Ahhhh, Malaysia. You are such an underrated country, in my opinion.
To be fair, I have only visited one tiny part of Malaysia, despite attempts to see a lot more being scuppered by various travel calamities. When I lived in Koh Tao, visa runs became for us, an opportunity to travel and for the rest of the ex-pat community, a reason to eat McDonalds. I don’t mean to sound judgemental, but the ‘Burma bounce’ was never for us.
So we took our time and travelled to Penang. George Town has long had a draw for us: the amazing Indian food, the beautiful street art and friendly people have always captivated us. This time around, we even found an incognito little bar a few seconds from our guesthouse. Alcohol is notoriously pricey in Malaysia (and Singapore) so we tend not to drink….until now 🙂 It had all the charm of an East End gin palace, and even more atmosphere. We parked it with a middle aged Australian and traded travel stories all night.
Anyway. High brow culture aside, one of our favourite tourist activities on our first trip to George Town was a visit to the Cheong Fatt Tze, or, ‘Blue Mansion’. The bright blue hue gives you an indication of why the moniker came about, but the history of the mansion is nothing short of scandalous. Cheong Fatt Tze was a diplomat with stacks of cash and even more houses — including this palatial residence. Sadly after his death, his children let it fall into disrepair and the mansion became a tenement for poor Malaysian’s.
It’s actually now a boutique hotel, but has lost none of the charm and our guide truly brought to life how things would have been in the mansion all those years ago. In fact, his mother even lived there once!
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