THE STORYKEEPERS

 
Today is finally the day for our first activity- the very first heritage trail as a group! Scheduled at 8.00am 25th April morning, we woke up to this:
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a dark, gloomy and rainy day
By the way, half of the people didn’t turn up because of rain (translated; they slept in). Anyway, all hope is not lost, the faithful bravely took a bus heading towards town (that much they know. Where to stop, that’s another question to be answered later).

By 9.30am we finally find ourselves right in front of the teochew temple. However, it was decided that we visit the cheong fatt tze first as the tour is at 11am. Having some extra time to kill, what better way but to go for dim sum. Walking from Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling hunting for food, we passed by a tattoo shop with 2 guardians painted on each of the columns at the entrance, and a peculiar building.
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Tattoo motive on column
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like a lighthouse came crashing into a shophouse eh?
And was greeted by this beautiful sight! Rushing through delicious dim sum and piping hot tea (all finished in 15 minutes as we were running late for the tour!), we continued walking to the blue mansion. 
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yum!
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someone’s really happy to be at the
entrance to the blue mansion.
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One of the many chien niens. Made from broken bowls, they are painstakingly broken and stuck to the wall, piece by piece! Originally, there are only 7 colours of bowls manufactured specifically for chien nien art. Only the exterior of these bowls are painted, the inside are not treated or polished (not meant to be used as tableware).
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Verandah of the mansion. One of the many features adopted from the traditional Malay house to prevent sunlight from going into the house.
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The roof ridge at the end of the building to disguise the rear façade. A characteristic typical of many Chinese buildings.
Cheong Fatt Tze’s story was a rags to riches tale. He came to Jakarta from China with nothing, and worked as a water carrier. Either charm or hard work certainly paid off, as he ended up marrying his boss’s daughter! Seeing the potential in him, his boss invested in him and to cut long story short, he became really rich. This mansion was built in 1880, and was designed to look old (it looked old even then) as he wants to discourage his descendants from selling it (smart eh?). 

This mansion has 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 timber louver windows, which includes gothic louvered windows and art nouveau stained glass (in the image of pineapple for ‘ong’). the walls are painted blue as in those days, there are only 3 popular colours: blue (imported from jagpur, sourced from indigo), yellow (earth colour), and when you mix blue and yellow, voila! you get green. The Chinese didn’t like homes that are painted white it seems, as white and black are used widely during the mourning. They imported this blue powder, mixed them with lime, and applied them to the walls. It comes off easily and therefore, has to be re-applied yearly. Floor beams supporting the first floor are a mixture of wood and steel, especially at the courtyards when wooden beams are not able to support the weight due to the openings.

With high ceilings, 5 courtyards, plenty of louvered windows for cross ventilations, it was a very pleasant place to be in, especially during a hot afternoon. 

We seriously recommend those who haven’t been there to go at least once! It’s really once of the better tours that we have been in.  Next round we will try to get an architectural tour instead of the normal tour.

Next stop, the Penang Museum. Once housing the Penang Free School, and later the Hutchings School, and occupied it until world war II when Allied bombing destroyed the 1896 wing, (the one closest to the St. George's Anglican Church), which was never rebuilt after that. This is a great place for one who is interested to learn about the culture and lifestyle of Penang, both old and new. However, we left this building with a tinge of regret and sadness when we compare the serene pictures of Penang in the olden times and now, where many good things have been wiped out all in careless development.
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The courtyard of Penang Museum.
 

-----continued on FIRST OUTING! (part II)

 


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