offload cargoes at the various piers which were interspersed with houses on stilts at the same level that were still being used today – complete with their own streets and addresses! The houses even had their own mini-temples.

After lots of walking again! we decided to treat ourselves to a well deserved beer as we were feeling the heat terribly again! The Lonely Planet had suggested a cocktail bar that has “Tom Cruise – Cocktail” style barmen and they have tea time happy hour, so I (Liz) suggested a quick nosey. It was in the expensive looking area in Georgetown and no one seemed to be in the cocktail bar – so we went to a nearby bar that also advertised “Happy hour” too. It was a bit dear but we thought what the hell and there were 80s music videos playing so I was happy! During our lovely cold beer a guy, reasonably dressed, came over to us and started waffling on about how he needed money as he had lots of orphan to feed that night. We don’t normally give to these kind of people, not because we are not charitable but usually you know its money for beer or fags, but because he looks ok Pat went to give him a small amount of cash (every little helps!). He looked at the amount of money and literally threw it back in his face, stormed off saying that wont be enough! Pats face was a picture, he was dumbstruck and slightly embarrassed, the rest of the bar burst in to hysterics. Anyway we finished our drinks and asked for bill not realising they add service charge and tax to it as well which made the already high price jump up even more – ooooops! Did we learn our lesson – NO – we said lets go somewhere else for one more and ended up paying even more!!

We had not eaten for quite a while and time was getting on so I put in my two penneth in for a revisit to the Kapitan and as common sense prevailed I even managed to have the same meals I had the night before with the appropriate tasty results – hooray for consistency, and we knew it was CHEAP!

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