Saturday, April 21, 2012

In Georgetown, Penang

We flew out of Singapore yesterday morning, bound for the UNESCO world heritage site of Georgetown. It's on the island of Penang (as in Penang curry: the food here is famously good, a contender for the best in southeast Asia). The British built a fort here in the 18th century, so it's a surprisingly old and historic place, with a fascinating fusion of British, Malay, Chinese and Indian culture.

We are staying at the absolutely beautiful Eastern & Oriental hotel, where our suite with 24-hour butler service overlooks the ocean (and it's not that expensive, cheaper than our cruddy hotel in Washington DC for instance). In some ways Malaysia is the perfect place to travel: rich enough to have amenities like air conditioning, drinkable water, good service, and easy transportation, poor enough that luxury can be yours at a reasonable price. Also I find grinding poverty really depressing to see; it makes feel happier to be surrounded by locals who can afford the little amenities like cell phones, restaurant meals and fashion.

Pre-children, I never cared where I stayed (concrete-walled bedroom with no windows and a bathroom with just a showerhead and a toilet flushed by dumping water out of a bucket? Great, then I have more money to spend on museum-visiting!), but post-baby we must spend a good portion of every day at the hotel, so it matters a lot more now. I am so glad we are staying here!

We are staying until Monday morning, and I didn't bring my computer, so posting will probably be light. Hope everyone else is having a good weekend!


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  2. Welcome to Georgetown Penang Grace, hope you enjoy the food,heritage architectures,lovely beaches,multiple ethnicity in harmony and lots of cultural diversity.You can keep in touch with and find out more about Georgetown Penang through my FB Georgetown Penang fan page using this link In the mean time, enjoy yourself in this beautiful PEARL OF THE ORIENT.

  3. What does 24 hour butler service actually mean? I think we have a room with that in Bangkok, but I don't know what the butler would actually do for us.

    1. It just means anything you need, you call them and they will bring it: babysitting, food, drinks, blankets, safety pins, plug converters, etc. Or they will arrange transportation or tours if you're into that.

      It can be useful. Many hotels here close at night so you can only eat room service at certain times, for instance (and the reception desk won't answer the phone after say 11 pm). And finding certain things in SE Asia can be challenging for people not used to the region (like what if you need bandaids or antiseptic cream or socks?). This isn't as big a deal for us of course, but the babysitting is pretty awesome.

    2. Is it all incredibly expensive? We have it at the St. Regis in Bangkok so I imagine it will be.

    3. Well, it depends. For the country, yes of course, but to an American not really. For example, Oreos in the hotel mini bar were 8 ringgits (like 4 times the price from the Happy Mart), but that's only $2. Babysitting was $4/hour. Main course from room service, $7 (no tipping in Asia for the most part). They don't usually charge you for service-oriented stuff like finding a pharmacy or extra blankets though.