Penang Chew Jetty

Along Weld Quay which stretches coastline of George Town, one can find water villages with rows of wooden houses on stilts built above the sea and connected by planked walkways. These are the Clan Jetties of George Town.

The Clan Jetties became places of dwelling only in the late 19th century by the Chinese Hokkien immigrants who shared common surnames and originated from similar hometowns in China. Before the existence of the jetties, different community groupings had existed among the clansmen who took up residence in crowded homes at places like Tok Aka Lane, Acheen Street, Armenian Street, and Stewart Lane, which are located in the vicinity of the waterfront.

Speaking about Clan Jetties, Chew Jetty is the biggest and most visited water village. The closed-knit Chew community played an important role in setting the Chew clan immigrants from the same hometown in the old days and it has largely been spared from the ravages of war and grew undisrupted over the years. The jetty offers boat shuttle service for the public to reach the ships parked in the middle of sea lanes and it is a favorite venue for shutterbugs and movie-setting catching a glimpse of the layback pace of the friendly villagers with small sundry shops, hair salon, beverage outlets and souvenir stalls lining the narrow alleys.

Clan Jetty 3

Like fingers that jut into the sea, Clan Jetties line the waterfront of George Town and here we find a tight-knit community that has existed for over a hundred years, witnessed and contributed to the growth of the Penang port and fought hard to preserve a traditional lifestyle adrift in the urban setting. Encroaching development had previously posed a formidable threat to the very existence of this unique waterborne community.

Shortly, Chew Jetty is interesting. It is walkable from George Town. At first, you will approach it on one side and will look dirty. But then once you entered the colony, that is really good. The best part is the “Folklore by the Sea” show. It’s a live show put up by a local group. The acting, the script, and everything is superb. It trains us to understand the history behind the settlement beautifully.

Clan Jetty 2

The attractions are divided into 3 parts daily. The storytelling at 13.30 and the shows itself will be at 15.00 and 18.00. This highly recommended live show lasted about around 40 mins. The locals are so resourceful creating housing over the water and living together in clans. They implicitly show us working hard to survive. That’s how this jetty community started. Now it’s still in the family but a living museum of little shops with art, dresses and other bargains.

However, the Chew Jetty together with other Jetties are now included in the Core Area of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town and are cherished and conserved as a part of George Town’s cultural heritage legacy.

Clan Jetty 1