If you think you've seen it all, from George Town's kopitiams to street art, think again. You may have missed the city's traditional traders considered a heritage treasure. They're the keepers of family trades that started as early as 1940s and still kept alive till today.
It's possible to spot them from behind the blinds of their shops and family homes but George Town World Heritage Inc.'s tour offers an opportunity for you to meet and mingle with these traders. The 'Traditional Trades Discovery Walk' happens every second Saturday of the month and aims to bring the locals and tourists closer to these fascinating traders through stories they share.
Rain or shine, the tour kicks off in the morning from GTWHI office on Lebuh Acheh. Led by a tour guide, it takes two hours and covers approximately 12 heritage traders.
The tour's first stop is at the shop of Mr Ng Chai Tiam (pictured above) who is a master craftsman known for his handmade Chinese seals and calligraphy. He has carved countless traditional Chinese stone seals for businessmen, traders and calligraphy artists in this 4-decade trade. He picked up the tradional Chinese art from Hong Kong and opened his first shop upon his return to Penang in 1967. Tian Hua Arts & Antique is on Lebuh Carnarvon and browse through his catalogue of different character styles and types as well as size of stones.
Next, the guide will take you to M. Thana's Goldsmith on Lebuh Queen that is one of the last remaining goldsmiths in George Town. Here, you'll find only the finest handmade jewellery that are mould and craft at the shop front itself. Established in 1923 by a respected craftsman named Mr Nagumani, the business is now inherited by his niece Thanalaxmi Veerappan and her husband Raju who possesses many years of experience in crafting handmade jewellery himself.
Trust that owner Ameer Hamsa of M.S.K.M Mohamed Haniffa Forex on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling to give you a good exchange rate when you walk into his shop. George Town itself consists of 60 - 70 licensed money changers and what sets Haniffa Forex apart from the rest is the shop's collection of antique coins and notes, which are also for sale. It was Ameer's father who started the money changing trade in the 1940s and today, he manages the shop with confidence and ease.
Within the 2-hour tour, you will also get to visit other traditional traders in the likes of signboard carver, Islamic book publishers, money changer and numismatic dealer, flower garland makers, nasi kandar sellar, Hindu religious goods and Indian kitchenware seller, spice merchant, perfumer, traditional kitchenware seller and the shoe maker. The tour ends in Lebuh Armenian where you can stroll leisurely around the heritage area to soak in the ambience.
GTWHI is not offering the Discovery Walks at the moment.