I revisited Penang 16-20 October 2018. The last time I was there about 18 years ago. Meanwhile Penang (and Melacca) have gained a status as World Heritage City.
I had a privilege to stay in Sun Yat Sen Museum, 120 Lebuh Armenian, belong to Khoo Salma Nasution. She and her husband, Abdurrazaq Lubis, are old good friends of mine. The building used to be the Penang Branch of political party of Sun Yat Sen, the Father of Chinese Revolution in 1911 and later became the President of the country. It is a beautiful Chinese mansion with openings in the middle of the house, elaborated carvings and original indigo blue painting. I slept in one of the bedrooms at the second floor.
In about four days I explored mostly the core zone of George Town. It looks almost completely new to me, more small private museums, more cute cafes and bistros and surely more tourist attractions like souvenir shops and boutiques. On the other hand, it has also plenty of local small businesses. They are far from fancy appearances. They are sweated hard working people.
George Town offers many vacant shophouses as well. Signs of "to let" or "for sale" are everywhere. I was attracted to this struggle of typically new world heritage city. A decade after gaining its status is a critical time for local stakeholders to determine direction of city's development. Will it be a lively combination of old and new inhabitants, will it be a tourists packed city center like a living museum with few locals only, will it be still loved by the native inhabitants?
Just few minutes walking distance from the core zone, in a quiet and half emptied shopping center called Komtar, I saw something interesting, though. I wouldn't dare to imagine that in this place that I could learn about the Outstanding Universal Values (OUV) of Penang and Melacca as World Heritage Cities. Wow....I wonder, how many visitors stop and read these relatively serious text? But I put a thumb up for the effort. You never know.
|Sun Yat Sen Museum|