Exploring the streets of George Town

Yap Kongsi Temple

As you approach Lebuh Armenian, you will see the Mesjid Acheh minaret straight ahead in the distance, the Yap Kongsi temple on the right, and on the left, a corner coffeeshop, with the entrance to the Tua Pek Kong Temple next to it. The Tua Pek Kong Temple, dedicated to the Chinese God of Prosperity, was formerly the base of the Straits Chinese secret society called the Tua Pek Kong Society.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Penang Base

Follow the graceful curve of Lebuh Armenian. The low and rickety shophouses on your right survive from the early 19th century, when this area was a village composed mainly of Malays and Sumatrans. In the mid-19th centry, the Straits Chinese moved into the area and built residential shophouses which were of a fine standard for their time. You will come to a blue shophouse on your right, No. 120 Lebuh Armenian, which dates from the 1870s. The first owner was a Straits Chinese named Cheah Joo Seang, a trustee of the Cheah Kongsi. The shophouse has kept its original historic interior, with carved timber screens and air wells.

From 1909-1911, it was the base of Dr Sun Yat Sen, leadr of the historic Chinese Revolution, and the headquarters of the Southeast Asian branch of the Tung Meng Hooi. The local Chinese of that time supported Dr Sun Yat Sen in the great movement against the Manchu government and the foreign imperialsits in Chinia. In 1911, China became the first republic in Asia and Dr Sun Yat Sen became its first provisional president.

Syed Alatas Mansion

Proceed towards the junction of Lebuh Armenian and Lebuh Acheh. On your left is a landscaped open space. On your right is a lovely double-storey bungalow set in a walled compound. this is the Syed Alatas Mansion, recently restored in a government-funded pilot demonstration project. Before restoration, the bungalow was occupied by Indian Chettiar scrap dealers and was used as a collection yard.

Syed Mohd Alatas was a wealthy Achehnese merchant of Arab descent who traded between Penang and Acheh. After the Dutch laid siege on Acheh in the early 1870s, he was instrumental in smugglin arms to the Achehnese resistance. Syed Mohd Alatas resided here iwht his first wife, a Malay of royal descent. His second wife was the daughter of Khoo Tiang Poh, a leading Straits Chinese pepper merchant, shipping tycoon and a leader of the Khoo clan.

Lebuh Acheh
From here you can turn right onto Lebuh Acheh. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, this was the street of Sumatran and Malay traders. The Arab and Achehnese pepper merchants of North Sumatra, such as Syed Mohd Alatas, were the leaders of this community. In the days when the Muslim pilgramage was more often made by ship rather than by airplane, this street was the centre of Haj activities.

Pilgrims came from North Sumatra, South Thailand and the Northern Peninsula to make their travel arrangements and embark on the Haj. In this area, bustling with travel agencies, shops, restaurants and lodging-houses, the pilgrims mingled, shopped and attended religious gatherings while awaiting the ships that would take them to Mecca. Today, there are still some shops in front of the mosque selling Islamic books and prayer accessories.

Heritage Trail













This trail is sponsored by American Express Company
For more information please contact:

American Express (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.
Bangunan MAS,
Tingkat 2
Jalan Sultan Ismail
P.O. Box 12269
50772 Kuala Lumpur

Penang Heritage Trust
Tel: 604 - 2813187

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