Travel Geek Update, Penang, Malaysia, December 19, 2013


I arrived in Malaysia yesterday and took the afternoon to relax, read my book and escape the dry heat in the paradoxically located “dry heat bubble” of Penang, a small island and financial capital of the country’s northern state of the same name.  And if you don’t know (or haven’t read the gobs of other blogs about my visits here since 2009), it’s just off the coast from the mainland industrial shipping complex of Butterworth.

But today’s little jaunt through Penang offered me the same thing I get every time I go there: an amazing peek at a new side of the city. I rented a bike and finally rode throughout the day as I’ve wanted to do for so long.

But why would I want to ride through an arid city center in the hottest time of the day, you might ask? Well, Penang is located on the westernmost side of Malaysia. So the sunrise, and all it’s “golden hour” light is robbed from it by Malaysia’s central mountains. And then, because of the city is located on the eastern shadow of the largest and most prominent mountain on the island, Penang Hill (as it’s colloquially known, or Strawberry Hill as it’s historically known, or Bukit Bendara as it’s officially known), there’s also no sunset.

Why is this so important? Well, if you’re not a photographer, it’s probably not — especially since the only beaches, which might otherwise make it’s emerald-green seas enjoyable, are shored by polluted waters. The removal of just a few hours on either side of the mid-morning and late-afternoon sun, the light that photographers live for, makes for harsh shadows and bitter, wincing faces, and pale, shallow color pallets, and generally unattractive shots all around.

But, knowing that going in, it makes exploring and taking risks as a photographer much more amicable. And even in the stark heat that beats down on this island city, it’s actually winter here. So it would still be much worse in the northern hemisphere’s summer months. So what better time, I figure.

In any case, I rented a bike and made my way down Beach Road to Midtown, where I found a construction crew had left the gate open to the property they had been charged with cleaning. So, naturally, I welcomed myself in and began filming and photographing.

A note about this video: This would be the first actual time that I am using my DSLR to make a video that I intended on uploading to my YouTube channel. So you might notice that the focus is off on the A-Roll sections of the film. That’s because I had the focal length set on what I thought was my head. Being along and having no one to set it on me in-frame, this was the result.

I’ll have to work on that. But I must say, I did enjoy only carrying around one camera body and getting all my photography as well as my video content for today’s blog. Quite exciting. So perhaps look for more of that in the future. I do like the versatility. But the constant focusing was driving me a bit nuts. No tripod either. Again, just went out shooting for an update. Nothing special!

Coming soon, I’ll write up my experience with the visa scam situation (and what to look for, as well as how to minimize your costs) and watching the transvestite hookers at work. Interestingly, the Indian guys really seem to like them. Who knew!?

The album from today, as well as from when I was here earlier this year, should be coming out soon on http://www.cyleodonnell.com.

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