At one glance, I thought it was just another old residential area in Georgetown, a Unesco World Heritage Site in Penang, Malaysia. Little did I knew that the moment I stepped on the wooden platform, I was already over the water.
The Chew Jetty is the largest among the other seven waterfront settlements housing different clans in Georgetown built in the mid-19th century. The name of the jetty – “Chew”, is the surname of the clan living in the water village with wooden houses perched above the sea by stilts, a homeland for generations of the Chews whose forefathers came from Fujian Province in China and were mostly fishermen.
Currently, I think there are left with only six clan jetties lining the sea front along Weld Quay, namely Yeoh jetty, Tan jetty, Lim jetty, Lee jetty and Chap Seo Keo jetty (literally means “mixed clans jetty”). Koay jetty and Peng Aun jetty were already demolished by the government for its development plans which have raised controversy questions.
The cluster of jetty houses standing firmly above the sea look just like any houses on land with modern amenities. As Chew jetty is also a favourite tourist spot, you can even find a souvenir shop in it, alongside with a grocery shop. Some of the Chew residents even offer home stay package!
The surviving cluster settlement seemingly locked itself in a time zone that disregards the urbanization taking place around it in Penang.
Walking further down the jetty, we could see a panoramic view of the Straits of Malacca and catch glimpses of the port activities.
Fishing boats parked along the planked walkways with a backdrop of highrise buildings, showing us that traditional lifestyle can juxtapose with modernisation.
These are cages to catch crabs. What do you call that? A crab catcher? A demonstration of how a crab can be trapped after crawling into the cage hole.
A fisherman preparing fishing baits?
This typical wooden house in Chew jetty seems to be vacant as it’s quite empty…
Just located at the entrance of Chew jetty is a small temple where the clan still continues to celebrate the annual worship of the temple Deity and the Jade Emperor (Tee Kong).
How to go to Chew Jetty?
You can walk for about 250m south along Pengkalan Weld from Weld Quay Bus Terminal and you will see a signboard that displays “Chew Jetty” on your left.
So what to eat in Georgetown? There are plenty of nice food but I will start with this stall for a quick yet delicious snack. Cross over the road opposite Chew Jetty and walk further down till you see a stall shown below in the picture with a signboard that reads “Prawn Fritters”. The prawn fritters look like little round sinful doughs (deep-fried greasy!) with small prawns and some veggies in them. They are quite crisp on the outside and at one bite, the dough melts in your mouth, releasing the irresistible aroma of prawns. The stall opens everyday but from Monday to Friday, the opening hours are from 8am to 12pm only; on Sat, Sun and holiday, the operating hours are from 8am to 6pm.
I didn’t try the longish ones… Anyway, if you can’t find the stall, try asking the friendly locals around Chew Jetty, I guess they will know the direction to it.