Balik Pulau Town Center Revisited

It was found that the old agricultural town of Balik Pulau was established in the 1790s by the British East India Company. Located at the southwest of Penang Island, Balik Pulau is a Malay name which refers to ‘the back of the island’ in Malay. The town was so named due to its location situated at the western side of the Penang Island, separated from George Town by the island’s central hills. The British East India Company at that time established the first clove and nutmeg plantations in the area, hoping to turn Penang island as the center for spice production in Southeast Asia and competing against the Dutch monopoly of the spice trade during that period.

Campbell Street Facades


Campbell Street is one of the popular streets in George Town and is accessible from Penang Road and a number of other smaller streets. The street was found to be named after the Penang Inspector General Sir George William Robert Campbell, who was also the acting Lieutenant-Governor of Penang between 1872 and 1873. Also called “Sin Kay” in Hokkien by the locals, this street now becomes a shopping street for the locals and tourists to shop for various items such as food produces, clothing, bags, watches and shoes. Several cafes have also opened for business along this street. This is evident by the number of signboards leaning out from the shophouses along the street.

Muntri Street View

Muntri Street is one of the old streets in George Town, and was named after a person called Ngah Ibrahim. Ngah Ibrahim was appointed the “Orang Kaya Mantri of Larut” in 1858, and the word Muntri was derived from Mantri or Menteri, a Malay word for a government Minister. Ngah Ibrahim was the administrator of the district of Larut in the late 1800s.

Leith Street: Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is a historical and cultural rich building located along Leith Street in George Town, Penang. A winner of multiple historical and heritage awards including the “Most Excellent Project” Award at the UNESCO Heritage Awards 2000, the blue mansion is one of the most visited places and a definite tourist destination in Penang. The mansion is said to be one of the two of its kind outside China which also features architecture design of both Chinese and Western influences. The mansion was built by a famous Chinese merchant in 1880s named Cheong Fatt Tze and it has 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases with 220 vernacular timber louvre windows.

During his time, Cheong Fatt Tze was also known as the “the Rockefeller of the East” and had helped a lot in building business and diplomatic relationship between the Chinese and Western governments. His legacy and contributions in the were so influential that during his death, top Chinese officials came all the way from China to attend his funeral while both the British and the Dutch authorities ordered flags to be flown at half mast in honour of him.

Featured in a number of movies (such as Crazy Rich Asians), the mansion now also houses a boutique hotel and a restaurant. It is also opens for public guided tour for a few slots of time of the day.