Holiday cheer amid pandemic

Goh and his family posing with the Children on Bicycle mural by Ernest Zacharevic in Armenian Street. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB and LIM BENG TATT/The Star

TAKING advantage of the long weekend holiday, local tourists were seen visiting several famous tourist spots in George Town, Penang.

Besides taking photos with the murals in Armenian Street, the tourists also flocked to the souvenir shops that lined both sides of the street.

Teacher Albert Goh, 55, from Kedah, said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, public spaces were quiet compared to before.

“In the past, tourist spots would always be crowded and filled with festive decorations but this year, the holiday bustle seems a little lacking everywhere, ” he said when met in Armenian Street on Friday.

Goh said he and his family did not have specific travel plans and were just going wherever they could think of.

Holidaymakers having a jolly good time at the beach in Batu Ferringhi. Holidaymakers having a jolly good time at the beach in Batu Ferringhi.

“But if we see too many people in a tourist spot, we’ll turn back and visit our next stop.

“For this year, it is obvious that the festive mood is missing, ” he said.

Another local tourist Jenny Hi, 26, said she was in Penang on a three-day two-night trip.

“My friend and I are going around town sightseeing and taking photos.

Chew waiting for customers at his clothing and souvenir store at Chew Jetty. Chew waiting for customers at his clothing and souvenir store at Chew Jetty.

“Armenian Street is our first stop and we plan to visit more places after this, ” said Hi who is from Kuala Lumpur.

Over at Chew Jetty, rows of owners and workers at the shophouses there were happy to receive groups of local tourists.

A souvenir and clothing store assistant, Chew Cheng San, 65, said the festive period had been rather quiet for businesses this year.

“All of us here sell souvenirs and desserts and some sell clothes.

“We are simply trying our luck by waiting for customers. We know many of them visit Penang for the food.

Tourists visiting the jetty during the long Christmas weekend.Tourists visiting the jetty during the long Christmas weekend.

“So far, we have seen a few groups of families and friends coming in but none of them bought much stuff.

“Most of them are here to sightsee and window shop.

“Due to the current economy, people are more willing to spend on food, ” he said when met at his store.

Meanwhile, freelancer Nor Yuhanis Amira Yusri, 24, from Bangsar, was seen strolling along Chew Jetty with her cousins.

Visitors admiring the colourful decorations in Armenian Street.Visitors admiring the colourful decorations in Armenian Street.

“We decided to come to Penang for a holiday as we have a long weekend due to Christmas.

“There are five of us and we plan to go around town to sightsee and take pictures.

“Then, we will head to the mainland to visit more attractions and enjoy some good food.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of slowing, we try to avoid popular tourist spots and are only stopping to visit if the crowd is not overwhelming, ” she added.

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