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as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, it lies off the NW coast of
Malaysia. Consisting of the Island of Penang and a strip of mainland
opposite the island known as Seberang Perai and separated by a
channel 3km wide at its closest point, they are linked by the 13.5km
Penang Bridge. The islands northern coast boasts of beautiful
beaches and a vibrant nightlife.
Penang was once part of the Kedah Sultanate. Locals knew Penang Island as ‘Pulau Kasatu’. Francis Light established Penang as a British trading post for the East India Co. in 1786 for trade between India, China and Archipelago. In 1800 Light also acquired the strip of land between the Krian and Muda rivers.
Francis Light named the island Prince of Wales Island (after the heir to the British throne) the capital George Town (after King George III) and the strip of land, Province Wellesley (after the Marquis of Wellesley). Trade quickly grew, especially in pepper, nutmeg, clove and gambier, and the islands original population of 50 people swelled due to the influx of immigrants and merchants.
Administratively Penang was part of India before becoming a member of the Straits Settlements together with Malacca and Singapore.
George town was declared a UNESCO world heritage site 2008. this bustling capital has over 200 years of history and culture, which can be best observe in its historic core. buildings of historical and architectural interest as well as cultural practices that have been handed down from the previous generations give george town a uniqueness that is rarely found elsewhere in southeast asia.
This majestic mansion was built in the 1880s and belonged to the ilustrious cheong fatt tze. a traditional paradigm chinese courtyard house with 38 rooms, it has superb feng shui. during the guided tour, you will have the opportunity to view exquisite bedrooms, libraries, ceremonial halls, courtyard and gardens. also displayed are rare porcelain, sculptures, carvings, tapetries, embroideries and antique. the five blue shphouses across the road were formerly the servant's quarters.
Kek lok si or the temple of supreme bliss towers atop a hill, overlooking the ayer itam town. it is hailed the finest and largest buddhist temple comlpex in southeast asia. its main pagoda, the pagoda of ten combines a chinese octaganol base with a middle tier of thai design and a burmese crown. this beautifully crafted temple took more than 20 years to build and continues to be expanded. it features lovely shrines, sculptures, gardens and a turtle pond.
Nature lovers will love the penang national park, the latest addition to the country's family of national parks.you will be impressed by its list of attractions - 417 flora and 143 fauna species, 1000 plant species and a lighthouse that was built in 1883. habitats found here include the rare meromictic lake, mangroves, mudflats and a hill dipterocarp forest. diverse trails will take you through the lush rainforest, leading to romantic bays with lovely sunsets and secluded beaches favoured by the green and olive ridley turtle. you can also get these beacheside attractions by sea.
Erected in 1786, fort cornwallis was originally a wooden stockade that was subsequently replaced by a brick structure in 1804. the east india company's the site of sir francis light's historic landing. relics at the fort include a chapel, gunpowder megazine and cell rooms. the famous dutch cannon or meriam seri rambai is prominently displayed facing seawards. it was presented to the sultan of johor by the dutch. today, an open - air amphitheatre, a history gallery, cafe as well as handicraft and souvenir centre also occupy the interior.
As you approach khoo kongsi, you will be greeted by a breathtaking display of chinese craftmanship - intricate wood carvings and richly ornamented beams. its hall is equally elaborate, beautifully decorated with lanterns and furnished with antique furniture. the grandest clan temple on the island, it was built by the forefathers of the khoo family, who emigrated from south china . the building was so magnificent that upon its completion in 1898, the roof caught fire. some believe it was due to its resemblance to the emperor's palace in china.
Enjoy fruits galore at the tropical fruit farm. the farm covers an area of 25 acres and is located in the hilly terrain of teluk bahang. over 200 tropical and subtropical fruits are grown in this orchads. they include durians, lychees, mangoes, guavas, avocados and dragon fruits. after touring the farm, you can try freshly cut fruits or refreshing fruits juices.
The pinang peranakan mansion was built at the end of the 19th century. a recreation of a typical residence of an affluent penang baba nyonya (straits chinese), family it features chinese carved wood panels, english floor tiles and scottish ironworks. on display are eloborate tradisional costumes and accessories, lovely porcelain pieces as well as furniture and works of art brought in from china and europe, which were specially commissioned by the baba and nyonya families and handed down through the generations.
History comes alive at the war museum in batu maung. as you explore this 20-acre museum, you get to abserve the living quarters of a typical british soldier and his asian counterparts during WWII. war relics are housed in several installations above and below ground built around the remnant of an old british fort. you can weave through a complex to view barrack, old cookhouses, lock-ups, tunnels and ventilation shaft.
This breezy open air food court is the perfect place to sample penang street food. asam laksa, hokkien mee, pasembor, rojak, fried oyster and chee cheong fun are just a fraction of the delectable delicacies available at food stalls in this popular food haunt. after your meal, enjoy the seafront view as you walk along the promenade.
Shopping in penang is convenient. one-stop shopping malls, retail outlets, handicraft stores, flea markets, night market and sidewalk bazaars are available in the state. whether you are looking for mementos, branded apparel, electronic items, books, local food product, antiques and curios, or just browsing around, you will find it a pleasant experience.
Popular shopping spots:
Penang has air links with major capital of region such as singapore, bangkok, phuket, medan, banda acheh, macau, hong kong, xiamen, and taipei. its airport, the penang international airport, is about 16km from george town. you can purchace taxi coupons at the airport at the airport before leaving for various destinations in the state or hire limousines, which cost slightly higher. the rapid penang bus no. 401E and a stop at the airport and the weld quay jetty where you can make a transit to your destination.
You can drive to penang bridge and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.
You can get to penang island from butterworth by ferry, which caters for both passengers and vehicles. fares for passengers and vehicle charges are collected at the butterworth terminal and no payment is required for the return journey.
Enjoy views of the picturesque when you make a train journey from kuala lumpur to butterworth. select from comfortable air-conditioned berths that are available at reasonable rates. malayan railway or keretapi tanah melayu berhad (KTMB) also operates regular servises to alor star, padang besar, haadyai and bangkok from butterworth.
Copyright, Big Tree Tours Malaysia Sdn Bhd, 2012 Photography provided by Big Tree Tours Malaysia Sdn Bhd