Jul 26, 2009

First Anniversary Part 1

This summer marks Penang's first anniversary being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The application process itself was a toil, and hence the success comes with no easy feat in future as well. A host of events were held from early July ending with a blast this weekend. Among one that managed to get me up and kicking at 8 on a Saturday is a free Heritage Walk along Streets of Harmony - the grid covering Little India, Goddess of Mercy Temple, Masjid Kapitan Keling and Armenian Street.
A large group turned up for the day, mostly housewives, tourists and holidaymakers like me. We were split into groups according to the language which the tour would be conducted. Our guide was a volunteer with the Penang Heritage Trust, very professional in Penang history as well as all the religions and old-time life. Of course one wouldn't miss the golden opportunity to photograph the beauties of restored Penang on a most beautiful morning.

We started from Penang Town Hall, which incidentally is hosting an art exhibition on the weekend.

Cross the street to the High Court and Sections and Majistrate Courts of Penang. One wouldn't miss the beautifully restored Logan's Memorial - in memory of James Richardson Logan, British lawyer who'd helped many locals with British legal issues.

The original High Court building, now the balconies and walkways are glassed and air-coned to yield more space.

Across the street again to St. George's Church, earliest church in Penang and served as a social and religious symbol for the British as long as their reign in Penang.

Another view of the rustic, simplistic church - which coincidentally has a twin in Madras - same architect, same design, except for the slanted triangular roofs for the Penang sister.

Francis Light memorial just opposite the High Court.

A 3-minute walk would bring you to Goddess of Mercy Temple, founded by Hokkiens and Cantoneses in Penang in 1800. It was rumoured that the stone lions sprang into life at night and bathe along the coasts of North Beach in olden days.

Started initially as a Mar-Zor (Goddess of the Sea) temple, it slowly transformed to house the Goddess of Mercy as second and third generation of Penang Chinese move further from seafaring.

The comical and energetic joss-stick maker behind the temple. A living heritage and dying trade - modern joss-sticks were machine-made and lacked the 'feeling'.

More Chinese settlement along Cannon Street - stronghold territory of the Khoo Kongsi. These pre-war houses have a long history behind them if you have the time and interest. Our guide - the lady in red.

This would interest the Taiwanese - Dr. Sun Yet-san was based in Penang many times during his overseas campaign to overthrow the Ching dynasty. He called for revolution to transform feudalism into modern China. It was in Penang which he succeded in planning and securing funds for his final and most crucial uprising against Beijing.

Stay tuned for Part 2!