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Date [ 2016-03-23, 06:18 ]

The island adds another to its accolade of awards.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Camillo Menzes = During British colonial times, Penang was known as the ‘Pearl of the East’. Then came the modern times and the island assumed the role of being the Silicon Valley, this side of the USA. Along the way, it also gained the unfavourable title of being the ‘Dustbin of the East.’

Now over the past few years, the island has righted itself and has slowly regained its rightful share of fame. It may have to keep on working on FULLY restoring its natural beauty but one thing Penang never lost in all its years of existence was the quality of its food. From street hawkers, especially the street hawkers, to 5-star establishments, everyone used to wax lyrical over the taste of Penang food. Simply delicious.

Perhaps this was the main reason why Katie Lobosco of CNN Money picked Georgetown as the sixth best place to retire abroad in 2016. She gave due credit to the islands ‘…beaches, arts centres, museums, free concerts, the hill and jungle parks, the botanical garden and amusement parks.’

Lobosco stated in her write-up,”It's extremely affordable. Unless you're eating in an upscale restaurant, you can eat out for about $3 a person. The area boasts modern public transportation and a first-rate health care system.” On the last, Penang has already made a name for itself on medical tourism.

Algarve in Portugal took first spot as the best place to retire, followed by Cayo (Belize), Medellin (Colombia), Pau (France) and Abruzzo (Italy). Penang beat Las Terrenas (Dominican Republic), Cuenca (Ecuador), Chiang Mai (Thailand) and Puerto Vallarta (Mexico) to claim the sixth spot out of 10 While Georgetown is No.6 for retirees, it is No.4 in Lonely Planet's Top 10 Cities list for Best in Travel 2016.

"George Town might be widely known for its Unesco World Heritage-listed streetscape, but of late it has also emerged as the crucible of an artsy, modern Malaysia," Lonely Planet said on its website. It went on to say,"You're likely to find funky street art amid the traditional Chinese shophouses these days, and versatile exhibition spaces showcasing avant garde art, film, music and dance are springing up left and right. Throw in a few boutique guesthouses and you've got a recipe for one of Asia's most inventive and diverse arts communities."

Lonely Planet goes on to describe George Town as "a haven for the expanding arts scene with hip accommodation. Negotiate the meandering roads and laneways of George Town's historical townscape to discover a compelling outdoor gallery of street art.”

That can be attributed to the city council commissioning Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic for the 2012 Georgetown Festival. He set out to paint on street walls, larger than life everyday scenes. A tired rider resting in his rickshaw. Children playing on the streets, on swings, a bicycle on which one can actually sit and be photographed, Chinese opera actors and more. Over the years, local and other international artists have expanded thestreet art. One of whom was Russian artist Julia Votchkova and locals – Cheng Sim, Choon Kee, Louis Gan and others.

The city that took first place was Kotor in Montenegrp, followed by Quito (Ecuador) and Dublin (Ireland). Still, Penang beat other well known cities, coming ahead of Rotterdam (Holland), Mumbai (India), Fremantle (Australia), Manchester (United Kingdom), Nashville (United States) and Rome. (Italy).

Four years ago, Lonely Planet named the island state as the world's best destination for food. Then two yearsearlier, Britain's Guardian newspaper came on to name Penang as one of the top 10 must-visit destinations.


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