I don’t remember why but we ended up at Khoo Kongsi in Cannon Square. The RM 5 entrance fee includes a couple of postcards of the famous clanhouse. I suppose you can read up its Wikipedia entry or go to the official website for more information.
It was interesting and quite pretty lah; the detailed carvings and ancient paintings all over. But being Chinese, I suppose I’m unable to appreciate it *that* much, having been exposed to these type of… uhm, cultural-ish stuff since young. The only thing that fascinated me was the structure of the clanhouse; the main temple in the middle surrounded by houses and courtyards. Then my mind began to create mental images of the people who used to live there, their daily lives etc. I suppose they are still restoring the houses closest to the main temple. Maybe they should put up mini museums in the currently-deserted houses… I don’t know, to make the place more lively and worth visiting?
Don’t get me wrong; I suppose it’s fine as it is. But it could be more! Imagine one house showcasing ancient Chinese attire, one house showcasing this and that Chinese handicraft from the past, one house showcasing paintings from past and current painters, one house filled with books and what-not on Chinese history and culture… There are so many houses there! Heh. I’m sure they have their own problems, so moving on…
Next up: the famous Kek Lok Si temple. Because Pinky and I are so fit and healthy, we decided that we did not require the exercise where we’d have to walk uphill past souvenir shops etc to get to the temple. So HPC drove us to the very top instead :P
Before heading to Kek Lok Si, we stopped by Bukit Bendera / Penang Hill to see if we could take the tram up the hill. Turns out, the tram service is not available till next year! Just our luck eh ;)
It was hot, but the breeze at the top of the temple was really nice. Uhm… what else? It’s a Buddhist temple lah. You’ve seen one or two, you’ve seen them all :P
The famous Air Itam assam laksa is just at the foot of the hill, so we had post-lunch pre-dinner there. Again, I found out that I was not the bottomless pit as I thought I was. So when you mencapai kepuasan tahap maksima, there’s no way you can enjoy anything after that.
I’ve heard of Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion many times, but I’d never been there until this trip. KY and Rachel, both Penangites don’t even know what or where it is, heh. When we reached the place (which is along Leith Street), we were told that the afternoon tour (which costs RM 12 per person) would only begin at 3 p.m. Since that was only about 45 minutes away, we decided to hang around and wait.
An older lady appeared. She turned out to be the tour guide. She seemed nice, though she was very particular about us (around 15 people including a few kids) sticking together as a group, not touching anything, not wandering anywhere without permission because it’s a private property (it came off as if we should be really grateful to be able to view this place, never mind that we paid RM 12 each), else she’d make a face and tsk with displeasure. Sometimes even muttering not so nice things about the offenders.
She spent a good part of the one hour tour talking about Cheong Fatt Tze’s history, basically his rags to riches to rags story. A small group of tourists, most likely from China
flaunted flouted almost all of the tour guide’s rules and after being incessantly clucked by her, left the tour. Don’t think they understand English at all, or could even hear the tour guide from where they were standing.
Then a skinny, middle-age man with a backpack joined the tour. Rather creepy, because he was overly friendly and touchy-feely with the kids in the group. Close to the end of the tour, one of the parents told him off sternly, “Don’t touch other people’s kids.” I didn’t catch that because I was somewhere up front but Pinky and HPC heard it loud and clear.
We were not allowed to take photos inside the mansion. That privilege is reserved for paying guests — the mansion doubles as a boutique hotel, where you could spend a night with some antiques in your room (comes with air-conditioning and a modern bathroom) for just RM 320 a night. I don’t think I’d ever do that — staying overnight in really old buildings creep me out.
On the day we were there, the mansion was being used as a movie set. There was no shooting that day but we saw plenty of props laying around. Can’t wait to see Patrick in ‘The Funeral Parlour’ ;)
*Click here to view the entire Flickr set for ‘Penang, August 2008′, which includes photos not published here.