Clan Jetties

The clan jetties in Georgetown were established in the 19th century when immigrants from China arrived to work as port labourers and settled along the waterfront.  They built houses on stilts along Weld Quay as they were too poor to find housing on land and the jetties were formed.  These immigrants tend to stick to their own clans based on geographical and lineage origin.  They set up homes together to provide support to each other in a new land.

Clan Jetties floating village

Clan Jetties floating village

Today the descendants from six clans still live in this labyrinth of wooden houses built on stilts connected by wooden boardwalk.  Each jetty is named after the clan surname – Chews (姓周桥), Lees (姓桥), Lims (姓桥), Tans (姓陈桥), Yeohs (姓杨桥) and Mixed.  The clan surname is displayed at the main entrance to the respective jetty.  Every jetty also has its own temple.

Entrance to the Lim Jetty

Entrance to the Lim Jetty

The narrow wood planked walkway in the floating village

The narrow wood planked walkway in the floating village

The neatly arranged houses in the Lee Jetty

The neatly arranged houses on the Lee Jetty

Hean Boo Thean Temple (玄母殿) in Tan Jetty (姓陈桥)

Hean Boo Thean Temple (玄母殿) on Tan Jetty

While their ancestors made their living by fishing or working as labourers and coolies in the port, these days, most of the descendants earn their income by working in town.

Boats docking at Chew Jetty (姓周桥)

Boats docking at Chew Jetty

Some still make a living by fishing

Some still make a living by fishing

The Chew Jetty is the largest, most vibrant and tourist friendly.  Its inhabitants are also very entrepreneurial.  Shops are scattered around the Chew Jetty offering wares ranging from souvenirs to food and beverages catering to visitors.  There are even a few homestays too.  The other jetties are relatively quiet with little or no commercial activities in sight.

Colourful signboard in Chew Jetty

Colourful signboard on Chew Jetty

Colourful and eye catching seats

Juicylicious, a charming beverage shop found on Chew Jetty with colourful seats

The tables are decorated with characters from Despicable Me and colourful flags

The tables are decorated with characters from Despicable Me and colourful flags

The roof is not forgotten too

The roof is creatively decorated with colourful umbrellas

A home based snack food stall

A home based snack food stall

Some of the Chews are even turning their home into homestay

One of the few homestays on the Clan Jetties

Visitors are free to explore, get lost amongst the maze of houses and get a glimpse of the inhabitants’ lives as they go about their daily activities.  As the Clan Jetties form part of the Penang Heritage Trail, the inhabitants are probably used to the presence of curious tourists.  But one still has to be mindful not to encroach into the inhabitants homes while taking a pleasant stroll in this quaint and historical settlement.

One of the most photographed spot in the Tan Jetty

One of the most photographed spots on the Tan Jetty

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