Tuesday, 11 October 2016

George Town, Penang, The Ubiquitous Dr. Sun Yat Sen.

11 October 2016

Oh the joy of memory and photographs there to trigger it off! Despite retiring late as I was hell bent on getting yesterday’s story posted before midnight local time, i woke at seven and felt most refreshed.

Perhaps it was sitting outside the hotel bar, Farquhar’s. Perhaps it was the Nasi Lemak I had for a late supper. Perhaps it was the watermelon juice, reviving the memory of the first time I tasted that simple but heavenly and refreshing  beverage. Perhaps it was the sea air. Perhaps it was the soporific crashing of waves against the wall dividing the sea  from the hotel grounds. Perhaps it was a combination of all of that. Or some. Or none. Whatever, I slept more soundly than the bless├Ęd ever could.

Like any normal excited 61 year old boy, I peeked through the curtains. It was misty. Only a short distance from the hotel was a fisherman at work. It couldn't be more perfect to follow on from yesterday’s entry than if I had arranged for this to happen. Do you honestly think all these wonderful coincidences on all TV programmes are serendipity at work and nothing else? 

A long lazy start to my first full day seemed in order. Reviewing the photographs of the first trip again, revived memories of part forgotten events, such as the man curious why Laing and I were photographing a block of buildings. We responded it was the colours that had caught our eye.

We had decided to visit the various Doctor Sun Yat Sen places in Penang. The good doctor certainly got about a fair bit, so much so it feels that every place I’ve visited in this part of the world has a Sun Yat Sen house, story, museum, memorabilia, etc, and if it doesn’t, it’s trying to find somewhere within a radius of 5,000 kilometres with which it can allege it has a link, no matter how tenuous.

There is something charming about the building in Lebuh Armenian. It was his base in Penang, not merely somewhere he lived. There is a back door through which he might have gone, eluding those trying to find him.

I gave a modest donation to the museum on this visit, places like this rely on a volunteer workforce and modest entrance fees (only 5 ringgit, about a pound at the time of writing, unless there has been more seismic Brexit news). The gentleman was reluctant to accept it, but it was nothing significant for me, and I am a believer in these small places which keep history alive. They do no have the same clout as national museums and we should treasure, encourage and support these small jewels, even if my donation was not the widow’s mite.

Laing took several excellent photos on the trip here in 2011. I have attempted my best of those, but that is nowhere near as good as his images. At least I have been able to include my own. 

We were fascinated by the electrics board, Laing from a more technical viewpoint, I was more interested in the appearance of it and its historical value. This time I was able to take two photos I felt I was denied in 2011 as he had already beaten me to it

If there is anybody out there who can supply spare parts for these bakelite beauties, get in touch with the museum!

The container of Stephen’s Scarlet Writing Fluid will probably not mean much to many of you, but it does between Laing and myself, and if there is an afterlife, I hope he’s looking down on me smiling at this today.

The book safe has a bit of a face about it, two eyes, a smile. I can’t fit in the nose, unless you want to make the crest into that and placed, Picasso-like, skew-whiff.

The telecommunications photo is one he would have taken. Again, this was serendipity playing a part for me. I was lucky to find the potential in the image. Again, it would be a personal photo.

The last photo is again one of those moments you get the chance or you don’t. The seat is definitely rent, but I’m not so sure about the “happy happy” part. It's a bit too Singlish for my liking.

Yesterday I spent ages trying to find somewhere to eat, but many restaurants are closed Mondays, and I either got the address wrong or some places no longer exist. This evening I fared equally poorly, I didn’t realise so many places closed (not took last orders but closed) between 8 and 9.

After eating in the hotel again, overpriced, but not ridiculously expensive, not when one is used to prices in certain major European cities.

I went out on the balcony and emptied my mind, returned inside to write this up and not a moment too soon. The rain is lashing the balcony doors.

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