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Siam Road Char Koay Teow

Featured on one of the first posts on Capturing Penang, the old man at Siam Road is still frying up the best char koay teow in Penang. It’s a comforting sight to see him at the end of the street, still fanning the charcoal, clanking the wok, and cooking for a long line of customers.


So much has changed on Siam Road, the street I grew up on.

In just over a year, many residents have been forced out from their shophouses by businesses offering to pay higher rent. Sadly, my grandfather’s place couldn’t escape the development, and the unique architectural features that made it a shophouse are gone. The carved ventilated door and louvre shutter windows have been replaced with glass. The decorative air vents have been sealed. The terracotta roof tiles have been replaced with a tin sheet roof that covers the airwell. Inside, the steep wooden staircase and room partitions have been torn out.

The historical shophouse has been transformed into something modernly simple. Cheap. Boring.

If only Penang Shophouses were like Penang Char Koay Teow – appreciated now, and not when it’s too late.

5 comments:

John said...

Very nice, thanks for posting the video. I agree, we too often don't appreciate what we have.

Christina Schweighofer said...

That is so sad. Is there no way to protect these historical sights? Does the dedication as a UNESCO world heritage sight not help?

Reese said...

The original proposal to UNESCO included a much larger area of George Town, but big-time developers lobbied to make sure that didn't happen. Therefore, places like Siam Road are not in the protected zone.

But even in the UNESCO "protected" area, many shophouses and other historical buildings are being destroyed because of a lack of enforcement and minor penalties.

debi said...

Reese,

It makes me so sad that your grandfather's shophouse and so many others are gone. What shortsightedness.

I enjoyed the video - made my mouth water!

debi

Christina Schweighofer said...

That is so sad. Is there no way to protect these historical sights? Does the dedication as a UNESCO world heritage sight not help?