There is a lot of pride in George Town being listed as a UNESCO world cultural city. Last Saturday, locals and foreigners alike turned out in full force for the Chinese New Year cultural and heritage celebration in the historical enclave of the city.
The celebration was supposed to start from the afternoon but it was not until about 7pm that people began to throng the area. When I arrived with the family at about 7.45pm, the whole area was already filled with people, noise and excitement. We had difficulty finding a place to park the car and eventually, had to settle for the old Sia Boey market in Prangin Road. That's quite a long walk down Carnarvon Street. Cars were parked in the centre of the road but hey, nobody cared and the police didn't mind.
From Acheen Street, we turned into Cannon Street where we disappeared into the Khoo Kongsi compound. A choir was singing outside the Kongsi building and soon, it was the turn of a Penang youth symphony orchestra directed by Woon Wen Kin. Glad to know that he is still so actively involved in the Penang music scene. Bumped into some old friends, notably Janice Yeap, my old colleague from Ban Hin Lee Bank days, and her parents, Stephen and Irene Yeap. For once, Irene did not enquire after my sister because she was so busy talking to other well-wishers.
We left the Khoo Kongsi, cut into Soo Hong Lane and emerged at Ah Quee Street. A short walk took us to Pitt Street and our next destination, the Han Jiang Teochew Association in Chulia Street. A Teochew street opera show caught our attention momentarily. We went into the temple and was entertained by the 24 Seasons Drums.
Later, along Pitt Street, a Chingay performance and then, a Lion Dance. To us the Lion Dance proved to be the highlight of the whole evening. Bumped into Boon Sui, my former staff at the bank.
Before calling it a night, we walked through Armenian Street to catch the tailend of a baba nyonya dance performance. I half expected to see Susan Tan at the performance and I wasn't wrong. Susan is also another former colleague and she was the secretary to Jimmy Yeap when he was still alive. According to her, she has been "happily retired" for the past 10 years and this was one of her ways to fill time. That's her on the far left, below.
Would I want to come again next year or even in July this year when George Town finally celebrates its Heritage Day? You betcha!