Walking The Streets Of George Town (Part 1)

Posted by : foongpc | Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Published in


I spent the early morning of my second day in Penang walking the streets of George Town.

My intention was to go on a hunting spree for those famous Penang street art like the murals and steel rod sculptures. But along the way, I also saw a lot of interesting buildings and landmarks in this charming capital city of Penang.

Starting from Hotel Sentral where I stayed, I walked along Kinta Lane and turned left to Macalister Road. I passed by this grey coloured church along Macalister Road.

 photo P1220281_zps974b4ede.jpg

St. Paul's Church is a Chinese language Anglican church. It has a 5-storey annex on its right.

 photo P1220286_zps7b497dfc.jpg

Directly opposite this church is another church, known as Church Of Our Lady Sorrow.

 photo P1220284_zps6ef74db4.jpg

Situated just next to a national Chinese primary school, this church is a Roman Catholic church for Chinese speaking parishioners. Beside the church is a tall bell tower.

 photo P1220282_zps217f9b5f.jpg

Walking further I reached the junction of Macalister Road, Dato Kramat Road and Penang Road. Here, I saw the GAMA Supermarket and Departmental Store.

 photo P1220287_zpscf3ebd8a.jpg

I did not go in as it was definitely not opened yet (it's only about 8.30am) but who would want to go shopping inside a building in the early hours of the morning? Interestingly, GAMA is said to be the first supermarket cum departmental store in Penang, starting its business way back in 1980. I wonder how many renovations they did since then?

Across Macalister Road from GAMA is the famous Komtar building but I did not take any photos. This photo below is the one I took the evening before when I was passing by on my way to Prangin Mall to try out the Fooyo fried ice yogurt.

 photo P1220288_zps85863b7e.jpg

Did you know that this 65-storey building was once (very briefly) the tallest building in Asia?

But that was only during the height of its construction. By the time it was completed, the title was taken over by Korean Life Insurance Building in Seoul, Korea. But Komtar was still taller than any building in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, at that time. I guess Penangnites must be pretty proud back then. LOL!

After passing Komtar, I continued to walk along Magazine Road (what a funny name for a road, don't you think?) and reached First Avenue Mall.

 photo P1220436_zps369c9218.jpg

I had on the evening before, went up to the eighth floor of this mall to visit the open air balcony for a panoramic view of George Town, but to my disappointment, the doors to the balcony were locked. Any Penangnite reading this knows why were visitors not allowed to go to the open air balcony?

From First Avenue Mall, I turned left into McNair Street and continued straight to Carnarvon Street before seeing this interesting building on my right. It houses the office of George Town World Heritage Inc., a company that was set up to manage, monitor and promote George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 photo P1220290_zps25117564.jpg

Located at Acheen Street (or Lebuh Acheh), which is within the World Heritage Site core zone, this nice looking building was previously known as Penang Heritage Centre.

 photo P1220291_zps11c08fd8.jpg

One of the oldest mosques in Penang can be found at Acheen Street. This mosque is called the Acheen Street Mosque or more popularly known as Masjid Lebuh Acheh. Built by an Acehnese clan leader, the mosque is also known by the name of Mesjid Jamek and Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh.

Next to the mosque is Ben's Vintage Toy Museum.

 photo P1220298_zps06f4f6a2.jpg

I wanted to enter the museum but it only opens at 10am so it was way too early! Oh well, I guess I had to be contented just looking from the outside.

 photo P1220294_zps0fd9cec3.jpg

I could see some of the toys on display at the opened windows on the first floor.

 photo P1220295_zpsbca5753f.jpg

Maybe I will visit this museum on my next visit to Penang.

 photo P1220296_zpsc32dc9ac.jpg

As I turned into Cannon Square, I saw a row of charming looking shophouses.

 photo P1220304_zps39af5da8.jpg

In between, I saw the entrance gate to the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, one of the most amazing Chinese clan temples in Penang. Unfortunately, it was not opening hours yet, so again I had to be contented just looking from outside.

 photo P1220302_zps4b5cb79c.jpg

However, I managed to visit this clan temple the next day so I will blog about it in a separate post.

This is the road where I spotted the famous 'boy standing on a chair and reaching up' mural by Ernest Zacharevic. Can you see it?

 photo P1220305_zps101d629e.jpg

The road is called Cannon Street and I will always remember it because of that landmark minaret that belongs to the Acheen Street Mosque in the background. It was said that a cannon was fired during the Penang riots in 1867 and passed right through the minaret!

Read More > Discovering The Murals Of George Town 

There were more interesting looking shophouses along Cannon Street.

 photo P1220306_zps05047273.jpg

I was attracted to two dragon carvings atop the roof of a building.

 photo P1220308_zpsd45f88fb.jpg

A closer shot of the dragons.

 photo P1220309_zps02ff1cb4.jpg

I was quite sure that the building must be a temple of some sort and I was right! It was the Yap Kongsi Temple.

 photo P1220310_zps12ffd1d8.jpg

Located at the corner of Cannon Street and Armenian Street, this green coloured temple has some very exquisitely carved dragon pillars.

 photo P1220311_zpsa844b992.jpg

A close shot of the dragons from the front.

 photo P1220312_zpsf9528b34.jpg

I did not enter the temple though. My main priority that morning was to hunt for murals before the sun gets too hot, so temples would have to wait. Haha!

 photo P1220314_zps67131d15.jpg

Is Penang the only state in Malaysia that juices the nutmeg fruit? I had come to Penang to try their nutmeg juice, so when I saw this sign outside a shop advertising their home-cooked nutmeg juice, I was excited. But of course, it was not opened yet at that hour!

 photo P1220317_zps10975de8.jpg

No worries though as I got the chance to try Penang's nutmeg juice during my trip and even bought some home! : )

Walking along Armenian Street, I saw this very beautiful arch leading to a narrow passageway.

 photo P1220321_zps95dbd6eb.jpg

It was the entrance to the Cheah Kongsi Temple or the Cheah Si Sek Tek Tong.

 photo P1220323_zps491c841f.jpg

I love the intricate and ornamented carvings of this arch!

 photo P1220324_zps6ca6f1e1.jpg

But I soon discovered that the front part of the temple is actually facing Beach Street. There seemed to be some kind of renovation going on.

 photo P1220329_zps1c266edd.jpg

This is the beautiful and grand front gate of the Cheah Kongsi facing Beach Street, with two lion guardians at the sides.

 photo P1220330_zps710679ae.jpg

Soon I found myself at Victoria Street (Lebuh Victoria) and saw this Ming Xiang Tai pastry shop. Almost wanted to go in and get myself some cakes and egg tarts but I did not. Why I did not I could not remember. Maybe too busy searching for murals to bother about food? LOL!

 photo P1220337_zps9be3eada.jpg

Hunting for the murals soon led me to Queen Street and it was here that I stumbled upon the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, one of the oldest Hindu temples in Penang. 

 photo P1220345_zps784a4444.jpg

Look at those intricate carvings on the gopuram - the tower above the front entrance. How many deity statues can you see on the gopuram?

 photo P1220347_zpsc6733e69.jpg

The front entrance was also flanked by two guardians. What animals do you think they are?

 photo P1220348_zps0951fe11.jpg

This temple is located at what is known as Penang's Little India.

I did not have time to enter the temple as there were still so many places I needed to visit. And don't forget I was still on my mural-hunting spree so everything else would have to take a backseat that morning.

But isn't it amazing that on that very morning alone, I visited two churches, a mosque, two Chinese temples and a Hindu temple?

Do not miss Part 2 as I continue to explore the charming streets of George Town!