Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gurney Paragon Mall

Touted as The New Heart of Penang, this is the latest to join the list of hangout places in Penang. It's located just beside the G Hotel. Just further down is the Gurney Plaza and a little further away is the Esplanade Hawker Centre. It's in the happening zone...

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Anyway, the Gurney Paragon is quite a ncie place. Built, incorporating the old building which used to house the Uplands International School, they've preserved the old building and wrap the new ones around it. Before it became grounds for the school it was known as St Joseph Novitiate, a place where the La Sallian brothers trained teachers for the mission schools (St Xavier, Convent Light Street) in the early 20th century. These schools were known for excellence, a tribute to the commitment of these missionaries. An Art Attack exhibition was on when we took our walk. Our gal enjoyed it very much.

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The familiar big pillars, wide corridors and high ceilings which are hallmark architecture of its era can be seen as we walked through the restored building. Ever wondered why old houses built in the early to mid 20th century remain cool despite the hot weather. I think it's the high ceilings and thick walls which make them ever so comfortable in our hot weather. Houses built these days have lower ceilings and are constructed with cement bricks. The hot air does not have enough space above and the bricks absorb heat way too fast. And that's why our houses become heat traps.

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The former school field which used to house tennis courts have now been turned into a courtyard-like area, with a lighted fountain as part of its decor. Anyway, this place is still spankingly new. The upper floors don't seem occuppied yet. The ground floor is a thriving eating place with names like TGIF, Italiannies, Morgansfield, Moo Cow and others. This former school field is a great place for activities now. There was a kindergarten sports cum performance thing going on while we were there, with music, dances, clown show, game stations.....

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There is a schedule for the fountain shows. The place cooled down considerably when the fountain show started, I noticed. The evening's kiddy programme was just winding down by the time we finished our dinner. The security guards were having a hard time trying to keep the kids off the fountain area. Parents were oblivious as some were still busy lining up for snack freebies.

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We went back to Italiannies for dinner... and to claim our free bread pudding. LOL! But it goes to show how much Other Half likes the pizza here. The bread pudding was nice and moist. Served with cream, the cinnamon and raisins make it quite delicious. But we find the pudding a bit heavy on our stomachs.

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We also ordered their Sicilian Salad, with diced chicken breast, grapes, mangoes, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and walnuts. After dinner we went over to Cold Storage at Gurney to get our own mix of nuts and other stuff for our own salad experiments at home.

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Turkey ham and mushroom pizza. Son didn't follow us this time around cos he is trying to hit a high at work before he leaves for his studies soon. Food was a tardy bit too much for the 3 of us as a result. He'd have enjoyed the food if he had been with us.

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We took a walk down the Esplanade after dinner while waiting for rhe fountain show to begin. It was low tide. The haze is back. The skyline is now hazy and it feels rather humid. The API is getting worse it seems and with it health issues too. It's the time of the year where slash and burn in Indonesia contribute heavily to this condition. These days, like condo living, whatever our neighbours does impacts everyone. Other Half commented too that the air smelt like the market. And on closer observation, we noticed this.

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Dead fish everywhere... These must have been left behind by the receding water. There were still some puddles of water and we could see fish struggling to survive there, waiting to be rescued by the next high tide. By the looks of it, many did not make it.

Everywhere I go in Penang these days, I see restoration works on the old buildings. Many of the old buildings have been restored to their former glory. Some like the former Uplands International School have been incorporated into the modern urban planning, the old and new existing side by side. I was driving past St Nicholas Convent (Alor Setar) which is being torn down at the moment. I understand that a new medical centre is being built on its site. Such a pity because that is part of our heritage. Sometimes it seems like we are trying our best to wipe clean a certain past of ours. Sometimes, it seems that our greed for profit knows no boundary...

But whatever it is, I think acknowledging our past is just as important as building our future. Who we become is also a result of our past. It's a journey of accumulating what is good, learning from our mistakes... buildings can remind us that too...

I came back with rashes all over.... viral.

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