Showing posts with label Penang. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Penang. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Malaysia: Khoo Kongsi, Kek Lok Si Temple, Masjid Kapitan Keling & other Penang heritage sites

Khoo Kongsi, Penang, Malaysia
I've been a frequent visitor to Penang, Malaysia. A few years before its inscription in the World Heritage List, I had heard much about the city, made my first visit and saw its transformation through the years, both good and bad. Much of the major heritage buildings have been beautifully restored. Fantastic job indeed! But due to the influx of tourists and the eventual increase in economic activity, ordinary heritage, such as shophouses, have been marred by intrusive signage that now cover the fascinating details of these charming buildings.

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang, Malaysia
Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang, Malaysia
Recently, I made another visit. And yet Penang never fails to amaze. We started the day at the Kek Lok Si Temple (Temple of Supreme Bliss) in the town of Air Itam. Construction of the temple began in 1890 and still continues today as more structures are added to the complex. The main landmark of the temple is a seven-story pagoda completed in 1930 with a Chinese octagonal base, Thai middle tier design and Burmese crown.

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang, Malaysia
A 30 meter bronze statue of Kuan Yin was added in 2002, and an ornate shelter built over it in 2009. So yes, the temple continues to expand.

St. George's Church, Penang, Malaysia
From Kek Lok Si, we proceeded to historic George Town, which was inscribed in the World Heritage List together with Melaka in 2008. I remember walking down Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, smelling the incense from the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy Temple and flowers from the Hindu garland makers right beside it. A small shrine to Lord Ganesha was just a few meters away. As I walked down the street, I could hear calls to prayer echoing from the minarets of mosques. Further down the street is the Anglican St. George's Church and the Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption just meters away. Indeed, the racial harmony in Penang was evident.

Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang, Malaysia
At one end of the street is the Kapitan Keling Mosque, built by Indian Muslim traders in the 19th century. Just a stone's throw away was the Mahamariamman Temple

Mahamariamman Temple, Penang, Malaysia
Khoo Kongsi, Penang, Malaysia
Penang's prominent families also have their own temples and clan houses. The grandest and most elaborate of these clan associations is the highly-ornamented Khoo Khongsi built in 1906. Also in the area are the Cheah Kongsi and Yap Kongsi

Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh, Penang, Malaysia
Amid all this Chinese architecture is the Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh.

Being a British colonial city, one would expect monumental colonial architecture as well, which includes the City Hall, Town Hall, the War Memorial, Fort Cornwallis and the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clocktower among others.

Penang, Malaysia
There's so much heritage in Penang, a day around will never do justice. And don't ever forget that Penang is a foodie's paradise as well! Here are some Penang dishes you should not miss and traditional trades you might find interesting. Here's more information and notes on how to reach Penang by bus from Kuala Lumpur.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Malaysia: Hawker food in Penang!

Asam Laksa
Hawker food in Penang, Malaysia is superb! Whenever I visit Penang, I always make sure to try out the local flavors.

Char Kway Teow
Char Kway Teow, a stir-fried flat rice noodle dish, is a personal favorite. This one sold near our hotel had prawns and deshelled cockles.

Bak Kut Teh
Another favorite is Bak Kut Teh which literally translates as meat bone tea. The hot broth is a complex mix of pork ribs plus herbs and spices that includes star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dong quai, fennel seeds and garlic.

Penang Asam Laksa
Asam Laksa, specifically Penang Laksa, is quite popular and a dish that is distinctly from Penang. A sour tamarind and fish-based soup, it's main ingredients are shredded mackarel, finely sliced vegetables, chili, thick rice noodles and a sweet prawn paste. I had this delicious bowl at the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre.

Bakkwa Dry Meat
Bakkwa Dry Meat
I enjoyed the Dry Meat or Bakkwa and the Black Pepper Dry Meat they were grilling at the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre. The hawker stalls also sell sweet and spicy sausages and other dried meats.

To end our day, we had Cendol, a shaved ice dessert made with coconut milk, jelly noodles made with rice flour and colored with pandan coloring, red beans, and palm sugar syrup.

We also tried Apom, an Indian coconut pancake filled with coconut meat and bananas. Really good!

Thanks to Doc Gelo for the treat at the Gurney Drive Hawker Center!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Book now for Penang, Malaysia tour with Old Manila Walks!

Penang Malaysia tour
From Manila to Malaysia! Experience culture, architecture and traditional multi-ethnic dining in Georgetown, Malaysia from July 4-8, 2013 with Ivan Man Dy. We’re in love with this northern city on Penang Island. And we like it so much that we are sharing what we love about this place to you.

Old Manila Walks and EEI Global Holidays Corporation bring you our favorites in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Georgetown, especially its food! Best of all, our visit is timed on the weekend of the Georgetown Festival when the city's multi-ethnic communities: Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan and more come out in full force to celebrate Penang's multicultural mix through the arts and performances. It's one big cultural fiesta!

Join us as we immerse ourselves and eat our way to Malaysia's Pearl of the Orient!

July 04, 2013 (Thursday): Manila - Singapore - Penang
Meet and greet by local guide at Penang International Airport. After check-in, pick-up at hotel lobby for
Penang Night Tour with dinner. First things first, chow time! Our tour begins by visiting the famous Gurney Drive Hawker Food Center to try some of the famous local Penang delicacies.

July 05, 2013 (Friday)
To burn off last night’s calories, we take a guided walk and ride tour of Old Georgetown: Khoo Kongsi Temple, Peranakan Heritage Mansion, Chew Clan Jetty, Penang Art Gallery and State Museum as well as many other historical and architectural treasures (time permitting) that make Penang special. Lunch at one of Penang’s most historical sites before taking the afternoon break to recharge your battery in time for a walk-eat-trishaw experience at night to experience more of Penang’s culinary offerings. Free time afterwards to catch the festivities of the Georgetown Festival. Trishaws will be provided but participant pays for the meals to allow you to choose and try what from the selection

July 06, 2013 (Saturday)
The tour is more interesting as it falls during the July month fruit season. We’ll make stop at a durian stall in Balik Pulau, for a typical local fruit tasting stop then visit the Kek Lok Si Buddhist- the largest in SEAsia. For lunch, we’ll stop by a traditional Malay Kampung and try out the local laksa dish! Free time afterwards to catch the festivities of the Georgetown Festival and dinner (own expense)

July 07, 2013 (Sunday): Penang - Singapore
We say farewell to Georgetown by taking a funicular and going up cool Penang hill for a
lovely view of the city. Lunch then off to the airport.

July 08, 2013 (Monday): Singapore - Manila

Tour cost is US$435.00/head (based on twin-sharing) inclusive of transport within Geogetown, guided tour, site entrances, and meals (as stated). E-mail ASAP to book your slots!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Malaysia: My Penang top 10

It's Ivan Man Dy's turn to revisit Penang, Malaysia. Here's what he has to say about the UNESCO World Heritage Site:

During my first visit in 1999, Penang Island in Malaysia was love at first sight. Fast forward to 2012, we're even more in love the second time around! In particular, we're pertaining to the island's historic capital Georgetown. Established in 1786 as a trading port, over the next 200 years, this city attracted various nationalities that included, among others, various Chinese and Indian language groups, British colonials and even Armenian immigrants.

Today, the city is heir to this amazing cultural legacy and it really does justice to Malaysia's tourism slogan Truly Asia. Get yourself a map (there's lot's of them and mostly free) and explore the old quarters on foot. Here are our top 10 favorites:

1. Shop house architecture
And lots of it! Georgetown has the biggest collection of these unique dwellings, some of them more beautiful and ornate than the other. Our hotel was located in one and the experience was a throwback.

2. Chinese clan temples
Home to a huge ethnic Chinese community, Georgetown has a wide collection of family clan temples (built to help early immigrants settle in) the grandest of which is Khoo Kong Si on Canon Square. The craftmanship, carvings and detail will make you knees shake with their beauty. Don't miss the other ones like the clan houses of Cheah, Yap and Lim. Most are a stone throw away from each other.

3. Penang State Musuem
You have to visit this first to understand the city. Cheap too at RM1!

4. Historic mansions
If you have 2 days like we did, spread it out to the two best ones: the blue Cheong Fatt Tze on Leith Street and the green Pinang Peranakan Mansion on Church Street. Both have fabulous rooms, furniture and a fascinating glimpse of 19th century Chinese immigrant rags-to-riches stories. Look for the Filipino guide in the latter to regale you with insider stories!

5. Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera)
At 833 meters above sea level, it's cool, breezy and has a great view of of the city. Take the 45 minute bus at Komtar (transport hub) then up by a funicular (RM30). We also had the best Nasi Goreng in recent memory at the Owl Museum food court!

6. Mesjid Kapitan Keling
Penang's oldest mosque (1801). Charming Anglo-Mughal architecture and a better undestanding of the Islamic faith.

7. Clan jetties
These are seaside ethnic Chinese communities (similar to Badjaos). A living heritage of Penang that gives you an insight of a modern life in a traditional albeit unorthodox setting. It's perfect too to catch the afternoon breeze.

8. Little India
Colorful, atmospheric and loud with Bollywood music. For some peace and quiet, head off to the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple on Queen street. Lots of eateries in the area serving traditional specialties like Roti Canai, Naan or Nasi Kandar.

9. Street hawker fare
They're quick, tasty and yummy. Eat with locals at night along the corner of Love Lane and Chulia Street. Try Lok Lok the Penang version of tusok-tusok food that comes with choices of squidballs, fishballs, fried wantons, sweet corn, sausages, etc. Choose between the sweet or spicy sauces. Another favorite: Yong Tau Foo, that's tofu with crabsticks and balls (fish, squid, etc.) in a clear soup. Set up begins at 6:30 p.m. so grab a seat!

10. More street hawker fare along Gurney Drive
We had local insider info that is even better place but had no time to check it out due to distance. Well, that's another reason go back Georgetown!

Read more posts on Penang!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Malaysia: Traditional trades and food adventure in George Town, Penang

Intangible heritage, particularly traditional trades and local cuisine, is very much a part of the Penang cultural landscape.

I was quite pleased that some of these trades were identified in Penang maps. I got to see several of them while walking around old Penang such as the Chinese calligrapher and seal engraver who carves personal chops to order.

I also got to pass by the Nyonya beaded shoe maker who crafts women's shoes with beadwork faces. The designs are very colorful and intricate and I found out it takes several weeks just to complete a pair.

Near the Goddess of Mercy Temple is a joss stick maker who rolls incense and sandalwood sticks by hand. Also near the temple are several garland makers who create colorful flower garlands which Hindus adorn on statues of their deities.

Other trades worth seeing in Penang include the Indian goldsmith who hand tools gold jewelry in traditional Indian designs, the signboard engraver who carves and gilds Chinese calligraphic plaques, the songkok maker who sews Muslim headgear on an old fashioned sewing machine, and the tombstone engraver who chisels Chinese and Muslim gravestones by hand.

Penang is also a culinary delight. Another testament to its multicultural setting, you can get the best of Penang food from road-side hawker stalls. It's such a shame I missed trying out the Penang laksa, a spicy and sour tamarind-based fish soup with thick round rice noodles.

One of the more popular hawker areas is actually several kilometers outside old George Town in an area called Gurney Drive. The choices there are endless and it's a must visit for any serious foodie.

But inside George Town, you won't go wrong as well since hawkers set up shop, especially as day gives way to night. Anyway, while walking around George Town, I'd stop to taste something that looked interesting. Since I was on the go, I had cha shar pau and roti babi which I saw at Pitt Street Koay Teow Th'ng to satisfy my hunger.

The colorful Indian sweets got me really curious as well. But I would later realize they were like sweeter versions of our already sweet pastillas candies.

In the evening, I tried out the local satay as well as several noodle dishes such as wan tan mee and sui kau. I didn't want to eat too much. So I was content with walking around and observing all the hawkers cook their signature dishes.

Part 1: Bus trip from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Malaysia
Part 2: Exploring the Penang heritage trail on foot

Related entries
Following the heritage trail in Penang
Melaka, Malaysia is a historic city of the Straits of Malacca
More Straits Settlements history in Malacca

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Malaysia: George Town and Penang's British colonial heritage

The cities of the Straits Settlements represent various periods in Malaysia's history. Melaka covers the period from the 15th century Malay sultanate to the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century. George Town on the other hand is a testament to the British era from the end of the 18th century.

Near St. George's Church and the Church of the Assumption and close to the sea are an ensemble of structures that remind us that George Town was once a British city. In between the two churches is the Penang State Museum. Built in 1906, it was once the home of the Penang Free School and the Hutchings School. Across the street is the Supreme Court Building built in 1905.

My personal favorite is the magnificently-white City Hall Building, a neo-Palladian building completed in 1903 to serve as the seat of government of Penang. Right beside it is the Town Hall Building which was completed in 1880.

Right beside these buildings is the Penang War Memorial. This cenotaph to commemorate war dead is something I've seen in many British colonial cities.

Like many colonial cities, George Town also has fortifications. Fort Cornwallis was built by Sir Francis Light immediately after his landing on the island, with its present star-shaped structure completed in the early 19th century. Beside it is the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clocktower built in 1902.

Facing the port in Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay) are the Boustead and German merchant houses that were built between 1890 to 1910. The Customs Building with clocktower, built in 1907, once housed the F.M.S. Railways. Near Convent Light Street is the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, a grand colonial hotel established in 1885 by Armenian hoteliers. Check out the 1920s echo dome and Otis cage elevator. It's now a luxury all-suites heritage hotel.

Finally, a Christian Cemetery that dates back to 1790 still exists. It has both Protestant and Catholic sections and is the final resting place of many of Penang's governors, administrators and other pioneers.

Part 1: Bus trip from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Malaysia
Part 2: Exploring the Penang heritage trail on foot

Related entries
Following the heritage trail in Penang
Melaka, Malaysia is a historic city of the Straits of Malacca
More Straits Settlements history in Malacca

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Malaysia: Penang's ancestral temples, clan associations & mansions

Penang has a large ensemble of ancestral temples, clan associations or halls called kongsi, and grand mansions.

Kongsi are organizations among overseas Chinese communities for individuals with the same surname. Khoo, Cheah, Yeoh, Lim and Tan Kongsi were known as the Five Big Clans (or Goh Tai Seh) that formed the backbone of the Hokkien community of Penang. There are several more clan halls in Penang. But those worth visiting are the Khoo, Cheah and Yap Kongsi.

Khoo Kongsi is the most popular of Penang's Hokkien clan houses perpetuating Confucian practices and one of the most ornate clan halls outside mainland China. Established in 1835, the present temple was built from 1894 to 1906.

Cheah Kongsi is a Hokkien clan hall founded in 1820 and built in 1858. While Yap Kongsi was built in 1924 in the Straits Ecclectic style. It's Ciji Temple is a Taoist temple dedicated to Nan'an patron deity.

There are also ancstral temples such as the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple (or the Teochew Temple) which was built in 1870. The temple won the prestigious UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award in 2006 for outstanding restoration. Along King Street (Lebuh King) are temples which represent the diversity of the Chinese communities in Penang such as the Cantonese and the Hakka.

The Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple is a temple to Tua Pek Kong (a Malaysian Chinese god) and was used in the mid-19th century as a Hokkien secret society headquarters.

Penang also has a great number of mansions in various architectural styles. The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is an example of the fusion between Oriental and Western architecture. It won the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award in 2000. Also check out the residence of Ku Din Ku Meh and Syed Alatas Mansion (now the Islamic Museum).

The Pinang Perenakan Mansion is one of the most ornate private homes in Penang. Once the home of Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, it now houses a museum of antiques from the Perenakan (Baba-Nyonya) community.

Along the historic neighborhood of Lebuh Armenia, although not a mansion, is Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Penang base.

Part 1: Bus trip from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Malaysia
Part 2: Exploring the Penang heritage trail on foot

Related entries
Following the heritage trail in Penang
Melaka, Malaysia is a historic city of the Straits of Malacca
More Straits Settlements history in Malacca
Related Posts with Thumbnails