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.