Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Penang..........Pearl of the Orient

The Chinese form an important ethnic group in Penang, Malaysia. Legendary in the annals of the history of the island is the awe-inspiring Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Georgetown.

 The handsome entrance gate on Leith Street.......

........where many of the original city buildings still stand.

Dubbed "La Maison Bleu", this flamboyant masterpiece of 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 windows, was created by a penniless Chinese man, Cheong Fatt Tze, who arrived at age 16 and became one of the most historic and colorful personalities of the era.

The property was the most elaborate of the homes Cheong built and was where he raised his sons. The floor plan is Chinese but the overall effect is eclectic with louvered windows, Chinese cut-and-paste porcelain work, English Stoke-on-Trent floor tiles, Scottish cast iron work and Art Nouveau stained glass.  

The dilapidated mansion was acquired in 1990 with the intention to return it to its original form and the result has been nationally and internationally acclaimed. Winner of 'Most Excellent Project' Award at the UNESCO Heritage Awards 2000, it is now a historical reminder of a past era.

We toured part of the mansion but unfortunately interior photography was not permitted. It was stunning. The property is now also a boutique hotel............it would be nice to return some day to stay and take photos inside this gorgeous house. Meanwhile, I'm renting the 1992 Best Foreign Movie 'Indochine' starring Catherine Deneuve which apparently had many scenes filmed at the mansion.

Driving away from the Maison Bleu I noticed many beautiful details - certainly different from the modern buildings surrounding this wonderful piece of history.

Passing a typical street corner scene where, like most Asian countries, cooking outdoors is commonplace.........we visited another historic home - very ornate and colorful - the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, previously a private home belonging to a wealthy Chinese Baba of a century ago.
Vintage rickshaw parked at the front entrance with, of all things, a vintage English telephone box..............

.......elegant beauty in this formal portrait...... 
......and a Chinese courtyard design house full of beautiful colors - exquisite painted lanterns........


......carved and painted wood, tile floors.

One of many family photos - a beautiful wedding group from the early 1900's.

Masses of inlaid mother-of-pearl decorated furniture.....................

.....just part of 1000 pieces of antique furniture and collectibles in the house.

 The central interior atrium - where we rested with cool drinks and fans.............

......Rob, ever the gentleman, assisting Babs keep her cool!

The colonial charms of Georgetown................where trade was the main reason for Penang's rise to prominence.  Its position on the valuable sea routes between India and China provided an essential port for the great sailing ships of the day to rest with their cargoes of tea and opium prior to the later growth of Singapore.


  1. More wonderful photos Mary.

    I love street scenes, India was great for those I recall.

    How strange to see the Telephone Box there?

    Sft x

  2. Both mansions are gorgeous! I especially loved the color of the first. The street cooking was also prevalent when we visited Thailand. Did you see it there too?

  3. So incredibly beautiful. How wonderful to live in such a gorgeous mansion...either one. Will have to rent that movie to see the interior of the first. The Orient loves color as much as my area does! :-)


I would enjoy reading your comment - thanks so much for stopping by.