At all major shopping complexes in George Town, you will find licensed money changers. You can ask for a receipt which is usually not given.
Most money changers can speak in simple English. Most if not all of money changers that I have seen here are Indian Muslims. Many are also related and often called each other to help source for foreign currencies.
Great thing is that you can a better rate than bank and you can exchange whether to buy or sell in any amount. There is no commission charged.
At Lebuh Masjid Kapitan Keling as well at Komtar, there are many money changers and so you can get better competitive rates. You can request for better rates if you have large US dollar bills or you are changing in large amounts.
For security reason, request to go to an inside room if you are changing large quantity for easy and safe counting.
The ringgit is not easily changed outside Malaysia except for countries like Singapore and Thailand. And so you might want to change your ringgit back before you leave Malaysia.
Feeling a bit guilty about your recent lack out of exercise and fancy a workout? If you go to one of the many health centres around Georgetown it is unlikely that you will find weights or exercise machines. It's possible to get a bit of a workout but it will be in a horizontal position. The health centres are brothels. Prices vary, as do the STDs. Protective equipment is provided but it is advisable to take your own.
The Kek Lok Si Temple.
Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia. It sits high on the hillside, above the little city Ayer Itam (= Black Water).
The construction of the temple began in 1890 and was inspired by the chief monk of the Guan Yin Temple in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. The construction works lasted for almost 20 years.
In 1930, the seven storey main pagoda of the temple, known as the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas, was comp-
leted. This pagoda combines a Chinese octagonal base with a middle tier of Thai design, and has a Burmese crown.
Inside the temple area you will find a very overcrowded turtle pond, a newly built 30 m statue of Guan Yin made in bronze (a cable car will take you to the statue), several shrines and mini pagoda set in a fish pond, among other things. You will of course also find a large souvenir shop, and a vegetarian restaurant.
Opening hours 9.00 to 18.00 everyday.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site
"George Town, Penang"
George Town was named after British's King George III and is the capital for the state of Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. The island city was founded in 1786 by Captain Sir Francis Light, an officer of the British East India Company. Being an important trading port, the city is lined with warehouses and godowns along the seafront. On July 7, 2008 George Town was formally listed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.
The picture above is Fort Cornwallis. The fort is located at the north eastern tip of Penang Island. Was first built in the late 1700's using palm trunks and was rebuilt by Indian convict labour using bricks in 1804. The site is one of the heritage sites on the island and was named after Charles Cornwallis, the 18th Century Governor-General of Bengal, India. The fort, lined with old cannons belonging to the British Royal Artillery troops, is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island.
"The Modern Day George Town"
George Town is currently ranked 9th as the most liveable city in Asia. Globally the city is ranked 63rd, based on the 2009 survey by Employment Conditions Abroad Limited. The streets are lined with many pre-war colonial buildings although the skyline has seen gradual changes over the years with modern skyscrapers being built. Moving on foot around the streets is easy enough with five foot ways built at the shop fronts. Or if you are too tired to walk just take a trishaw ride.
"Penang Trishaw @Padang Kota Lama"
This is an age old paddle powered vehicle used to transport people and goods around the city. This is the cheapest mode of transport the city has to offer and is quite popular with tourists.
Chinese New Year lion dancing ceremony
This was the first time I had witnessed one of the famous Chinese Lion Dancing ceremonies.
Before dancing begins there is an elaborate ceremony performed, I presume, by a Chinese priest.
It is very ritualistic and involves blessing the dancers while annointing them with paint.
The priest works himself into a trance-like state and assistance is required from others to prevent him from toppling over.
He starts blessing the dancers.
The dancing begins to the beat of the drums.
The style of dancing is very dramatic with lots of intense movement.
Another group of lion dancers ready themselves to perform.
The dancing continues.
Music is a very important part of the ceremony.