Thursday, February 16, 2012

Penang:A Gem Or A White Man's Bluff?

Hantu Laut

Yes! I was there few months ago.

Penang is different from the rest of the Peninsula, it has its own characters and charms, a laid back and quaint place, more a resort type destination rather than an industrial city with a burgeoning economy.Very Chinese, a piece of chinoiserie of some kind, keeping much of its old traditions.

Its hawker's foods are lusciously tasty and cheap.It retained more of its colonial past while the rest of the Peninsula tried very hard to erase it and had succeeded in doing so.

More like my home state Sabah, unpretentious, rustic, friendly, hospitable and no hang-ups.

It was once called the "Pearl of the Orient" before other more enchanting destinations like Bali, Phuket and many others in the region, discovered and developed more rapidly that had put it back in the backwater.

The streets are much cleaner than before but the waterfront facing the Esplanade is still littered with rubbish of all kinds.....discarded plastic bottles,plastic bags and animal carcasses are eyesores disfiguring the waterfront.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad while still the PM then, disgusted with its dirtiness, called it the "Rubbish of the Orient". The man who once ran this tiny island with negligence is still in the Federal cabinet. I need not mention his name.

The current state government is doing an excellent job trying to revive Penang's past glory to lure back the tourists and had embarked on excellent tourism promotion (paid for or otherwise).Read this New York Times article on Penang.

White men loves this kind of place.

My stay at the Hard Rock Hotel was pleasant and there were more domestic tourists than foreign tourists when I was there.

My wife says, probably, off-peak season.

Maybe, I'll make another visit a year from now to see whether Penang has weathered well under Pakatan's care.

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