~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.
~Hainanese Bombe Alaska~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012
Considered the mother of all desserts, ‘Bombe Alaska’, an ice-cream cake covered with an igloo of meringue emerging from an oven found its way into the hearts of Penangites through Hainan Cookboys. Hainanese were seamen from China but locally, they became favored cooks of our colonial masters because of their skill in conjuring up many western recipes with a peculiar twist and taste of its own, the result of having to imagine the descriptions of their bosses who speaks in a language they could hardly understand. When the British ceded control of then Malaya, many of these Hainan Cook Boys as they were called became chefs of their own restaurants serving delectable delicacies they use to serve their masters with like Choon Pneah, Asam Heh, Roti Babi, Barsteaks and Macaroni Pie to name but a few but as all popular recipes would, their own style of Bombe Alaska became one of the first that faded into oblivion until a revival of interest came right after Georgetown was accorded a UNESCO Heritage status. Today, some restaurants are competing for customers serving their own concoction of Bombe Alaska as a recipe proud of its origin. The fact is, it is a real show stopper to see it being served flambed and every time it emerges from the kitchen, it never fail to garner curious onlookers. Little did anyone know that this recipe was first whipped up to commemorate the United States purchase of Alaska in 1867. Picture taken at Yeng Keng Hotel, Chulia Street, Penang.
Most motor mechanics like Ah Lung left school at a very young age to take up apprenticeship in blue collar trades. Like the rest, they leave their hometown and survive on mearger earnings living in shared apartments, only going home once or twice in a month or during festive seasons. Most of them never if ever left their trade but some lucky ones became bosses of their own repair shop.
~apprentice mechanics~ image copyright Kris lee 2012
Over the years, as Ah Lung became a more formidable repairman, he was also given the task to head younger apprentices that was allowed into the stable. Currently, there are no guidelines compelling skilled work force to attain competency certificates thus, this cycle of how skills were handed down naturally repeats itself. Picture taken at Jln Nanning, Penang.
`the white man’s grave~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012
Shaded under a canopy of cascading plumerias in Northam Road is an old graveyard that houses Penang’s early settlers, missionaries and administrators. Most of them succumbed to malaria at a very tender age including Captain Francis Light, the founder himself thus earning early Penang the epithet “the white man’s grave”. Thomas Leonowen, husband of the noted Anna Leonowen whose stint at the Siamese court tutoring the wives and children of the king which was later made into a hit musical called ‘The King and I’ himself is himself an early settler.
~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012
~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012
~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012
This graveyard once stood at the edged of the town next to paddy fields and vegetable plots but as the city grew, it is today smacked right in the heart of the inner city attracting history buffs more than their descendants. Pictures taken at the Protestant Cemetery, Jln Sultan Ahmad Shah, 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.
Traditional livelihood has over the years given way to rapid development and the fishermen at Northbeach, a small promontory behind Ocean Green Seafood Restaurant has also not been spared. For the very few who thrived however, their sampans still brought on fresh catches as fishmongers and restaurateurs await. Picture taken at Northbeach, Jln Sultan Ahmad Shah, Penang.
Lunch is an important meal to local folks. To the lesser fortunate, having a simple lunchbox meal is indeed a blessing courtesy of some religious societies which made it their daily affair to donate food. Sitting at the temple courtyard annexed to a shaded shrine, temple devotees were also seen going about performing their customary rites in the hope that their prayers would eventually be answered. Ballets of roof tiles supposedly to be used for the ongoing renovation were seen parked at the forefront. Picture taken at the Goddess of Mercy Temple, Jln Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang.
~cannonball monkeys~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012
Cannonball trees are not native to Penang yet some fully grown ones of the genus (Couroupita guianensis) could be found aligning the entrance at the botanical garden. Basically it is a tree with long tentacle-like stalks sprouting and covering its trunk out of which brownish round fruits the shape of cannonballs hung. These fruits were said to possess medicinal qualities and had been used to treat colds and stomach aches but many wonders about its edibility.
~leg stretching exercise~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012
In this picture some monkeys (long tailed macaques) appear to be camouflaging (try locating its tail) and feeding on what appears to be the flowers of which blooms its fruits. Picture taken at the Botanical Gardens, Waterfall Rd, Penang.
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.