Now that we’ve got the food out of the way, here’s a look at the people, temples and Penang culture we saw along our walks through historic George Town. It goes without saying that we were captivated by this little heritage town and walking around is the best way to chance upon street life.
The early morning view of the street below from our balcony looked like 1920s China – Chinese shop signs, old chinese men cycling around with big baskets and the steam chugging out of kitchens. It felt like the streets and the kitchens never slept- when we went to bed the kitchens were still alive and when we woke up they had awoken much before we had. But Sunday is not a good day to visit George Town as everything is closed.
Walking around the streets of George Town it appeared to us that this was a self-sustaining little community. There were iron smiths, wholesalers of clothes nudging wholesalers of sports equipment, stainless steel, chinese supermarkets, utensil shops, shops to buy things for temple. My favourite was the noodle factory. Walking along the streets we came across a family run noodle factory and decided to poke our heads round. We were quite enchanted by this little cottage industry supplying fresh noodles to the local area.
It’s a joy to watch people who have been doing the same task over and over till their brain-hand-eye muscle co-ordination is down to machine-like precision. This lady bundling up the noodles in to exactly the same weight, as they come through the machine is hypnotic.
We had a lovely chat with the owner of this wholesale lantern shop and even bought a couple of Japanese style lanterns for our balcony. Pictures of all our acquisitions when we get home.
There are plenty of antique shops along Lebuh Campbell and Chulia Street. We kept being drawn to one run by a guy with thick dreads and a rollie hanging from his lips who travelled the world for six months and sold his antiques for the rest of the year. Most of his stuff is from Penang. He had a great collection of things but an old globe hanging from the roof of his shop that we wanted to buy, he said he used to plan his world trips. Filled with lamps, chairs and gadgets from the 1930s onwards this is a great shop on Chulia Street to browse through. He has odd/not fixed opening hours. I thought this audio-cassette lamp was pretty inventive.
We saw wholesalers of all sorts of things from bikinis to shuttlecocks to “cheapest than wholesale price cotton t-shirts”
Why would anyone want to go here to this modern style fusion type fast food place when fantastic hawker stalls abound. This is for the fussy tourist.
We saw 3 of these street murals and I suspect there are many more. Reminded us of Cartegena, Spain where the side of entire buildings and apartment blocks are used as a canvas .
Like in India, old and new work side by side. We saw plenty of goods being ferried around in these old wicker/bamboo baskets. In the old days it would have been at the back of a bicycle but we saw many more on the back of mopeds.
More on Penang’s enchanting chinese temples in the next post.