Penang has 2 town halls – one that was obviously not fancy enough, so they made another.
They have also fixed up the Cenotaph since 2006. Good thing too. Now it doesn’t have a big crack in the middle and is suitably fenced off to stop beggars sitting on it.
From here I went to the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion. However the tour didn’t start until 11 and they don’t let you wander around. I was also feeling a bit off so I wandered down the street vaguely in search of sweeties. 50m down the road was a Chocolate Boutique. Hmm. With free sampling. HMMM! I went in and was immediately bundled off with a guide and fed about 20 different types of chocolate in 16 seconds and would you like to go to the gift shop? No! Suckers!
I still had a bit of time to fill in so I went to the Chowrasta Bazaar. It’s ok – a lot of fresh food. Don’t go to the place advertising shakes. You can’t actually buy one. I tried, but all I could get was a long spiel about becoming a distributor.
I had been warned that the tour (RM12) would start at exactly 11, and it does! The group was quite big and the guide was thorough. It’s a good spot if you want to find out about feng shui as that’s what the guide spends most of the time talking about, not family history. You can’t take photos inside. It’s full of ornate gold-leaf woodwork and mosiacs made from broken plates. You can stay for RM380/night.
From here I walked through Penang’s shabby chic
There’s a sort of driveway past that with a Suffolk House sign and a sign for the Malaysian German Association. Follow the driveway to the end.
The house was built at the bequest of Sir Francis Light but 2 of the executors took it from the rightful recipient. It had a period as the local society HQ but fell in to disrepair in the 20th century and by the 1980s there was a cobra living in the dining room. It’s almost entirely replaced – none of the furniture is original. It’s worth a visit if you need a venue to hire but otherwise don’t bother – the entry is RM10.
From here I took the bus back to town (don’t try breaking RM50 notes by buying iceblocks from local shopkeepers) and the museum. It shares the Malaysian obsession with cultural wedding galleries and cars out the front.
Then I attempted to go to the Batu Ferringhi night market. The bus stop outside the museum lists the 101 bus but it doesn’t stop there! They also have a map with no key and a numbered list of locations that doesn’t correspond. Get the free bus to Komtar then out again. I did, and it was FULL.
Some sites say the market starts in the late afternoon. LIES! It doesn’t get going until about 8pm. Go there if you want DVDs, clothes, watches, handbags, paintings or souvenirs and aren’t going to Thailand or KL. It’s ok but nothing special. Make sure you check what the stall holders put in your bag/box before paying.