Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Penang World Heritage Site Part 2

Penang World Heritage Site is located in George Town. We started our exploration from Chulia Street to Light Street before we took our lunch. Then, we continued our journey into Lebuh Pantai (Beach Street). It is one of the oldest street in George Town. Along the street, we saw banks, food shops, eateries, boutiques, and many more. We visited Peranakan Mansion, Little India, and Khoo Kongsi which are located in vicinity to the street.

We passed by Standard Chartered Bank after Penang Clock Tower. We took our lunch at the Kopitiam beside Standard Chartered Bank.

Penang Peranakan Mansion is a building in light green. It is located at Lebuh Gereja (Church Street), 100 meters away from Beach Street. We can access the building only through its side door.

This mansion is decorated exquisitely by carved doors, windows, balustrades and antique furniture.

The fine embroidery portrait of the owners of this mansion- Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee (郑景贵) and his wife. In year 1841.

Chung came to Malaysia from China and worked as a tin mining coolie in Perak. His effort in learning English was well paid, when he was promoted as a leader in Chinese dominated mining field. He was promoted as the Chinese Kapitan, one of the top ranked Chinese leader in Peninsular, when his leadership was noticed by the British Govenor. His life is a role model to all of us- the success will only be achieved by those who are willing to work hard. More information about this Chinese leader is available at Wikipedia. This Penang Peranakan Mansion is definitely a must visit place in Penang. The admission fee for adult is RM10 per person, while it's free for children. The opening hours are 9:30 am - 5 pm, including public holidays. You can visit the Official Website of Penang Peranakan Mansion for more information. By the way, the only officially recorded Chinese Kapitan in Malaysian history is Yap Ah Loy, the Kapitan of Klang Valley.

Antique furniture is everywhere (upper left). Backyard of the mansion was built for the servants (upper right). In olden days, servants were prohibited to use the main staircase of the mansion. The nyonya workers in the kitchen serve the visitors with the nyonya kuih (delicacies), as shown in lower right. According to our tour guide, once got promoted, Chung hired the best craftsmen from China to build a temple for his ancestors. The temple is now located just beside the mansion. The photo on lower left shows the fine sculptures on the wall of the temple.

Our resourceful guide told us the stories about the sons of the Kapitan in the temple. All of them (in the photos beside our tour guide) have moved to other countries.

We spent around one hour at Penang Peranakan Mansion. Then, we walk across Little India to Khoo Kongsi, which is located 800 meters from the mansion. Unlike the mansion, Khoo Kongsi didn't prepare a tour guide for us. So, we had to walk around the site on our own. We found that the information stated in the exhibition hall of the kongsi was very substantial, but it's too much for weary visitors, like us. We couldn't stand there for hours just to read all the descriptions about the history of the buildings. We entered the kongsi with a fee of RM10 per adult, opens daily from 9 am - 5 pm daily, including public holidays. Must visit? Sure, for this is the biggest clan kongsi in Penang. More information is available at the Official Website of Khoo Kongsi.

Khoo Kongsi is not only a temple, but a complex of more than 60 buildings. The kongsi, or company, was set up long ago to help Khoo clan immigrants to settle down in Penang. At the middle of the kongsi stands the temple of Khoo Kongsi- Leong San Tong.

The whole temple of Khoo Kongsi is indeed a masterpiece of art, which exhibits fine and exquisite Chinese carpentry and craftsmanship.

The roof (upper row) and the wall (lower right) of the temple were decorated with many fine sculptures. Some of the sculptures have their own stories behind, such as the one at the lower right show the 24 ways of how Chinese pay their respect to their parents. There are two Singh sculptures guarding the entrance of the temple, alluding the occupation of Singh people in early days of Penang.

The whole complex of Khoo Kongsi. The number one marks the location of Leong San Tong.

We took some time to linger around Little India in George Town, which mainly refers to the  area around Queen Street, King Street, and Market Street. Little India that consists of both elements of "historical" and "Indian" is the uniqueness of this area. Laundry, food, gold and jewellery, CD and VCD, money changers, etc. You name it, you got it. This is the best Little India that we have ever visited in Malaysia.

We visited Pengkalan Weld (Weld Port Road) on our last day at Penang. By the sea, the heritage sites around the road blended the sea into their elements of attraction. The ferry service that has served Penang faithfully since 1920's (upper left), sea port that serves as the boarding point to the cruises (upper right), and Chew Jetty (lower row) are our points of interest. Chew Jetty, as one of the World Heritage sites, has battled its way through the vast development of sea view condos and shopping centers. We could feel the simplicity of the Penangites in olden days at the jetty. For us, it is a must visit site in George Town.

Penang Bridge can clearly be seen from Chew Jetty.

Sun Yat Seng, one of the great revolutionist of China, was once resided in Penang, while operating several companies to fuel the rally to overthrow the Manchurian Government. We have the opportunity to take a glance on his residence at Armenian Street, George Town. We didn't go into the house as the house is now owned by someone, who has no connection to Sun. More information about Sun's activity in Penang is available at Lestari Heritage Network.

The Kapitan Keling Mosque is a prominent edifice that we can't overlook if we travel around Chulia Street or Cannon Street. It is one of the oldest mosque in Malaysia, which was built in 1801, serves as the place of worship for Indian Muslim for over 200 years, until today. The mosque has very unique domes in black.

We strolled around the heritage area for two days. If you want our overall comment on the heritage site, short and clear- it is rich and full of surprises! Well,  that was not our first time in George Town, yet it has so many new things to offer, which we have overlooked in our previous visits. Now, we can proclaim that we know George Town better, but more yet to be learnt. That's a place that we will revisit again.

What to expect in George Town Heritage Area:
  • Friendly and helpful folks, especially when we need assistance to get the right direction.
  • Trishaw service is available, in case you don't want to labour your feet.
  • Motorbike, bicycle, and car rental services are everywhere.
  • Various Chinese food. Halal food and Nasi Kandar is available in mamak eateries.
  • Street is basically safe, even at night (doesn't mean that we can totally ignore our own safety).
  • Most of the banks and money changers are clustered at Beach Street, Chulia Street, and Little India.
  • Very hot during day time, if it's not raining. A hat or unbrella, enough drinking water, and a comfortable foot wear are crucial to ensure a pleasant trip. We can get an effective map at the airport, and it's free of charge.
Find out more about Penang World Heritage Site at TourismPenang.net, VisitPenang Official Website (very useful. Event calender, food trail, and tour guide are free to download). A brief but very interactive tourism map by PenangTourism.net can be accessed here. A detailed Penang Tourism Map (which we have used all the time during our trip) can be downloaded here. How about the accommodation and food at Penang?

All our sharing on Penang are available at:

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