Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Penang: Fort Cornwallis

Me and R with some tropical fruit: looked like sea plums (one of her favorite fruits) but I am not sure
 I have written before about my idea of a good vacation, which involves seeing as many historical/cultural attractions as humanly possible. Since having a baby I've had to dial it back a bit, but we still managed to see quite a bit in Penang.
Most of the old town looks like this
We arrived around noon on Friday, so after little R's nap, we ventured out for lunch (we ate Indian food, which was excellent, but sadly I forgot to take pictures). We walked through the streets of historic George Town for a few hours (and got lost): the architecture was beautiful, but the late afternoon heat was oppressive.
The government buildings are a little fancier
We were relieved to reach our destination:  the old British Fort Cornwallis, originally constructed of jungle timber in 1786.
Entrance to the fort: the moat was filled in to prevent malaria
Fort Cornwallis is a fascinating place for anyone interested in history. It's the largest fort in Malaysia, houses the oldest Anglican chapel in southeast Asia, and is still decked out with its 17th century Dutch cannon, once stolen by pirates and then re-looted by the British.
The building in back is the powder magazine
The site includes a small museum (just placards, really) on the political history of the area. It's amazing to me that the British presence in southeast Asia pre-dates the US constitution!
This cannon is the oldest in the fort
We then walked back to the hotel along the sea coast (through the old British polo-playing grounds, called the Padang), and rested in our room cooling off (or R and I did; B went for a swim). We dined at the hotel and spent the night in the living room section of the suite: B got some beer from the nearby Happy Mart and I started a new book about the Opium Wars.
Little R spent a lot of time watching the swimmers from our balcony: she loved it out there 

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