I’ve been fascinated by graveyards for quite a while now. Whenever I have the opportunity I enjoy exploring old cemeteries — the older and more overgrown the better. The Protestant Cemetery at George Town, Penang, certainly fit the bill with the oldest known grave dating from 1789 and plenty of ancient trees obscuring the sunlight. Even more overgrown is the adjacent Catholic Cemetery which doesn’t seem to get a lot of tender loving care. After perhaps 30 minutes of exploration I finally came across the marker for the original British colony’s founder, Captain Francis Light. It was much smaller than I’d envisioned and the wrought-iron fence I’d seen in old photographs no longer encircles the monument. I even came across the graves of two Americans plus a number of Chinese tombstones as well. Why doesn’t Phuket have a cemetery for foreigners?
The other theme for my Thursday walkabout was the popular tourist conveyance, the trishaw. It was a hot day and I suppose all the tourists were hiding in air-conditioned restaurants as I didn’t see anybody riding trishaws. But there were plenty parked alongside the streets, the drivers either taking naps under nearby awnings or participating in games of bottle-cap checkers. I was also disappointed that my favorite restaurant on Chulia Street — ECCO Cafe — has been closed due to lack of staff and that the old Blue Diamond Guesthouse (which featured a Mexican food menu) is being turned into a boutique guesthouse (whatever that may be!) by the ever-expanding Banana group. I did manage to find a tiny beach area (across the street from the cemeteries and behind a Lexus dealership) and almost made it inside the Eastern & Oriental’s grand ballroom before being asked to leave — I just wanted a photo!