First impressions on Penang

Moving country at nearly sixty years of age is a strange thing.

Those who have read my other articles will know that I have lived in Spain for 25 years, and breaking old habits comes more difficult with age, which has led to me trying to order things in Spanish in a country that speaks English in the main.

The last time I was in SE Asia was 30+ years ago, when I had some strange events which brought me down here, which are better forgotten!

This time I have a clearer vision and more relaxed inner self, and nobody is liable to kill me!...so my observations will hopefully be more balance than in earlier times.

So what's Penang like?

Actually it's really beautiful in an unkempt way, with a mixture of high tech modern buildings and infrastructure mixed with old colonial architecture and legacy which though often in disrepair, is still standing and protected from demolition.

So in the middle of the main city Georgetown (feel that British influence ) a magnificent colonial house will stand between skyscraper office blocks and apartments, despite the land value being staggering IF they could destroy it and rebuild a skyscraper.

Fortunately it seems the Malaysians value their heritage.

An American friend wrote me asking if I had 'experienced' any signs of Islamic discrimination against Christians, which shows us that folk must get out more, because generally I have found a society which is truly multi cultural and seemingly integrated.

Yes Malaysia is a Muslim country, but Penang is an island which seems to have been settled by more Chinese than Malaysians, followed closely by a large Indian community, so religion, whilst always evident, is not intrusive.

The only odd thing I've seen so far was that the Muslim checkout girl in my local supermarket put a plastic cover glove, similar to those you see in gas stations, before she picked up my pack of bacon to run it through the till.

Interesting, especially as the bacon was already vacuum packed in a plastic envelope!

The Mansion, posh beach bar!
The Mansion, posh beach bar!
with a good ambience...
with a good ambience...
'D' Beach, bamboo shack friendly beach bar!
'D' Beach, bamboo shack friendly beach bar!

What is amazing is the low cost of living here, in my new project we work strange hours, so breakfast is liable to be an Indian meal at Kapitans, a favoured curry house.

Eating curry at 7am is not natural to me, but we enjoy a great Indian curry breakfast and never have to pay more than 9 MR (Malaysian Ringgit) which is about $3 US.... even the local Subway joint is only 12 MR for a 6 inch sandwich on good bread, so eating out is a definite low cost bonus, especially when you are earning in dollars!

Taxi's are cheap also, as well as housing and car rentals, and even gasoline is cheaper by 50% than I was paying in Europe.

But the weather is rather unsettled, especially as we are entering the monsoon season, when it can deluge with (warm) rain for an hour, then be dry and fresh until the next downpour.

This weekend I visited some beach bars, one 'posh' establishment, the other a bamboo shack style, the beaches are not spectacular, unless you come from somewhere that has no beaches, like the UK, but coming from Spain, they are just 'so so' which is I guess because on this side of the island we face the Mallaca Straights, which carries some heavy sea traffic.

Now beach bars are always more expensive, and these are no different, especially as they cater to tourists and ex pats, but still in the posh one we ate spring rolls, satay and some strange but tasty seafood dish, washed down with two Mojitos and a coffee, and it cost less than 50 MR, which is about $13 US, and the other bar was even cheaper, where a Mango Laasi (mango and yogurt drink) and a nasi goreng (a rice dish with prawns and chicken, plus satay sticks on the side) cost only 16 MR, which is about $5 US.

Definitely a place to visit if you want good food at very low cost!

My strange hours mean I need to sleep a while now, but I will report further when I have had time to explore more of this place.

Coming from Spain it's hard to get too excited about Penang, like a travel agent friend once said, when I asked her about the Seychelles.... "It's just another tropical paradise!"

Hasta la vista!

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Comments 15 comments

EnLydia Listener 6 years ago

thank you Aqua, for a little peak into your international world. please give more information about your adventures.


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain Author

Than you EnLydia for visiting my little world, but believe me, theres no glamor in it! I just go where I'm sent, until I'm called home!

But I guess here's a good place to be sent, could have been Vladivostok!

John


tantrum profile image

tantrum 6 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

It seems you found a kind of Paradise ! Happy for you.Enjoy ! :)


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

John, sounds good to me! I've been studying a possible return to Vietnam for a check it out holiday. Keep me posted, stay blessed, dusty


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain Author

Hi Dusty,

That would be great, we are a hop and a skip away, as you know!

John


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Thanks for the update, John. This is interesting to me and I intend to follow along as the story develops. Sounds good so far.


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain Author

Thanks James, I'll try to keep up to date!


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

John Panang is close enough to the Mecong Delta that it's close enough to include in my look about. I'm ready to ex-pat and I originally thought Belize but too many Americans are packing in there so the prices will go up there soon. Plus I know my way around Nam and with low standards I can get my self seated in an old Huey, no worries with heart attack that cost me my pilot license state side and by air from the Mecong I could be in Penang in no time. My Vietnamese is rusty but I here their English is getting good so I probably could muddle through. dusty


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain Author

That's good Dusty.... I'm still settling in, but it loks like I may be here a while, so let me know when you are travelling!

John


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain Author

That's good Dusty.... I'm still settling in, but it loks like I may be here a while, so let me know when you are travelling!

John


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

This is a very nice report Aquasilver! It sounds like a great place to be. What's the bike riding like?


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain Author

Micky, for you it would probably be ideal, good coastal road, but everything off that is uphill, through jungle! - watch out for the monkeys, they'll steal anything!!! (and I mean the monkeys, I'm not being derogatory, the locals are fine!)

Temperatures pretty much 32C most of the time, with 70-90% humidity, which only drops during the monsoons, but hey! even the rain is warm!!

Thanks for commenting,

John


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Sounds like a nice place to visit.


amillar profile image

amillar 6 years ago from Scotland, UK

I'm not so jealous, now it's summer in Scotland. It seems the over use of plastic is pandemic.


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain Author

Summer in Scotland.... hmmmm!

Surely you know that the world NEEDS plastic!

John

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