Overseas Chinese left their motherland at a tender age and through sheer hard work and good foresight, many astute businessmen found fortune and eventually became well-known philanthropists. Apart from contributing to society, these visionaries pamper themselves with homes large enough to fit a few generations of “extended family” leaving their wealth to be managed by trust funds. As a result, younger generations today still continue to enjoy the fruits of their efforts with children and grandchildren being sent overseas to further their studies and eventually migrate~ leaving these homes to the care of their faithful caretakers. Many of these homes were today rented out, leased or sold to commercial concerns as well as educational institutions because it is no longer cheap to maintain houses like this. One such house (as shown in pic) is currently leased to Kentucky Fried Chicken, an American fast food corporation who had tapped into the Penang market since the seventies. Picture taken at Larut Rd, Penang.
~an uncommon chapel~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012
Built on top of a hill in the 1800′s, St Anne’s chapel amasses a yearly pilgrimage of more than a 100,000 on its feast day though it has but a seating capacity of only 300 at any given time. Part of the reason for this phenomenon is the legendary sighting of her apparition above the hill behind this chapel and the widespread accounts of her healing power and blessings she freely give to all who revere and believe in her. In short, she answers prayers. Many transformations has occurred on church grounds eversince and today it is a sprawling sanctuary that boasts a new church with a seating capacity of 1500- possibly the largest in this region. But this grand old lady has been kept unperturbed. This is an uncommon side view of the old chapel with its steeple as seen from the new church. The statue of the resurrection of Jesus is but a new addition. Pictures taken at St Anne’s Sanctuary, Bukit Mertajam, Province Wellesley, Penang.
~the old bell~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012
~archangel michael~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012
~new church~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013
~attap house reliquary~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012
Six years after the founding of Penang in 1786, a well known tycoon Syed Hussain Mohd Aidid shifted his base from Acheh, a popular spice route in North Sumatera to Penang. Of Arabian stock as well as a member of the royal house of Acheh, Syed Hussain was wooed by Captain Francis Light, the founder of Penang to establish his base here. His bait, reasonable autonomy to trade and self govern his household, his slaves and his clansmen as in accordance to his custom and his Moslem belief. He settled himself where Armenian Street and Acheen Street is and from there, works his ways into the hearts and minds of its inhabitants thereafter establishes an enclave between these few adjoining roads for his clansmen together with other Moslems from the same area to trade, rapport and cohabit like one close knitted family. Francis Light was not wrong. His efforts paid off when Penang became a favored spice route and the choice embarkation point for Moslems on a sojourn to Mecca, their holy land. Twenty two years on, Syed Hussain embarked to built a proper mosque to serve the community and that was how Acheen Street Mosque came to being, a sturdy structure snugged in between inferior houses of timber and attap. Syed Hussain passed away in 1840 and as is customary, his mausoleum is built inside the mosque compound. This minaret stood as a legacy of his duty towards his own race and belief that made it all possible for him.
This minaret built in Mughal style has a conspicuous pothole. Tradition says it was the result of cannon fire although some octogenarians claim loud booms once came from it. Despite the dispute, record shows that this mosque possesses a cannon of its own and the firing once led to a serious clash between two factions of the town Moslems over the actual date of the end of the month of the ramadan period. Whilst one faction who attends the Acheen Street Mosque was celebrating Hari Raya, the other faction who venerates at the Kapitan Kling mosque a short distance away was still fasting. After that incident, the town community compromised and handed down a decree that town Moslems must alternate between both mosque for their Friday prayers and those caught venerating at the wrong venue would be penalized. Peculiar as it is, the rule still stands today. Picture taken at Armenian Street, Penang.
~Victoria’s Clocktower~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013
To commemorate Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee, a Jubilee Clock Tower was erected at King Edward’s Place, at the junction of Light Street and Beach Street, Georgetown, Penang courtesy of Cheah Chean Eok, a distinguish local Chinese tycoon in the same year. Built in the Moorish style, the tower stands sixty feet tall, one foot for each year of Victoria’s reign. Unfortunately, Queen Victoria never stepped foot on Penang soil which was once a British settlement neither did she live long enough to see the memorial clocktower dedicated to her completed. By the time it was completed in 1902, the queen had died. Picture taken at King Edwards Place, Light Street/Beach Street junction, Penang.
Most hindu temples in Penang were built in accordance to the Dravidian discipline, an architectural style found in South India and Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple, better known as the Penang Hill Hindu Temple was no exception. It started off in the 1800′s as a small shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Murugan by the Indian sepoys and sedan chair carriers and had since grown in size. It is located at the mount within Penang Hill called Gun Hill sharing its site with a Malay mosque. Shown here is one of the ornated cornerpieces found on the roof. Picture taken at Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple, Gun Hill, Penang Hill.
About five feet wide, these planks built on bakau stilts takes one to the shrine (dedicated to “mazu”- deity of the fishermen and sailors) and further— as it also serves as a dock for smaller, much smaller feeder ships called ‘sampans’ and ‘tongkangs’ due to the shallowness of its waters which is why Penang, once a thriving port of the Southeast in the late 1700′s lost much of its glitter to Singapore after the latter was founded in 1819. On a curious note, the outpost fronting the shrine is a makeshift toilet- four walls, a roof and a pooping hole on the platform. Picture taken at Tan Jetty, Weld Quay, Penang.
‘Kedai Tuak Lorong Pasar’ or ‘Market Lane Toddy Shop’ as the signboard says is one of the only two licensed toddy shops still in existence. Toddy is fermented palm wine- a whitish alcoholic beverage made from the undeveloped flower of the coconut palm. The collecting and marketing of toddy is entirely an Indian affair and is enjoyed mostly by Indian labourers. A toddy sculpture was recently erected on its building facade to mark its uniqueness in our society. Picture taken at Lorong Pasar(Market Lane), Penang.
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