Chew Jetty, or Sneah1 Chew1 Kio2 in Penang Hokkien, is the biggest of the waterfront settlements in George Town. It was created in the middle of the 19th Century, in a very different Penang from what it is today. The last community jetties, the Peng Aun and the Cap3 Snaeh3 Kio2, were only established in the 1960's. Each of the clan jetties has a small shrine to pay homage to the sea deities. Chew Jetty is the only clan jetty left that continues to have observe the once a year annual worship of its Temple Deity and the Jade Emperor (Thnee Kong, or "god of the skies")
Like gnarled fingers that claw the sea, clan jetties line the water front of Georgetown. Here, we find a community that has existed for over a hundred years, suspended in time above the tide lines. Today, however, encroaching development poses a formidable threat to the very existence of this unique waterborne community.
On March 20, 2004, members of AsiaExplorers paid a visit to Chew Jetty. It was part of our exploration to better appreciate the heritage sites of Penang. For the unfamiliar, the Clan Jetties consist of seven sets of wooden piers. They are home to seven clans who migrated from China: the Lims, Chews, Tans, Lees, Yeohs, Koays and one mixed jetty. The visit was hosted by Chew Siew Pheng, an AsiaExplorers member who happens to be a resident of her namesake jetty.
A boat at Chew Jetty, with the harbour behind it (14 March, 2004)
Insight into the Clan Jetties
Dr Chan Lean Heng of the School of Social Studies did a study of the Clan Jetties. You can read her academic paper here, entitled Rediscovering Historic Communal Sites and Commemorating their hiStories - The Case of the Clan jetties.
An otter relaxing among the wrecks at Chew Jetty, with the Penang Port in the background. (14 March, 2004)
You can walk to Chew Jetty from the Weld Quay Ferry & Bus Terminal, a distance of 250 meters (800 ft). From the bus terminal, walk south along Pengkalan Weld until you reach Chew Jetty (with posted signboard) on your left.
All is quiet as night descends on Chew Jetty. (14 March, 2004)
Location of Chew Jetty on the map
Members of AsiaExplorers on the outing to Chew Jetty. (14 March, 2004)
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