Getting to Know Pulau Pinang
What we know today as Penang, the magnificent “Pearl of the Orient”, is the modern name of Pulau Pinang in Malay tongue. It means the “Areca Nut Palm” island. Penang is a part of Malaysia, a state which lies at the northwestern coast and running through the straight of Malacca. It was first discovered in 1786 by Captain Francis Light. And it is one of the smaller states in Malaysia with its residents known as Penangite.
Nowadays, Penang is famous for its pristine beaches and scenic delights making it an island paradise. Notably, a kind of palm tree called Betel nut mushroomed throughout the island and gave it the name Pulau Pinang.
Among the Malaysian states, Penang owns the distinction of owning the third largest economy, just behind Selangor and Johor, with manufacturing as its most prized asset, responsible for almost 50% of the country’s GDP at the start of the millennia. It has a lot to do with the industrialization of Penang’s southern portion, where numerous electronics plants like Dell, Intel, Hitachi, Bosch, and many others thriving about. Because of this, Penang is often called Silicon Island.
Aside from its technical status, Penang also boasts of its cultural significance to the Malay culture. Numerous festivals are being celebrated each year, particularly the Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Haji. The Indians and Chinese also make its presence felt with their own festivals celebrating their own cultures. Most of these festivals are grand in scale and are enjoyed as public holidays.
Penang is legendary for its good food. Varieties with different international tastes abound with so much to choose from. But what really made it famous was Time Magazine’s recognition of Penang as having the “Best Street Food” in Asia. Penang’s dishes reveal Chinese, Malay, Indian, Nyonya and Thai delights, but “hawker food” is now included in the mainstream. Penang is widely recognized as a grand tourist destination domestically and internationally with its very rich heritage, vibrant culture, beautiful parks and beaches. It prides itself of the famous visits made by Queen Elizabeth II, Rudyard Kipling and many others.
Penang balances modernity while preserving its traditions in promoting itself to the world. “East meets West” as they all say, and what good way to bring them all together than a memorable experience in the island paradise.