The World Heritage Convention defines "cultural heritage" as a monument, group of buildings or site of historical, aesthetic, archaeological, scientific, ethnological or anthropological value. Georgetown in Penang surely falls well within this definition as Georgetown has a group of buildings that are steep in history, beautiful and reflect more than a century of culture unique to this Pearl of the Orient.

I am not specifically referring to "famous landmarks" like the Khoo Kongsi, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Assumption Cathedral, Kapitan Keling Mosque etc etc. I am talking about Georgetown's rows and rows of pre-war "shophouses" where generations of Penangites have lived in and conducted business as well. These shophouses and their occupants truly reflect a significant part of Penang's history and in my view, without them, Penang would have lost a great part of its charm.

An American magazine, "Utne Reader", in a recent article about Penang says, "This port on the Straits of Malacca shows that booming cities can compete in the world economy without sacrificing their soul. Penang feels far more relaxed than most Asian cities and looks much the way it did decades ago, with bustling marketplaces and winding streets lined by traditional "shophouses". Once common throughout Southeast Asia, this appealing architectural style incorporates housing above a first-floor storefront, fostering both commerce and lively street life". For illustration they commissioned me to take the pic below.


From the above pic, you can see that the upstairs of such shophouses are living quarters while business is done downstairs and in this case, business spills on to the road with other street vendors setting up their stalls in this "morning street market".


rows of shophouses like this can be found all over Georgetown


not all the "shophouses" are used for business ... many are strictly residential


rows of residential houses