This morning we walked and walked and walked. My feet hurts so I bet my friends’ feet hurt as well. I feel sorry for Nana. She’s not used to this.
Penang, which means Betel Nut, was established by Francis Light in 1786 as the first British trading post in the Far East. Light had persuaded the Sultan of Kedah to cede Pulau Pinang ("Island of the Betel Nut") to the British in exchange for military assistance.
Penang’s appeal for traders was due to the fact that it was an open, duty-free port. Unlike the Dutch who also had ports in the region, who pressed for trade monopolies and instituted trade duties, the British were more concerned with allying themselves to regional powers than with controlling and profiting from Malaysian trade. Their primary interest in Penang was that it serve as a safe stopover for British ships plying the far more profitable China trade. Penang was soon established as a major trading port for tea, spices, china, and cloth.
Penang also have a lot of historical places. It has many old buildings with different interesting architectural designs. In Kota Lama (Old Town), a corner of Georgetown, we walked to Penang Museum and Art Gallery with its Francis Light statue, St George’s Church with the memorial canopy dedicated to Francis Light, Khoo Kongsi, which is a very nice Chinese building, Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram (a Buddhist temple with a huge reclining Buddha), the clock tower, and Fort Cornwallis (a British Fort).
The fort has a nice garden to walk around. It also has a famous cannon like Si Jagur, the cannon in Fatahillah Museum in Jakarta. And like si Jagur, apparently this cannon is also regarded as a fertility symbol. Women who can’t get pregnant come to sit astride this. I didn’t know that Malaysian also had this believe. But I suppose we’re the same people and it’s not strange that we share the same culture.
Sam and Joe were very impressed that I would listen to their political talk and response earnestly to it. They’re of course backing the opposition and are not happy with the government. Something very familiar to me. I’m not into politics but I understand about the suffering of people under a bad government. I didn’t say this to them but I think Malaysian government are a lot better than ours. Before leaving they gave me a t-shirt ‘Partai Keadilan’ or the Justice Party. The opposition.
They waved goodbye to us on the railway station platform.
On the train to Bangkok, Monday 21 June 1999