Glorious Penang

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Penang is a city with countless corners and seamless alleyways. There are many paths that lead to the city center, the best of which are never found in any guidebook. It is enchanting. Walking these streets feels like being in a history book, but in a way so lively that you never feel too far away from today.

We found our way here by night bus, waking up early to see our ride parked in front of a huge sign reading ‘Penang Central’. We gathered our things and set off for the journey to our guesthouse. It wasn’t until after the bus drove away that we realized we were in Butterworth, and had departed a few stops too early. This mishap would undoubtedly ruin our budget for this leg of the trip. An appropriate level of anxiety set over us immediately.

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The following two hours was a collage of failed taxi negotiations and tense conversations. Eventually we followed a pointed finger offered by a local man who spoke no English, but somehow understood our fatigue. That direction led us to a ferry, which led us directly to Old Town Penang. Magically, we arrived at our guesthouse after a mere ten minute walk from the ferry terminal. We knew well the distance to old town from the station we were supposed to get off at, and quickly realized that this ‘mistake’ had saved us an expensive taxi ride. Sometimes the wrong way is truly the right direction.

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As if a theme set into place, Penang has introduced more than it’s fair share of surprises. Stories practically pave the streets here. Old buildings line up like carcasses of a legendary movie set- playing out settings from the 1800′s in a way so realistic it’s impossible to not believe it still exists. The world of stow aways, port explorations, and trade excursions are still well defined. And where gaps exist in historic context, the lives of the people today fill in the void.

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