Pearl of the Orient

Cheah Clan House

When I wrote my introductory post, I mentioned that I would love to tell everyone more about my home. Here it is.

I am from Malaysia, a Southeast Asian country located between Singapore and Thailand. Somehow that description works for most people. Yes, we are that big piece of land between those two nations. My home state, in particular, is called Penang. It is mostly an island with some of its state land being on the mainland (Malaysia) itself. Penang is located in the northwest part of Malaysia.

Living on an island (a really small one, in fact) is one of the best things in life. Penang is one of the most developed states in Malaysia. I would say we are second to the capital city, Kuala Lumpur. That being said, it means that Penang has close to everything you need. Malls, beaches, hangout spots, the airport and anything you can imagine is never more than 20 to 30 minutes away. That is of course without traffic playing its evil hand.

Kapitan Keling Mosque

George Town, Penang’s capital city, is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage City. That means that the buildings and cultural events and craftsmen within the city is considered to be an important cultural treasure to the world and needs to be protected for future generations.

The city features colonial architecture, currently being restored to its former glory. Thanks to the UNESCO endorsement, Penang has been through an extensive transformation. Going back there during the summer break was eye opening for me because after being away for over a year, going back to a restored Penang makes me feel like a tourist.

I had the opportunity to do a “Heritage Trail” when I was back there over the summer. It seems to be a trend these days among youths in my state. The World Heritage status has given us youths a renewed sense of interest in our hometown. More of us are going out to take pictures and just visit the places that were specially shortlisted by UNESCO to be restored.

Master Lee: The last joss-stick maker. Joss-sticks are incense sticks used for Buddhist prayers. Master Lee is the last person in the country to still do it by hand.

If you happen to be in Southeast Asia and are thinking of visiting Penang, do take an entire day (or two) to embark on this Heritage Trail. You’ll find something different every time. I’ve personally been on the trail three separate times and I have always found something new, whether it be a new concept cafe (we have a lot of these), a new heritage building or just an old craftsman working on his artwork. George Town, Penang is full of surprises.

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