Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion and the Streets & Food of Penang| Penang, Malaysia

It is never difficult to wake up happy after going to bed the night before with a stuffed and happy belly, but sadly, the Monkey was still feeling unwell, so I had to spend the morning after breakfast alone while she gets more rest in our room.

[Penang | Malaysia March 2019]
22 March 2019

22 March 2020: Toh Soon Coffee I am not too sure about our luck with food since the night before but it was the school break in Penang/ Malaysia when we visited and we found Toh Soon Coffee closed for the entire month. There goes our local coffee, toasts and eggs breakfast and seems like it has to wait until the next time I visit Penang again 😕

22 March 2020: Hon Kei Food Corner
22 March 2020: Hon Kei Food CornerIt was rather disappointing considering it was the second time we found a place closed already. So it was a good thing Hon Kei Food Corner was open when we were trying to find an alternative in the area!

I didn’t have a photo of the place, but the eatery occupied the groundfloor premises of two adjoining shophouses along Kampung Malabar. Since we were early that morning, it was still peaceful and quiet when we had our pork mee sua/porridge breakfast fix.

Breakfast was so yummy – the broth so flavourful and the homemade barley also hit a home run for the sick Monkey – that it made up for shutting on us the night before.

22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze MansionTook a short Grab ride to Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion after breakfast and dropping off the sick Monkey back at the hotel to continue resting and walked around the area near the Mansion a little bit since I was early and they have yet to open the gates for the morning tour.

22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze MansionThat morning was like the first time I managed to take a proper look at the old shophouses since we arrived at Penang and I got so drawn immediately. It felt like I found a secret passageway to a secret hideaway at my weekday playground!

And how uninformed I was, I did not realise that the shophouses that I was mesmerised with used to be the Domestic Annexe of the Mansion until I read on the Mansion’s history in their book!

When it was finally time for the tour, we were quickly ushered into the Mansion to gather at the receiving/ reception area after we purchase or show the ticket from prior online booking at the Guard House…

22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze MansionCheong Fatt Tze, an influential Chinese businessman and politician, expanded his business to Penang in the late 19th century. He decided to build a home that preserves his heritage and share his love of culture and tradition through architecture, aside from the essence of majesty and elegance.

The Mansion served both as a home and an office and acted as the base for Cheong Fatt Tze’s commercial enterprises. It also housed the Chinese Vice-Consulate and was home to his favoured 7th wife.

22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze MansionThe Mansion suffered during the Second World War, it was a shame the Mansion fell into disrepair due to the lack of maintenance after Cheong Fatt Tze passed away in 1916.

Thankfully it was sold to a small group of Penang conservationists led by a husband and wife architect team after the death of Cheong Fatt Tze’s last son. The conservationists took an approach with minimal modern interventions, and it was a tedious six-years process to restore the Mansion to its former glory.

22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
22 March 2020: Cheong Fatt Tze MansionToday, The Blue Mansion is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a boutique hotel that opens its doors for daily tours to see and experience the iconic architecture.

It was such a pity we had to stick as a group during the tour, and the time was somewhat limited to minimise the disturbance to the hotel’s guests. But I must say it was a very informative and enlightening tour to hear directly from Ms Loh-Lim.

Every corner of the Mansion was so delicate and beautiful that I will probably take a few days to around the compound and enjoy the details bit by bit. Next time, I am going to stay with them and have a better look at the Mansion when I revisit Penang!

22 March 2020: Streets of Penang
22 March 2020: Streets of Penang
22 March 2020: Streets of Penang
22 March 2020: Streets of PenangOther than being famous for its soft sandy beaches and the food capital of Malaysia, Penang, or more specifically Georgetown, is also placed on the map as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2008. So, I decided to take a detour after the tour at The Blue Mansion.

And as expected, the sight of the heritage shophouses, both residential or old trades, and art or murals en route back to the hotel to check on the sick Monkey didn’t disappoint.

22 March 2020: Coffee LaneThe only thing I didn’t anticipate was the ruthless scorching afternoon sun, so I took refuge from the hot sun and dropped in at Coffee Lane to pick up a coffee then headed back to Hon Kei Food Corner to grab more comfort food for lunch.

22 March 2020: Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
22 March 2020: Penang Road Famous Teochew ChendulWhen the sick Monkey finally felt better later in the afternoon, we went on a walkabout to see more of Georgetown with our first stop at Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul that was just a stone throw from our hotel.

Food is the best way to kick off the afternoon, don’t you agree? But while the Asam Laksa was delish, we thought the Teochew Chendul was quite disappointing, especially with all the hype.

22 March 2020: Syarikat Nanyang Book Co. Sdn. Bhd.
22 March 2020: Syarikat Nanyang Book Co. Sdn. Bhd.Although we had a few things or a few places that we wanted to see in Georgetown, there was no specific plans or no particular route that afternoon. And because of that, we found an old stationery store, Nanyang Book Co., on Lebuh Carnarvon with art supplies. It seems like the sight (or perhaps the smell) of the pens and art materials worked better for the sick Monkey than the prescribed medication. Haha!

22 March 2020: Beach StreetAfter the stationery store, we also found an old store along Beach Street with rattan furniture and household items from armchairs to storage baskets to lamp shades. There are also tingkats or rattan canes that the Asian households will have to discipline the kids. Oopsie!

We wished we can bring back everything, but such a shame they are just too bulky to start considering which to pick to take home.

22 March 2020: Ome by Spacebar Coffee
22 March 2020: Ome by Spacebar Coffee
Soon enough, the craving for an afternoon coffee kicked in, and we thought we would do a stopover at Ome by Spacebar Coffee but only to find that they are closed for the day when we got there. Missed it by a teeny inch, so we took photos outside the cafe to remind ourselves to take note of our time next time when we are in Penang!

And so, we kept walking on without any coffee and thinking it’s about time we find some of the famous wall murals of Georgetown…

22 March 2020: Lebuh Ah Quee
22 March 2020: Lebuh Ah Quee
We were worried that we may miss the wall murals since there are no signs and when I was about to pull out my phone to check for some directions, we heard some chattering in front of an empty wall. Guess what… We found our pot of gold! Oops I mean the popular Old Motorcycle mural on Lebuh Ah Quee and others along the same street.

22 March 2020: Lebuh Ah Quee
22 March 2020: Lebuh Ah Quee
And not forgetting a few others along the back alley including The real Bruce Lee would not do this on the other side from the Old Motorcycle mural!

IMG_7895_aAccording to Penang Global Tourism, the street art scene has never been the same ever since Georgetown Festival commissioned Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic to create six wall murals in 2012. It has since become a new must-do activity for the tourists visiting Penang to hunt down the murals.

Today, there are many other wall murals as well as Voices of People, the new and recent addition of a unique series of 52 steel-rod caricatures by the local artist Tang Mun Kian. These sculptures tell the Penang history with wit and humour like “Yeoh” Only which we passed on Gat Lebuh Chulia on our afternoon walkabout.

22 March 2020: The Postcard Shop
22 March 2020: The Postcard Shop
For some reason, both the Monkey and I love postcards, so it was for sure we had to check out The Postcard Shop while we were in Penang. The shop was indeed full of different types of postcards, mainly of Penang, of different styles like printed photographs, graphics or paintings from artist impressions. While it was a one-stop spot for you to buy and post a postcard to your friends or family from Penang, we thought the selection could be found anywhere else in the shops around Georgetown, and the shop owner/keeper wasn’t very friendly, unfortunately.

22 March 2020: The Postcard Shop
22 March 2020: The Postcard Shop
22 March 2020: The Postcard Shop
22 March 2020: The Postcard ShopWell, guess what we found along the small lane next to The Postcard Shop and played on the swing with the brother and sister duo and also tried to grab some fresh soya milk drink from the macik. But, it seems like the macik prefers to serve kids. We tried ordering so many times and failed. Haha!

Anyways, enough fun with the murals. The sun is setting, and we thought we will start heading back towards the hotel…

22 March 2020: Lebuh Armenian
22 March 2020: Lebuh ArmenianWe took a turn onto Lebuh Armenian and were greeted by a familiar chattering scene in front of a wall again, and we knew we found another mural!

The Kids on Bicycle is one of the more popular murals in the area, and we had to stand in line a little to get a photo with it!

Did I tell you already? It was nice to have fellow tourists or guides from a tour group around these murals who can help us take some photos but stressful at the same time having so many pairs of eyes watching you while you are at it. We are considerably fast as compared to a lot of other people, I supposed… 😅

22 March 2020: Lorong Soo Hong
22 March 2020: Lorong Soo Hong
22 March 2020: Lebuh Armenian22 March 2020: Lebuh Armenian
Continuing on Lebuh Armenian, we found a mix of furniture stores, handicraft or souvenir shops, cafes and bakeries and also more murals – the Cultural Girls, sitting by the window ledge of a shop at the corner where the street meets Lorong Soo Hong. But, it was a shame that it was getting late and the shops are slowly winding down for the day already.

22 March 2020: Goddess of Mercy TempleWe made one last stop at the Goddess of Mercy Temple to offer our prayers, but of course, we were late, and the temple was closed by the time we got there. The temple, the oldest one in Penang, was built along the same street (Street of Harmony) with Kapitan Keling Mosque, St. George’s Church and Sri Maha Mariamman Temple all within walking distance.

Other tourists like us arrived not realising that the temple would be closed, but some locals also came by to offer a quick prayer perhaps amid their daily routine.

22 March 2020: Constant Gardener CoffeeIt may seem like we did nothing much, but that was one hell of a walk the whole afternoon, and we were done for the afternoon. Or, you can say we don’t have a choice because it was gradually getting dark even though there are so much more to see in Georgetown itself from cultural and heritage to food to lifestyle and of course the street art.

Remembering the crave earlier on, we continued walking towards Constant Gardener Coffee, a quiet cafe opposite the esplanade park, to rest our feet and a coffee fix before we call it a day. Or perhaps, not just yet…

22 March 2020: Restoran Kimberly
22 March 2020: Restoran Kimberly
22 March 2020: Restoran Kimberly
I just can’t seem to forget the kway chap stall we walked by in the afternoon and made the Monkey go with me even though she was starting to feel unwell again and wanted to go back to the hotel soon to rest. And I have to say, I don’t regret being selfish (besides she needs to eat something before she can take another dose of medications🙊) and having to sit next to a drain together with the mosquitoes and roaches.

Restoran Kimberley 汕头街权记鸭粥粿汁 on Lebuh Kimberley, of course, is deemed famous or legendary according to the reviews I have read after our dinner that evening.

Think tender braised duck or pig innards, chunky but chewy kway chap, flavourful soup and a power-packed chilli sauce – It was seriously one of the best meals I have had in Penang this trip!

p.s. No Monkey was hurt during the process of having dinner. We headed right back to the hotel after eating so that the Monkey can have her medications and rest for the day already.

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