We arrived at Penang airport and I must admit it was a bit of a shock to the system. The first thing to encounter was finding a cash machine in the airport. I was sent in a general direction and immediately saw 5 cash machines in a row all with different bank names. Which to choose was the thing. All I did was to follow suit with the previous person drawing money. Seemed a good method. Then the taxi. A fairly uneventful trip where the taxi driver made a big thing of showing us a fridge between the front seats and that it was specially designed for cars.
The taxi made it to the hotel in a very efficient manner and dropped us off outside the door. That was when the whole Penang experience started. There was an over whelming feeling of noise, cars, motor bikes, smells, rubbish, open drains along the side of the road, crowded or non existent footpaths, street food etc.
When I say it was a bit of a shock we had just left Canberra in Australia a Truman Show-like place where everything is new and modern, where the cars seem to revolve around the roads as if on tracks and there is a general feeling of order. Penang took apparent disorder to a whole new level.
We were in a hotel in what seemed the main drag in the centre of the old town close to street food, and some bars. When I mention footpaths the lack of them seemed to nearly double some travel times when walking. A footpath could be a covered arched walkway outside shops. It could quickly become a mechanics workshop for mending motor bikes, lawn mowers, generators or anything which the shop specialised in fixing. A run of shops could be all off similar genres but quite easily there could be some cafes etc and interspersed by someone doing panel beating as a service.
When negotiating the footpaths you would end up having to move off it to somewhere or the road. There could be steps of various depths and some quite large between a walk way and something else. Health and safety - limited. The difficulties start when you have to move onto the road as it sides are congested by neatly packed motor bikes and scooters and quickly you’re on the road to be greeted by honking of horns.
All I can say was that getting about was fun.
I painted the view of the entrance to Chew Jetty. This is one of the famous Clan Jetties. These were a group of jetties on timber stilts. Originally there were 7 but after one was destroyed by fire they are down to 6. They are the last bastions of the old Chinese settlements here where people live on houses on stilts along the waterfront.
Read more at: http://www.penang.ws/penang-attractions/clan-jetties.htm?cid=ch:OTH:001 Also a Prayer Hut at the end of it and a back view to one of the jetties. I had tried the same Prayer Hut composition in a more vertical format but decided to change to the a horizontal. I could never get the time correct to do one with the tide in so had to contend with painting mud.
Around these jetties were various pieces of rubbish half buried in said mud. This could be a half submerged boat or a car.
Unfortunatley on one of these painting trips I ended up along a lane way and seeed to be in a restricted area. I was quickly told this and by limited English and sign language was told to get out. Then a man on motor bike appeared and told me the same thing but after a short conversation and before I left he apologetically shook my hand and continued into the site. Would that ever happen in the UK? Imagine you end up a few metres into a government site and after being told to get out the official says sorry by shaking your hand? Maybe not.
I attempted some other paintings and not amazingly pleased with the results. This one of a narrow lane way off a side street. These contain housing for the population and in this case there was a man whose job was to take tourists on tours on his bicycle rick shaw.
While in Penang I had tooth issues. This had been the scenario in Australia and one ended out a a tooth removal. This was to be dentist number 3 of the trip. This time the problem was a loose crown. Checking around I found a Chinese dentist who did a prefect and professional job and by UK prices very economical.
I could have spent longer in Penang and was starting to get to grips with the subjects but our itinerary was to take us to Vietman on a short flight to Da Nang.