Day 6: Kuala Lumpur to Georgetown

by - May 02, 2011

The first three stops on my trip were based around the same Singapore - Bangkok train line.  My third and final step along this route was Georgetown, on Penang Island on the west coast of Northern Malaysia.  I had never heard of it before I started to research this trip, but the island and its main city play a huge part in the region’s history.  It was in fact the first British settlement in the area (preceding Singapore by several decades) and was seen as just as crucial as the islands of Singapore and Hong Kong to British trade in the region.

My journey started in Kuala Lumpur at 6.30am, as I got myself up and took the monorail to the station.  I had decided to upgrade to 1st class for the 8 hour journey from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth (a town on the mainland that connects to Georgetown via a ferry), as the upgrade only cost an extra 6 pounds.  It was a sound choice though - I have never had such an enormous seat on any type of public transport in my life.  It was more like something from my living room - except that it was even better because it reclined.  A breakfast was provided as well which, while nothing special, was well received as all I had to eat was a packet of pringles.  The view from the window was very similar to my journey from Singapore - except perhaps it was a bit more mountainous and in areas was a bit more developed.  The TV was working in my carriage, but was showing some kind of Malaysian soap with the sound off, so I stuck to sleeping and gazing out of the window.

Georgetown City Hall
Having departed at 8.15, we arrived at about 15.00 and I headed straight for the ferry terminal which was connected to the train station.  Within half an hour of getting off the train I was in the town centre of Georgetown and heading towards my hostel.  I was staying in Chinatown again on the hideously named ‘Love Lane’. My hostel was far more charming than its road would suggest though as it is built in an old colonial style building.  Finding it was a bit of a pain, but they gave me a warm welcome and showed me to my wonderfully cool room in a mixed dorm.

Queen Victoria Clocktower
The rapid nature of this tour dictates that I won’t be spending much time in Georgetown - I have all of tomorrow then I leave on the 5th, so I did a little bit of sightseeing before it got dark.  I’m afraid that my route will sound awfully similar to the one I took in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, but I started in Chinatown and made my way towards the Colonial District.  Chinatown was much the same as the other places - a mix of smells and tastes that is both fascinating and stifling.  The colonial district however was very different to that in Singapore and KL.  It was a bit more laid back and this was mainly because the city served as an outpost that guarded the straits, rather than as a major city in itself.  It was crucial to trade by virtue of its location rather than its resources.  The district is, as in Kuala Lumpur, based around the old cricket pitch and town hall.  On top of this there is a fortress overlooking the straits - called Fort Cornwallis, that cost 40p to get into and was worth a bit of a look around.  After seeing the clock tower that was built in tribute to Queen Victoria, I followed the very British sounding streets (Downing Street, King Street, Queen Street etc) back to Chinatown where I ate and then, as you may have noticed, spent ages and ages making the blog look respectable.

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