Many cruisers visit Penang in order to go through the bureaucracy of acquiring a Thai visa. But Georgetown, with its UNESCO-listed heritage, art scene and world renowned street food is so much more than a visa stop-over. Here’s our guide to what to do and see in the island’s capital, and some suggestions of where to stay and eat.
The island of Penang lies south of Langkawi on the north-west coast of mainland Malaysia. Before Kuala Lumpur developed into the international capital it is today, Penang was the economic and cultural hub of Malaysia. But it wasn’t always so.
[S02E17] The Taj was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and the whole complex was completed in 1653. It is a mausoleum using Persian, Turkish and Indian styles of architecture. The building needs no introduction, it’s one of the most visited tourist sites in the world. If you decide to go there, do what we did and get up really early!
[S02E16] Fatehpur Sikri consists of two areas: The huge Jama Masjid, the second largest mosque in India, and the Palace of Akbar. For a short while Akbar made Fatehpur Sikri the capital of his empire. He spent 15 years building the mosque, the palace, harems, courts, water features and other buildings and drew his influences from Persia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not to be missed, but if you can’t make it, then listen to this week’s podcast to get a great idea of what the fuss is all about.
The sound of the hissing steam and shrill horn transported me to Britain in the 50s, The Railway Children, Murder on the Orient Express, Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, the railways that built America, George Stevenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Sometimes we were so close to the shops hewn out of the rock along Hill Cart Road I could have easily removed a speck of dust from the eye of a passing housewife, or handed a letter to a family of children.
Cliché or no cliché, Akbar’s ‘City of Victory’ really does “rise majestically” from a barren rocky plateau. Referring back to my note book, before writing up this visit, I found a string of exclamations: “The scale! Location and position! Extraordinary! Fabulously well-maintained! Power! More palace than fort!” An extraordinary place…
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