March 27-28, 2018
As I confessed before, I never knew Malaysia came in two parts, until I went to both halves — but it took me three weeks to connect them!
I’m going to guess that to most of you its capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL), is the best known Malay location. Until the Burj Khalifa in Dubhai took over the title, KL’s Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world. Now they’re billed as ‘the tallest twin towers’ in the world. Still pretty impressive.
After hundreds of years of ‘discovery’ and colonization, today KL is a mix of Moorish, colonial, Tudor, neo-Gothic and Grecian-Spanish architecture — with modern skyscrapers mixed in. Judging by its window surrounds, the edifice below is of the Moorish persuasion — with either a Martian helmet or a diving bell on top.
As with several other nations I’ve visited, it was Arab traders who brought Islam to this part of the world, and today the religious breakdown is roughly 60% Muslim, 20% Buddhist, 9% Christian, and 6% Hindu. The country is a ‘monarchy,’ but the king-ship rotates among the 9 sultans in the 14 states. Every five years, the Conference of Rulers select a new ‘king’ from the 9.
Aside from the towering KL, George Town, Malaysia’s second largest city and capital of the Malaysian state of Penang, is a wonderful place to visit. Dating from 1786, the city was Britain’s first settlement in Southeast Asia — once again, a post for the British East India Company.
Ensconced in our colorful, festooned trishaws...
...we were pedaled to yet another example of the Paranakan heritage I’d first seen and admired in Singapore — this one, the outrageously opulent mansion of ‘Chung Keng Quee, who was among the wealthiest residents of Penang in the late 1800s. His fortune was derived mainly from his businesses in mining. His mansion was built in a style unique within this part of the world, as it’s an eclectic mix of Chinese and European design elements,’ according to https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/pinang-peranakan-mansion. However, the Viking guidebook stated that this Chinese Kapitan was head of a secret society. Think Mafia don. This is the family shrine...
An example of beautiful Paranakan fashion. I think these styles are still worn on special occasions.
There were several buildings in the mansion complex, with these tile-and-ceramic connectors.
Since it was owned by a very wealthy family, it had all the mod cons.
Back in our trusty trishaws, we moved up and down the streets and in and out of various ethnic and exotic neighborhoods.
A stop at a local temple...
George Town is famous for its street art...
A famous landmark, the clock tower.
And one many whitewashed British colonial buildings... I really liked George Town! #