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Galleries 22 & 23: Penang, Malaysia 2018

First Gallery: Penang, Malaysia 2018

We're in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at present, and given our plans to return to Penang, Malaysia next year for another visit, our minds are returning to the country. So to begin, I think the fastest way to convey Penang's turbulent history is this little table off Wikipedia:

Kedah Sultanate 1136–1786

British East India Company 1786–1867

Straits Settlements 1826–1941; 1945–1946

Empire of Japan Empire of Japan 1941–1945

Malayan Union Malayan Union 1946–1948

Federation of Malaya 1948–1963

Malaysia Malaysia 1963–Present

A tumultuous 250 years with numerous battles, takeovers and occupations. Most recently, George Town (the capital of the province of Penang) lost its British-originated free port status in the 1960s, and consequently the state suffered severe economic decline. However, with some focussed effort from the Malay government, only the global city of Kuala Lumpur is more international or has higher output per person.

This transition was very clear to us in our two month visit in spring 2018.

In our last post on our time there, Penang Portraits, Elizabeth gave brief introductions to the broad range of people we met and, true to its reputation, it was a very international crowd indeed.

In this gallery, I shift focus to the streets of Penang, from the far side of the island and its industrial regions, to its trendy centre of George Town, where Penang's rapid economic growth is clearly on show.

One obvious result is that Penang has substantially better infrastructure that the other parts of Malaysia we explored, and is on a different economic level entirely compared to many neighboring countries that we visited in the preceding and following months. We arrived in Malaysia after our extended period in southern India, where we became used to the lack of pavements, dangling live wires (yes, Elizabeth did get zapped!) and dangerous roads without complaint; it's just a case of different countries with their idiosyncrasies. But it was still true that, when we first arrived and some of our new friends warned us to be careful of the missing slabs in the pavements...we thought, "Great! Pavements!"

George Town is a bustling town full of modern and family restaurants, malls and colonial hotels, and its sleepier suburbs. The rest of the island, away from the metropolis, we encountered the Penang that is most definitely off the tourist trail, with its cat-filled fishing villages, small and large ports and factories, plantations, and sprawling areas of intense industry. These areas provide the economic backbone to the province while trendy cafés rise and fall in the capitals' centre.

So please enjoy this collection by clicking on the image below or:


The Second Gallery: Malaysian Animals 2, 2018

This is a double gallery post as although not too long ago I posted a gallery of Malaysian animals and insects we encountered, I took so many shots I was pleased with it ended up filling two galleries! These collections, plus our last post, and our previous Penang posts, should give some indication of how much we loved our time there, and why we are so excited to be returning this spring for another two months!

So please enjoy this second collection of Malaysian horses, dogs, cats, monkeys, butterflies and one very venomous snake. Click on the orange dog below or:

Enjoy! :-)

~ Vientiene

P.S. Interested in seeing other galleries?

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For any photography enthusiasts or professionals reading: I use a Panasonic G5 (micro four-thirds), a 20mm f1.7 pancake and 42.5mm f1.7 portrait lens (that's a 40mm FF and 85mm FF field of view equivalent). From 2013-2017, I mostly used the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens and a 45-200mm f4-5.6 OIS (FF equivalent 28-84mm and 90-400mm). In early 2017 I replaced the kit lens with the 20mm prime, and due to weight and size I abandoned the telescopic in 2018 adding the 42.5mm portrait with its narrow depth of field. In 2018 I added the tiny 9mm prime fixed-F8 bodycap lens, far from sharp but fun to capture fish-eye wide shots. Micro four thirds is perfect for travel, the best camera (and lens) is the one you have with you!

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