On arrival, visitors are usually intrigued by the narrow, congested streets of Georgetown and its pulsating waterfront. It is here, on the waterfront, that Penang is linked to the 20th century by the flotilla of freighters and streamers anchored in the harbor, which cause the ferryboats from Butterworth to zigzag a 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) winding course to reach the landing at Weld Quay.
Penang is a Far East warehouse for everything imaginable, from electronic gadgets to plastic toys. There are silks from Thailand and India, fabric from England, cameras from Germany and Japan, textiles from America and from Malaysia, brocade and sarongs. Jalan Pinang (Penang Road) is the main shopping market. Shops open in the early morning and do not close until the bars are empty and the late moviegoers have cleared the streets.
Lebuh Campbell, just off Penang Road is the main “Chinese” shopping center where Nepalese street vendors sell nylon shirts, fake alligator-skin shoes, laughing jack-in-the-boxes, and precious stones, guaranteed to cut glass.
Perhaps the most exciting shopping in Penang is in the many junk shop along Rope Walk. Here, shoppers must literally climb over mounds of discarded gear. Those who do not mind getting their hands dirty are certain to discover a dusty thing or two. One London boutique saleswomen found a luxurious Chinese emperor’s robe salvaged from the local opera stage. So, why don’t you give a try and you might find something more interesting that you expected.
The Central Market, stand where the original building, according to Swettenham “a very insecure shed” , once the house market seller from out of town, displaying fruits and vegetable, as well as household products and handicraft. The present building, completed in 1936, initially served as a produce market, was recently spruced up with its artistic décor feature and high ceilings renovated and repainted in pastel pink and baby blues, and how now became a “handicraft central”. Insides, there is a good selection of handicraft at a fairly reasonable price, though bargaining is still advisable. Besides housing various shops, stall and restaurant, the Central Market also has a programme of live shows. Pick up a brochure here or at the tourist information office and you might be lucky enough to catch music, dance or a shadow puppet performance.
At the end of the Central Market is the business center. This juxtaposition of the old and new creates an interesting alleyway. There is a shop house complete with a tree growing out of its wall on one side, small food stalls in the middle and the stark wall of a high rise building on the other.
After a walk in Central Market, you may want to visit the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, once the colonial secretariat head quarter and the house of the Supreme Court. It just takes you 10 minutes walking distance from Central Market.
Penang Museum and Art Gallery, located is Georgetown, Penang, a 15 minutes walking distance from the Fort Cornwallis. Walk into the compound of the Penang State Museum and Art Gallery, and you will first be greeted by a regal bronze statue of Captain Sir Francis Light, the founder of the Penang Straits Settlement, gazing down upon you. In Penang Museum, on the other side of the street, visitors can peer into a Chinese bridal chamber created in the lavish style of the 19th century, when Malaysian Chinese girls took great pride in the quality beadwork on their slippers. One room, dedicated to a glimpse of yesteryear, is hung with old paintings and etching from the days when Fort Cornwallis was the center of town. Another is an opulent showcase of bejeweled krisses, the dragger-like weapons Malay used for protection and for prestige.
On the first floor where the Art Gallery is located, display batik painting, oils, graphics and Chinese ink drawings. Most of the techniques are new but the solemn, moody sea scenes and village portraits recapture a way of life that is little changed from the pioneer days.
The Penang Museum & Art Gallery open from 9am to 5pm daily except Friday and Public Holiday. Admission Fees for Art Gallery Art Gallery is free. RM 1 for adult and RM 0.50 for children will be charged for visiting the Museum.
I-City is 72 acres ICT – based development beside the Federal Highway, Selangor. I-City was designed as a fully integrated intelligent city, comprising corporate, leisure and residential components such as a 1 million square feet regional shopping mall, office towers, hotels and apartment. Besides, it is also known as the city of digital lights. It is recognized as the first light scape tourism destination in Malaysia with state-of-the-art LED technology showcase.
The digital city includes trendy shopping streets and equipped with a theme park to cater to visitors’ looking for a place to unwind. There are 4 main attractions in I-City, which are the Waterworld, Snowalk, City of Digital Lights and Funworld. The main feature of the Waterworld is the exhilarating Tornado Ride, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. It offers visitors the ultimate aquatic adrenaline rush. This ride takes you on an oscillating “near zero gravity twirl” for a full 28 second through a 160 foot water tunnel, plummeting into a water funnel that is 7-storey high, inclined at a 45 degree angle and eventually. Besides, you might want to have an experience of walking in -5 degrees Snowalk in this warm weather country.
All this sound interesting, but it might cost you some. Here’s the operating hour for those theme parks, Waterworld – 11.00 am to 7.00 pm (Weekend start at 10.00 am), Snowalk – 10am to 1am daily and Funworld – 2.00 pm to 1.00 am (Weekend start at 11.00 am). Enjoy your visit and don’t leave your camera behind.
The National Monument of Malaysia, Located on a small hill nearby the Malaysian Houses of Parliament, erected to commemorate those who sacrificed in the struggle against communist in the 1990s. It is the world’s tallest bronze freestanding sculpture grouping. The galleries at the base of the statue record the names of all the units who fought, including British, Australian, Fijian, Maori and Malay troops. The statue itself may seem surprisingly familiar to some visitors, as it is a model of the famous Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington DC. This statue caught the eye of the late, Tunku Abdul Rahman, first Prime Minister of Malaysia, while he was on a visit to the United State. Felix de Weldon cast the Malaysian model in bronze in Italy and the statue now has a purely Malaysian symbolism.
The topmost figure holds the Malaysian flag and symbolizes unity and strength; two men on either side of him denote strength and vigilance; and a man comforting a wounded comrade on the center front of the group stands for the suffering and sacrifices made by soldier of all ranks. The base of the statue is moated by a pool with a cascading fountain and pewter water lilies, pewter being one of Malaysian’s prize metals. A small bridge over the moat gives access to the monument. Pick a nice spot for your photograph, post it on your social network and impress your friends!
The museum is open daily from 9am to 6pm, except Fridays, when it is closed from noon to 2.45pm.
National Museum of Malaysia is sitting on an incline on Jalan Damansara and facing Jalan Travers. The museum was initially built on the site of the old Selangor museum, but was destroyed during World War 2. The new museum opens in 1963. It spots a huge Minangkabau roof and front walls covered with Italian mosaic flanking the main entrance. The museum is well worth whiling away a few hours, especially for its social and cultural sections. These include an extensive section on the Nyonyas and Babas, the unique culture born of a fusion between Chinese and Malay traditions.
There is also a complete reconstruction of Malay “kampung” (village) and, on the other end of the social scale, a courtly scene complete with antique attire and gold and silk adornments. Also represented are Malays pastimes and sports, and there is a detailed history of shadow puppets, with displays from Turkey, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The Orang Asli (aboriginal of Malaysia) culture and societies are well documented, and displays inform on wildlife and natural resources, with a diagrammatic representation of an open-cast mine. Other interesting exhibits include the skull of an elephant which is reputed to have derailed a train! There is also an amok catcher, a frightening device that was once used to catch render harmless a person who has “run amok”.
Downtown Kuala Lumpur is crowded with buildings, both old and new, and may begin to wonder if there are any green spaces in the city apart from the Merdeka Square. A recent upsurge of interest in the greening of Kuala Lumpur now allows it to boast 30 public greens, from roundabouts planted with bougainvillea to spacious parks.
The best-known and most popular of these parks are the Lake Gardens, or Taman Tasik Perdana (Malay). 92 hectares of undulating green with magnificent trees flowering plants prove that the jungle can be tamed. The park owes its existence to A.R Venning, a British official who managed to persuade Swettenham in 1888 that Kuala Lumpur needed a public park. The largest lake on Kuala Lumpur, Tasik Perdana, once known as Sydney Lake, has boats for hire by the hour.
The gardens are popular with locals and visitors alike and are especially crowded on the weekend when in the early morning or evening, joggers puff their way around the humid paths, lovers seek more secluded spots, family have their picnic beside the lake and old Chinese man go through their tai chi routine. The park is open 10am till 6pm for Monday till Saturday and 8am till 6pm on Sundays and Public Holidays. Besides, it’s just a walking distance to the Orchid Garden, Bird Park and Deer Park. The National Monument of Kuala Lumpur is just apposite of the lake.
National Mosque, or Masjid Negara (Malay), lies at the center of Jalan Lembah (entrance), Jalan Perdana and Jalan Kinabalu. Completed in 1965, the jagged 18-point star roof and the 73 meter tall (240ft) minaret catch the eye. The 18 points of the star represent the thirteen states of Malaysia and the five pillars of Islam. This was one of the country’s first post-independence constructions and is one of the largest mosques in the region. Its Grand Hall – busiest on very Friday – can accommodate 8,000 worshippers.
On the roof there are 48 smaller domes, their design and number inspired by the great mosque in Mecca. It is an impressive building with cool marbles halls, long galleries and reflecting pool in the courtyard. The minaret rises from the center of one of these pools. The mosque is set in 5 hectares of gardens. One area of these gardens is reserved for the tomb of Malaysia’s most celebrated dignitaries, the former prime minister of Malaysia and other pioneers of independence are already rest there. Decorous clothing and behavior is a must during the visit to National Mosque. Shoes must be removed before entering the hall of the mosque. Scarves and covering robes are available for women, who use a different entrance. Tourists are advised to dress respectfully to show your respect toward the religion.