November 17th, 2008 – by: msparro
A cannon on the edge of Fort Cornwallis
This morning I set off for Georgetown, the capital of Penang
. I started at Fort Cornwallis which is where Francis Light first set foot on the virtually uninhabited island back in 1786. The oldest cannon, Seri Rambai, looks out over the north coast and dates back to 1603. His son, William, followed in his dad's footsteps and later founded Adelaide in Australia. I then took a wander through the district of Little India. The area is full of temples, restaurants, sari shops and Bollywood video stores and Hindi music blares out from the shop fronts and the smells of spicy Indian food fill the air.
I stopped for a bite to eat after visiting the Komtar - a huge tower and the central point of the city.
A local trader loading his wares
It was then on to the Penang Museum where I read about the history of the island, how it was owned by the East India Company and how the make up of it's culture has changed over the last 2 centuries. It only cost 1 ringgit to get in - around 20p! On my way down to the traditional chinese jetties I noticed that a lot of the drains aren't covered in the city so the smell is sometimes a bit funky! On the jetties there are hundreds of traditional chinese houses built of wood and all looking very rickety. They spread about 100 metres out into the water and it's a wonder they don't get washed away with the tides.
The general temperature here in Penang is around 30 degrees, but it is very humid which means it's very sweaty and not that pleasant. The island was hit by the 2004 tsunami in which 280,000 people were killed or are still missing.
Penang was relatively lucky and had only around 60 deaths as it was sheltered from the main waves by the Indonesian coast to it's west. From my apartment I can see an area of land that has been reclaimed from the sea and now has several hundred houses on it. They are known locally as 'tsunami houses' as they will be destroyed if the island is hit in the future. Doesn't exactly make them an attractive purchase does it!
On my way home I popped into the local shopping plaza to cool down and managed to buy myself a new camera. It was a little bit cheaper than in UK and means I should be able to take some even better pictures while I'm traveling. I just need to work out how to use it now - a job for tomorrow I think.