People and Colors of Penang

Penang is the second smallest state of the Malaysian federation. It is comprised of Penang Island and a portion of the Malay Peninsula.

Its capital, George Town, has a historical centre that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.

We visited George Town in September 2018, when we had the pleasure of being shown around by two local residents that have since become very good friends: Matt Brandon and Pete DeMarco.

The old George Town is for the most part made of old Peranakan-style buildings in various stages of decrepitude, with some having undergone extensive renovations. 

Trickshaw, Penang, Malaysia
Old George Town house and trickshaw, Penang, Malaysia
Old George Town house and trickshaw
Cheong Fatt Tze, the Blue Mansion, Penang, Malaysia
Cheong Fatt Tze, the Blue Mansion
Cheong Fatt Tze, the Blue Mansion, Penang, Malaysia
Cheong Fatt Tze, the Blue Mansion
Old George Town house, Penang, Malaysia
Old George Town house
Goddess of Mercy Temple, Penang, Malaysia
Goddess of Mercy Temple

A couple of the main streets of George Town’s center have a distinctively touristy feel, with souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars that mostly seem to attract Westerners. There’s a good number of tourists, mostly of them young backpackers, that spend time in Penang.

Things tourists do, Penang, Malaysia
Things tourists do

I have no idea why one would want to go to a Mexican restaurant in a city that is famous for offering some of the best food in all of South-East Asia, but I guess that’s the price we pay for globalization.

Luckily, you just have to avoid the main thoroughfares and you’ll still be able to find some of the local atmosphere and typical food.

Making char kuey teow on the street, Penang, Malaysia
Making char kuey teow on the street
Straining noodles, Penang, Malaysia
Straining noodles
Cooking dumplings, Penang, Malaysia
Cooking dumplings

Visiting local markets is always at the top of my list, when I go to a new place. They always give me a great feel for the vibe of a place and the people there almost invariably make for great subjects.

The citizens of George Town are generally happy to be photographed, no matter what they are doing, and will often give the photographer their best smile and sometimes a peace sign.

Schoolchildren, Penang, Malaysia
Smiling lady, Penang, Malaysia
Smiling lady
Butchery, Penang, Malaysia
The butcher
Lady preparing fish for sale, Penang, Malaysia
Cleaning the fish
At the fish market, Penang, Malaysia
At the fish market
At the fish market, Penang, Malaysia
At the fish market

Another source of photographic material is the large number of craftspeople’s workshops that open on the street. Again, we had no problem at all taking photos of the people at work. Sometimes, all you need is to smile.

Stewing ducks, Penang, Malaysia
Stewing ducks
Making chairs, Penang, Malaysia
Making chairs
Metalworking, Penang, Malaysia
At the Camera Museum, Penang, Malaysia
At the Camera Museum

Comments 3

Leave a Reply