Pulau Pinang (Penang) ~ Old Trades of Penang
Manufacturer of Preserved Nutmegs
Goh Eng Huat, 87 Magazine Road, Georgetown
This little shop where fresh nutmegs are brought in for further processing into preserved nutmegs (snack), balms and other products made from nutmegs. There are other local scnack sold at Goh Eng Huat such as the local biscuits called tambun biscuits. However, the strong flavoured preserved nutmeg is a speciality snack more frequently found in the Northern states such as Penang and Perak. As historically, nutmeg plantations were aplenty in Penang during the early stages of the Spice Trade, this spice has been a favourite with locals for cooking, medicinal properties and also has been made into snacks.
Ah Bin and Sons Paper Products, 115, magazine road, Georgetown
Mr Ooi Beng Teik, the owner, proudly displays the fine work of his staff at the back of the shop. 3m tall paper effigies that they have been working on for months. These large effigies have a purpose. The Hungry Ghost Festival (also known as Phor Thor festival). This month long celebration begins on the last day of the 6th lunar month,(sometime in August) when the gates of hell are opened for that short period and wandering spirits are set free to roam the earth. These large paper effigies are of the Tai Su Yeah ie the King of Hades. Devotees would offer fruits, rice and cakes to Tai Su Yeah to reduce the sufferings of their dearly departed ones and also protect the living from angry roaming spirits. The King of Hades would have a large altar made for him and Taoists would offer food, joss sticks and candles to Him.
Apart from making such effigies for festivals, Mr Ooi spends his time making houses, and other paraphernalia used in Chinese funerals. With such traditions and beliefs still strong in the Taoist communities, Mr Ooi's business is still thriving and hopefully for many years to come, his staff and younger generation will be able to continue his trade.
Lim Tan Tin, Stewart Lane, Georgetown
A beautiful signposting painted on the pillar at the shopfront of the old premise at Love Lane. Today only a small sign marks its shop at Stewart Lane
Located in what used to be a seedier part of town, this shop manufactures and restores mahjong tiles and dice and customers can request made-to-order as well. Since mahjong is still a favourite pastime with the local Chinese community, this business may just have it's niche cut out.
OK so love lane and muntri street has turned into a guesthouse, boutique hotel, cafe, hipster area - much to the dismay of many heritage seekers, there have been many old trades evicted because of this. Sigh, this is some of the more heartbreaking elements of turning a location into a UNESCO site... as we say in Malaysia ... "What to do?" and shrug our shoulders
Well, Lim Tan Tin has moved to a small shophouse on Stewart Lane but there are plans by the owner of the property to sell. Where will Lim Tan Tin move to next, I wonder... (As of 2016, Lim Tan Tin has moved away unfortunately)
Curry Mee Seller
corner of a church, Jalan Paya Terubong, near Air Itam wet market. Every Day from 7.30am till 11.30am
Already in their 70's, the Lim sisters continue to serve their customers as they have since the 1950's, when they started their business after having learnt the secrets to their delicious curry mee from their parents. The sisters now have their grandchildren to help them sometimes and even though they still use their rattan carriers to carry the pots, they have a friend who is kind enough to drop them off at their trading spot. In their younger days, the sisters had to transport their pots and wares in the rattan carriers. Imagine the weight!
The delicious curry mee flavour is further enhanced with the addition of coagulated pigs blood. But customers can always omit that in the order. The curry mee here is very popular with the local community. If curry mee is not your cup of tea, they also serve fried mee and fried meehoon...