For as long as it has existed, George Town in Penang has attracted travellers and settlers from across the globe and is a true confluence of cultures. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site continues to enchant visitors with its traditional charm and its well-preserved historical townscape.
This book, written as a guide and virtual walking tour, will introduce you to the story of the Chinese in nineteenth-century Penang. There are many important histories in this world heritage site and those of the Malays, Indians, Acehs, Eurasians and British are every bit as interesting. However, since the architecture and traditions of the Chinese are so highly visible in George Town, understanding how they came to exist here, and how they impacted the history of the settlement so fundamentally, is a useful first step in appreciating Penang’s unique culture.
By journeying between two of George Town’s most iconic landmarks, the Kuan Yin Temple and the Blue Mansion, and exploring some of the buildings in the streets along the way, the narrative will trace the story of the Chinese on this small island, from the time of the ﬁrst settlers until Penang’s heyday in the early twentieth century.
It is a story of collaboration and hard work, which quickly gave way to disappointment, jealousy and enmity, vice, crime, gang conﬂicts, irrevocable tension, riots and even outright war, before resolving in a golden age of prosperity. It tells of achievements and triumphs, the making of fortunes beyond imagination, incredible displays of wealth, and the ﬂowering of a fascinating culture whose legacy lives on today. Above all, however, it is the story of a community that created a history as rich and varied as the streets of George Town itself, transforming this island forever.
The book can be enjoyed from the comfort of your chair as a brief introduction to the Chinese in Penang, or as an active walking tour. Each chapter corresponds to a number on the map in the inside back cover, whose easy- to-follow route takes you through ﬁve connected streets, and every stop chronicles another stage of the story by relating it to what you can see around you. The grey boxouts between some chapters give you extra information about the main buildings along the way. The tour begins in the granite forecourt at the front of the Kuan Yin Temple, looking down China Street.
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The landmarks featured in George Town – World Heritage Site:
- Kuan Yin Temple
- Temple Stalls
- Early Penang Shophouses
- Seven Terraces
- Clan Houses
- Upper Stewart Lane
- Love Lane
- Carpenters’ Guild
- Muntri Street
- Saint Xavier’s Institution
- Inside the Goldsmiths’ Guild
- Early Straits Eclectic Terrace
- Muntri Mews
- Hainanese Temple
- Leith Street & Inside the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion