Thursday, April 29, 2010

Penangites - the People of Penang

Hi and thanks for coming. The photographer that takes the photos that I wish I could take is Steve McCurry. Click on the link to see just how good he is if you are not familiar with his work. I like taking different types but more than anything I like taking photos of people.

While walking the streets of Georgetown I took these photos of Penangites, the people of Penang. For some of them I asked the person permission. Nobody refused and some like this lovely gentleman took time to make the most of the occasion.

He was reclining, drinking tea and chatting to a friend. He
looked so relaxed I wanted to capture the moment but when
I asked if I could take his photo he quickly got up and sat for me. But still a relaxed pose. I love his kain, (sarong).

Some of the other shots are more candid.

I hope you enjoy them. In the meantime I'll continue to aspire to Steve McCurry's level!

Compared to Singapore it is striking how
many people you see not rushing from A to B.
This "tuan" (gentleman in Bahasa Malaysia)
chatted to me for a while. His father served in
the British Army. He was clearly very proud
of his dad

It's not just tourists who take rickshaws

This man did not rush to get
up. He was quite happy to
remain in the reclining position!

Very hot work cleaning this shrine!
I wish I knew what the sign says.
Can anyone tell me? The shrine is opposite
a temple

Two lads I met who work at the market. They
were very happy to have their photo taken

A bit of a celebrity in town. He is the king of
Popiah, a Fujian/Chaozhou-style fresh spring
roll. It is amazing to watch his skill after
years of practice. Perhaps the mix and his
arm really have become one!

A lady painting the pattern for a beautiful batik
fabric. There are lots of artisans in Penang

Young and bright!

Lithe young muscular bodies pushing the
ski jet into the sea. Hands up all you blokes
who are jealous!

And in she goes!

But you can't be active all the time and
curling up in a rickshaw with a pink cushion is
a good way to get a nap

Standing/sitting in the shade having a chat

Young men just coming out of the Penang
State Museum were quick to jump at a
photo opportunity

Cutting water chestnuts

"All I ever get in the post is publicity!"

So cute.........and so proud



I leave you with a photo of Mr. Gopal. He took
us on a couple of trips to places of interest
around Penang. His gentle kindness greatly
contributed to the enjoyment we experienced
during our stay there.

Next time, a Penang temple feast!

Do come and join me again

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Georgetown, Penang

Hello. As always, thanks for coming.

When we went to Penang we stayed two nights in the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, otherwise known as the "Blue Mansion". This blog is dedicated to this beautiful, historical building. There are also a few shots of the Eastern and Oriental Hotel, the "Raffles Hotel" of Penang, where we stayed the last two nights.

We very much enjoyed our stay at the Blue Mansion. It does bed and breakfast. It is comfortable but, of course, has no gym, pool or spa! It is a delight to wander round to your hearts content taking in the beauty of this lovely historic house. And of course trying to capture it with the camera.

You can see that the Blue Mansion is aptly named. I will tell you more about it and the man himself as you scroll through the photos below.

Cheong Fatt Tze was a Hakka who epitomises the rags-to-riches fairy story. At 16 he was penniless when he came to South East Asia - "The Land Of Opportunity". He was however given a leg-up by his merchant father-in-law. Cheong fatt Tze invested wisely, his wealth and influence grew. He was promoted to "Mandarin of the Highest Order" and Special Trade Commissioner for South East Asia.

Old style rickshaws. They don't look very

Cheong Fatt Tze had business interests that
included founding a shipping line, a winery
and modern banks, In 1911 he became a
senator in Parliament and Adviser to the
Chinese Government on administrative
and trade matters

Beautiful decorative work

He wasn't shy of showing his wealth. He had
mansions dotted around Asia

Not to mention 8 officially acknowledgd wives,
as well as concubines and handmaidens for his
every need. He officially acknowledged fathering
8 sons and six daughters, though it is thought
there may have been more. I don't know where
he found the time!

This photo shows a motif on the wall of the

He died of pneumonia in 1916 in Jakarta. The
Dutch and British authorities ordered the
lowering of the flag to half-mast.

The architecture of the Mansion is a model
of the traditional Chinese courtyard house.
The courtyard is in the middle of the house
and open to the elements. This stunning
decorative ironwork frames the entrance
from the sky to the courtyard

A choice corner

Wide, elegant rooms

The Mansion, built at the
end of 19th century, has 38
rooms, 5 granite-paved
courtyards, 7 staircases &
220 vernacular timber
louvre windows. Other
features of the house include
Gothic louvered windows,
Chinese cut and paste
porcelain work, Stoke-on-Trent
floor tiles, Glasgow cast iron
pillars and Art Nouveau
stained glass

Another corner shot with the sunlight adding
to the beauty of this jewel

Gorgeous spiral staircase.....

...from top to bottom

Places to relax outside the rooms on the
ground floor

I really like this painting which is hanging on
the same wall, near the spiral staircase

Simplicity itself

Corridor of the floor we
stayed on

Another staircase

This is the screen that separates the private
areas of the house from the public area, where
guests would be received.

The courtyard itself. The house is designed
according to traditional feng shui principles.
Feng shui masters who have visited the
house have described it as "feng shui
perfection" If you stay here this is your
breakfast room.

A section of the outside of the east wing

The entrance at night. In 2000 the Blue Mansion
was awarded the UNESCO "Most Excellent
Project" award. This was 10 years after it was
returned from a dilapitated state to an
authentic original form of the eclectic and
typical 19th century Straits Settlements

And now for something completely different.
After our special treat of culture and history
for two days we decided to relax with a spot
of luxury at the Eastern and Oriental, about a
10 minutes walk from the Blue Mansion. It
was established in 1885 by the Armenian
Sarkies Brothers. 2 years later, enthused by
the success of their venture, they founded
the Raffles Hotel in Singapore

Part of the view from our room

It was quite nice to be here.....

I hope you enjoyed the photos and learning
a bit about the Blue Mansion. Next time I'll
post photos of the people I came across
while we were in Georgetown. Hope to see
you then


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia - streets and shophouses

Hello and welcome to the island of Penang! Daniela and I went there last week on a short 4 night break. We had a really memorable time there. We stayed in George Town and explored the hot city streets on foot. This posting shows photos of the lovely shophouses and streets.

The next few issues of my blog will feature the people, the temples, and the beautiful Blue Mansion where we stayed for two nights. But come with me now for a walk around George Town, an old, often run down, but charming and fascinating Malaysian city.

After just an hour's flight from Singapore
we felt we had stepped back in time by about
50 years. The pace of life is seductively

George Town, like Malacca, is a UNESCO
World Heritage
site which recognises it's
unparalleled architectural and cultural
townscape in East and Southeast Asia

There was an Armenian
community in Penang before
World War 2. Armenian Street
was perhaps our favourite.
It felt like this was one of the
oldest parts of the city

There's a lot of Green Beer in this shop in
Armenian Street. I'm not sure what else it

These Straits Collection Heritage Chinese
Shophouses can be found in Stewart Lane
and there is a row of 4 houses in Armenian

I wonder how much the Chicks are?

Classic Georgetown

While many buildings are showing the signs
of poor maintenance others have clearly had
some proper attention paid to them.
Fantastic colours!

A Wan Tun Mee street stall that wil come alive
in the evening. Mee is noodles, Wan Tun Mee
(or Wanton) noodles are thin Chinese egg
noodles. The noodles are often served with
red barbequed pork (Char siu). Penang is
famous for the quality of its local food

The city including suburbs has
a population of 400,000

The city was founded in 1786 by Captain
Francis Light, a trader for the
British East India Company,
as a base for the company in the Malay States.
By all accounts the way the British took
control of Penang was pretty dodgy with
a list of broken promises

Some of the most run down buildings

Its hard to take a photo without
a moped!

A small front space with

Great corner building on Carnarvon Street

Just charming

Charming and restored!

A lick of paint needed here!

Love Lane backpackers Inn.
There is accommodation to suit
budgets and tastes

Most of George Town's population is of
Chinese origin. The ethnic mix is quite
similar to Singapore. George Town has
its Little India and Chinatown. The Malaysian
Government has always favoured Malays
by giving them special advantages. This has led
to accusations of treating the other Malaysians
as second class citizens in their own country.
The Government is now considering changes
to promote economic growth as the
entrepreneurial Chinese have been

Lovely shop with a beautiful staircase

Daniela dressed in the perfect colours for this

A detail that attracted my attention

Street scene. Traffic can be quite bad on the
roads leading in and out of the centre, but
in the heart of George Town it is often

I couldn't resist this moped with its durian
carrier. Hated by most non-asians this very
smelly fruit is a delicacy in Southeast Asia.
In most hotels you are banned from taking
it into the lifts, the smell is so awful!

"I've got you in my sights!"

The rickshaw adds much local colour to the
streets of George Town

This final shot is taken in Little India, a
vibrant part of town.

Thanks for visiting George Town with me.
Do come back if you can. Next week a
stunningly beautiful Chinese Heritage House
you can stay in when you go.