Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the resort and relax for the rest of the morning as the day’s activities don’t begin until midday. Meet at the lobby to depart for a fascinating tour that focuses on George Town’s Peranakan heritage and a rather more modern and unusual addition to its cultural scene.
Visit the magnificent Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, which stands defiantly as a symbol of Penang’s past while modern buildings go up around it. This impressive indigo-coloured villa was built by a Chinese merchant in the late 19th century and boasts awe-inspiring decoration – interior and exterior – which is the labour of master craftsmen brought in from China who used materials such as porcelain, cast iron, teak and clay tiles. After decades of gradual decline, it underwent a remarkable restoration in the late Nineties, which was so thorough that it won the inaugural Most Excellent UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award in 2000. Today, its 38 rooms, five courtyards, seven staircases and 220 windows offer a wonderfully atmospheric insight into the halcyon days of colonial George Town. Lunch (exclusive of drinks) will be at the mansion’s restaurant, which serves refined modern Cantonese cuisine.
After lunch, visit the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, which is just over a kilometre away. Its immaculately preserved jade-green façade immediately marks it out from the earthier state of its surroundings. This historic house museum preserves the Victorian ornamentation of the home of a prominent ethnic Chinese merchant from the late 19th century. The Peranakans are assimilated ethnic Chinese who have lived in Malaysia for centuries – in Penang they account for almost half of the population. This lavishly decorated mansion boasts more than 1,000 pieces of antiques and collectibles, and features an eclectic design, incorporating Chinese carved-wood panels, English ceramic floor tiles and Scottish cast iron balustrades, balconies and railings. Refreshments of Chinese tea and local Chinese cakes will be serve at the mansion. Back on the street, expect to happen upon evocative and eye-catching – and often three-dimensional – murals painted on walls and street furniture such as phone booths. It’s not graffiti but rather a ground-breaking and thought-provoking project, known as Mirrors of George Town, which was part of the 2012 George Town Festival. The murals, which depict humorous paintings of subjects such as children at play, toys, animals and other surreal images, are the handiwork of young Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic. After the rawness of the street art, we’re back to lavish luxury for a sensational evening dinner (exclusive of drinks) at the dazzling dining room in Macalister Mansion, a restored century-old colonial mansion. The eclectic décor of the mansion is sure to provide as much conversation as the excellent modern cuisine, made from the finest quality ingredients.
**** Overnight on a bed-and-breakfast basis in Flamingo by the beach, Penang ****