Thursday, 10 October 2013

Weekend in Penang (Part 1)

 Spent last weekend in Penang with Hwee Mian, Elaine and Clarise.  We covered a lot of ground in 2.5 days! We pranced from flea market to vintage shops, leapt from beach to hill, enjoyed street art and hawker foods, explored historical landmarks. 

We had such a great time, we never want to leave.

Some facts about Penang: The name “Penang Island” (槟榔屿 or “Island of the Betel Nut”) first appeared in the nautical charts of Zheng He during his expedition to the South Sea in the 15th century. Its capital, George Town was inscribed on the UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage list in 2007. Even though the town isn’t large, its population is diverse in ethnicity, culture, language and religion. I love it that the architecture is alive, with the most amazing heritage buildings in a variety of styles, including Chinese clan houses, mosques, Peranakan terraces, distinguished colonial buildings, all in varying stages of restoration.

We stayed in a hotel located on Muntri Street, which has one of the best preserved row of 19th century Straits Eclectic style houses.  These grand terraces had mews, or private stables for horse carriages, with staff quarters upstairs.  Muntri Mews is beautifully restored, infused with Malay, Chinese and European influences.

Muntri Mews
77 Lebuh Muntri
10050 Georgetown
Penang, Malaysia
+60 4 263 5125

Muntri Mews has only 9 rooms. We occupied twin rooms downstairs. The larger guest rooms are located upstairs. The cafe serves a decent selection of breakfast that includes scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, roti prata, nasi lemak, cinnamon French toast and fresh fruits.


“Nine Houses” on Kek Chuan Road


We visited a Clan Jetty. What’s a Clan Jetty, you ask? A clan jetty is a Chinese settlement on the waterfront built by immigrants the mid-19th century. Being fishermen or coolies who worked at the port, they preferred to live near the water so they built their houses on stilts over the water. 

People who came from the same village back home in China ban together as a Clan and built their own jetty. The one we visited was the Chew Clan Jetty.  It is the longest and best preserved Clan Jetties along Weld Quay.

Of the places we visited in Penang, this is my favourite. Once inside I was transported back to a time when children played with glass marbles and indulged in ice popsicles.  And granny sat on her front porch and struck up conversations with neighbours who passed by.


Street art dot the landscape.

“Reaching Up” by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic

"Little Children on Bicycle” by Ernest Zacharevic

“Children on the Swing” by Penang’s deaf and mute artist Louis Gan. The road sign “Step by Step Lane” is installed as part of the art work and is not an actual road sign.

“Children Playing Basketball” by Louis Gan. This piece of art work is perceived as sloppy by critics and general comments are “The girl seems to be levitating, like she's on helium, while the boy is way out of proportion”.

Read Part Two

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