Discovering Penang’s Inner City – Day 3

Clear sky over Penang

Day 3 – 0710 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
Having slept early the night before, we woke up invigorated and all excited. The sky was clear with white clouds. We were sure it would not rain again. We have two more places to visit. Wuan wanted to go to the Khoo Kongsi while I wanted photos of the Goddess of Mercy Temple in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. We requested for late check-out as we did not want to be locked out of our room if we returned late. Our 12 noon check-out was extended to 2pm. Breakfast was the usual Western and Oriental fare. Not wanting to overload our digestive system, lest we get sleepy again, we ate mostly fruits and light snacks.

Shadow play at Stewart Lane Penang

Day 3 – 0932 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
I know those roads around SXI well but I think Wuan is beginning to become familiar with them too. For the past two days, we had traversed the same road several times daily. Our first destination was the Goddess of Mercy Temple. From the hotel, we walked down Farquhar Street, turned into Love lane and then into Stewart Lane. The archways of the house beside Stewart Lane looked interesting with the morning sun casting strong shadows.

Antique tiles at Stewart Lane

Day 3 – 0934 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
Some of the houses there looked rather old, not occupied and were secured with chains and bolts. Wuan liked the old tiles plastered on some of the walls. They looked really nice even after so many years. Their colours were striking and one cannot get tiles with such designs anymore.

Goddess of Mercy Temple Penang

Day 3 – 0940 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
The exterior of the Goddess of Mercy Temple has not changed over the years. It was as I had remembered it, except maybe the red roof looked rather clean. There were not a lot of worshippers when we were there but whenever there is a festival, it would be packed to the brim and the whole area would be filled with acrid fumes from burning incense.

Day 3 – 0945 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
As parts of the Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling were paved with roughly hewn blocks which made it very uncomfortable for me on a wheelchair and difficult for Wuan to push, we cut across the road into China Street to avoid the idiocy of the hare-brained scheme. We were in Little India again, with stalls selling teh tarik and an assortment of Indian merchandise.

Maha Mariamman Temple Penang

Day 3 – 0950 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
The facade of the Maha Mariamman Temple was striking. Colourful sculptures of Hindu deities in various poses looked down from the top of the entrance that was guarded by two lions. We could not but marvel at the excellent skills of the artisans who created the sculptures. One surely cannot miss this temple which rises prominently in Queen Street.

Day 3 – 1001 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
Since the Cheah Kongsi was close by, Wuan wanted to go in and take more photos of the clan house. I waited from a distance, not wanting to be splattered by pigeon droppings. Those birds reside inside the entrance arch of the building. I was nearly soiled by one impish pigeon while waiting for Wuan there the day before.

Khoo Kongsi Penang

Day 3 – 1011 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
The temple of the Khoo Kongsi was surrounded by houses. These houses were very much like fortification walls protecting the clan house and the temple that were situated in the middle. It is not visible from outside and one can easily miss it if not for the small signs that lead the way to the entrance. Entrance is RM5 per person inclusive of a souvenir postcard.

By now, the sun was getting very hot. I waited in the shade while Wuan had a field day taking photographs. From where I waited, I could see the elaborate figures and motifs that decorated the temple. I could not enter the temple because of the many steps but one of the caretakers offered to help me into the museum on the ground floor. It housed various artefacts of the clan like swords, tools used to construct the building, genealogy book and pictorial of the clan’s history in Penang. Wuan took about fifty shots of the Khoo Kongsi. There was a look of satisfaction on her face when we emerged from the museum.

Acheen Street Penang

Day 3 – 1106 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
We wanted to take more photos of the Acheen Street Mosque but could not find a nice angle. Instead, Wuan snapped a shot of Acheen Street replete with its old houses, ramps on the pavement and benches for weary tourists to sit and rest their aching feet.

Day 3 – 1113 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
We followed the same roads that we took yesterday to return to the hotel, passing Cannon Street, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Buckingham Street, Canarvon Street, Chulia Street, Love Lane and Farquhar Street.

Day 3 – 1137 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
When we reached the hotel, it was still too early to check-out. In the coolness of the lobby, we rested a while, catching our breath from a really breathtaking morning. The photos that we took at E & O Hotel yesterday did not look too good because of the rain and dark clouds. Seeing that the weather was just perfect, we headed to E & O Hotel again to snap more nice photos to remember our little adventure by.

Day 3 – 1159 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
The sea was rather calm and the sun was shinning down harshly. The seafront of the E & O Hotel was deserted. I took shelter under a huge shady frangipani tree while Wuan went around the seafront taking shots of anything that caught her fancy. There were 2 large cannons facing out to the sea, a row of coconut palms, the frangipani tree and a towering kapok tree that provided convenient shelter from the heat.

Rooftop view of Penang's Inner City

Day 3 – 1243 hrs, Wednesday, June 23
Just before we went back to our room to pack up, we stood at the lift lobby of the fifteenth floor that looked out to the inner city. The red and ochre roofs spread all over the landscape and right up to the edge of the land where it met the sea. I have lived in Penang all my life but I have never really had the opportunity to see all the sights of the inner city. Wuan gave me that opportunity to get to know my hometown better. I could not have gone on this sightseeing trip if not for her. We stood there for a long while, feeling a little nostalgic and sad at the same time for having to leave this place that will give us many happy memories in years to come.

Go to the Gallery for more photos of our three day escapade. Most of the photos were taken by Wuan with Nikon Coolpix 3100. We used a 256Mb compact flash which was sufficient for three days worth of shooting 363 frames in 3 megapixel normal resolution. For information on the places of interest to visit in Penang’s inner city, go to Penang Heritage Trust or Tourism Penang.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

11 thoughts on “Discovering Penang’s Inner City – Day 3”

  1. it has been quite awhile since cindy and i go on sight seeing. both has been busy lately.
    glad to see some people still appreciate local history and architecture.
    hope you enjoyed your journey.
    5 years in sxi, i’ve only been into that church besides the school once only. i think it was a brother’s funeral, forgot his name already…

  2. Terry,
    We throughly enjoyed it. Try it when you have the time. You will be surprised Penang is much more than we realised.

  3. i know how much we can discover in penang alone. i’ve been to places that i never know existed.
    one place i would recommand it to you, but i think it is not a wheelchair-friendly place. it is the village beside the jetty which the houses are all above the water. very nice if you are there during the evening, before dark…

  4. Terry,
    I have never been to those clan jetties before. But I understand that many immigrants from China first stepped into Malaya for the first time through those jetties. They came with only the clothes on their back and not a sen to their name to work as coolies here. A few had become some of the wealthiest people in Penang.

  5. hahah, my grandparents were one of those, but they stepped on penang island on the other side, pulau jerajak 🙂

  6. Terry,
    My mother’s grandfather came to Penang through the Lim Jetty in the late 18th century. He worked as a coolie for a few dollars per month and managed to save enough to buy 30 acres of land in Balik Pulau to cultivate rubber trees. My father’s father arrived at around the same time too to escape a plague that was sweeping across our kampung in China. I guess he first stepped into Malaya via the Tan Jetty. These jetties are so full of historical significance that it is good to hear that the state government is taking steps to preserve the area.

  7. yeah, it’s good to know that the government is doing something to take care of such beautiful place.

    anyway, my father’s father managed to open a grocery shop in hongseng estate, where i grew up till around 5 years old, then moved to another place. from zero to a shop, i wonder if i could still do that now…mmm…

  8. Terry,
    Of course you can too. Work hard and smart, save enough and you can open a grocery store chain. But compared to people of his generation, we tend to spend a lot of money on the useless and the unnecessary like an expensive digicams, boutique coffee and designer clothes. Therefore we will need to work and save even harder to achieve the same result.

  9. Hi Peter,
    So how was your stay at the City Bayview Hotel?
    Wow so you had explored the whole penang and i havent got anytime to go such places


  10. Left Penang in 1979, been in Australia since then, now based in Perth for over 18 years. Still have relatives in Jelutong. Been interested lately in my family/ancestral history. I am the 22nd generation of the Lim Clan and the son of Lim Kean Chye. My grandfather, Lim Boon Lye passed away before I was born in 1958. He passed away in the chinese village of Jelutong. I believe he was a chinese herbalist and also my great grandfather, Lim Teik Huat was apparently a multi millionier gentleman in those days, in the hay days of the 1920’s who owned chinese medicine/herbal shops on both side of the streets – I think it was Chulia street ?? Intend to go back to Penang late this year and follow up on my curiousity. If you have an suggestion as to where I should start, please let me know. I guess the Lim Kongsi is the start.

    I never took the opportunity to trace my ancestry when my parents were around. Now I wish I did. Yes, the Lim Kongsi is a good place to start. Good luck to you.

  11. Hello Peter Tan,

    Like Lim Ewe Hin, I left Penang in 1980, and now I am in a city call Arcadia in Southern California, United States. I went back to Penang in May this year. I remenber the last time I went back to Penang was 23 years ago. That was to attend my father’s funeral. Never know that man because he never live with me. This time in Penang, I relized how I much I like this island. My childhood memory one by one return to me. It seem that I have found myself again. The school (Han Chiang High School) I once attend, the Ayer Item Laksa, freash durian, and much much more gave me my childhood back. I realy miss this Island. I will one day come back to live in this island again. I will do….

    I was studying in Han Chiang for a few months before my spinal cord injury. Please do come back again. Penang is changing very fast. I miss the good old days when there was less traffic, less pollution and it was green everywhere.

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