Penang in Malaysia is a 3-hour ferry ride south through the Andaman Sea from the duty-free island of Langkawi. Ceded to the British in 1791, today Penang’s UNESCO-listed capital of George Town is a bustling city of contrasts – wide, modern streets run parallel to a maze of narrow lanes where ancient trades are still practised & impressive colonial architecture is towered over by shiny high-rises. It’s an interesting place, compact enough to explore on foot with more than enough photo opportunities.
Colonial Penang || Thank the Brits
In 1771 the Sultan of Kedah (this area of Malaysia) signed the 1st agreement with the British East India Company, handing trading rights to the Brits in exchange for military assistance against Siam, present day Thailand. Fifteen years later, in 1786, Capt. Francis Light, on behalf of the East India Company, took control. Five years later, in 1791, the island was formally signed over to the Brits – they used it, along with Singapore & Melacca, as trading bases as part of their South East Asian conquest. Shortly thereafter George Town, the capital, was established and the Brits got to work on a series of impressive buildings some of which still stand today.
Temple of The Azure Cloud
I paid a visit to the outskirts of George Town to the Temple of The Azure Cloud, more popularly known as the Snake Temple due to the numerous poisonous snakes that like to call the temple complex home. The temple itself wasn’t up to much – wasn’t up to much at all – but the small Snake Farm in the grounds of the temple was quite the attraction, especially considering the 5MYR (€1.20) admission. I took the following picture through the glass of an aquarium-esque holding tank for this puff adder. It had just been fed (& seemingly they only get fed once, maybe twice, a week) and the snake slowly, very slowly, ingesting the whole mouse provided me with quite the spectacle.
According to the inscription above its holding tank
I guess the poor mouse never stood a chance.
It wasn’t just snakes on-show at the Snake Farm. It has a few less-than-lethal but very photogenic iguanas on display too.