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Home Malaysia Georgetown, Penang ⇒ The Old Centre

Georgetown: Asia’s Melting Pot

3The Old Centre

Georgetown was the administrative centre of Penang and fortunately a large part of the old town has remained largely unchanged. You can still get a feeling for times long gone, especially in the early evenings when the streets are empty of traffic but the there is still light in the sky. By contrast, on Sunday mornings the street markets in particular are bustling: it seems that almost the entire Chinese population (which is not that small) is shopping; arguing and haggling on the streets.

The entrance to the wet market in Georgetown.
Entrance to the wet market.

The city was placed on the World Monument Watch’s list of 100 endangered sites in 1999, and it now seems that the historical value of the rows of two-story shop houses with painted wooden shutters and shop signs in three scripts has been realised and many are being renovated. In some cases everything except the façade has been torn down and rebuilt, but the character and feel of the streets is retained.

Several streets of town houses on and around Campbell Street have been renovated so far and they gleam with freshly painted colours.

Renovated townhouses in Georgetown.
Renovated shop-houses.

The streets have been repaved and pavements and lighting have been much improved to make a pleasant shopping area. The shops around here sell clothes, jewellery and antiques with the odd artisan’s workshop amongst them. Just strolling around and taking in the atmosphere is a perfect way to spend an afternoon and to recall a time when things were just that bit less hectic.

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