Georgetown is not a place I loved at first sight. Getting to know and appreciating it did not come easy because at first, I thought it was only like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Manila. Before anything else, it’s not that I don’t love these places (especially my hometown), it’s just that I felt that everything’s already familiar and there’s nothing more interesting to find. But giving it a chance, it’s noticeable that this side of town is definitely more developed than the cities I mentioned above. By that, I mean that there’s less traffic, more order, nicely paved roads, highly industrialized but still has quite a good balance of old and new.
Walking around Georgetown, it was easy to know why it was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course, I didn’t know exactly what that means (except for a vague idea about rich culture and history) until we visited Penang. Haha!
There are tons of colonial architectures and buildings, shop houses, churches, temples scattered around the old town. Many of them don’t really look old ‘old’ as they have been repainted and fixed up, but the atmosphere and the surrounding are still appealing even if it’s long past its glory days… much like Vigan in the Philippines.
Much of Georgetown is painted in old/faded pastel colors (oh, I love!) that gives the town that unique age and charm. The walls of many homes and storefronts reveal old layers of paint, while in other sides, cement has broken off.
Hawker Food is big in Penang especially in Gurney drive where there’s a long stretch of food stalls lined up across the street. Many street food vendors setup plastic tables and chairs so that their customers have some place to sit down to enjoy their meal. We were a little too early for the action, some stalls are still close.
Wandering around Georgetown is a treat to the eyes because you just never know what you’re going to find. You may spot a temple with colorful gods next to an abandoned lot, and further down the street there may be a sketchy mural artwork close to a colonial mansion. We’re walking ordinary streets, tiny archways and uneven sidewalks, and then suddenly discover hidden treasures of history. That’s pretty much Georgetown, still growing into a modern city, while trying to preserve its culture and history.