The jade-green color popped, catching our eye, as did the smiling young man waving us over to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. We just had to take a closer peek.
It looked like a museum – an interesting one. Ah, yes, it was the Peranakan museum in Penang.
Maybe it would be air-conditioned inside too?
What to do in George Town, Penang?
When cruising, we usually take guided tours ashore.
But we’d read that the historic center of George Town, Malaysia – declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 – could be explored independently on foot. (George Town is found on Penang Island off the northwest coast of the Malaysia peninsula.)
So we decided to walk out on our own, trusty map in hand to show us the way to the George Town, Penang, attractions we wanted to see.
To beat the heat, we’d leave the air-conditioned sanctum of our Windstar ship, the Star Pride, right after an early-bird breakfast and be back in time for lunch.
You’d think that after so many (wonderful!) years of traveling together, we’d recognize our tendency to dilly-dally.
And dilly-dally we did. Another cappuccino. A second helping of strawberries – because everyone should eat lots of fruit in the morning. More Camembert, and perhaps just another half croissant (we don’t want to venture out hungry!).
Well, let’s just say that by the time we set off, the heat almost sucked the life out of us. And it’s hard to read a map when even your sunglasses are perspiring.
Peranakan culture – and cool shoes! – at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion
So when we stumbled upon the jade-green mansion in Penang – and it turned out to be the Pinang Peranakan Mansion (consistently rated on TripAdvisor as the #1 or #2 attraction out of all the things to do in George Town, Penang, so it must be really really good, right?) – we were quite delighted.
We were saved from heat stroke! And we’d get a dose of Peranakan culture too.
“Peranakan” describes the descendants of early Chinese traders who intermarried with local Malay women in Malacca, Singapore and the island of Penang (also known as Pinang).
Many amassed great wealth, and when their settlements became British colonies in the mid 1800s, they adopted British and European customs. Like playing polo. And decorating Victorian-style dining tables with epergnes (ornate table centerpieces with containers to hold candles, sweetmeats or flowers).
The young girls and women, known as “Nyonas,” also made the most gorgeous beaded slippers and shoes, dozens of which are on display at the mansion museum. (“Baba” refers to a Peranakan male.)
Lots of bling at this Peranakan museum, Penang
What else did we see at this Baba Nyonya museum ?
We tried not to stare too obviously at the cute bridal couple posing for their wedding photos in one of the mansion’s salons; the bride wore red, like the bride we saw on our groovy trishaw ride in Malacca.
And for the rest, you’ll just have to read our story on “Pinang Peranakan Mansion: Preserving the Peranakan Culture in Malaysia” on NUVO magazine’s website. Hint: Enough gold to make King Midas drool.
But we’ll tease you here with a few more photos:
And, yes, thank you for asking :-).
We did eventually make it back to our ship – dripping from the humidity, but in time for the latest lunch possible (and very happy with what we’d seen).
Practical information about the Pinang Peranakan museum
- Air-conditioned? Yes! (in some salons).
- The best way to see the Pinang Peranakan Mansion (or Penang Peranakan Mansion) is by complimentary guided tour. (We were lucky to join an English-speaking tour that had started minutes before we arrived.)
- Call for details before you go: 60-4-264-2929. And check the website.
Our Asia cruise
- We were visiting George Town, Malaysia, while cruising Asia with Windstar Cruises.
- Our ship was the 212-guest Star Pride.
Our magazine article
See our story on the “Pinang Perakan Mansion” in NUVO magazine. Click on the image below for the link.
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.