Preserving the past

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Chinese seafarers were aware of Penang as early as the 15th century. Settlers from Sumatra arrived in Penang in the 18th century and in 1771 the sultan of Kedah signed an agreement with the British East India Company. Penang was also the capital of the Straits Settlements (which included Malacca and Singapore) for a while. One can almost feel the layers of history when one wanders through the narrow, winding streets of George Town and in 2008 it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. We visited Penang again a couple of weeks ago and had a delicious dinner in the Kebaya restaurant, which is part of the Seven Terraces Hotel – a row of seven restored 19th century Anglo-Chinese terraced houses (go to http://www.seventerraces.com/web/aboutus.htm to find out more). Investment banker Chris Ong, who grew up in Penang, and his business partner have done a wonderful thing here – he is passionate about his Baba heritage and the hotel and restaurant showcase his personal collection of Straits Chinese porcelain (for an interview with Chris Ong go to http://www.themalaymailonline.com/travel/article/10-things-about-chris-ong-hotelier-who-champions-penangs-heritage-shophouse).

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