Old town Georgetown, in Penang, Malaysia, recently designated as a UNESCO Heritage site, is a historic and beautiful combination of cultures and religions. This small area boasts an impressive collection of places of worship. From Muslims to Christians to Buddhists to Krishnas, Georgetown is home to a variety of beliefs. Over my few days in the city, I spoke with priests over street noodles regarding training in Rome, sat down with an Imam to discuss false impressions, and watched monks collect early morning alms. Each distinct religion lives sides by side, contributing color and life to a city that would be lesser of if any of these institutions were removed.
However, these is another Penang institution that has a zealous and loyal following. While worshiping, some look towards Mecca, some to the sky, some look within. But in Penang, people look to the kitchen table. Penang is known as one of South East Asia’s culinary hubs with fresh and unique seafood dishes, fresh fruits (a farm holds 250 unique species) and mouth watering curries. Close your eyes and point at your menu. You can’t go wrong.
A favorite memory of mine was standing near a small tree grove with a stomach filled with char kway teow (think garlic, egg, chili, seafood and noodles), watching fruit bats dart in and out of the tree tops hunting for their dinner. Both the bats and I left that tree grove with full bellies that night (no, I didn’t eat the bugs…)
(Above: An example of some of the religious buildings found in Georgetown, Penang.)
(Above: The canons of Cornwalis, a war memorial for fallen soldiers, the historic town hall.)
(Above: A guy with amazing hair.)