Monday, 11 July 2016

Penang Attraction: The Clan Jetties

The clan jetties along Pengkalan Weld hold much historical significance as they have been in existence as early as the 19th century. These jetties were home to poor Chinese immigrants who had come to work mostly as port labourers during a time when maritime trade in Penang was robust and booming. As they couldn't afford housing on land, their houses were built on stilts above the water and as members of each clan were closely knitted, these houses were clustered together at their individual jetties. There were originally eight of such jetties but two have been demolished. Fortunately though, these clan jetties were incorporated into the Core Zone of George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. This newly acquired status will probably keep the remaining jetties preserved for a long long time.  
The 6 remaining clan jetties are Lim, Chew, Tan, Lee, Yeoh and Mixed Clan Jetties.
The present residents of these jetties are mostly descendants of their respective clans, each with its own communal lineage from China. It is therefore not surprising that most residents of Chew Jetty for instance, would still bear the surname 'Chew' to this day.
During a recent trip to Penang, I visited three of the six jetties.

Chew Jetty
Among the remaining jetties, Chew Jetty has the largest community. It is also the oldest and the liveliest. 
The painting of a Merry Old Couple by Simon Tan is prominent and cannot be missed as it is right at the starting point of the boardwalk into the jetty. 
The residents who are no longer able to depend on port trading and fishing for a living have turned to tourism. Houses fronting the main wooden boardwalk to the pier have been turned into shops selling souvenirs and other merchandise. 
These shops are actually standing on stilts above the water.
There are also a number of food and beverage outlets along this boardwalk. One that I find quite charming is Juicylicious as the proprietor took pains to decorate his shop well.
Eye catching table, stools and toilet door at Juicylicious.
Very creative seats for patrons at Juicylicious
A man is seen relaxing at his waterfront home. A nice mural by Ernest Zacharevic used to decorate the wall of this house. Unfortunately the painting has completely faded.
An artful signboard.
Another interesting eatery along the jetty boardwalk is Big Bowl Ramen Restaurant.
The minimum order to get noodles served in a bowl this huge is for 2 pax.
There is a pier at the end of the wooden boardwalk. Many boats are seen docking here.
Each jetty has its own place of worship. The temple of Chew Jetty is located before the entrance.

Tan Jetty
Tan Jetty is located about 200 metres south of Chew Jetty. This jetty is not as commercialised as Chew Jetty as the residents do not turn their homes into shops.
The main attraction of Tan Jetty is this narrow wooden pier with a little hut which attracts photographers.

Lim Jetty
Lim Jetty is rather quiet as there are no commercial activities here.
The houses of the various jetties are being continually renovated and replaced as wooden houses standing on stilts above salt water are not spared the harsh environmental weathering over the years.


stevenpenang said...

Come visit my Asia Camera Museum in Penang.

Lily... said...

My next trip Steven.

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