the great penang getaway: august ’08: day two: being tourists

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.

Penang Aug 08 - 26 Khoo Kongsi
Pinky and HPC in front of the main Khoo Kongsi structure

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?

Penang Aug 08 - 28 Khoo Kongsi
Pinky and I say, welcome to our humble abode 😛

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…

Penang Aug 08 - 31 Kek Lok Si temple
Random photo of Kek Lok Si temple

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 😛

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 😉

Penang Aug 08 - 33 Kek Lok Si temple
Look ma, I’m about to jump!

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 😛

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.

Penang Aug 08 - 36 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Pretending to be old skool

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.

Penang Aug 08 - 39 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
HPC, Pinky and Suanie at the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion

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.



  1. Hmm…I haven’t been to Penang in a very long time, but from your travel logs, it sounds like a lot of fun. I will be there in a month for the Penang Bridge Marathon and stay for a while to do the tourist thing. 🙂

    Pedophile in temples, eh. Oh well, at least we’re 27. 😉

  2. Giant Sotong says:

    Gah! Become world heritage site and they start charging admission. WTF lah. …Even if I do go back, I’d feel like a tourist too. It’s been a while since I explored my hometown.

  3. I think you mean “flouted” instead of “flaunted”.

    You have NO idea how long I was staring at the char kuay teow pic in youtr Flickr. For a moment, I even contemplated on making it my wallpaper 😛 Woe is me.

    And why no picture of Air Itam laksa in Flickr?? I bet it was coz you were too full already 😛

  4. I’ve always wanted to visit the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion but never got the chance.. or friends willing to go along 😛

  5. It’s normal for locals to not know the ‘tourist’ attractions.. I mean, there’s that Museum of Orang Asli in Kuala Lumpur that shaolintiger mentioned that I didn’t know about before he wrote about it..

  6. HB: cheong fatt tze mansion is not a temple. but well, it’s still creepy.

    GS: It was really fun! I don’t mind the charges lah. but i think they should have a lot more for it

    whimsicaljottings: heh thanks for pointing that out. edited! hahahha i don’t know why i didn’t take a photo of the assam laksa. i’ve had it a few times already though.

    blogjunkie: true, you need friends who think alike

    suertes: heh. i know it exists. i don’t exactly know where it is 😛

  7. I want to go penang 😀

    oh ya.. I’ve voted for you in db88 after reading timtiah’s blog 😀

  8. Local not knowing local attraction is NORMAL for most post-colonisation country like us. The school text books talk cock about capital city and disallow the school teaching you about the surrounding. Because it is easier for government to demolish anything in your neighbourhood as long as you don’t know about it. And that is what we call post-re-colonisation. 😉

    Giant sotong, think twice before you complain about the ticket. Old building cost a lot of money to maintain and it is a 3D book architecture books and RM12 photo taking charge are cheap.

  9. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. Isn’t that where they filmed Red Kebaya. When the guy rented a room there?

  10. GS: They have been charging the RM5 admission for Khoo Kongsi since they completed the restoration work many many years ago. There are other Kongsi around that place that do not charge admission fees. The Cheah Kongsi behind Khoo kongsi is a nice place, well restored and free.

    If you are a Khoo, you can enter Khoo Kongsi for free, obviously.

  11. Hi Suanie. Actually, the film is tentatively titled The Funeral Party and not The Funeral Parlour. It is a film directed by Singaporean Glen Goei (Forever Fever – 1997). It will probably hit the cinema screens early 2009. The film was shot almost entirely on location at the Cheong Fatt Tse mansion.

    Yes, dils part of The Red Kebaya was also shot there. And in that film the mansion was acting as itself – a boutique hotel where the lead character had a room.

    Suanie, we also shot some scenes for a German television series, Dream Hotel, at the Khoo Kongsi.

  12. ahlost: thank you thank you. think i lost 😉

    moo_t: true. i like the new-ish brown signboards though, they tell you if the place is a tourist place or not. in batu pahat, we have the brown sign board for the Perigi Batu Pahat, which is very NOT impressive when you see it for yourself. but oh well, at least we know

    dils: yes!

    neeshen: just have to show IC la i guess

    patrick: a thanks! must be a typo.. maybe i was thinking of parlour at that time. i know you were in penang for many weeks heahehahhaehahe

  13. penang is a beautiful place, i like your photos!

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