On October 23rd 1981 I was in Georgetown on the island of Penang in northern Malaysia. I had business to complete before taking a bus to Singapore and then a plane to Jakarta. I spent that afternoon taking photographs.
When I had come back to Penang from Sumatra, I didn't make my previous mistake of staying outside town at Batu Ferrenghi where I'd got bored quickly. The place to be was in Georgetown and as central in Georgetown as possible. I liked being in Georgetown for a few days. I liked the food, the Indian restaurants, the Chinese places that did Hainan chicken so well, especially the street market in the evening where you could choose little bits and pieces from any number of traders and have them cooked or finished in front of you, sample something and come back for more if you liked it. There was plenty of good food in South-East Asia: gado-gado or Padang chicken in Indonesia, an amazing back street Chinese place in Medan which had three or four very traditional different cooking corners within one establishment, Singapore even, though I didn't enjoy eating there as much as I did in Georgetown.
I also enjoyed wandering around the town. There were plenty of old buildings, deep terraced houses with shops at the front in the central area, maybe from the nineteenth century. There were also lovely terraces further out near the suburbs which had elegant arcades for shade. They very much reminded me of Edwardian terraces in suburban England with their tiles and plasterwork, but here the context was quite different. With all the different cultures around, Tamil, Malay, Chinese, I had not expected to get such a whiff of Britain.
These pictures are all mine.
Patrimonia Mundi: The panoramas of Georgetown are good on the vernacular architecture, for example Crossroads.