where you should drink lots of water
We are becoming more and more familiar with Malaysia and its blend of old and new, colonial and native - and its heat. Sightseeing in 90-100 degree weather is draining - and we confess to the occasional desire to look out the window of the air conditioned van rather than to walk around the site! And yet our introduction to this little island off the Malay peninsula was by trishaw, a two seat vehicle pedaled by a man on a little bike. The drivers were quite small and had very big calves. The city/region of Panang, like all of this region, has been a rich melange of cultures from its inception. That happened in 1786 when Francis Light arranged to lease it from the Malay Sultan on behalf of the British East India Company. But there were few inhabitants so Light populated it by offering free land to any immigrants who applied. They came - Armenians, Chinese, Burmese, Thais, etc. But the place was thick jungle. The canny Mr. Light filled his cannon with silver coins, fired them into the jungle, and offered free axes to the immigrants who cleared that land in a flash.
We went to a butterfly farm, saw a batik workshop, gaped at another reclining Buddha (108 feet long), and then encountered the Khoo Klan. The Klan is a secret society of kinsmen (no women need apply) who are descended from a Khoo. They lived in a Khoo ghetto, warred with other clans, built a temple and a crematory and a columbarium, and promoted commerce. Now that the warfare is over they provide help to Khoos in need.