Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pretty in Penang

We had arrived at the south end of Penang Island (Malaysia) yesterday - July 11th - in the dwindling twilight and safely anchored on the lee side just after dark. We saved the trickier part of the channel passage for the morning light.

Just arriving at Penang

How big is Penang? It's about 25 km long and 15 km wide and is connected to the mainland of Malaysia by 2 impressive bridges. We had anchored just before the new southern and longest bridge - 24 km including the causeway - 17 km of which is over water.

Added to the impressiveness was the bridge's nightly psychedelic light show cast on its structure with alternating hues of red, blue, green, and white. This bridge was officially opened on March 1, 2014 - only 4.5 months ago - so of course didn't show on our charts.

So we upped anchor at 10:00 July 12th for a short channel passage up to George Town on the northeast end of the Island. The first navigational considerations were narrowing depths and transitting under the bridge, which to me looked too low even though Jordan assured me it was more than high enough.

The tide flow was with us so Jordan did a manoeuvre that was probably more to satiate my doubt than for safety. He turned Sea Turtle 180 degrees, idled in forward, and let the flow very slowly take us through backwards. That way if we had to abort at the last second, all he had to do was power it up. But there was lots of clear air over the mast. Whewww!

The new bridge

Then we saw through the haze the next, original bridge, much the same as the first one and still an impressive 13.5 km long and that indeed did show on our charts.

There was lots of passing and anchored commercial marine traffic and a container port (on reflection, maybe we should call them consumer ports!) We passed close by an anchored freighter to get a closer look at what it was offloading onto a barge of penury. It seemed like either sand or grain.

Offloading sand?

Once again, we were presented a much more populous scene than expected where over the years, growth and more recently skyscraper development filled the flat coastal lands and encroached on the fertile hillsides.

Densely populated

We anchored in front of George Town on the northeastern end of Penang Island at 12:45 (N05°24.620' E100°20.529') close to the shuttle ferry and cruiseship docks and beside another sailboat that Jordan remembered in the south of Malaysia.

George Town's history, like Malacca, was centered on trade and brought with it merchants of Indians, Arabs, Chinese, as well as Europeans. The architecture of the era and multi-culturism still exists and remains employed. It is now seeing rejuvenation after UNESCO's classification as a world heritage site in 2008.

Classic architecture of Penang

Yes, architecture captivates Jordan!

No comments: