We may not have done nearly as well eating in Malaysia’s “Foodie Capitol” as we had hoped but that didn’t stop us from feasting on an impressive smorgasbord of a different variety. And while we would never claim George Town is an obviously beautiful city in the way that, say Hoi An in Vietnam is, there are enough pockets of visual attractions scattered about town to make it a worthwhile place to explore. Just be prepared. As with its culinary treasures, George Town plays a bit coy by hiding some of its best bits in out of the way places.
Relatively new by Asian standards, George Town was founded only a couple of hundred years ago in 1786. And even though the city feels old, most of its attractions are quite new.
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion, for example, dates only to the end of the 19th century.
The even more impressive Khoo Kongsi clanhouse (the largest and most elaborate such temple in the country) was built around the same time in 1906.
But the most memorable and, I think, iconic features of George Town today are the wonderful large-scale murals that dot its city streets. These pieces of art are so well integrated into the fabric of George Town’s architecture that they feel as old as the city itself. And yet they were only completed a few short years ago, in 2012.
Even more modern are the wrought iron wall installations still going up around town that provide small doses of local history in a far more interesting and entertaining form than the traditional wall placard.
For anyone visiting George Town, the Tourism Board makes available this handy brochure and “treasure map” showing visitors exactly where all this great art is hidden. As for food, you’re on your own.
But most of all, remember . . .