Lightning, Batu Ferringhi

Lightning, Batu Ferringhi 2014

“Crash!”, it was the middle of the night and my bedroom ceiling was lit up as if it was day time. And when the thunder sounded, it shook you as lay there. My adult brain knew I was safe, but there is a difference between knowing something and feeling it.

I used to live here, with a view of the sea. In good weather, the sea had a green/blue tinge to it. When there was a storm, it was dark green. I lived near the top of a high block of flats with a front row view whenever a storm came in.

In Malaysia, they have big tropical storms, with finger sized drops of rain and thunder which you can feel, even from a long way off. As I remember it, I was woken up by the lightning first, which lit up my bedroom. Then, I think my wife and I went into the livingroom to watch the light show.

I put my camera on a tripod and kept taking long exposures (several seconds each time) until the lightning flashed. I tweaked the photo to be a little darker, because the brightness looked too unreal.

Buckminster Fuller’s Room, Penang

Buckminster Fuller’s Room, Bellevue Hotel, Penang 2014

Penang Hill is really a group of hills which overlook the rest of Penang and parts of the Malaysian mainland.

Before the invention of air conditioning, it was popular with expatriates, because in the height of the Malaysian summer, it was always appreciably cooler than in George Town (where many businesses had offices). So a number of houses, hotels and a school (Uplands) were built there (you can see the remains in you go there, slowly being overgrown.

The Bellevue Hotel is a remnant of this era and if I were visiting Penang, I might be tempted to spend a couple of nights there, with its lovely view and cooler temperature. Like much of Penang, it evokes another era – perhaps 100 years ago.

There are a number of ways to get to the top of Penang Hill, the most popular is via the funicular railway (state-of-the-art, air conditioned glass carriages fairly rapidly ascending a steep hill. Vehicles must travel up a very steep road called the jeep track (transmissons screaming as they go). But, if you are feeling brave, you could try following one of the many trails which lead to the peak. If you are going to do this, remember it will take 4 or 5 hours walking and scambling through jungle. Leeches.

Once you are at the top, there are various fair type attractions (having your photo taken with a snake or an owl) and food stalls. For people with slightly deeper pockets, there is a restaurant called “Browns”, where they serve a very nice afternoon tea with scones, jam and clotted cream. Again, something which is remeniscent of another time.

View of George Town from Penang Hill, Penang, Malaysia 2015

Across the Strait, Malaysia

View from Georgetown, Malaysia 2015

Another seascape!

Once upon a time, Penang was a hub beween the UK and Hong Kong. During the war, various battles were fought in the Straits of Malacca and later it was a submarine base for the Japanese. These days, the harbour mostly handles cruiseships and ferries carrying holidaymakers to Langkawi (which I will probably write about another time).

When I lived there, once a week, I would try to walk from my home to the ferry terrinal. Some days, it would be fiercely bright, making the sea look a light blue and on other occasions, thick clouds would appear and the sea would take on a greener hue (like here).

Two Couples, Penang

Two Couples, Penang 2015

This picture shows a famous piece of street art in Georgetown (on Armenian Street if you are curious) called “Little Children on a Bicycle” – and it is a really popular place to have you picture taken, with long queues of tourists waiting for their turn to pose with the bicycle. In this case with couples having their bridal photos taken too.

I like the picture, but it is really two photos trying to fit together and doesn’t totally work. I like the contrast of the immaculate wedding group with the rusty corrigated iron. And I like the new couple with the older couple. If the older man had moved by the bicycle seat would it work better? Yes – but he didn’t.

Any, a fun place top people watch in you are in Georgetown.

Street Trader, Georgetown

Roti Man – Georgetown, Penang 2015

I used to live in Penang. Street traders are a feature of life there, selling sweets and snacks from the back of a motorcycle. I am told the Roti Man delicacy is an ice-cream sandwich. I wish I had tried it.

Technical Details

Canon EOS 650D and 24mm STM lens. A really good combination for this kind of photography, just right for walking down fairly narrow roads. Nice and sharp into the corners. I did consider posting a black and white conversion, but it felt like I was pushing an “olde worlde” view – which I’m not. 

By the beach, Penang 2015

Georgetown, 2015

Being from the UK, I always struggle with the idea that a place can be hot enough to live outside all year round.

Here you can see someone fishing with a hand net, casting from the beach, probably for a restaurant which is just behind where I took this picture.