|Until sometime in the late
70s, Penang was a free port. Shoppers from other states (including Singapore)
would travel regularly to Penang to check out the latest bargains
especially cosmetics, perfume and electrical items. The honour of a duty
free port has since been given to Langkawi to boost tourist inflow.
Even without the duty free
privilege, shopping in Penang is still an exciting experience. Antique and
curios stores well stocked with things art deco, art nouveau, baroque, rococo,
chinoiserie, silver, china, glass, objet d'art and bric-à-brac are
still doing brisk business along Chulia Street, Penang Road and Burmah Road.
Campbell Street (a pedestrian mall) is a hive of activity and the
place to head to for the best bargain on shoes, clothes, luggage, cosmetics,
perfumes and food. Great bargains can also be found at roadside stalls which
sell leather goods, clothing and souvenier items.
If moseying in malls is
your cup of tea, there are plenty to choose from at least three right
smack in George Town, and several more on the outskirts. All prices in the
departmental stores and bigger shops are fixed, but elsewhere it is advisable
to compare prices before buying. It is also customary to bargain.
If you crave the unusual,
head on down to the flea market at Lorong Kulit, which is open from morning
until around 2:00pm daily. Dubious looking antiques lie side by side with
throwaway junk, and new things juxtapose with used items, but with a little
patience and perseverance, you might unearth a hidden gem from underneath
all the jumble and hodgepodge. Peak days are weekends and public holidays,
except Thaipusam, when the grounds are used to prepare kavadi carriers.
Although George Town isn't exactly
a city that does not sleep, night life on the island is abuzz with excitement
until the wee hours (longer on weekends). All hotels feature at least some
form of entertainment other. There are also numerous colorful bars, nightclubs,
discotheques, all-night coffee houses and restaurants.
If mingling with the masses
is your idea of fun, check out the pasar malams, or night markets for some
inexpensive shopping and dining. Like a traveling circus, pasar malam traders
move from town to town, village to village and community to community nightly
to peddle their wares.
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