• Armenia Street (12/5/2015)

    The old town of Penang is on the UNESCO world heritage list and we spent some time meandering through its lovely streets. Impressions of Armenia street…

     

    La vieille ville de Penang est sur la liste du patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO et nous avons pris le temps de déambuler dans ses délicieuses petites rues. Quelques impressions d’Armenia street…

  • Street art in Georgetown (12/7/2015)

    Georgetown

  • Khoo Kongsi (12/8/2015)

    Details in the stonework of a Chinese temple in Georgetown.

    Détails des sculptures de pierre d’un temple chinois, Georgetown.

     

  • A private tour of the island (12/9/2015)

    And another great day in Penang, when Angela proposed to join her and Hernán for a tour of the island. We visited small fishing villages in the south, walked on an almost empty beach (just people fishing), had a wonderful and tasty lunch, sampled all kinds of food unknown to us, drove through rainforest and orchards.
    We could not have done all this without you, thanks a lot, Angela !

     

     

    Un tour privé de l’île

    Encore une belle journée à Penang quand Angela nous a invités à la joindre, avec Hernán, pour un tour de l’île.
    Nous avons visité de petits villages de pêcheurs dans le sud, marché sur une plage quasi déserte (quelques pêcheurs), avons mangé un excellent repas, goûté toutes sortes de pâtisseries et friandises qui nous étaient inconnues, conduit à travers la forêt et les vergers…
    Nous n’aurions pas pu le faire sans toi, merci Angela.

  • Penang National Park (12/10/2015)

    Today we walked in the national park in the northwestern part of the island of Penang. We went to Turtle beach where there is a turtle sanctuary and hatchery.

    Aujourd’hui, nous avons maché dans le parc national, au nord-ouest de l’île de Penang. A Turtle Beach, il y a un sanctuaire et une couveuse pour les tortues.

     

  • Kek Lok Si (12/11/2015)

    Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia; it is spread over the hills surrounding Georgetown. It houses a 7-storey pagoda “of ten thousand Buddhas” and a 30 m bronze Kuan Yin statue.
    During Chinese New Year, the temple is decorated with over 200,000 lanterns.

    Kek Lok Si est le plus grand temple bouddhiste d’Asie du sud-est. Il contient, entre autres, une pagode “des dix mille Bouddhas” de 7 étages et une statue en bronze de Kuan Yin de plus de 30 m.
    Lors du Nouvel An chinois, le temple est décoré avec plus de 200.000 lampions.

     

  • Jimmy Choo (12/12/2015)

    Jimmy Choo was born in Georgetown, Penang

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    Jimmy Choo est né à Georgetown, Penang

  • Georgetown architecture (12/14/2015)

    Streets of Georgetown, Penang; even run-down houses have charm…

     

    Les rues de Georgetown, Penang; même les maisons non retapées ont du charme…

  • Back in Penang (2/7/2016)

    The cold spell in Northern Laos led us to rethink our plans but we could not face 5 days travelling by mini-bus on bumpy tracks to reach the south. All flights were booked out and we could only get to Bangkok.
    We decided that we would like to spend Chinese New Year in Penang. We stopped for a few days in Langkawi on our way down and got back to Georgetown Saturday noon, just in time for Hernan’s farewell party.

    La vague de froid dans le nord du Laos nous a amenés à réviser notre périple dans cette région mais nous n’avons pas eu le courage de braver les routes dans un mini-bus pendant 5 jours pour atteindre le sud. Tous les vols étaient complets, la seule destination a donc été Bangkok.
    Nous avons alors décidé de retourner à Penang pour le Nouvel An chinois. Nous nous sommes arrêtés quelques jours à Langkawi et sommes arrivés à Georgetown samedi vers midi. Excellente soirée avec le groupe Couchsurfing et repas d’adieu pour Hernan.

  • Gong xi fa cai (2/8/2016)

    We went back to kek Lok Si, South-East Asia’s largest Buddhist temple, to see the lights display.
    The year of the monkey has started…

    Nous sommes retournés à Kek Lok Si, le plus grand temple bouddhiste d’ Asie du sud-est, pour le voir illuminé.
    L’année du singe a débuté…

  • Hot air balloons (2/9/2016)

    Many activities take place over the New Year period. One of them is a hot air balloon festival; we went there early and it was as well: the wind picked up quickly and they had to bring them down.

     

     

    Montgolfières

    De nombreuses activités ont lieu pendant la période du Nouvel An. L’une d’elles est un festival de montgolfières; nous y sommes allés tôt et c’est tant mieux : le vent s’est subitement levé et elles ont été ramenées au sol.

     

  • Haircut (2/11/2016)

    We often passed by this cute little barber shop and gave it a try this morning…

     

    Coupe de cheveux

    Nous sommes passés très souvent devant ce joli petit salon de coiffure et l’avons essayé ce matin…

     

  • A degustation tour (2/12/2016)

    Emilia is studying ethnology and is interested in the influence of food on inter-cultural relations.  She has been based in Penang for several months now and we spent a delightful morning with her commenting a degustation tour of Georgetown..
    She writes a very interesting blog (in French) :

    https://gastropologie.wordpress.com/

     

    Nous avons passé une délicieuse matinée, commentée par Emilia, de dégustation de divers plats et boissons.
    Emilia étudie l’ethnologie et s’intéresse au rôle de la nourriture dans les relations inter-culturelles. Elle vit à Penang depuis plusieurs mois.
    Son blog vous donnera une idée de ses découvertes.
    Merci, Emilia.

  • At the Burmese temple (2/13/2016)

    We went to the Thai and Burmese temples, outside of Georgetown’s city centre. The Thai temple was quite crowded but the Burmese temple was quiet and had a peaceful garden. Its architecture and statues were unlike anything we have seen so far. A large group of Burmese people were having lunch and very kindly invited us to join them.

     

    Au temple birman

    Nous nous sommes rendus aux temples thaï et birman en dehors du centre de Georgetown. Il y avait du monde au temple thaï mais le temple birman et son jardin offraient un moment de quiétude. Son architecture et ses statues sont inhabituelles et nous n’avions encore rien vu de pareil. Un groupe de Birmans nous a gentiment invités à partager leur repas.

  • Happy birthday, everybody (2/14/2016)

    Sunday, 14 February, the seventh day of Chinese New Year, we stepped out for breakfast. On Harmony Street we were greeted by two people we did not know who gave us a healthy, vegan breakfast. It was a gesture so that everybody would get a birthday present. For the Chinese, that day is everybody’s birthday.

    What a wonderful surprise!

     

    Joyeux anniversaire – à tout le monde

    Dimanche 14 février, 7e jour du nouvel an chinois, nous sortons pour le petit déjeûner. Sur la “rue de l’harmonie”, nous sommes accostés par deux jeunes Chinois qui nous offrent un sain et végane p’tit déj. Ils ont fait ce geste afin que chacun reçoive un cadeau d’anniversaire. Pour les Chinois, ce jour est l’anniversaire de tous.

    Une très plaisante surprise !

  • Chinese New Year, Day 8 (2/16/2016)

    Monday, the 8th day of Chinese new year saw the biggest celebrations in Penang. The largest Chinese population group here is Hokkien and it is their first day of the new year.
    We first went to the floating temple, then made our path through the crowds to Chew jetty.
    A long table was covered with food offerings; the air was filled with smoke from the enormous joss sticks, firecrackers and fireworks.

     

    Nouvel An Chinois, huitième jour

    Lundi, 8e jour du nouvel an chinois a vu les plus grandes célébrations à Penang. La plus importante communauté chinoise ici est Hokkien et c’est leur premier jour du nouvel an.
    Nous nous sommes d’abord rendus au temple flottant puis nous sommes frayés un chemin dans la foule pour arriver au ponton des Chew.
    Une longue table était couverte d’offrandes de nourriture. L’air était rempli des fumées des énormes bâtons d’encens, des pétards et des feux d’artifices.

  • Trades of Penang I (2/17/2016)

    Trades of Penang : the joss stick maker

    Mr Lee is 88 years old and has been working in his current location for 65 years. He mixes his own paste and does not use any chemicals. He still works everyday until about 2 pm. The joss sticks take two days to dry in the sun.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F2HHEIrMdXE

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    Métiers de Penang : le fabricant de bâtons d’encens

    M. Lee a 88 ans et travaille depuis 65 ans au même endroit. Il fait son propre mélange et n’utilise aucun produit chimique. Il travaille tous les jours jusqu’à 14 heures; les bâtons sèchent durant deux jours au soleil.

     

  • Tiles (2/19/2016)

    Many houses in Georgetown have beautiful floor tiles on their porch and also on both sides of the door.

     

     

    Carrelages

    Beaucoup de maisons de Georgetown ont de magnifiques carrelages sur le porche et sur les murs des deux côtés de la porte.

     

     

  • Trades of Penang II (2/20/2016)

    Trades of Penang – the Chinese stamp carver and calligrapher

    Mr Ng opened his store in 1967, upon his return from Hong Kong, where he learned the traditional art of carving signature stamps. Businessmen, merchants and artists still use them.
    Mr Ng imports the stones from Fujian, China, as the local stones are much harder and more difficult to carve.

    Métiers de Penang – le calligraphe et graveur de tampons chinois

    M. Ng a ouvert son atelier en 1967, à son retour d’Hong Kong, où il avait étudié l’art traditionnel de graveur de tampons chinois. Les hommes d’affaires, les marchands et les artistes utilisent encore ce type de signature.

    M. Ng importe les pierres du Fujian, en Chine, car les pierres locales sont trop dures et plus difficiles à travailler.

     

     

  • Trades of Penang III (2/21/2016)

    Other trades of Penang include the batik print designer (courses are available), the Indian flower garland maker, the trishaw drivers – and these are not just for tourists; locals use them too, especially early in the morning. The trishaws are also used to pick up paper and cardboard for recycling, among others.
    There are hundreds of stalls in the evening, with each specialising in one or two dishes. Indian spice merchants, Chinese religious sellers and all kinds of repair shops are also a part of daily life in Georgetown.

     

     

    Autres métiers de Penang : la créatrice d’imprimés batik (possibilité de suivre des cours), les guirlandes de fleurs fraîches indiennes, les trishaws – qui ne sont pas réservés aux touristes; les locaux les utilisent également, surtout tôt le matin. Ils sont également utilisés pour la collecte de cartons et papiers à recycler.

    D’innombrables cuisines ambulantes sont dans les rues dès la fin de l’après-midi, chacune se spécialisant dans un ou deux plats. Les marchands d’épices indiens, les vendeurs d’objets religieux chinois et de nombreux ateliers de réparation font aussi partie de la vie quotidienne à Georgetown.

     

  • Thaipusam Eve (1/19/2019)

    “Surrender to India”

    Recently I was talking with an Indian friend who told me, if you want to visit India, you have to surrender to India.

    Georgetown, Malaysia, has its “Little India” which organises the Thaipusam celebrations.

    Thaipusam is a Hindi festival mostly celebrated by the Tamil community.

    It is celebrated in the Tamil month of “Thai” whilst “pusam” refers to a star which is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates both the birth of the Hindu god Muragan, son of Shiva and Parvati, and the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel (lance) so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. You hear the devotees chanting “Vel, Vel”. Source: Penang Tourist Office brochure.

    On the eve of the celebrations I walked into Little India to have dinner.

    The atmosphere was already warming up. Long queues of Hindus waiting to enter the main temple to pray. Women in beautiful saris everywhere.

    Gold shops were full of people. They have elaborate, chrome-plated grills to prevent theft. They buy and sell more elaborate jewelry. Shops selling smaller gold jewelry were packed.

    As I wandered through the streets I was drawn to an open-fronted store with men in long white sarongs at the entrance.

    “Come in, share our food!” I approached to see better. “Should I take my shoes off?” I asked. “No, it doesn’t matter.” A magnet of hospitality drew me in.

    Surrender to India.

    As I sat on a stool people smiled at me, made small conversation, asked me where I am from, gave me more special food, complimented me on my skill eating with my fingers. I felt welcome.

    Surrender to India.

    After my meal, I walked back to Chettiar Temple where the silver chariot was outside waiting to be drawn through town tomorrow.

    A dance of two big puppets (one person inside each) and a fire-eater was enacted. The musicans played drums and cymbals to rythms I do not know, but I lost myself in them.

    Surrender to India.

    Back near my guest-house was a display of Chinese Dragon dancers. I asked somone, “Why are the Chinese celebrating Thaipusam?”.

    ” They worship some of the same gods, and in Malaysia we are united.” Great answer.

    They performed different dances with different dragons. The last was a long, thin, yellow and green dragon manipulated by seven men. The dragon whirled in circles and then undulated so the middle five men had to jump over the body.

    They played drums. Then they were gone.

  • Thaipusam, first morning (1/20/2019)

    At 5:15 I rose, showered and was gone.

    Forty minutes later I arrived at Lorong Kulit, main centre for piercing of devotees.

    Nobody, just a few food market stalls setting up.

    “Where are the kavadi?”

    “Haha, not before 8am.”

    Back in Little India I was on time to see the departure of the Silver Chariot. It was crowded, yet fluid. Moving within the crowd was easy.

    Anticipation was in the air; 7 am and already hot.

    An unseen signal and devotees raised their hands above their heads, palms together, in prayer. The troop ahead of the chariot, wearing elaborate headgear featuring bundles of peacock feathers, moved.

    People who had been close to the chariot started streaming in the direction of travel.

    The chariot advanced, I think pulled by devotees. It moved rapidly, turned a corner and stopped.

    Thus began the offerings. Bowls with banannas and burning coconuts and flower garlands were passed up to the men on the chariot.

    And it advanced again, perhaps 100 metres.

    The crowd dispersed behind the chariot. The flottila of cleaning trucks flowed behind the chariot.

    Breakfast was offered to all.

    One woman was holding a devotional bowl, another was feeding her. She caught my eye so I complimented them on their skill eating wth their fingers. “It’s a mother daughter thing.” she laughed. We chatted, they offered me a second breakfast, then the family of four left with waves.

    So many casual, friendly meetings, yet I will not see them again. No exchange of FB nor emails. Gone.

    Back at my guest house the other, golden chariot had just arrived.

    Bowls of offerings were passed up to the chariot.

    “Vel!, Vel!” chanted those pulling the chariot. It advanced, stopped, accepted more offerings.

    When it had passed, I returned to bed.

  • Thaipusam, first evening (1/20/2019)

    The first day is about hauling the chariots from the temples in Georgetown to the Muragan temple on the hill, allowing for many stops for offerings on the way. This is the largest built (so excluding caves) Hindu temple outside India.

    Georgetown has a very active Couch Surfing group who organise weekly meetings and activities linked to local events. Respect. The organisers put in a lot of effort to keep the group alive.

    I joined the couchsurfing group at the approach to the temple. Together, as a loose-knit group, we walked along the road. At the foot of the stairs we removed our sandals, then climbed.

    Devotees carry urns of milk and honey on their heads on the long path to the temple. In an inner sanctuary stands a statue of the god Muragan. Attendants take the urns of offered milk and pour it over the statue.

    The milk is now blessed. Outside it is recovered and anyone may drink the milk. Some take a bottle home.

    We sat on the floor of the temple to absorb its energy.

    Back down on the road, the gold chariot was approaching. Piles of coconuts line the road. Companies and familes have them delivered.

    As the chariot approaches they smash the coconuts on the road. This purifies the road for the chariot.

    It also allows the person throwing the coconut to unburden themselves of their bad deeds, to pay penitence.

    The chariot drew abreast, the music throbbed, offerings were made. And it was gone.

  • Rest and recovery in Kuala Lumpur (2/8/2019)

    Our plan was to go to Vietnam after the Philippines but we had not counted with Têt, Vietnamese New Year.

    In order to get a visa on arrival, one needs to apply online first, wait a few days to receive a letter of invitation, which will give the right to the visa when arriving.
    The online services, and the embassies, were closed from 1-10 February (Têt) and visa applications would only start to be processed as of 11 February. How long it would take to be handed the precious sesame was unclear but with a backlog of 10 days, it might be long.

    We had flown into Kuala Lumpur from Manila and booked a couple of nights in a pleasant hotel close to the twin Petronas towers. We had the pleasure of seeing again a former colleague of Jenny’s (and John’s occasional sailing mate) and his delightful family, who now live in and enjoy KL.

    A couple of days later, Jenny came down with a cold, a cough and a fever (the boat to Manila and its freezing temperatures..). Three days later, no improvement, doctor: bronchitis and the beginning of a lung infection; it meant rest and medication.

    The trip to Vietnam is no longer on the cards, since we will run out of time before our return to Geneva in early March.

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    Repos et récupération à Kuala Lumpur

    Nous pensions partir au Vietnam après les Philippines mais avions oublié Têt, le nouvel an vietnamien.
    Pour pouvoir obtenir un visa à l’arrivée, il faut postuler en ligne, attendre quelques jours la réception d’une lettre d’invitation, à présenter en arrivant et recevoir le visa.
    Les services en lignes et les ambassades allaient être fermées du 1er au 10 février pour le Têt. Avec les demandes accumulées sur dix jours, il n’était pas clair quand nous pourrions recevoir le précieux sésame.

    Nous avions pris un vol pour KL et réserver deux nuits dans un hôtel agréable près du parc des tours Petronas. Nous avons eu le grand plaisir de retrouver un ancien collègue de Jenny (et co-équipier occasionnel de John) et sa délicieuse famille. Ils apprécient leur vie à KL.

    Quelques jours plus tard, Jenny a eu de la toux, un rhume et de la fièvre (ce bateau glacial…). Trois jours plus tard, pas d’amélioration, visite chez le médecin: bronchite et début d’infection pulmonaire, donc repos et médicaments.

    Le voyage au Vietnam ne se fera pas, nous n’aurions pas assez de temps avant notre retour à Genève au début mars.

  • Kampung Baru, KL (2/11/2019)

    Kampung Baru is a neighbourhood of Kuala Lumpur, situated just behind the Petronas twin towers.

    A few hundred metres away from the modern city, you find yourself in a small provincial Malay town.

    An attractive new mosque, colourful wooden houses, many on stilts, and a wonderful street market with a huge selection of beautifully fresh vegetables and fruit: a really lovely break from the city.


    Kampung Baru est un quartier de Kuala Lumpur situé derrière les tours Petronas.

    A quelques centaines de mètres de la ville moderne, vous vous retrouvez dans une petite ville malaise de province.

    Une belle nouvelle mosquée, des maisons en bois colorées, beaucoup montées sur pilotis et un superbe marché de rue dont les étals regorgent de fruits et légumes de belle qualité: une très agréable balade loin de la ville.

  • Melaka and Ipoh (2/20/2019)

    Melaka (Malacca) saw many conquerors through its history, due to its strategic location. The local sultans had to fight the Siamese, Chinese, Vietnamese before losing to the Portuguese in 1511. Churches and a fort were built but the Dutch took control of the city in 1641. They changed the faith of the church on the hill before building a new one in town. A new city hall was also erected and is still called Stadthuys. Melaka was ceded to the British in 1824 who destroyed the Portuguese fort and used the old church as an ammunition storage.

    Melaka has varied cultures, also found in Singapore but not so much in the rest of Malaysia: the Baba-Nonya (Chinese-Malay inter-marriages), Chitty (Tamil Indian/Malay) as well as Portuguese/Malay descendants, who often bear Portuguese surnames and speak Creole.

    Because of its proximity to both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Melaka gets really crowded on week-ends and it is better to go there mid-week.

    De par sa situation stratégique, Melaka a subi de nombreuses invasions. Les sultans locaux ont dû se battre contre les Thaïs, Chinois et Vietnamiens avant de s’incliner devant les Portugais en 1511. Des églises et un fort furent construits, puis les Néerlandais saisirent la ville en 1641. Les églises devinrent protestantes et un hôtel de ville fut construit, toujours nommé “stadthuys”. La ville fut ensuite cédée aux Britanniques, qui détruisirent le fort et transformèrent l’ancienne église en arsenal.

    Melaka abrite des cultures différentes, également présentes à Singapour mais moins dans le reste de la Malaisie. Ainsi, les Babas-Nonyas (Chinois/Malais), les Chitty (Tamils/Malais) et les descendants eurasiens (Portugais/Malais) qui portent des noms de famille lusitaniens et parlent créole.

    A cause de sa proximité avec Kuala Lumpur et Singapour, Melaka est très populaire les week-ends et il vaut mieux visiter la ville en semaine.

     

    Ipoh is Malaysia’s third city and was a prosperous centre of tin mining. However, following the depletion of its tin deposits and the collapse of tin prices in the 1970s, the city suffered decades of decline and neglect.

    In recent years, Ipoh’s popularity as a tourist destination has been significantly boosted by efforts to conserve its British colonial-era architecture. The city is also promoting street artists and, among others, Lithuanian-born, Penang-based Ernest Zacharevic was commissioned by Old Town White Coffee owner to paint 7 murals in the city.

    Ipoh est la troisième ville de Malaisie et fut un prospère centre de mines d’étain. Après la raréfaction de ses réserves et la baisse du prix de l’étain dans les années 70, la ville connut un déclin marqué pendant des décennies.

    Récemment, sa popularité en tant que destination touristique a grandi avec ses efforts de mettre en valeur son héritage colonial britannique. La ville a aussi encouragé les artistes de rue et l’artiste lithuanien Ernest Zacharevic, très connu pour ses fresques à Penang, a été engagé par le propriétsire de l’Old Town Coffee pour en peindre 7 à Ipoh.