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Our first 3 ports on our South East Asia cruise out of Singapore was to its neighbouring country, Malaysia. We stopped at Penang, the island of Langkawi and Port Kelang (Kuala Lumpur).
I had travelled previously to the capital city of Malaysia, KL on a stopover enroute to Thailand, 7 years ago. However it appears that there is so much more to Malaysia than its major city.
After setting sail from Singapore we cruised through the night and the following morning where we docked at the port of Penang. The largest and most populated state in Malaysia, Penang is located on the northwest coast of Peninsula Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca.
The capital is George Town which was once a British outpost. The island was successfully developed under British rule and became a naval base for the British to protect its interest in the Far East spice trade from the Dutch and French.
Once an important Straits of Malacca trading hub, the city is known for its British colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses and mosques.
We set off on foot with a map in hand and explored some of the sights of George Town and the Old City, which features Malaysia’s best preserved colonial buildings.
Not far from the port was this interesting clock tower, called the The Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower, which is a testament to Penang’s royal connections.
Fort Cornwallis is one of Penang’s most well known landmarks. Within its ten-foot-high walls (which are laid out in the shape of a star), you can see a 17th century chapel, some prison cells, ammunition storage area, and some old bronze cannons.
Built in 1801 by Penang’s first Indian Muslim settlers (East India Company troops), the Indo-Moorish Kapitan Keling Mosque is another Penang landmark.
Sri Mariamman Temple is a Hindu temple in Georgetown’s compact Little India district: built in 1833, the temple is dedicated to the Hindu god, Lord Subramaniam.
Wandering around Little India you will see many colourful market-type shops selling items from fresh produce to gaudy clothing.
Chinese Kongsi (or clan houses) are a must see in Penang. Many were built in the 19th or early 20th Century and are heritage sites in George Town.
George Town’s Chinatown was a burst of vivid colours in preparation for the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Six Clan Jetties form part of the Penang Heritage Trail. Billed as one of the last bastions of old Chinese settlements on the island, this waterfront society is home to houses on stilts of various Chinese clans.
As for the rest of the Old City there is evidence everywhere that this place was a British colony from the style of the architecture of the old colonial buildings.
Our visit to Penang was on a Sunday, a holy day, hence the city was pretty much closed down to celebrate this day. This also meant that a lot of the restaurants and eateries were also closed, so we never did get to sample a famous Penang curry.
Penang was a colourful spectacle with Chinese Lanterns adorning the streets and there was a perfect harmony of varying cultures and history. You could easily spend more time here.
Linking up with Travel Photo Thursday
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)March 31, 2016
The Brits certainly knew how to make themselves comfortable in their colonies. I loved the temple. How fortunate you saw Chinatown at just the right time.
KathyMarch 31, 2016
The British had a lot of strategic posts for the riches of the Far East. Penang was certainly an interesting place, but wait until I show you Langkawi – it was magnificent! ?
budgettraveltalkApril 1, 2016
I’ve read a lot about Penang and Georgetown. Chinatown all ready for New Year would have been great. Looking forward to Langkawi.
KathyApril 1, 2016
Penang was an interesting place but probably not my favourite stop on our SE cruise. Langkawi was amazing and probably more my style. ?
Rhonda AlbomApril 3, 2016
We love cruising and are hoping to head to SEA later in the year. A friend just got back from a cruise and told us that every port was about 2 hours from the city, and most of their shore time was spent in transit. Is that what you found? If not, which ship were you o?
KathyApril 3, 2016
Hi Rhonda, yes this was a problem at a couple of the ports. For example Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Ho Chi Min City were all around 2 hours drive from the ports and many of the passengers on the Sapphire Princess were disappointed that this was not advertised as such. We improvised by going to alternate places that were close (and in my opinion much nicer) that the big city locations. In lieu of KL we went to another place which had a great shopping mall so we shopped all day. In lieu of Bangkok we went to Pattaya which was a beach resort town and a lovely place to visit. In lieu of Ho Chi Min City we went to Vung Tau, which was also a more attractive place to visit. Otherwise all the other scheduled ports were reasonably close to the cities on the itinerary. Hope this helps. :)
JohannaApril 3, 2016
You’ve tempted me to return to Penang. I visited as a bacpacker in 1983. Bet there have been lots of changes since then.
KathyApril 3, 2016
That is long time ago Jo. I think the Old City probably hasn’t changed much because most of the old buildings are heritage-listed, however the newer parts probably have emerged since your visit. It wasn’t my favourite destination as the next port stop at Langkawi was much prettier.
Jim @ ReflectionsEnrouteApril 4, 2016
OK, I’m sold on Georgetown. When we were in the region a while back we decided to skip it. Now I wish we hadn’t! Oh well, we’re always looking for a reason to return to so many places we’ve already been.
KathyApril 4, 2016
Georgetown was an interesting place to stroll around with so many old colonial buildings, temples and chinatown. I guess if we stopped to see every single place in the world we would be travelling indefinitely! I know that feeling of “we should have gone to see that”. I often say this!
Grey World NomadsApril 4, 2016
Hello! Interesting to read 50shadesofage. We haven’t been traveling in Asia to much, so it’s good to read what we can expect. #TPThursday
KathyApril 5, 2016
Thank you. I have done a lot of travel throughout Asia and find it very interesting. Plus it is a very cheap travel option from Australia. You should definitely put it on your bucket list. :)
RuthApril 5, 2016
I was going to ask you about the food but then, you answered my own question. So bad Sundays are a calm day. After living so many years in the United States, I forget that most of the world is on pause on Sundays.
KathyApril 5, 2016
Yeah it was such a disappointment that we didn’t get to eat some of the local Malaysian food. I really like to try some different curries.
malaysianmeandersApril 14, 2016
I miss living in Penang so much and am so interested to see it through your eyes. I’ve certainly never seen the port from the vantage point of a cruise ship! In the 3 years that we lived there, we never made it to Langkawi as the Penang beach resorts were not that far from where I lived (but a longish drive from George Town.)
KathyApril 14, 2016
I hope I reviewed it sufficiently. We never got out to any of the beach resorts which was a shame. That is the downside of cruising. You only have limited time to see everything.