I have always been fascinated by color. Sunsets move me more than orchestras; the blending hues of blood reds, fiery oranges, muted yellows and deepening purples creating silent symphonies that reverberate within me far longer than the final haunting note of any piano, violin, jazz flute or guitar ever could. I can stare endlessly at the dazzling aqua, teal, turquoise, and midnight blues of the sea; I become enraptured watching sunlight dance across landscapes and shroud fields in the golden halos of late afternoon. When I was younger I would collect those strips of paper with the color samples from hardware and home improvement stores simply because I loved the varying shades of the rainbow. I still sometimes resist the urge to grab a handful of them if I walk past a display wall; I almost fear the day I become a homeowner with the freedom to use the walls as my canvas.
It’s no wonder then that Pulau Penang captured my attention and held me willful prisoner from the moment I stepped off the bus to the day I silently said farewell while slowly slipping away on the ferry. The idyllic Georgetown boasts both a contrast of the modern era and architecture of yesteryear side by side in its buildings. The crisp, new, freshly painted, pulsating purple concrete shop stands next to a tired old shack, its fading blue and green splattering of paint peeling gracefully around the edges of the splintering wood of the windowsill. I fell in love with the red door that splashed color onto an otherwise fading, mottled grey and black cement building, and the yellow awnings waving hello in the gentle breeze next door. This rainbow city seduced me more at every turn down new streets.
Christchurch is rebuilding itself up as a rather colorful city at the moment, and when I look around the streets of Georgetown I catch glimpses of what Christchurch may gradually morph into after many, many years; it will age gracefully. I spent a week in Penang, longer than originally anticipated. In fact, I hadn’t planned to go to Penang at all! I was on the bus in Ipoh on the way to the main station when I got to talking to a young teen. I really wish I could find him and thank him now. He asked where I was going. “I don’t know” I shrugged, “maybe Penang, maybe Langkawi, maybe east bound.” His face brightened at one of the options. “Go to Penang!” he urged excitedly, “I love it! All the amazing food, the beach, the national park, the old walks, Penang has everything!” So I went to Penang. I am so glad I did, too, because in Penang I found a haven for both my eyes and heart… despite my 63 year old nudist dorm mate. But that’s another story for another day.