Georgetown is quite different from Krabi, Thailand. It used to be a trading town of the British and the colonial influences are still very apparent. At first, we noticed how everyone speaks almost perfect English. British English that is. Example: There are no signs of places for rent but rather "To Let".
Another very obvious influence were many colonial style buildings and architecture. It was a nice change coming from Krabi, which boasts amazing landscapes and nature, but doesn't really have that many traditionally beautiful buildings.
We stayed in a guesthouse in a part of Georgetown that is called Little India. It is the place were Indian immigrants first settled and they are there to this day. Many shops sell traditional Indian clothing, religious house altars, as well as Bollywood (Indian movies) and Indian music. In fact, we could hear them play their music in our room - from morning until late at night. We wonder if this is what it is like in Mumbai? We will definitely have to check it out sometime to make a comparison :)
Aside from British and Indian influences, the majority of Penang's population is actually of Chinese decent. Many little shops have Chinese writings at their entrances and Chinese lanterns decorating the exteriors.
With all these different cultural influences, there is also a wide variety of food available. Very good food at that. From rice dishes - like Nasi Goreng or Nasi Kandar (famous Penang dish of rice with assorted curries) - to Indian Butter Chicken with Naan bread,and even a great availability of Western food. In fact, a few local street vendors were selling burgers and fries.
Aside from its rich history and culture diversity, Georgetown is also a very modern metropolis. In fact, next to Kuala Lumpur, it is the second biggest in all of Malaysia. They have a fantastic public transport system, with free bus services going through historical downtown. High-rise buildings, enormous condo complexes, and sparkly malls with all the latest fashion and up to date technology in it. We even managed to get our cracked iPhone display repaired here within just a couple of hours. Super cool!
This is definitely a different side of Asia than we had gotten to know over the last 6 months. And we have a feeling this is not the last we will see of it.