The komtar tower.
The Komtar tower is 231 meters tall and has 65 floors and it´s the tallest building in Penang and the 8th tallest building in Malaysia.
It was constructed between 1974 and 1986 and hosts a variety of shops, offices, cafes etc.
When you look at how impressive and shiny the highrise buildings in Kuala Lumpur are then the Komtar tower is honestly speaking not very pretty, but it´s a good navigation point as it can be seen from long distances and you do have a good choice of especially clothes stores there and down below the tower you have the "Komtar walk" which is full of nice cafes.
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Khoo Kongsi, a Chinese clan house in Georgetown
A kongsi is a Chinese clan house and Khoo is the family’s surname. Essentially, it is a block of houses surrounding a temple, a meeting square, and a Chinese opera house. The Khoo family fled from the Qing Dynasty in Eastern China and their wooden sailing ships landed in Georgetown with permission from the British to set up their Kongsi. The night the magnificent temple was finally completed, New Year’s Eve 1901, the roof caught fire and burned down. The temple museum said that the fire was taken as a sign of the God’s displeasure or jealousy of such opulence so the temple was more modestly rebuilt. My guess is they didn’t have enough dough to replace the original. However, it is a beautiful structure with colorful stone carvings, multicolored tiles, and frescos adorning the walls and hanging lamps suspended from an intricately design gold ceiling. The temple is a place of worshiping and venerating the Khoo ancestors and a school for bringing up the little Khoo in the traditions and histories of their forefathers. Walking through the complex felt like being in a Kung Fu flick and I expected any moment to see Bruce Lee flying through the air with razor cuts on his bare chest.
9am to 5pm
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Captain Francis Light from Britain set up a colony here first building a wooden palisade and then in 1810 a brick and mortar fort. The British wanted a free trade port in which to take control of the South East Asian markets away from the Dutch established port of Melaka. Only the outer walls remain and are quite unimpressive. A moat greatly added to the fortitude of Cornwallis but was filled in 1920 due to a lethal malaria outbreak the very same year. There are some displays (made considerably more interesting solely being in the AC) about the history and archeological findings of the fort as well as a family history of Francis and his son William Light who was the founder of Adelaide, Australia (Good on ya mate!). The oldest relic of the fort is the beautiful Seri Rambai cannon. It was constructed and presented by the Dutch in 1603 to the Sultan of Johor and over the years found its way into the hands of pirates before the British liberated it in the 19th century.
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- Historical Travel
George Town - Leith Street
Lebuh Leith is a diagonal two way street connecting Chulia Street and Light Street.
The Cheong Fatt Tze blue mansion dominates this street. There are several budget hotels along this street. There are also health massage clubs.
What is interesting that the row of buildings on this street is not parrallel to the street but to align to face the sea for better "fengshui" (Chinese geomancy).
The Art School cum Gallery is worth a look. The Hainanese Temple is also just around the corner.
George Town - King Street
Lebuh King is a one way street parallel and between China Street and Bishop Street.
It connects Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai).
There are many prewar buildings with five foot walkways. It has been a site of several movie filming to capture the atmosphere of that era.
Nice to walk along this street and step into an early period of George Town.
George Town - Dato' Kramat Road
Jalan Dato' Kramat starts from Penang and joins up to Jalan Air Itam. Hence it is a busy two way street and plied by the red bus Transit Link.
At the Penang Road end, there is a popular GAMA supermarket for price and availablity of local shopping. Then an Hindu temple and a new housing project called "Times Square" which was formerly the site of Penang Tin Smelting when Malaysia was the world largest exporter of tin ingot.
Dato' Kramat then passes by the "Padang" which is field for soccer and night market "pasar malam" at the junction with Perak Road. This junction gives the local Chinese name of Dato Kramat Road which "Si Kam Tiam" (literally 4 shops).
Then continues pass the City Stadium, Penang Jail with the Penang General Hospital a block behind. Then it passes by several secondary schools including the former Han Jiang School and the Methodist Boys School .
The former canteen of Methodist Boys School was the historic "Suffolk House" the former residence of Colonial Governors which is under heritage restoration. TV advertisements are asking for public donations towards this restoration. Check Penang Heritage Trust fund website if you are interested.
George Town - Chulia Street
Lebuh Chulia is one of the oldest street and important that start from Weld Quay near the ferry to Penang Road, the heart of George Town.
Most of the houses on both sides of the road are prewar terraced double storey buildings with shops on the ground floor and residence on the top floor.
Many are turned into budget accommodation for tourists and Chulia Street is now the "Khao San Road of Bangkok" for George Town. You will meet many foreign backpackers here at the cafes, convenient stores and food stalls and coffee shops along Chulia Street.
The bus from the Ferry Terminal goes by Chulia Street to Penang Road and Komtar. So there are bus stops on Chulia Street to get to Komtar and then to all parts of Penang Island.
It is a two way street and I have personally seen some irresponsible bus drivers intentionally nicking unwary tourists who were walking to close into the way of the traffic. Better to walk along the shaded five foot way of the building which acts as pedestrian pavement rather than on the road itself.
George Town - Air Itam Road
Jalan Air Itam is one of the most important road in Penang, connecting Air Itam to the rest of George Town.
It passes the river, Sungair Air Itam at the State Mosque. It will pass by the Hindu Templees built near rock outcrops then meet a roundabout to continue to Air Itam or go to Penang Hill Station. There is a World War II memorial near the roundabout.
When approaching Air Itam, you will have a panaromic view of the famous Kek Lok Si Temple.
The red bus line "Transit Link" plyies between Komtar and Air Itam town along Jalan Air Itam.
George Town - Penang Road
Penang Road or Jalan Penang used to the be main shopping street of George Town. During the 60's when there was even a trolley bus on Penang Road to this free tax island, shoppers from mainland Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia will flock to Penang Road.
But the free tax status was revoked and shopping at Penang Road faded.
Today, there is still the Chowrasta Market at the middle of Penang Road opposite the Police Station where you can buy Penang local products as well the daily groceries from the wet market.
At one of Penang Road is Komtar and the other end is Upper Penang Road Pedestrian Street.
At the busy intersection with Burmah Road is an elaborate pedestrian roundabout bridge. Use it for your own safety while crossing the road.
Along Penang Road, you will find the famous laksa and cendul and ice kacang stalls.
Walking along Penang Road is a must if you want to be truly have visited Penang. At least drive through it in your hired taxi or bus tour.
George Town - Market Street
Market Street is the main alley of Little India. It is one way cobbled street.
You can have a breakfast of Indian cappatti over currry or a heavy murtabak brunch.
There are many shops for sari, Indian music and video CDs and for your choice of Indian curry powders and spices.
Found a book store that sells introductory Tamil language here.
George Town - Masjid Kapitan Keling Street
"Lebuh Masjid Kapitan Keling" is a two way street - dominated by the Kapitan Keling Mosque.
This street was cobbled recently and was formerly called "Pitt Street". Used to be beautifullly tree lined but unfortunately the original trees were cut down for road expansion.
There are many money changers and jewelry shops owned by related families of Indian Muslims on this street.
This is also the famous street where there is a Muslim Mosque, Chinese Temple, Hindu Temple and Anglican Church to showcase the diversity and tolerance of religion in Penang since her founding. See the different pictures.
George Town - Beach Street
Lebuh Beach was the "Wall Street" of George Town.
George Town was once a thriving tax free port, this street parallel to Weld Quay was an important financial street. While ships called to port and get unloaded into warehouses on Weld Quay, money was counted along the banks on Beach Street.
Today, most banks have moved their main offices to bigger buildings in other parts of Penang but still maintain this historic bank branches along Beach Street. You will see the old colonial buildings that have ATMs.
The Immigration Office for passports is housed in a beautiful colonial building at the roundabout where Beach Street starts.
Along Beach Street, you will also find a junction to Downing Street. Sounds familiar.
George Town - Armenian Street
Lebuh Armenia got its name because of the number of Armenians living here in George Town.
This narrow one way street has many heritage buildings including the former residence of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the founder of Modern China when he was based in Penang as well as the famous Acehness Syed Alatas Mansion which is now turned into the Penang Islamic Museum.
Lebuh Armenia was turned into a street in Bangkok during the filming of Hollywood movie "Anna and the King" complete with elephants and Oscar Winner Jodie Foster and Hong Kong heart throb actor Chow Yuen Fatt.
George Town - Carnavon Street
Lebuh Carnavon used to have beautiful plants in the middle of this two way street.
It was well known for the many book stores and many still survived. Also there used to be many coffin shops as well for fish aquariums. The three in a row shops dedicated to selling Chinese Taoist deities and paraphenalia is still there.
It is a short walk along from Komtar to Little India using Lebuh Carnavon. You will pass by the junction of Kimberly Street which is still a popular night hawker street. There is a nearby police station as well as Penang earliest wet market.
Former Cathedral of the Assumption
I have jut found out that the firtst Church of the Assumption was situated in Church Street, not far away from the current site in Farquhar Street. It was indeed first built right after the founding of the settlement of Penang by Light. It was a wooden church, built in 1786, but, like I have said elsewhere, things in the tropics are difficult to preserve. So a bigger church was built with bricks (at the current site), and plastered over (like many old buildings here. Built in the French Notre-Dame style, (I distincttively remembered a plaque inside the church stated that) it was made a cathedral in 1850 until the late Pope John Paul II acceded to the request of the diocese to elevate my parish to cathedral status (Holy Spirit Cathedral) and committed this church as one of the common churches according to common law.
It is indeed true that the Church of the Assumption was made the cathedral church of the suffragan See of Penang in 1955 (when the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese was also established). FYI, the Archdiocese of Melaka-Singapore subsisted until in the 1970s when Rome re-established the ancient Diocese of Melaka (dissolved after the defeat of the Portugese by the Dutch I suppose, which is another story, and now suffragan to the KL Archdiocese) and Singapore became an Apostolic Administration directly governed by Rome/Vatican, it seems. (Singapore is now a Metropolitan Archdiocese in her own right).
The Church of the Assumption has some sort of semi-abstract stained glass windows behind the main altar and a bronze free standing sculpture depicting the baptism of Christ by St John the Baptist inside. The archway to the confessionaries reads something like "Come and be forgiven, Go and sin no more"
The church now forms part of a single City Parish with four churches (Assumption-in Farqugar Street, Our Lady of Sorrows-in Macalister Road near KOMTAR tower, St John Britto-in farther away Sungai Pinang Road and St Francis Xavier-in nearby end of Penang Road).
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