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Georgetown, Penang

Georgetown, Penang

It sometimes feels as though there’s a drive, not to mention unspoken competition, between the larger cities of the world to create iconic architecture and flaunt this as a symbol of local pride. Some older historic towns of the world have always had options available for this. Rome for example has the Coliseum, Barcellona has the Sagrada Familia,  Paris perhaps the Eiffel Tower and Moscow always shows off  St. Basil’s’ Cathedral when it can.

In recent years some extraordinary feats of engineering have been completed in the Middle and Far East and there are currently some very stunning modern icons of architecture to be added to the list above. The Burg Khalifa in Dubai, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Taipei 101 building in Taiwan and the Shard (a real abomination)  in London are just some examples of the latest arrivals. They all seem to add a touch of extra glamour to the cities they belong to, and certainly promote tourism greatly. It remains to be seen though if they will withstand the test of time.

Kids on a Bike.

Children a bike, another captivating piece of work from.

In it’s own small way, colonial Georgetown, on the island of Penang in Malaysia, has found a clever (and certainly less costly) way to promote itself and attract masses of younger tourists to visit.  Steering away from colossal works of architecture, Georgetown has placed itself firmly on the tourist trail by embracing stylish street art as a way of embellishing its narrow alleys and fading building facades. For this it employed several talented street artists and encouraged them to use the town as their own personal canvas.  The results are fascinating indeed.

The Oarsman

Some interesting wall art here with “The Oarsman”.

One young artist in particular, Ernest Zacharevic from Lithuania, set the standards very high when working on the Penang street art project back in 2012. I personally I found his work clever and entertaining.  Ernest’s   “Kids on a Bicycle” and “Boy on a Chair”  murals are definitely eye catching and good examples the artist’s creative style. I wasn’t alone in appreciating his work as there was always a small crowd of admirers in front of his creations with cameras and words of admiration.

Boy on a chair

“Boy o a Chair”. This scene looks so realistic it’s hard not to stop and stare.

Within the space of a few years the murals in Georgetown have proven to be a huge success. Teams of young backpackers from all over the world fill the town’s many guest houses and spend days roaming the narrow streets seeking out bigger than life  paintings to admire. There are mapped itineraries to follow, with or without a guide, available at every hostel to make sure visitors miss nothing of what there is to see. A walk around Georgetown admiring the many murals on display can take several hours, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Night life, in the George Town area of Penang.

Night life, in the Georgetown area of Penang.

Of course there’s night life in Georgetown as well especially around the Love Lane area. Here there  are plenty of bars and clubs with live bands, music and cheap beer to enjoy.

I liked  Georgetown and it’s street art quite a lot. It had a friendly and relaxed atmosphere which was exactly what I needed  when I got there in late December 2016.

The Biker

My favourite! Always help a biker in need…

Penang was also my departure point for Sumatra, Indonesia.  Lucy (my motorbike) was ferried across the Malacca Strait on two day voyage on board  the Setia Jaya, a well known cargo vessel that has ferried the machines of hundreds of overland bikers throughout the years, while I took a cheap Air Asia flight to Medan from Penang. .

Waiting for the Sets Jaya

At the harbour in Penang waiting to load Lucy (my bike) on the Setia Jaya, her chariot to Sumatra.

I was separated from my beloved motorbike as it travelled to Indonesia for no longer than 5 days. No damage, no mishaps, all good!

The Setia Jaya

The amazing Setia Jaya, an old wooden cargo freighter that has has been used by hundreds of overland bikers to ferry their precious machines from Malaysia to Sumatra in Indonesia.

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