We edged gingerly along the rickety wooden platform above the waters of Penang Harbour, wind buffeting our bodies, taking great care not to fall off on the blue-green waters below. We were at the end of Chew Jetty, one of the more popular places in Georgetown, and we wanted nothing more than to sit down and enjoy the view with cans of beer in hand.
|LIM JETTY AT WELD QUAY|
On our way to Chew Jetty, we inadvertently found ourselves at one of the six existing jetties at Weld Quay, Lim Jetty. We thought then that it was the famed Chew Jetty, but the lack of tourists and stores selling souvenirs on the boardwalk made us think twice.
|THE END OF THE BOARDWALK AT LIM JETTY|
|CHEW JETTY AS SEEN FROM LIM JETTY|
We, nevertheless, carried on until we reached the end of the wooden pathway where the sea opened up. From there we saw a temple parallel to the jetty we were standing on and exclaimed, that’s Chew Jetty! We laughed, backtracking the way we came from.
|THE PLANKED WALKWAY AT CHEW JETTY|
Weld Quay, a group of settlements along Penang Harbour, is home to the Chinese migrants of Penang. Each jetty, a profusion of centuries old wooden stilt-houses, are named after the clans populating the area. There used to be eight jetties in Penang before two of them were dismantled; Lee Jetty, Lim Jetty (which we mistook for Chew), Tan Jetty, Yeoh Jetty and the mixed clans jetty, Chap Seo Keo.
|REMAINS OF ONE OF THE JETTIES|
Most of the Chinese living here migrated from the Fujian Province in China due to hard times. They first appeared during the construction of the Penang quay in 1882, which used to be a wood yard, most of them workers at the port. Soon, the stilt houses mushroomed along the harbor and a boardwalk was constructed, connecting the houses to the road.
|A DRAGONBOAT AT CHEW JETTY|
It is interesting to note that the families who reside along Weld Quay pay no taxes since, well, their houses aren’t built on land! Pretty nifty, eh?
Now, these jetties form parts of the Penang Heritage Trail, along with the famous shophouses in Georgetown. And with this, of course, comes massive foot traffic from the tourists visiting the place. Now, these once quiet jetties, especially Chew Jetty, are now beset with storefronts hawking souvenirs; from t-shirts printed with Penang’s famous street arts, to char keow teoy ref magnet and notebooks.
|THE FADED CHILDREN IN A BOAT BY ERNEST ZACHAREVIC|
The place was even made more popular in 2012 when one of Ernest Zacharevic, the famed Lithuanan street art artist, artworks graced one of the stilthouses with his Children in a Boat mural. Sadly, the painted piece was already quite faded during our visit. Quite understandable since it was painted on wood right by the sea.
|SAMPAN BOATS AT THE END OF THE JETTY|
Chew Jetty is also a favorite place for boat tours which can take you to the nearby islets and the famous Penang bridge, which one can actually see from the end of the boardwalk.
|CHINESE LOCALS ALONG CHEW JETTY|
If you want to, however, still experience a jetty as it once was before Penang was pinned on the tourist map, you may visit the other jetties where there are hardly any tourists. Most of the residents are quite open to visitors along their walkways, just practice a bit of restraint when photographing the stilt structures; realize, these are still people’s private homes.
|TAKING IN THE BREEZE|
So there we were, one clear afternoon in Penang, at the far end of Chew Jetty, looking for a place to sit and wait for the sunset. Luckily, we found a hostel right on our back with a mini-restaurant facing the waters. We took a seat and asked if they have beer. Yes, we do, a friendly middle-aged woman smilingly answered in English with a Malaysian twang. Perfect.
Address: Chew Jetty, Pengkalan Weld, Georgetown,
Entrance Fee: Free
Open Hours: Open 24 Hours Daily
GPS Coordinates Map: 5.412605, 100.339830