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Penang(2) / Malaysia

Welcome to the Pearl of the Orient! (?)

Shinji Naito / Toyo-Memory Technology SDN., BHD.

Shaped like a turtle, Penang Island is located on the west side of the Malay Peninsula, facing the Strait of Malacca. It is highlighted as a tourist destination along the road leading downtown from the airport, with signs that say, “Welcome to the Pearl of the Orient,” in English. Both sides of the road are lined with factories, however, which can hardly be regarded as the gateway to a tourist destination. Semiconductor and electronics industry factories of companies such as Renesas, Fairchild, and the like are concentrated here, proving that the island has developed not only in terms of tourism, but as an industrial city as well.

Connected to the Malay Peninsula by a bridge spanning some ten kilometers, the industrial area has also spread to the opposite shore. Japanese companies such as Sony, Toray Industries, Kao, and the like have made inroads over the years, and they are shipping industrial products overseas. The morning and evening rush hour traffic on the bridge is on a par with a metropolis, but the second bridge that is currently under construction is expected to reduce (somewhat?) this congestion. As I commute to work across the bridge every day, I am also looking forward to this reduction in rush hour traffic.

The central city, Georgetown was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, and with the preservation promoted by the state government is reviving the uniquely clean and beautiful cityscape. The eaves of the two story tenements allow people to walk around town without being exposed to the strong sunlight, and with Chinese and Indian restaurants and shopping streets, as well as an open-air market, the area is bustling with shoppers on weekends.

About 700,000 people live here, 80% of whom are of Chinese descent (many have ancestors hailing from Fujian province), and Chinese (Hokkien dialect) is spoken here. There is a treasure trove of delicious down-home cooking, such as Fujian noodles, Bak-kut-teh soup, (Peh-oe-ji, in Mandarin Chinese), and the like, and as those in the know can attest, you can taste truly rare Chinese cuisine here. Famous as a town where energetic older Japanese couples enjoy long-term stays as well, you can see older couples with suntans from playing tennis and golf enjoying these delicious down-home delights in restaurants as they dine with friends in the cool evenings.

With the vigorous activities of the Japan Association, many of the local people come and cheer for the Japanese songs and dances at the Bon Odori and Yosakoi Festival sponsored by the association. Wouldn’t you like to come and have a vibrant and wonderful time in your second life during the everlasting summer you spend in the Pearl of the Orient?


Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.75 (May, 2013)

  • The unique cityscape with two story tenementsThe unique cityscape with two story tenements
  • Fujian Noodles (Hokkien-mi): the number one recommendation among the local down-home cuisine.Fujian Noodles (Hokkien-mi): the number one recommendation among the local down-home cuisine.
  • Ads for the Penang Yosakoi Festival VenueAds for the Penang Yosakoi Festival Venue

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