I am lucky enough that in my life I have been to a few UNESCO World Heritage sites. And y’know what they all have in common: they’re damn impressive. We may have had no time there after the fiasco that was the journey from Ao Nang, but after wandering round Georgetown and going into the show piece temple, I don’t get it.
Penang is a really nice place, and Georgetown feels friendly and an enjoyable place to be. Unfortunately, in my eyes, this doesn’t qualify you for World Heritage City status. I read up a little about Georgetown once we arrived so we could make the most of the little time we had. I’m really glad I did. Wikipedia informed me that the colonial architecture and western influence is a juxtaposition to the location of Penang, and the history as the seat of the Commonwealth have granted the city World Heritage City status, alongside South Malaysia city Malacca (the city we have sacrificed for the Formula 1.)
We did have a look around the old quarter and see some of the old buildings. It felt like I was walking through Tortuga in Pirates of the Caribbean, rather than a Malaysian city, yes, but it didn’t feel completely wow. There was some cool steel artwork in random locations we walked round, and an impressive Chinese temple/clan house that we went in.
I am really pleased we got to see somewhere unlike what we’ve seen before, and I am pleased we won’t just see Kuala Lumpur and the Cameron Highlands, but I’m not sure I get the status it holds. What I am already realising though is that I really like Malaysia. Bodes well.