From Kuala Lumpur, after resolving the issue of visa for Burma, I moved to Penang.
The island’s history is fascinating so I probably expected too much. The city of Georgetown is chaotic and smelly with cars stuck in traffic anywhere. The pollution is unsustainable and can barely breathe.
The British were the first to reach Penang, the navigator Sir James Lancaster, on 10 April 1591, under the command of Edward Bonadventure, sailed from Plymouth for the West Indies, reached Penang in June 1592.
Photo gallery: Penang and its mystery
In 1786, Francis Light took formal possession of the island on behalf of Her Britannic Majesty, King George III and the Honorable East India Company.
The fact marked the beginning of more than a century of British involvement in Malaysia.
For Francis Light, Penang was an ideal location for business and to reduce the French expansion in Indochina.
Penang under the British became a free port to entice traders and exchange.
Immigrants were encouraged by promising them all the land that could hew out from the jungle, it was even reported that Francis Light with the guns of his ship fired silver dollars deep in the jungle.
Many of the early settlers, including himself, succumbed to malaria, Penang soon won the epithet of “white man’s grave.”
In 1796, Penang became a penal colony and 700 inmates were transferred from the Andaman Islands.
At the turn of the century, Penang, with its large population of Chinese immigrants, was a natural place for the Chinese nationalist Sun Yat Sen to raise funds for his revolutionary commitment.
During the First World War the German cruiser SMS Emden arrived secretly in Penang sank two allied warships off its coast.
During the Second World War the island has suffered devastating air raids and, finally, was occupied by Japanese invasion forces when in 1941 the British withdrew from Singapore after having declared an open city of George Town.
Penang under the Japanese occupation was marked by fear, terror, starvation, massacres perpetuate to local Chinese population.