You won’t miss it
Published/Last edited or updated: 4th October, 2017
Conspicuously but rather incongruously side by side on the corner of Lebuh Armenian and Medan Cannon, the rather imposing pale green and white colonial-looking Yap Kongsi contrasts with the compact, yet florid neighbouring temple, Choo Chay Keong, also associated with the Yap clan.
The prominent position near busy touristed Lebuh Armenian possibly makes diminutive Choo Chay Keong one of the most photographed temples in Penang. The Yap Kongsi is one of Penang’s five big Hokkien clans, strengthened by the amalgamation of two smaller Yap communities in the early 20th century.
The Kongsi was built in 1924 on land donated by Yeap Chor Ee, a prominent Yap businessman and philanthropist. A museum dedicated to him, The House of Yeap Chor Ee in Jalan Penang is worth a quick look. As well as functioning as the community hall for the Yap clan, the Kongsi houses a large ancestral altar. Here, the altar along with the red and gold embellish wooden ancestral tables are blackened with incense smoke invoking an air of antiquity missing in the somewhat modern tiled interior.
Neighbouring Choo Chay Keong temple was built slightly later in the 1950s and is dedicated to the clan’s patron deity. A refurbishment in 1990 added the fantastic writhing rooftop dragons and other detailed ceramic work, elaborately carved granite pillars and an equally flamboyant joss paper furnace on the street in front. The single room interior is a comparatively simple tiled affair, although the altar itself is just as decorative as any, swirling with dragons and phoenixes. An open doorway inside the temple leads to the Yap Kongsi.
Friendly attendants are happy to show you how if you wish to light a few incense sticks and honour the gods. Yap Kongsi and its adjoining temple are free to enter. Nearby visit other Hokkien Kongsi belonging to the Khoo and Cheah clans and the mixed Hokkien clan, Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple.
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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