‘Sustaining’ Heritage

When me and my friend started our own Penang tour in Georgetown back in 2011, I never realize that it will turn into a ‘thing’ or ‘tradition’ we would do in our past time. We would aimlessly go around the streets and discover a new cafe or food place to try before going on our separate ways.

From there, some of my friends would call me up and ask if i could give them a tour and introduce them to good food place that I have been to. Honestly I am not very good in direction, and recommending a good place sometimes can be difficult because not all cafes are halal and not many Malay stalls that I know of (I’m not very much a fan of Nasi Kandar)

Discovering new cafe’s are quite exciting, but as the years goes by, I realize that there are too many of new cafe’s or budget hostels popping up every now and then. Every time I see new cafe’s or budget hostels , I wonder what happens to the original tenant, and where do they go from here?

There is in one hand, Penang as a tourist attraction, but a growing concern in protecting the attraction which in this case the heritage of Penang: Georgetown in particular.

Most of the tourist, are drawn to the street art. Honestly I’d rather skip the street art because there will be a long que to take picture of it. Some of the street arts, like the two children in a boat, at the Chew Jetty have already fade due to the weather.

Either they are aware of it or not, the reason why the street art was drawn on certain location in Georgetown is because of the building or area around it that have history behind it. Most of them probably do not know the history of the place they are taking photos of, and many may not be aware that the place they are taking photo of a few years ago may no longer be around by the time they come back to revisit it.

Though guided tour are available, they may not be able to cater everyone. Plus, to get someone who knows their way around and history of it is hard. So. many end up not knowing much about the real problem that has been going on in the past few years.

Truthfully, if its not because of the spontaneous decision between me and my friend to start our own penang tour ‘tradition’, i would not have been aware of the changes we see concerning the heritage sites whereby it struggles between preserving its history and heritage, and the rising of budget hostels mushrooming around the heritage site, evicting the traditional and local living history who grew up in the heritage area for generations.

And thats only one part of the story…..but for now, I hope that this post can spark an awareness among the Penangnites especially to step up and take part in protecting our heritage

For more info on how to get involved, visit: Penang Heritage Trust , http://www.pht.org.my/

and join the discussion in their facebook group