----------------------------------------------- Google Site Map ----------------------------------------------- Cindy in ...: Penang: Chinatown

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Penang: Chinatown

Penang is an island separated from the west coast of Malaysia by a narrow strip of water, and the city I'm in is called Georgetown. Everyone from off the island refers to them both by the same name, Penang.

I'm in Chinatown. It's the old part of town, worn and faded, with cycle rickshaws and sidewalks blocked by vendors and motorbikes. Just as in Chiang Mai, there seems to be a temple or other religious building or two in every block. Except here, there are several kinds of temples. Chinese Buddhist, Burmese Buddhist, and Hindu. Next door there might be a shop, or a mosque, or a masjid.

The call to prayer for the Muslims is a pleasant surprise. In most Muslim countries, I hear a horrible noise. A loud, screechy, sound system with blown speakers broadcasts a call to prayer that originates as a scream and is made worse by electronic equipment. In Penang there is music. The call to prayer is sung by someone with ability, and is carried over a well-maintained and low-volume sound system. I find myself smiling when it starts. I enjoy the singing.

It's quieter here.

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