The first noteworthy thing when arriving for the latest visit to Penang was to find only one plane parked at the gates at the airport – nearly unheard of these days at any airport of this size! But, actually, Penang International Airport has capacity to welcome more airlines and flights. And the visitor numbers, based on the island’s expanding sectors, are all set to grow (with nine more hotels to open in 2019 and the island state staking drawing in more meetings.)
And Scandinavia welcomes! Inside the terminal huge ad display promotes the upcoming Ikea store. To think back on when Nordic people first set foot on the island we have to go way back in time. A few years ago, ScandAsia actually investigated when the first Swede had set foot on Malaysian soil. A book about the Dutch East India Company, (VOC) reveals astonishing information that some 15 000 Scandinavians went to Asia during the period 1633 – 1687 on board Dutch ships alone. Many more travelled with the Danish East India Company and on other ships.
One of the lovely things about taking a stroll in the heart of George Town in Penang is discovering pre-war houses or old shophouses that take you back in time — timeless, rustic and full of character, and at the same time rejuvenated and fresh, thanks to the conservation and restoration works taken by hoteliers and building owners.
What is also comforting is that neither the element of the old nor new overpower one another, but instead complement each other in bringing out the best of the cultural heritage our ancestors have passed down for us to preserve and pass on to the next generation. One such building is Muntri Mews, the labour of love of hotelier Christopher Ong and his Australian business partner, Karl Steinberg.
Located in the heart of George Town, a Unesco World Heritage site, Muntri Mews was created from what was once a former communal parking for horse carriages with the workers’ quarters upstairs.
Ever wonder why Malaysia adopted the tagline “Malaysia, Truly Asia?” It’s simple really – this archipelagic nation boasts of thousands of islands, as well as peoples from different cultures in Asia. With citizens of Malay, Chinese and Indian descent, Malaysia is truly Asia.
It’s also not surprising to find out that tours in the country are as varied as its local cultures. Check out the top Malaysian tours that you should not miss, for that “Truly Asia(n)” experience.
Tours for the Young and Young At Heart
Chances are, you will likely be on vacation with the whole family, including kids, when you get to visit Malaysia. Here are some tours that are ideal for families with young children, but also for the young at heart.
The Legoland Malaysia Theme Park is found in the northern part of the country, in Johor Bahru. It is the first Legoland theme park in Southeast Asia, bringing fun for the whole family. It features more than 70 rides, attractions and shows that everyone will love.
When flying in over Penang and after landing at its airport it becomes clear that this island has a lot of industries. When driving towards George Town, passing by the industrial zones covering large area it also gets very visible what kind of industries – names like Broadcom, Bosch and Western Digital appear along the road. For those not familiar with Penang it is well known as an Electrical and Electronics hub, playing a big part in that Malaysia is now the world’s seventh largest E&E exporter. Names like Broadcom, Bosch and Western Digital appear along the road.
But Penang is equally known for its history going back many centuries (even more so after George Town obtained Unesco heritagesite status soon ten years ago) and that has formed the unique foundation for today’s Penang. The island became a western trading outpost in the late 1700s but even earlier it was a centre for trade.
Invest In Penang, the Penang State Government’s investment promotion agency, situated in Bayan Lepas industrial zone points out this history.
As business booms, many locals lament the loss of the city’s heritage and old-world vibe
MELAKA, Malaysia — “Fun” is a subjective concept, as is the even more nebulous “culture.” As for “heritage,” it is a debatable term too, but can be more or less quantified by the range and antiquity of buildings and monuments that make up a place.
But how about cruising through a UNESCO World Heritage site in a garish Pokemon or Hello Kitty-decor trishaw, a speaker blaring Taylor Swift from the roof and exhorting passers-by to “Shake It Off,” as a wizened driver struggles to pedal a cartload of tourists along a cobbled street toward the ruins of a 16th century church? Fun?
Going by the steady trade these trishaws do in downtown Melaka, a lot of people enjoy that jaunt. Indeed it is not only fun to many, but possibly cultural too, in some jarringly postmodern, Andy Warhol-meets-St. Francis Xavier (who visited Melaka) sense of the word.
UNESCO World Heritage City of Malacca is one of those wonders of the world that captivates several tourists attractions in its vicinity. Explore the best of it.
Sick of going to places with high-rise buildings and tired of travelling to busy cities in Malaysia? Then seek for an escapade and venture into the historical city of Malaysia, Malacca! Located about 2 hours drive from the busy capital city of Kuala Lumpur, definitely you will not want to miss a short visit to Malacca. As you drive into the UNESCO World Heritage city of Malacca, you will immediately see the Colonial influence through the remarkable architecture of each building in the historical city itself. In short, the city itself is like a very large museum! Most of the hotspots are just within walking distance from each other and unfortunately, public transportations in this city are quite scarce. So buy yourself a pair of good shoes and start your adventure!
MALACCA RIVER CRUISE: Surely not something anyone should miss
What do you get when you mix Malay, Portuguese, Dutch, English, Indian, Japanese and Chinese? You get Melaka – a particularly diverse Malaysian town of about 500,000 inhabitants. And though the population is mostly Malay now, you’ll quickly notice the diversity in architecture, languages, people and foods. No wonder the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For anyone with an interest in history or culture, the city center of Melaka offers a stimulating and interesting day-long experience.
Melaka’s diversity can be readily explained by one quick peek at the map. Ever since its founding in the 14thcentury, it has held a vital geopolitical role due to its critical location on the edge of the Strait of Malacca. The narrow channel of water between Malaysia and Indonesia was then, and still is today, a natural bottleneck and the only (reasonable) water passageway between China and India. Owing to this strategic location, Melaka became the home of the Malay sultanate and was said to be among the largest trading ports in the pre-colonial world.
Travel photojournalist David Bowden found his interest in Penang and its heritage buildings rekindled by reading Andrew Barber’s informative new book, Colonial Penang 1786-1957. Charged and primed with Barber’s valuable insights, he headed north to relook at George Town’s historic enclave.
Rows of two-storeyed terraced houses dominate the streetscapes of George Town, with many having received a fresh coat of paint, but you can see that this is but one thin veneer covering centuries of history. Closer inspection also reveals ornate cornices and beautiful architectural elements and proportions in many of the terrace houses.
Time has not been so kind to many of these old houses in the historic heart of the island of Penang located just off western coastline of peninsular Malaysia. Many visitors must wonder why it took so long to protect this heritage zone.
Explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison recalls in his new book how he discovered a network of caves in Borneo’s Gunung Mulu National Park – a magnificent place where humans had never before set foot.
I once found a Garden of Eden. The world is full of little Edens, if you just take the trouble to look for them, but many have been destroyed through man’s greed and ignorance. Sometimes it feels as though the whole planet has been so polluted and ravaged that there are no Edens left, but they are there to be found by those who step off the beaten track, and some are protected in national parks and by their inaccessibility.
So it was with mine. The scientific expedition I was in charge of was to the newly gazetted and almost completely unexplored Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Borneo.
With more than half of its 329,758 square kilometre surface covered in tropical rainforest, Malaysia is a top nature and ecotourism destination for outdoor lovers and adventure seekers. It boasts the oldest rainforest in the world estimated at 130 million years old, the third highest peak in all of Southeast Asia (and the country’s highest at over 4,000 metres above sea level) and massive caverns believed to be among the largest in the world.
Taman Negara / Gunung Tahan
Malaysia’s Taman Negara (National Park) is located in the centre of the peninsula spread over three states, more than 4,000 square kilometres in size. It is also home to the peninsula’s tallest mountain, Gunung Tahan, with its peak at 2,187 metres.
The park’s rainforest is the world’s oldest primary forest at 130 million years old, and it is where one can find the best trails for all levels of trekking.