During my recent trip to Penang, I visited three museums.
The first one was the Khoo Kongsi, a large Chinese clan house in George Town. I had visited this kongsi already several times during earlier visits, so only a few pictures here. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions of George Town.
The present complex was rebuilt in 1906, after an earlier version was destroyed by lightning. Could it be that the gods were angry because it was too grand, resembling an imperial palace? So the present kongsi is more modest, although you would not say so, when you visit it 🙂 .
The walls of the temple are decorated with beautiful stone reliefs and carvings.
The temple contains de ancestral tablets. There is also a gallery with portraits of the Khoo family.
The second museum we visited was the Pinang Peranakan Mansion . Last year I had visited the Peranakan Museum in Singapore, click here for a report. But to be honest, I was not aware that there existed a Peranakan Museum in Penang! And the museum opened its doors already in 2004!
Now that I have visited it, I agree that it is one of the top attractions of George Town, not to be missed by any visitor!
The building is old, it was built in the 1890s as residence of Chung Keng Quee, the leader of the Hai San secret society . Irony of fate: the site was formerly used by its rival Ghee Hin secret society. That alone made my visit worthwhile already, because as a virtual “Taiping Boy”, I have read a lot about the fighting between the Hai San and the Ghee Hin during the Larut Wars !
Entrance fee is RM 20, not cheap, but worth the money. You can visit the mansion on your own, there is a lot to see. Or you can join a free guided tour.
For those not familiar with Malaysian history, the Peranakan , also known as Baba-Nyonya or Straits Chinese, are descendants of Chinese settlers who arrived from Southern China in the 15th-17th century. Their rich culture contains Chinese, Malay and European elements.
Here is a collection of photos I took during my visit.
Chung Keng Quee even built his own private temple next to his mansion.
The last museum I visited was the Sun Yat-sen museum. Sun Yat-sen was the
leader of China’s republican revolution, overthrowing the Qing dynasty and the first president of the Republic of China. To get support from the overseas Chinese, he moved with his family to Penang in 1910 and organised his activities from this house.
The house was constructed circa 1880 and is a beautiful example of a Peranakan merchant home.
I had only limited time to visit the museum, will spend more time there during my next visit, because Mr Alvin, who takes care of the museum, is a gifted storyteller.
Actually Sun Yat-sen has also a link with Taiping! He had a house there in what is now the Antong Coffee Mill. His concubine lived there for many years and he visited it occasionally. See my report (scroll down).