We had a pleasant three hour drive from the Cameron Highlands to Penang and left our car at the airport. A relief to get rid of our last hire car with no incidents.
Took a taxi into Georgetown to our guesthouse, the Betel Lodge, which was a charming old terraced house.
We were welcomed by the owner with a glass of nutmeg iced tea and lots of useful information about what to do and where to go.
This was even followed by a slice of watermelon and a Chinese bun when we got to our room.
It was very hot but we went walkabout anyway. Gro was really feeling the heat.
Georgetown is a World Heritage Site and is really charming – you can really feel the history and it isn’t to difficult to imagine how it might have been back in the day.
Very large Chinese population and influence everywhere…
There is street art all over Georgetown. This was following a big competition/project in 2009
The best cake shop in the world (or so they say). The barbecued chicken buns were delicious…
I think they do proper Dragon Boat racing here…
Old meets new (and works for once)
The mosque in the middle of town was really beautiful
This was our guesthouse from the outside
That evening we went to the Tree Shade seafood restaurant down by the ferry as recommended by the guesthouse owner.
It was lucky that he had told us what to order as it was more streetfood style but with a much bigger set of options and no menus – just a kitchen full of fish and people waiting for you to tell them what you wanted. We managed, but forgot to tell them not to make it too hot.
We had the salt egg prawns and a special king of vegetable, a bit like rocket – both came pretty spicy and were delicious but it was all a bit much for Gro when combined with the outside temperature!
The next day was another opportunity to stroll around town
This was the hotel where we should have stayed…The Seven Terraces
(not true – we were very happy where we were)
This is where Jimmy Choo first started out as an apprentice. One for Charlotte.
We were very hot and found a great little place for a classic Malay lunch – the Mews Cafe
After lunch, we went to the Blue Mansion, the former home of the richest man in Asia in the early 19th century. It was stunning:
“The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (Malay: Rumah Agam Cheong Fatt Tze) is located at 14 Leith Street, 10200 George Town, Penang,Malaysia. The mansion’s indigo-blue outer wall makes it a very distinct building in the area.
The Circa 1880s mansion built by the merchant Cheong Fatt Tze at the end of 19th century has 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases & 220 vernacular timber louvre windows. The architecture of the mansion however originates from the Su Chow Dynasty Period in China. Other features of the house include Gothic louvred windows, Chinese cut and paste porcelain work, Stoke-on-Trent floor tiles made of encaustic clay in geometric pieces all shaped to fit to a perfect square, Glasgow cast iron works by MacFarlane’s & Co. and Art Nouveau48 stained glass windows. The mansion was originally built with careful attention to the principles of Feng Shui.The domestic annexe is built in front of it to prevent any road being built to create a T-Junction in front of it; it has water running through a meandering network of pipes that begin from the eaves of the roof, channelled through the upper ceiling, down the walls collecting in the central courtyard before being channelled away from the property via a similar network of pipes, in this case, underneath the entire flooring system and is built with a step in the middle to create a slope (to ride on the dragons back).
The distinctive blue colour of the mansion is the result of mixing lime with natural blue dye made from the Indigo plant. The blue was very popular in the Colonial period and the dye was imported from India to Penang by the British. The lime-wash was very effective in a tropical weather as it absorbed moisture and cooled the house whilst dispelling moisture without damage to the structural integrity of the walls. Though white was the most easily available colour, the indigo-blue was chosen as the former is a colour synonymous with death for the Chinese.
The mansion was purchased from Cheong Fatt Tze’s descendants in 1989 by a group of local Penang individuals to save the edifice from encroaching development and possible demolition. While it remains until now, a private-residence, the property operates as a 16 Room Bed & Breakfast-cum-museum as part of the adaptive reuse of an ongoing restoration project which has won awards from UNESCO. Tours are offered in English three times a day to central parts of the house.
The mansion has been featured in various films including the 1993 Oscar-winning French film “Indochine” starring Catherine Deneuve, ‘The Red Kebaya’, “Road to Dawn‘, ‘3rd Generation’ and the critically acclaimed ‘The Blue Mansion’ in 2009 by Singapore Director Glen Goei of ‘Forever Fever’ fame. The mansion has also been featured in programs broadcast on various international television channels (CNN, BCC, The History Channel, Discovery Travel & Living).”
The reason why the rainfall is all channelled in via the central courtyard is because rain=money and the Chinese always want more…
Bed and Breakfast is a bit of an understatement (Wikipedia might be out of date here). It looks as though the hotel rooms are very high end indeed – although we could only see photos – and there is now a high end restaurant as well.
…and then back to our guesthouse. Somewhat more humble, but very charming and following a lot of the same Feng Shui principles as the Blue Mansion
Georgetown was lovely.
G & T