So after Bangkok it was on to Malaysia, and Penang (or Penang Island) is the most extraordinary place, filled with magical, colourful temples, crumbling colonial villas, and with a peaceful vibe (35% of the population are Buddhists).
We started off our visit to Penang by exploring the Kek Lok Si Temple, with its intriguing murals…
…and mosaic wall and floor tiles (before anyone gets upset, the swastika is actually an ancient symbol in South East Asia and you see it everywhere).
Climb up the steps of the 30m high Pagoda of the Ten Thousand Buddhas (and that’s easier said than done, they’re very narrow in places) and you’re rewarded with fantastic views of the Air Itam Mountain as well as Penang.
I’m not sure what this giant paper chicken was about.
I wasn’t sure if this was a dragon or a lion. Nope, still no clue.
Aren’t these floor tiles stunning? I think I have a chandelier and floor tile obsession.
The monks who look after the temple grow the most fabulous flowers, fruit and vegetables. No one actually knew what this yellow fruit was (it’s not a lemon), but it looked delicious.
There are so many temples in Penang you can kind of get temple overload, but I loved these tea lights at the Buddhist Temple (something to try for a summer party perhaps?)…
…and at the Burmese temple, this spectacular Buddha.
One thing you see a lot of in Penang is trishaws ready to take tourist for a ride (in every sense) but this one I spotted on Love Lane was just so cute.
And the 19th century Chung Keng Quee mansion is full of antique treasures, including stunning crystal chandeliers…
I loved this silver grey wallpaper and love seat.
My favourite part of Penang though was George Town…
…where there is street art absolutely everywhere, including this giant upside down slightly creepy baby…
…including murals by Ernest Zacharevic. My favourite was this one, Little Children on a Bicycle. So clever, and adds unexpected beauty to a rundown building.
We ended our day in Penang with a trip to Chew Jetty, which once you get over the slightly noxious smell (don’t even ask) is a really intriguing place to explore.
And I couldn’t resist taking an arty photo of these three young girls, who were just delightful and told me they were on a modelling with a friend, hence the matching dresses.
I can’t really compare Penang to anywhere else in South East Asia I’ve been; some aspects reminded me of Vietnam, particularly when we were at the floating village at Chew Jetty, but really, it’s a unique and special city, and definitely worth exploring.