Georgetown, capital of Penang state on the north-western side of the Malay Peninsula, was the East India Company’s first outpost in the region, and preserves behind its high-rise blocks and modern intersections, a wealth of colonial vestiges, from the mildewed ramparts of Fort Cornwallis to vintage shophouses and resplendently ornate Chinese guildhalls and temples, whose incense-filled interiors writhe with coiled dragons and Confucian sages.

Chinese merchants grew wealthy on regional trade in the 19th century and lavished huge sums on their mansions, of which numerous fine examples survive in Georgetown’s time-worn streets. This is also Malaysia’s culinary capital, renowned particularly for its spicy Peranakan (Chinese-Malay) cuisine, which can be sampled in fine-dining restaurants or out on the street at rough-and-ready food stalls.

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