Who needs a reason to visit Penang?
Living in Phuket, we often heard the expats talking about visa runs. Because typically you only get a 30 day visa on arrival in Thailand. We stayed two years (mainly fixing Yana de Lys). Which meant we decided to visit Penang in Malaysia a few times so we could sort out extended visas with the embassy there.
I fell in love with Georgetown, the main city. I’d never miss an opportunity to go back. Click To Tweet
Two days in Georgetown
Our last visit to Penang was just a two day visa run. But it was sublime, totally reaffirming my love of Georgetown. We stayed at the Chulia Heritage on (duh!) Chulia Street. And yes we ate at the Red Garden Food Paradise. But shock horror tears we found the Famous Crispy Duck stall closed! For Ramadan? No doubt it was the quietest we had ever seen Georgetown. It was kinda weird the way the chaos level of the traffic was so subdued…
Tickets to the Blue Mansion
I decided we would take a look at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion after walking past it so many times on our visits to the Red Garden. I’d heard you have to book in advance so headed off on our first morning to organise tickets while the other captain did some serious TV time in the room. As it happened we didn’t need to book ahead. I ended up with some time up my sleeve before our lunch date so wandered around Muntri Street and Love Lane checking out some of the cool art galleries and old buildings.
I also snuck in a temple visit, spending some velvet devotional time in the Hainan Temple. (The other captain runs a mile when I mention temples.) The building just looked so exquisite from the outside I had to go in.The Hainan Temple looked so exquisite from the outside I had to go inside. Click To Tweet
I lit a candle for my beautiful lost wild child – a Catholic ritual in a Chinese temple. (I definitely have catholic tastes when it comes to spirituality and religion.) Later I read in the Lonely Planet the temple’s patron saint is the patron saint of seafarers. No wonder I felt drawn.
Our first guided tour. Ever.
Anyway for the first time in our travelling careers, we took a guided tour. Well, it is the only way to see inside the Cheong Fatt Tze AKA the Blue Mansion.
Our tour guide was excellent, an expert at engaging her audience of some 37 people. She told great stories about the family who built and lived in the mansion, including the original owner’s (favourite) wife number seven. Our guide’s depth of understanding of Chinese culture as well as the architecture, intrinsically linked with Feng Shui, was fascinating.
Kongsi Clan Temple
The next morning I felt inspired to continue the theme with a visit to the Cheah Kongsi Clan Temple. The other captain was out buying electrical wire for Yana de Lys God bless him.
I was amazed at how the stuff I learnt in the Blue Mansion tour helped me understand and interpret what was going on with the design and history of this gorgeous building. Without a tour guide heh heh.
Found in translation
By the end of our Penang visit I had almost been able to dredge up and appropriately use the Malaysian language I’d learned in my on and off two years in Langkawi. It’s all about the menus. Roti Canai. Yes! Mango Lassi. Yes! (I hadn’t found my Malaysian breakfast favourites in Phuket. Well not in the English alphabet or picture menus anyway.)
Then we were back in Phuket International Airport with our three month- convertible into six-month visas. (I know it’s complicated. Let’s not go there.) I had to switch back to my basic basic basic Thai.
How do people know how to speak multiple languages without getting confused?
Travelling backwards in time to Myanmar