Penang Journals

Penang: The Real McCoy

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An August 2002 trip to Penang by phileasfogg

The YMCA International Hostel Photo, Penang, Malaysia More Photos
Quote: Penang, they say, is the pearl of the Orient. Never mind that they say that of many other places: Hong Kong, Philippines, Goa, and Sri Lanka. But this is the real McCoy. Penang is exotica at its best- Chinese, Malay and Brit, a blend that's colourful, effervescent, and immensely likeable.

Penang: The Real McCoy

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Overview

Quote:
Penang’s a tiny island, but full of things to see and do. It’s got good beaches and shopping, but what really turns us on is culture and history, so that’s what this journal is going to be all about. And Penang, believe me, has loads to offer the most avid of culture vultures.The island’s colourful past means that there are very strong traces of British and Chinese history. The Chinese were (and still are) among Penang’s most prominent communities, and all the way from the striking indigo-hued mansion of the Chinese tycoon Cheong Fatt Tze to the clan house of Khoo Kongsi and the temples of Kwan Yin and Yap Kong See, there’s a distinctly Chinese flavour to Penang. Not Chinese, b...Read More

The YMCA International Hostel

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Hotel

The YMCA International Hostel Photo, Penang, Malaysia
Quote:
Getting cheap accommodation was high up on our list of priorities, though we weren’t willing to settle for a hovel -- and, as it turned out, the YMCA International Hostel was the perfect place to stay. Quiet, comfortable, clean, and very affordable. As in other YMCAs across South East Asia, here too there were no luxuries, but the place was worth every sen we spent on it. Jalan Macalister, on which the YMCA’s located, is a very quiet (really! -- hardly any traffic here) road, tree-lined and pretty. The YMCA’s a functional, no-frills white building, with its own gym, conference room, library, badminton and squash courts, laundry and restaurant. The staff at the reception is friendly and helpful -- we g...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 22, 2004

The YMCA International Hostel
211, Jalan Macalister
Penang, Malaysia
(0060) 42 288 211

Jasmine Garden Café

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Restaurant

Quote:
We’d been staying at the YMCA International Hostel on Jalan Macalister and a single meal at the local restaurant inspired us to go looking for greener -- and cheaper and friendlier -- pastures. A short walk brought us to a very bare-bones eatery called the Jasmine Garden Café, also on Jalan Macalister (just across the YMCA, in fact). The Jasmine Garden Café is housed on the ground floor of the Wisma Katolik Building, in what looks a bit like a parking area; it has walls on only two sides -- the other two sides have pillars and look out on a quiet garden. The café’s one of those really functional eateries with very plain furniture and the only attempt at decoration are a few tatty prints on the walls. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2004

Jasmine Garden Café
Wisma Katolik Building
Penang, Malaysia

Penang Museum

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Attraction | "The Penang Museum"

Quote:
The Penang Museum is housed in a lovely old building which was once the Penang Free School (it dates back partly to 1896, partly to 1906: and the building, anyway, is only half there - the rest of it was bombed into oblivion during World War II). The museum is home to a large and impressive collection of artefacts relating to the island, its history, and its many races. We visited it on a somewhat rushed afternoon, and so weren’t able to devote as much time to it as we would have liked to, but did manage to get a look at part of the collection. Among the museum’s best sections are the ones on old paintings, photographs, and an assortment of articles relating to Penang’s ethnic communities - the...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2004

Penang Museum
Lebuh Farquhar
Penang, Malaysia 10200
+60 4 261 3144

Wat Chayamangkalaram

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Attraction | "Wat Chayamangkalaram and the Temple of Dhammikarma"

Wat Chayamangkalaram Photo, Penang, Malaysia
Quote:
All our guidebooks recommended Wat Chayamangkalaram - and it wasn’t too far from where we were staying, so we decided to take a walk and check it out. Wat Chayamangkalaram is a Thai Buddhist temple which is home to one of the largest reclining Buddhas in the world. It was built on a piece of land especially donated by the British Crown in 1845, by the then Governor of Penang, Butterworth.The temple, a traditional Thai shrine, is typical of Thai architecture - elegantly soaring, curved roofs, lots of gold paint, and plenty of ornamentation. It’s all pretty flamboyant - gold paint covers much of the building - and the inside is in the form of a long, high hall, in which the statue of the Buddha lies ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 22, 2004

Wat Chayamangkalaram
Lorong Burmah
Penang, Malaysia 10250
+60 4 261 6663 (Pena

As exotic as it gets

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Story/Tip

Khoo Kongsi Photo, Penang, Malaysia
Quote:
Penang, say the guidebooks, is the Pearl of the Orient. Never mind that the tourist boards of every other city (or country, for that matter) east of the Suez say the same -- Hong Kong, Philippines, Goa, Sri Lanka. But this is the real McCoy. Penang, exotica at its best. Chinese, Malay, Brit; colourful, effervescent, immensely likeable.Our arrival at Penang didn’t really endear us to the city: we got off, puffy-eyed and exhausted, from the Kuala Lumpur train at 6am at the distinctly seedy port town of Butterworth, where a sharp-eyed taxi driver volunteered the information that the next ferry to Penang would leave after an hour and a half, and ferry tickets would cost us 47 ringgit -- whereas he cou...Read More