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Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

Knutsford, United...
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Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

We were seduced by the guidebooks but found the place to be very disappointing. This would be our opinion. If you've been there do you agree or disagree?

Forget all this tripe about Penang being the jewel of the East, forget the UNESCO World Heritage stuff, forget the Tripadvisor Travellers Choice award and forget the superb street food stuff. The place is a complete disappointment with very few redeeming features. 

When we were in Langkawi the locals would ask us where we were going next. When we said Georgetown they universally pulled a face and told us that we wouldn't like it. How right they were. 

Its just a city, not a very nice one at that, with few sites to see and pretty poor food. 

After this we went to Malacca. What a difference. 

If you're thinking of doing both, save your money, go to Malacca instead and do something more worthwhile with the 3 days you were going to spend in Georgetown. 

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

Hi BigBlue,

Few sites [sic] to see and pretty poor food (!?!!)... what a shame you were disappointed (゜レ゜) but, glad you enjoyed Malacca.

We quite love both... similar but different but, we must say that IOHO Penang Laksa is the best there is - with apologies to Sarawak which also is excellent, but once again different.

Horses for courses I suppose.

Cheers ツ

www.maudcameron.com

Norfolk, United...
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2. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

Agree, what a shame you were disapointed.

I think Georgetown is like real asia, not just a city - but that is my opinion. It is like Sinagpore was before they ripped the heart out of Singapore and made it a modern city.

You don't really go into details BigBlue. Could you expand on what disapointed you and what made Malacca better. Would love to hear more.

London
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3. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

Hey BigBlue - not sure what you were thinking? Cultural shows around every street corner, hawkers yelling at you or other stereotypes?

Overall, yes everyone has their opinion and its a shame you dont see the Penang most of us see. Would definitely like to hear more about it.

You also said, forget the street food...thats tough. Penang's street food is part of the culture and part of what makes Penang, Penang. The street food represents the culture and multi ethic melting pot that is Penang and Georgetown. Walk along Jalan Kapitan Keling, you have the diversity of Penang at its best - with the Goddess of Mercy temple, St George's Church, Kapitan Keling Mosque itself and ending with the wonderful Khoo Kongsi...around the corner you will find Little India. Its a little surprise at every street corner.

To each his own anyways...certainly hope you will put a proper opinion piece out there to share.

Rgds

Knutsford, United...
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4. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

Ow do you do that please?

Knutsford, United...
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5. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

Hi Ivan

I can understand travellers thinking that Penang food is more authentic but that doesn't equate to good.

I may be part of a small minority that likes Singapore street food better because it's better quality and the hygiene seems to be better

Knutsford, United...
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6. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

Hi

I think you may have hit the nail on its head there.

Penang IS probably "real Asia" just like Newcastle is more "real England" than London but to me, that doesn't make it more interesting.

I'm not a church / temple guy. I don't visit them in the UK and so I'm not that interested in them in Asia. That wipes out a lot of potential sites. If you then get rid of most of the museums for the same reason, there's not a lot left.

I much preferred the ambiance of Malacca v Penang.

I guess it is a town v city thing, but Penang didn't have those nice sorts of cafes that yo can sit back and people watch.

Less touristy I suppose. Most of us profess to want to get away from other tourists and see the "real" country but actually, the tourist places are better because they cater for our needs better.

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

@ BigBlue1894:

«I can understand travellers thinking that Penang food is more authentic but that doesn't equate to good»

I think that Penang food is more authentic?.. Compared to which?

Some Penang dishes are authentically Penang... Some Sarawak cuisine is authentic to that region.

«I may be part of a small minority that likes Singapore street food better because it's better quality and the hygiene seems to be better»

Small minority? We wouldn't think of visiting that City State without savouring the cuisine at Lau Pa Sat; although, I do recall once succumbing to a nasty gastric incident after eating there... but then, non-adherence to the principles of HACCP can sadly occur world-wide.

The saying is that 'travel broadens the mind', perhaps it should be followed by '... but, ensure to open your eyes'.

I readily agree that to have a closer understanding of a culture that is exotic to us we need to immerse ourselves in it.

«... Penang didn't have those nice sorts of cafes that yo can sit back and people watch»

Having visited Georgetown on a number of occasions and, having visited most of the 'touristy' attractions, we now find ourselves doing just that - people watching - from street-side tables of the many, many cafes... generally with our trishaw cyclists at a table nearby refreshing themselves with our compliments.

On the whole, we travel to learn and accept and satiate our cognitive needs - why do you?

Cheers ツ

Johor Bahru...
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8. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

I guess the issue then is with the 'old real emperor and not the new clothes', LoL.

Yes, the real authentic is not necessarily interesting but for Penang i suppose many tourist find it real AND interesting.

Not liking churches, temples, museums aesthetically? , then what to do..

Visiting tourist sites, there has to be a balance of some sacrifice of comfort, food quality? vs taste, and what the site has to cater to the tourist.

Cebu City...
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9. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

Hi BigBlue

Thanks for injecting a little excitement into the normally staid world of the Penang Forum. I do remember Penang when it was the Wild East in the 1970's and Chulia Street was full of opium dens and lots of working girls worked the area around Jalan Penang. But we all become calmer over the years as has Penang with it's World Heritage ranking. I recently returned to Penang with my family and stayed around the Esplanade area for the history and access to the park and coastal walk. Thought it was great to see how nicely old shops had been restored around Little India, spent some time exploring the Clan Jetties, wandered through narrow streets to little temples and mosques, the old Protestant Cemetary where many British of the colonial era are buried, Jalan Burma and some amazing temple compounds.

And don't forget that interesting adventure of taking the train to Bangkok!

For us, Penang was terrific, easy to do, and easy to get around Maybe we enjoyed that so much because we now live in the Philippines which is the new Wild East, surrounded by excitement, danger and anarchy on a daily basis. That's why we like to go to quiet places like Hong Kong, and Bangkok for our holidays.

Cheers, John

Perth, Australia
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10. Re: Is Georgetown the Emperor's New Clothes or what?

Hi,

Out of curiosity, what did the guidebook/travel brochure seduced you with if not the culture, food and architecture of Penang? One would imagine that they would be emblazoned with images of Khoo Kongsi, char koay teow, nasi lemak, Komtar, Kek Lok Si and Penang Road just to name a few. And you've made me wonder what is it that you ate while in Penang? Many Singaporeans come up to Penang solely for the food.