(Penang. December 5th to 9th. I visited with Darren’s family and met his extended family for the first time. We spent almost every single minute together, really, and that’s new to me. Did plenty of sight seeing, such as the temples and the war grounds. Some of the places we visited sparked something in me, and visiting the Penang Chew Clan Jetty was one of them.)
The Chew Clan Jetty is situated in Georgetown; close to a bus interchange. Leading to the sea, you would walk through a narrow pathway with wooden traditional houses to either side of you.
The entire walk will soon reveal a splendid view of endless ocean. The classic image of ultimate freedom and nature at one of its finest.
Blue seas. Bright sun. Wind, if you are lucky.
People live there, still, and try to sell any visitor whatever they have got to offer – jellies, drinks, candies, toys and tourist souvenirs. Otherwise, they hide in their own homes and hang “do not take photographs” signages outside their homes.
Visitors are noisy, while the natives are quiet. Invisible, almost, for their homes are so empty on the outside. They kept the home exteriors clean – the wood naturally aged from the scorching sun and nails rusting with time.
Is that a general rule because it’s a heritage site, or their own decision to have no personality in the space?
First, I was fascinated like any visitor would be. It is not every day that I can take in such a sight and observe how the natives live in conditions from the 1900s, maybe. It is also my first time in Penang, so my curiosity was overwhelming.
After some time, though, sadness started to find its way into my thoughts and I felt so guilty to be in such a place.
To disturb these people just to feed a temporary curiosity. They live here, yet prisoners to the visitors that come from every part of the world – to be observed. It is almost like they are kept here as exhibits – trapped in time and in past conditions, trying hard to get by and their privacy jeopardised.
Were they given the chance to move? Are they provided a sum of money if asked to stay? Did they stay out of their own accord? Are they surviving fine? Why stay?
It is scary to think they were coerced to live there just to live like people did in the past to show us, when they really are people of the present.
They simply have not moved on.