Monday, 12 November 2012

Penang and Superstar Libra

Here at last is part 3 of my fascinating trip to Penang in Malaysia, brilliantly organised and accompanied by Jonathan Boonzaier. Having disembarked from the Amusement World and watched her departure, Jonathan and I went a rather hot and sticky architectural tour of Georgetown (Downtown Penang), which is a wonderful place, if you are me. Quite soon, we found the most glorious laste-nineteenth early-twentieth century merchant's house, which we visited. There were guided tours, led by some person wittering on about Feng Shui, but what really interested me was how much of the house had actually been imported from Britain. The cast iron framing around the internal courtyard was all delivered from Walter MacFarlane & Co's famous Saracen Foundry in Possil, Glasgow - the pre-eminent manufacturer of architectural ironwork in the latter nineteenth century. The floors were by the Encaustic Tile Company of Manchester and so on. There was some pub-like stained glass in the Art Nouveau manner and really numerous other fixtures, fittings and items of furniture gathered over the lifetime of the house's original owner - a joy to behold for the aesthete.

The warm, damp aroma of old stonework mouldering in the tropical heat:

The Odeon, Penang, once a J.Arthur Rank-owned cinema, completed in 1947 and originally looking as though it could equally have belonged in suburban London. At some point since, probably in the 1960s, it was modernised and today it shows Hindi films:

Another merchant's house, this one converted to a hotel at some pooint in the 1930s-40s and with an incongruous Art Deco staircase:

By mid-afternoon, it had all become rather too hot to venture further, and so we retired to the Eastern & Oriental Hotel where a cooling dip was enjoyed in the very lovely swimming pool:

(Aah - that's better!)

Then we went to the cruise terminal to board Star Cruises' Superstar Libra for a one-night trip to nowhere:

Jonathan nimbly dodges a big red monster:

Originally Norwegian Caribbean Line's Seaward of 1988, the Superstar Libra is an eighties-tastic ship inboard - all blue tinted glass, black glass, marble and polished brass:

Amusement World arrives:


After, in the show lounge:

Nurse-themed drinks waiter:

Small Malaysian child with camera photographing a big ship model - she reminded me of a much younger me:

Beer by the bucket: classy.

Advertisement for burlesque show:

Midnight swim:

Breakfast the next morning:

Arriving back in Penang:

Amusement World at her berth in Penang:

Having disembarked from Superstar Libra, we went on the Penang Hill Funicular up to the old Hill Station:

How the original funicular looked:

Up we go!

The Owl Museum: What kind of twit twood have thought of such a thing?

The Bellevue Hotel, where a rather traditionally British luncheon was enjoyed in a setting of charmingly decayed calm composure:

Preserved old funicular car:

All too soon, I boarded an Emirates plane in Singapore to return home to Scotland. Jonathan - thanks a million for arranging such a first-rate weekend. Splendid stuff.

As the plane from Dubai back to Glasgow took off, I spied below the old Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth 2 lying at a quay.