Sunday, 15 April 2012

Penang, Pearl of the Orient

What is Penang? Where is Penang? Why is it Penang? How did it become known as Pearl of the Orient?

I visited Penang Museum today, 15 April 2012. I have never been inside this particular museum because I did not know its correct address, location and building. I read about it and wondered but never dreamed I would even step foot inside this tiny museum. Today, my husband and I bravely made our first visit to this museum.

Background of Penang Museum. (Photo from Penang Museum display)

At the museum, I discovered that Penang was first called Pulau Ka Satu (meaning the first island). I would have certainly named it Pulau Pertama. Why did they call it Pulau Ka Satu when they were referring to it as the first island?

Penang lies at the northern entry point into the narrow shipping lane called the Straits of Malacca. It is the only island and the largest island at the northern tip of this shipping lane. Early traders used it to bring commodities from Sumatra. The Indians arrived at the island and traded spices, gold and fabrics. The British also arrived at its shores when in search of a suitable trading post in the far east. Are we really in the 'far east'?

What else do we expect to see or find in Penang? There are a lot of things for the tourists to see and admire. By tourists I mean people who have never visited the island, not stayed on the island, and have not done much walkabout or footwork on the island. 

Penang must be seen on foot and the eyes and neck must be prepared to see and be prepared for some neck twisting because some of the buildings and the clock tower are high structures. Don't try to look up at the structures if you have neck injury. You must have good vision and be able to see normal colour (ie not colour blind). Penang is really colourful and you will need 2 cameras or 2 battery packs if you don't want to photoshoot twice. You must be prepared and already learnt to do 'white photography' because many buildings are painted white, and they shine brightly under the hot sun. If you have done 'snow photography' that will help. If you have a slow-capture camera, your images will be blurr. I use my new Lumix camera at 14 megapixels and each photo is 5MB. My old Nikon camera at 12 megapixels cannot capture what I captured on my Lumix. The Lumix is a fast camera and very good for photography, even from a moving car.

Initial E and O Hotel (Photo from Penang Museum display)

The present Eastern and Oriental Hotel (E & O Hotel), Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Georgetown, Penang. The E and O was the first hotel built on the island by the British. Two early Malay doctors were involved with the E and O. Dr Che Lah's last 2 children got married at the E & O in the 1980s. Dr Abdul Wahab's only son died in a motorcycle accident after crashing into a part of the E and O Hotel.

The Victoria memorial clock tower in Georgetown, Penang. (Photo from Penang Museum display)

The Victoria memorial clock tower today

Convent Light Street, Georgetown, Penang

Court building, Georgetown, Penang
Dewan Sri Pinang, Georgetown, Penang
Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown, Penang

[Little India in Georgetown, Penang is a separate post.]