A Slice of Heaven

by Tim Rogers May. 02, 2016 2562 views

So I'm sitting at the airport after another trip to see another piece of the world. Penang will be revisited as I spent the majority of my time exploring the historic area around Georgetown. Listed as a Unesco Heritage Site, Georgetown is quite incredible. I've learnt that Malaysia is a mixture of cultures & Georgetown is the prime example I have seen of that melting pot. As well as the Malay, Indian and Chinese influences, you can mix some Armenian, British, Japanese and a few more to your cultural stew. All housed in 19th century buildings that are unique, varied and incredibly beautiful. All have unique features, be they colour, design, facade, support structures, trimmings, awnings, shelter…that length of list should have got the message across.

I strolled those streets over three days. The heat was epic. The heat rash was akin, I imagine to being strategically and precisely set on fire. Dehydration was a battle I was losing. Bottled water was tepid by the time you left the shop. Lucky it was only a ringgit. I sweated through multiple shirts and my camera bag felt like I'd taken it swimming. It's best to shoot early and late in the day but that gave no respite from the humidity. I made my usual mistake of forgetting sunscreen & my neck was close to purple.

It was in the heat of the last day that I stumbled across the Gala. I think it was the wooden shutters, then the red trimming, then the corner bar status that grabbed me. But this little place just jumped out at me. I imagined it in earlier times, a little less pristine, British sailors on shore leave on both floors, determined to howl at the moon before returning to service for King or Queen and country. Inside the walls were solid and thick, looking every bit the 19th century tavern, the vision that had taken hold in my imagination. This little place was exactly how I imagined my dream local bar to look…exactly.

It was a shame I discovered nirvana at the worst time of the day to capture it's glory. The midday sun was harsh and it was impossible to grab the entire picture inside and out because of the sharp contrast. I ate there hoping the sky would cloud over and the sting would come out of the sky and the light become more even. The couple running it were as friendly as in my dreams. As I sat there I pictured it lit up as the sky transforms from deep blue to black about 30minutes after sunset. I could see a mixture of cultures enjoying beers and meals and good times and an inviting light flowing from the interior. I could see the “Gala” sign out the front aglow, calling passersby to come and enjoy the experience.

I feel a need to make use of the cheap flights in South East Asia and get that magical shot. Fly 1000km to photograph a small neighbourhood bar just after dusk? Yep! Doing it. In the meantime I'll have to make do with the knowledge that a little slice of heaven exists in the backstreets of Old Georgetown on Penang Island.

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There are 5 comments , add yours!
Jay Boggess 5 years, 3 months ago

Lovely series & wonderful words to accompany!

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
Bill Baird 5 years, 3 months ago

Great post. I spent an afternoon hiking in a wooded state park with conditions like you described.
Finally the conditions produced a thundershower and I had never experienced anything much better. I knew I
couldn't get any wetter so looked up to the heavens and shouted.... "let it rain" Luckily I was
carrying a towel to protect my camera and lens. Thanks for sharing.

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
Lukesmom 5 years, 3 months ago

I agree, you are very brave. This place is super cool and hope you get to go back and get your shot! Nice work.

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 5 years, 3 months ago

I would say that the slice of heaven could be found on a very cold beer inside after all that heat. :-)))

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
Gillian Parsons 5 years, 3 months ago

You are SO BRAVE love the Tavern....................and safe trip home.

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
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