Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

We’ve been staying in Georgetown for a few days now, at the Tune Hotel.

The Tune Hotel is good. Malaysia has the worst budget accommodation in Southeast Asia. Whilst in most countries £10 gets you a pretty good room (Aircon, TV, clean), in Malaysia is doesn’t (grubby).

The Tune Hotel is costing us £10 a night, but it’s modern clean, has AirCon and doesn’t have bugs!

We rarely stay in corporate run hotels, so it’s always nice to do something a bit different.

During this visit to Malaysia we have discovered the Old Town coffee and toast houses. A chain of stores that sell lots of different coffees, and lot of different toasts, and other rice-style dishes.

In Malacca we also found Old Taste, which is a rip-off. The colours, uniforms, menus, and just about everything else seems to have been copied.

Well, in Georgetown, they have Georgetown Coffee. Yet another rip-off of Old Town. There is not much to choose between them. Better coffee at one, better breakfast menu at another.

We visit them on most days for coffee and breakfast.

It’s the start of Ramadan, the Islamic period of fasting during the day. Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, so there are a lot of celebrations and events.

We found a great Indian restaurant. During one meal, just before sundown we noticed a number of Muslims sitting at tables with food before them. They didn’t eat their meals though, they waited until the time was right. Interesting stuff.

Around the streets of Little India are a lot of celebrations, especially after dark.

Whilst in Georgetown we take a bus out to Bakinafaso. The beach is quite nice, but the surrounding areas are rough and poorly planned. In fact the area has a bad feel and is so disorganised that it’s not a great place to be. After a little lunch we head back to Georgetown.

We take a lot of buses whilst in Penang. It’s a good network that works well. It’s just as well, as Taxis in Malaysia are dreadful. Not only bad cars (clapped out Protons) but the drivers are rip-off merchants. Although they are reasonably priced in Malacca, and the Kuala Lumpur airport limousines are good value.

There are constant religious celebrations in Georgetown. The Muslims have their Friday prayer times, but the Chinese burn incense and paper all of the time. We see gigantic incense sticks all over town.

We do the heritage trail. A walk that takes in 30 or so historic buildings that formed Penang’s history. Some are most interesting than others.

We stop at an old Chinese clan house, and a friendly old Chinese man shows us around the old house. It’s an interesting stop, and we tip him nicely.

Friendly man at an old Chinese clan house

We try a few of the Indian sweets on offer, and fine some better than others.

Abs buying Indian sweets

One of the reasons we have visited Penang is to get visas for Indonesia. If we get visas in advance we can stay for 2 months, rather than 30 days. The visas are easier to get in Penang than Kuala Lumpur.

I read that one of the big guesthouses can get the visas for us, for only £5 more. We get the paperwork together and drop it off. They take our photos, on a red background. We think this is scan to get a few quid off us, but later read it is how the Indonesia embassy accept them.

We get out visas back in 24 hours, as they said. Good stuff!

After a great time in Penang we buy bus tickets to Kuala Lumpur. We normally travel by train when possible, and we can do so here. But the buses are quicker and they take the massive road bridge we’ve seen all week. We have the mispleasure of sitting with some constantly complaining Australians whilst waiting for the bus. They claim the Malaysian are constant time wasters. It’s not the case, and the bus service is well run.

Leaving Penang on the very long road bridge

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