Ono: George Town’s Love Machine

When Bangkok suffered the could-have-been-prevented flood last year, I got my backpack ready and stuffed my travel necessities in a jiffy to take refuge at my dearest cousin’s abode in Penang, Malaysia. For a month, I was my cousin Anne’s refugee and yes, I could have went on with being one except that when the flood receded in Bangkok, my employers started hollering ‘come yonder!’ and I had no choice but to face reality.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

However short my holiday was, I am happy to note that I got the best parts of Penang and have met some interesting characters while raiding strange, old nooks around its capital, George Town. For the benefit of those who do not know, George Town is located on the north-east corner of Penang Island and was founded by a trader for the British East India Company. It boasts of many things; from being the second largest metro in Malaysia to its inner city being formally inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, alongside Malacca. The unique architectural and cultural townscape has been recognized as one without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.

While strolling in George Town

It was during in one of my so-called raids when I met Ono, a self-proclaimed casanova who has a penchant for giving love and sex advices to anyone who does not find the topic repulsive.


He is the owner of the junk/antique shop just a few blocks away from Cannon Square. I honestly could not tell you which street it was located in because I just chanced upon it while figuring my way back to Church Street Pier. (What I can remember is – it was very close to the Armenian Café that I just couldn’t stop taking photos of.) Anyhow, when he caught me taking photos of his shop, he did not hesitate to invite me in and because I was tired, I took that opportunity to sit and win a new friend since I was all alone anyway.


Honestly, I don’t think I had enough biological information to share about him other than the fact that he sported more than a dozen tattoos all over his body. What I had though are the interesting love and sexual encounters that he generously narrated to me while I was haggling for my Chinese Opera souvenir. Unfortunately, I cannot share them with you here.

In a span of two hours, we talked about our similar urge to constantly travel and his shop was a clear proof of that. Ono explained that he always made sure that he brought back a piece of something from the place he explored and that all the ‘junk’ I saw inside his shop were souvenirs. I asked him, why he was selling them since they were his memorabilia and he just nonchalantly responded that it was consuming too much of his space at home.


I was originally eyeing his Jimmy Hendrix and John Lennon vintage records but he said that they were not for sale. “Why the heck were they there,” I retorted. He laughed and said, “for display.” I then moved on to inquiring about the Indonesian wooden puppets but he said nay as well because his girlfriend loved the piece; and this was when our conversation became fishy because he added a ‘but’ statement. He added that if I gave him a kiss, he will reconsider. (Argh…men!) I cocked my eyebrow then and went back to rummaging through his other junk to look for other souvenirs that I can take home. In the end, I brought home a complete set of ceramic Chinese Opera masks which he reluctantly gave up for a reasonable price. Hurrah!

Well, that’s Ono. I have not gone back there after that day but I hope to visit George Town again in the future. I’ll probably drop by his shop again. I wonder if he’ll remember me (I doubt it).

shop entrance

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