One activity that is enjoyed by foreign tourists and expats who live in Penang is walking around the area enjoying the beautiful scenery and fantastic architecture. In Georgetown on any given day one can see hundreds of people walking the streets with their cameras around their necks. There are many websites showing the numerous beautiful photos taken by these visitors and expats. I too enjoy walking around looking at the different shops, temples, coffee shops and other attractions. I walk around my neighborhood in Tanjung Tokong on a daily basis, just running errands and going to the gym or shopping.
Even though this activity seems rather benign one must take a couple of precautions. As in any busy city one must pay attention to the traffic, so as not to be hit by a car or motorbike. The second precaution is one that I believe is unique to Penang. Open drains and manholes. It is very common to see open drains along the street, next to parking spaces or along the sidewalk. I remember one time when Kevin was attempting to park the car, he almost backed both rear wheels into a very wide drain, with no cover. Walking and driving after dark can be quite hazardous as there are many of these gaping holes, without any warning or caution signs. I have been told that the reason there are so many open drains and manholes is that people steal the covers to sell as scrap metal. There must be some way to permanently fasten these grates or covers, so that no one can steal them.
Today I was walking to Island Plaza, as I do at least twice a day. I pass the same huge drain in the sidewalk every time I walk this way. I walk on the drain cover as I look for monitor lizards, which I see on occasion. Today the drain cover wasn't there. A huge 4 feet by 4 feet hole was there instead. Luckily I was paying attention and noticed someone walking my way with his headphones on and not looking where he was going. I knew the person and warned him before he fell into the hole.
So just a few words of warning for tourists, expats, and for everyone who is walking about enjoying the sights of Penang. Watch where you are walking and try to be reasonably sober when doing so, especially at night. Stay alert and stay safe.