|Penang Heritage | Cheah Clan House (Kongsi) - Cheah Si Sek Tek Tong|
Located at No 8, Armenien Street in the hustling George Town, Cheah Kongsi's entrance is only several yards away from Khoo Kongsi's Armenian Street entrance. We had passed by the entrance several times without realizing it is Cheah Kongsi. If you are coming from Beach Street towards Cannon Street, put some attention on your right as soon as you are on Armenian Street. Look for red color pillars hanged with a pair of traditional lanterns and ornamented dragons on roof-top. It is Cheah Kongsi!
Narrow walkway painted with maroon would lead into a quiet compound where you would be greeted by a charming double-story bungalow. The architecture portrayed the influences of Straits Chinese (Peranakan), Malay, Chinese and European. In my opinion, the ground level looks similar to the Malay porch while the upstairs open balcony decorated with British lionheads seems adopting a European design. Connecting to the central building, both left and right premises have almost a symmetrical structure with courtyard, central hall, kitchen chamber and a fine wooden staircase each heading to upper level.
Before entering into the courtyard, there is a chamber housing a long table – I guess this the original 'Tok Panjang' (a Peranakan word, literally translated as 'long table') used for celebration or gathering to serve sumptuous culinary! If you are curious to learn about the traditional crockery, explore their kitchen chamber.
The admission is free but it would nice to get permission to enter from the friendly caretaker. As I made my steps ascending, I took a peek into a chamber through a wide open window. To my surprise, a British Queen picture was hanged inside. Also also displayed are some vintage communication systems and type-writers. The next chamber exhibits a 'mahjong' table with some of resting chairs – this must be the entertainment room! I believe all of these are the original furniture and artifacts inherited from centuries ago as explained why these chambers are secured with locks.
Next, I explored the upper floor worship hall where they are sort of separated into three sections. Central section house s 'Khong Hui Seng Ong' whilst on the left is placed with 'Tua Peh Kong' (Da Bo Gong) side by side with 'Tai Sai Yeah' (Da Shi Ye). On the another end sits 'Hock Haw Kong'. All these deities were once human but owing to their great sacrifice and contribution, lay people prays to them and the tradition continues until today. This worship hall also houses Cheah families' ancestral tablets.
Seeing the green lawn somehow put me to feel at home. It is very well-kept place. To get the best façade view of Cheah Kongsi, move near to the fish pond situated a few meters in front of the porch. Do not miss the good sight of roof that has elaborate sculptures of sirens, dogs, lions of stucco and shards of both Chinese and Dutch porcelain crockery.
Deep in my heart, Cheah Kongsi premise is like a tranquil oasis!
Tips: If you are putting up in George Town, hop on the free shuttle bus provided by Penang State Government.
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